Understanding: Can There Be a Consensus? my original understanding module at Knatz.com got recreated here a couple of days ago. Now I have to create a place to add notes on the limits to understanding in a society: the limits to communication in a society.
Gulliver failed to communicate much about London, or himself, to the Lilliputians. He then failed to communicate anything about the Lilliputians to his fellow Londoners! Of course it’s fiction, myth, science fiction. Did Swift communicate with you and me? I think so, at least a little bit, at least with me. Have I communicated with you? (Have you communicated with me?) (Is such communication possible?)
A natural language in a human mouth can articulate a vast number of combinations of phonemes. Differences of rate, of juncture … can generate all the more combinations. Hundreds of thousands of words, trillions and trillions of sentences, a near infinity of paragraphs, essays …. books. Writing multiplies that further. Einstein could “say” more by writing, especially once one can write mathematical symbols, than he could by speaking. But how much of what he intends to communicate, and says, and writes, can the Lilliputians understand? How much can the Lilliputians understand if they tie Einstein up, the way they tied up Gulliver?
What would Gulliver have been able to tell the Lilliputians about London if it had been Gulliver who had tied the Lilliputians up, and not the other way around? What if I tied up all the headhunters, and all the cannibals, around the fire? Would they then understand what I mean about understanding? about macroinformation? about deschooling?
The FBI put me down on the ground, surrounded by AK47s, they cuffed me behind my back, shackled my ankles, took away my clothes, my computers, my money, my freedom, censored my several thousand online documents. Did I understand what they were trying to say to me any better once shackled? I think I understood what they were trying to tell me before I set foot in kindergarten!. But, before kindergarten, or after they’d shackled me, did they understand one word I had ever said about social responsibility? about Christ? about information? about god?
I’ve been trying to introduce myself to my girlfriend for eighteen-odd months now. She sees how articulate I am: at least partly. She sees at least part of how intelligent I am. I see that she’s above average in intelligence, and experience: or I woudln’t be trying to explain things to her: regardless of how cute she is, or how much I adore cute women! But the more I say, ditto my wife, my son … the less she understands. And she passes on nothing (that I can see) of what she once started to (try to) understand! (note below)
I believe that she, like they, like all … like the Pope, see clearly how readily and remorselessly the society punishes those who understand the wrong things, out of turn.
Communication of some thoughts, some patterns, some possibilities, is no more possible in a society that falsely claims to be free, or a democracy, or to respect intelligence, or learning … than acknowledging satellites around Jupiter was for Galileo’s contemporaries.
The society insists that it is open; shows that it is closed.
Christians fail to communicate to Jews about Jesus. Jews fail to communicate to Christians how Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses failed to communicate God to Jews. Christianity fails to communicate Christianity to Christians: all the more so while the Christians have god, Jesus … humility, agape … all locked up: cuffed, shackled, silenced.
When I edit this I’ll weave in comparisons to biology: some of our limits are genetic, some cultural, some individual.
My life has been an endurance test of teachers, ministers, elders … scrunching themselves up into Do-Not-Receive mode. But these morons readily join the group delusion that they’re liberal! Their behavior proves that they believe it!
Note: there’s a delicious irony in this: a couple of years ago, my son, who from age five to forty-odd, makes it crystal clear that he does not respect my offer of a low-cost low-tech internet in 1970, guessed that my favorite gospel was Mark! An explanation ensued: Mark is known by textual scholars to be the oldest of the New Testament gospels. Matthew and Luke are known to have used Mark as a source. All other extant versions of the story post-date Mark. There’s a theory in scholarship that information in a closed system degenerates: information can be lost, but not gained. (That’s in a closed system, now. An open system can receive new information.) And the story as Mark told it climaxes with the passion, death, and burial of Jesus, and ends with an angel telling Mary Magdaline to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. But Mark narrates that Mary was frightened, went home, said nothing!
bk knows that I hate his silence on pk actions, efforts … philosophy, thelogy … He knows that he’s silent and that I see his silence.
When I told bk that my girlfriend reminds me of Mary Magdalene: the more she knows, the less she passes on, he laughed. He got the joke: vividly. So my son sees, clearly, my identification with the Jesus-Mary syndrome according-to-Mark. The chortle, though it was email, seemed to be out loud.