Excerpts from Chapter 4
…Two or more people can use communication for any purpose they are willing and capable of pursuing. Spouses argue. Subordinates misunderstand. Doctors guess. Judges judge. Children will gain in stupidity in the right hands. The phone doesn’t have to be answered. But across this panorama of game-playing, communication serves these four basic functions:
- Acquiring the information (intelligence, really) you need for your purposes.
- Thinking and positing mental models of yourself and whatever you think is going on.
- Synchronizing our minds with other minds, as may seem to be necessary.
- Referring oneself or others to things of immediate or long-term relevance.
The referential function seems to be the popular view. This popular view misses the most important point – and that is that all communication, however it may fail otherwise, is always and inevitably consequential. In communication, we create minds – our own and others’. In communication, we create people – ourselves and any others with whom we play communication games. In communication, we create the virtual worlds from which or toward which we behave. And thus, all human products, from societies to art to aircraft….
The mold is indeterminate. The outcomes are indeterminate. But without communication, there is no mind, no consciousness, no means of self-reference…
People talk. This may change nothing but the way their minds work. And that is the most consequential of all…
We seal our destinies one conversation at a time.
Words are consequential. So are images. So are numbers….