Post # 423  DODO BIRDS, WOOLY MAMMOTHS and CONVERSATION

As has been famously said, there is a “time for everything,” We see the moral obligation, for the first time, after publishing 422 mini- essays, to profusely and sincerely, apologize for the current title. We are morally constrained to admit, that the only comparative element, of all three subjects, in the above title, is that they have each, respectively, crossed the irreversible threshold of extinction, after a long, pre-eminence. The offense is aggravated, by our further admission, that this note does not in any other way, directly or by indirection, concern the titular subjects, of the ancient wooly mammoth or the dodo. The themed, extinct phenomenon, du jour, in truth, is that of (legitimate) conversation.

When early man progressed from a solo, to a societal, life, the desired interdependent benefits (ex., defense, food gathering, joint projects, exchange of skills) would not be,as a practical matter, attainable, without a common mode of inter-active communication; a developed language. The facility of an understandable language, made possible, among other things, the exchange of information and skills, as well as the expression of thoughts and reactions to events.

The fundamental ability to speak to others, was empirically essential, to the common solution of problems, the exchange of skills, joint undertakings and decisions, expression of needs, communication of events, whetherthey be dangerous, like threats from outsiders, or beneficial, such as the location of food and water. It is assumed that as the facility of spoken language improved, other matters were added to the common subjects of discussion: oral history, achievements and tragic events, as well as the news of the day. Members of society might express thoughts and opinions, and when the need presented itself, their personal feelings. The facility of speech, or “talking” to others, afforded a rational, and orderly mode of socialization and the necessary emotional relief of voluntary expression, and, still performs the identical functions in our modern society. The human facility of speech, or talk, is most certainly, not extinct, nor is it, in actuality, the subject of this writing.

Samuel Johnson, the 18th Century poet, playwright, essayist and lexicographer, was considered, by a great many, the greatest figure of that Century. He is known to have made the following statement, among many other great and memorable statements:

“… We have had talk enough, but no conversation; there was nothing [interesting] discussed.”

There is a significant, qualitative, aesthetic and intrinsic difference, between, talking and having a “conversation.”But, because the words, “talk” and “conversation,” are often considered synonymic, we have, defensively, quoted Dr.Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, lest our themed distinction, seem strained or pedantic. Conversations, are more than mundane interactions; a speaker actually says something incisive, interesting or memorable. The art of conversation, whenever it existed, was an engagement between two or three people, in which the exchange of language was, observingly, knowledgeable, at times, containing truly, original thoughts, but always, dependably interesting, and at various times, fascinating.

Many thought provoking observations or interesting points of view, as well as valuable observations were, in the recent past, articulated by letter correspondence. We feel that thoughtful correspondence, was and is, the most aesthetic and artistic mode of conversation, since they are expressed at leisure, with time and opportunity, to select the words, most expressive of the writer’s thoughts. For those who may not know it, and may be curious, history, records a, “Pliny the Younger,” as, famously, having written a great many letters which have proven to be a treasure trove of information, for scholars of ancient Rome. Our adopted, (possibly, presumptuous) use of that name, as the style of this blogspace, admittedly, was not accidental or whimsical.

Legitimate conversation is only possible for, and perhaps, solely desired by, that remaining minority of humanity, that has wisely dedicated, some part of its short life span, to knowledge and self- improvement; through engagement in reading good literature and/or pursuing the arts and sciences. It is such people who, happily, and successfully, attain the intended goal of natural evolution, of a more exalted platform of life, and the ability to live meaningfully and rationally; for which dedicated purpose, mankind was generously gifted with an advanced brain.

Nature’s goal is represented by a disappointingly, small, surviving, cohort of homo sapiens, who can speak and as well, engage in true and rewarding conversation.  For the most part, the fragile existence of bona fide, authentic, conversation, has gone the final and sad way, of the Wooly Mammoth and the Dodo.

ADDENDUM: The prevalent use of smart-phone “messaging” we feel, has permanently eliminated, any and all dreams of a possible return, to the esthetic and rewarding art of human conversation.

-p.

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plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

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