I don’t think there is one.
Or rather. I don’t know if communication, real communication, is possible. It’s one of the greatest problems of intelligence, but we shrug it of constantly.
It is impossible to say just what I mean.
No matter what medium you’re transmitting your signal in, something is lost in translation between your mind and the media in question. Then a different version of what was lost is added by whoever takes in that media.
That’s why I’m using the word media, because we’re talking about the tools we use for mediation. The devices that stand in between us and the other. The gap in the middle.
We fill it with everything we can. Words, music, pictures, sculpture, dance and everything else.
Everything from shouting to the cha cha cha has it’s own benefits, it’s own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communication.
Words, have a certain precision. A certain definition come from agreed upon meaning. The ability to look up a meaning and say ‘oh, that’s probably what they were trying to say’, but it seems blunt and hammerkind to me. The very rigidity of it means that only the most eloquent can really use it comfortably, and then the meaning will have been strangulated into a solid structure that can only express certain things. You lose the fine smooth texture of everything between, even with a ridiculous language like English, that has about eighty different words for everything.
Music is my favourite, because it has the biggest effect, but realistically, it’s the least effective. It’s utterly, utterly, utterly impossible to judge how precisely you’ve transmitted or recieved the intended signal. A song writer trying to convey sadness can easily make me happy. The impact is purely personal. It’s huge, but it’s uncommunicative. Despite the fact that my heart sings as I right now listen to Mara Carlyle sing about the Devil and me, I can’t know anything solid about the experience she’s trying to talk about. I get a sense of what I understand of love, and it might even sound like what she understands, but it doesn’t mean I know her love.
Visual art is either vividly representational, at which point devoid of artists interpretation, or cantering the other way, into the same vagueness of uncertainty. There’s in betweens of course, but how many of them get over the initial problem.
What is in your mind can never be in my mind, except by coincidence, and even then, we can’t know. We can’t ever know.
But do you know what?
We’re not supposed to know. It’s okay to not. It’s okay to spend all of our lives desperately trying to communicate something of the nature of our lives to the people we meet. The more we share the more we learn. The more we learn, the closer we are. Not necessarily to the mental communion of true understanding, but just to each other.
And to the world.
That’s got to count for something.
Illustration by Emma