Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quote from David McNeill

"Communication [is] a matter not only of signal exchange but of social resonance and inhabitance in the same 'house of being.'" David McNeill, Gesture and Thought.
To communicate, you have to inhabit the same mental space as your interlocutor. Set up camp there, unpack your suitcase. Make it your home: learn where the silverware is kept, find out what time everyone wakes up, operate the microwave or, better yet, do a load of wash. You have to feel the nuances that shape any particular word. Learn the stories whose light illuminates the world for that person you want to communicate with. To really understand someone, you can't just drop by and chat. You have to inhabit--stay in--their home: in their structure of existence, their safe retreat, the place patterned by their habits and filled with the objects they treasure. You have to be a guest in their mind.

And that is why we don't usually communicate deeply. When we don't resonate with each other naturally, it takes a great deal of effort to interpret the signals we pass back and forth between our distinct houses of being. Often it's impossible. Which I suppose is why, when I meet someone with whom social resonance comes easily (someone whose 'house of being' has a similar floorplan to mine?), I am so anxious to stay in communication with them.

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