The field theory of conversation

To our good friends–

This notion of fields still pulls me. A field is the extent to which the influence of one thing reaches. A field is the reach of influence. A reach of force. Now that says some things. One is that there is some power to conversation. Another is that it has some reach. Another is that its reach varies over space-time, probably dropping as distance increases, but not predictably: for it is possible that an idea from a great distance might have power. For instance, last week’s conversation about what to have for dinner is quickly forgotten, but the influence of the Sermon on the Mount is still felt. Why is that? There must be something not about the words (for few today know Aramaic) but the ideas and the way they catch the imagination of humans. Is it a matter that they stick in the memory? Or is it a matter that they are so strong that they stick in the memory? Which comes first? Is it a matter that the way people live their lives is changed? We are purpose-seeking beings, we humans, and so when something touches on that, we pay attention. When it has the promise of changing things to a better purpose, we get involved. It is perhaps not memory but body memory: it shakes our world. The degree of shaking is the degree of power, and the further the shaking, the more the power. There are two notes which carry: the high soprano or tenor (O Holy Night) and the deep base (The music of the night, Evita). These touch our body memory. This is akin to emotion, but not emotion: emotions are in humans, but humans are in the shaking: life. The field of conversation is then the reach of its force expressed as life and love.

What can we do with this? Use it as metaphor to invite more conversations. Use it as metaphor to give us the courage to invite more conversations. Use it as metaphor to give us the insight to see what conversations can be invited. This is interesting: I am concentrating on the conversations, the verb, rather than on the persons, the nouns. Indra’s net and the nodes flashing in and out of existence. The conversations bring forth the persons. And a third. Invite the conversations to extend their reach in time and space. Invite persons to consider the reach and give attention to the longer-further.

Furthermore, the field of conversation arises: it is emergent. It is the power, the capacity. We live within this field and have the capacity to extend it, to be carriers. We get power from this field; we give it life and boost its power and reach from the very fact that we are changed. As it emerges and changes us we have a choice: to take it higher and deeper: to make it more resonant: to channel it to the more profound. This is what is happening in creating communities of practice out of mere networks: we are moving from separations to communities; from the smaller to the larger; from piece to whole. This is where we get scale: the community is more profound and has a wider influence.

Writing seems a way to go, yet does writing get conversations? Writing is a process of speaking with others one at a time, often seriatim. It is a sort of conversation. Speaking is one directional. We need conversations. So how to sustain them? How to invite them? When? Where? Everywhere, always. I am at the perfect place I wrote a few days ago, a node on the web, flashing, able to flash.

Not a tool of the conversation, but an agent, able to extend and power the field, to find the power and concentrate it and set it loose.

What good is it to see the field? It lets us see and see more purposely. To see the bigger picture is to have the power to choose. Power of choice is a dangerous power. Once we choose, we die: we die to the other choice, we die to living in the presence. This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But power of choice is also good, for we then can see the injustices and pains and choose to help and to stand by each other.

What good is it to see the conversation field? It helps us point it out to others, that is to point out to others their own power and beauty and truth. We fear most of all our own power and beauty and truth. We fear our conversations, for we know their field is the field of our power and beauty and truth. Turn this loose and there is no going back.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on January 1st, 2007 | No Comments »

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