Wednesday 28 March 2018

'Communication' without an 'audience'?

This is a subject which I have experienced from both sides. Although I was never famous, I used to have a large 'audience' in the sense that up until I wrote regularly for The Times (of London), New Scientist and appeared on BBC TV; as well as writing for and/or being written about in the major Medical and Scientific journals (Lancet, BMJ, Science). This in addition to having the outlet of 'my own' international biomedical journal, which I edited.

In stages over the past 20 years I did less and less of this; and for the past decade have been mostly blogging (and writing a few small books for a small publisher with small sales). My 'audience' is thus a tiny fraction of what it was. My attempts to 'communicate' have, apparently, all-but collapsed...

Part of this was economic (major journals stopped using freelance writers from the middle 1990s), part of it was chronic illness (migraines - making travelling difficult), part of it was being sacked from my editing job and then stopping participating in all forms of peer review; part of it was becoming a Christian and thereby, incrementally, developing socio-political views putting me into an unmeasurably small minority. 

While I was wrong about most important things, and while I stayed on at least the edge of the mainstream, plenty of people were 'interested' in my communications; but the closer I got to truth, honesty, and doing what I really ought to be doing with my life, the smaller the audience.

But what about this 'audience'? It is clear that - even at peak exposure - in retrospect nobody was taking any notice of what I said and it made no difference to anything. I could write for The Times, and I got no response (except a decent sized cheque); I could appear on national TV and the results were imperceptible. All the bad things I was working to reverse instead gathered strength; all the good I was defending either disappeared or became corrupted and inverted.

And this is intrinsic to what gets called 'communication' - communication is reliably only a one-way process.

In sending out a communication, I know what I am trying to say, but I have no idea whether anybody reads it, whether they pay attention, whether they understand, or remember, and whether it makes any difference in the direction I intended. In some instances, things I wrote and said were noticed, but understood in the opposite to my intended sense and influenced policy in reverse; or led to a backlash that encouraged my enemies.

Eventually I concluded that if communication was all that existed - then there was no point in communicating. We might as well, all of us, shut-up and block our ears - or jump off a cliff - for all the positive good it does.

In fact, the whole question of 'an audience' prejudges the whole issue in a way that makes nonsense of human culture as a whole. If an audience was necessary - then it would not be worth having.

Unless there is a universally accessible reality in which Men can participate directly; then there is no real-communication but only the kind of fake noise that is represented by the mass media with its mass audiences accessible-to/ controlled-by a Global Cabal of servants to evil.

But if there is a universal reality that we can all, each and individually, potentially know and creatively contribute to; and if that universal reality is eternal... well then the matter of 'audeince' becomes strictly irrelevant.

Communication conceptualised as a system within which we seek an 'audience is revealed as a materialist, dishonest, non-existent parody of the reality of divine creation. Our proper aspiration is to become able to know divine creation and harmoniously to join with God as sub-creators.

And this happens (when it happens) in a mode (that I have termed Primary Thinking) that has absolutely nothing to do with the mass-perceptible public realm of communication and audiences.


lgude said...

I'm reminded of Bishop Berkeley's response to the old debate over the tree falling in a forest: "God hears." and I think that is what happens when through Grace we experience primary thinking. Suddenly Mr Worldly Wiseman's chatter is just so much straw.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Igude - There is a difference between Berkeley's idealism, and what I am saying - which takes on board Rudolf Steiner's critique of early idealism in Truth and Knowledge and Philosophy of Freedom. For me, Men are literal chidlren of god, and as such we are embroyonic deities with the basis of attributes that Berkeley would, I think, have regarded as exclusively those of the Holy Trinity. I would assume that the universal realm of reality was created-by God, but is not itself God.

lgude said...

@Bruce I am aware of Berkely's idealism - to be truthful -not because I remember him that well from 50 odd years ago but because I just did a audio philosophy course to reconsider such matters in my old age. Overall I found Berkley and his idealism less attractive than I remembered. It is specifically his remark about the tree on it's own that motivated me to use it to support your decision to speak the truth at the deepest level you can - which is to serve God, not yourself or the system. You write about "the kind of fake noise that is represented by the mass media with its mass audiences accessible-to/ controlled-by a Global Cabal of servants to evil." My closing remark was to say that Bunyan knew about that distinction when he created the character of Mr. Worldly Wiseman and St Thomas Aquinas understood it when he had the direct experience of God toward the end of his life and compared his formidable intellectual achievement to straw. As you know I am more inclined to take up the issues of philosophy in general and German Idealism in particular in reference to Jung rather than Steiner, but I take your point and will try to get round to tackling Steiner with an eye to my reservations about Kant and Hegel. Still I get caught up by the fake noise and when I do, I go to this blog to regain my balance and for that I thank you gratefully. :-;

Priscilla said...

I appreciate your insight. The flap of a butterfly wing...You cannot know your reach.

sam said...

You certainly do have an audience, and I've shared some of your posts which have been well received.
There aren't many people writing about the same subjects as you are, but you're certainly making people think.