Coming through

As a verbally challenged individual with an overactive mind, I find myself reflecting on the nature of communication. Just what qualifies as communication? It is obviously not just words.

Human written and verbal communication, while able to convey extraordinarily complex ideas is able to both enlighten and obfuscate depending on the agenda and delivery of the originator and the intellectual balance and viewpoint of the recipient. Symbolic languages such as mathematics would, on the surface, appear less open to interpretation, but again seem to depend on the capabilities of both the “speaker” and the “listener”. Human communication is a dog’s breakfast, best served with a grain of salt (how’s that for mixing metaphors?). We have always assumed that what separated us from animals was our ability to displace, to imagine ourselves outside our immediate time and place. We now know that at least one other species – the great apes, is also capable of displacement. A number of apes have proven capable of learning American sign language and have communicated ideas every bit as complex as those of a preschool child. They have even shown amazing creativity by combining symbols in new ways and creating new symbols to convey ideas not available to them with the vocabulary they were originally taught.

A number of other “higher” mammal species (dolphins are a prime example) are observed to have a structured vocabulary of sounds. It is possible, therefore, that other species are capable of displacement but since we have yet to decode non-human communication we can’t yet be sure. Is it possible, given the enormous vocabularies of these other species and the certainty that at least one non-human species can displace, that they (dolphins for instance) can dissemble?

Many animal species use sound to communicate but again, in more complex organisms, we observe the nature of those sounds depends on the state of the originator. Dogs, for instance, in similar situations will vocally express themselves differently based on whether they are excited, frustrated, fearful, neurotic or aggressive (among other things) and yet be thought to be “speaking” the same “word”. When we include body language (a dog’s primary form of communication) the complexity increases dramatically. Many animal species communicate primarily through body language, others via scent, touch or taste. It seems ANY combination of the five senses can be used to communicate. Can it be possible then that any non-symbolic, sensory based communication in organisms considered less intellectually complex than humans might be able to convey complex ideas and possibly exhibit displacement? Is the ability to dissemble really a stretch then?

Should communication as a definition be limited to the five senses? A case might be made that all interactions in this universe are a result of some form of communication. Even at the atomic level, can we accept that an electron communicates with a nucleus via “language” based on charge? There is certainly an extraordinary amount of complexity even in this supposedly simplest of relationships. If we view this interaction through the lens of quantum physics, things become stranger and more complex still. Particles on opposite sides of the universe can directly affect each other or can change state from particle to wave or can exist in more than one place at a time. Could this by definition be a case of the particle creating its own reality and affecting other particles based on what it “decides” to do? Could this be considered dissembling?

If, as it appears, this quantum “communication” is instantaneous, what of possible interactions which require centuries or millennia or aeons or longer? What of the stately dance of galaxies as they wheel through interstellar space? I can not imagine any interaction more complex than two or more groups of billions of stars moving around or through each other. Does this complexity allow – even create – new and totally unique forms of communication?

So, we finally get to the point of this little exercise. While I am having trouble learning French, I find myself convinced that if I could learn the underlying language of this reality I could, in fact, convince walls that I could walk through them.

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One Response to “Coming through”

  1. ceo Says:

    Wholey Dina! I’d comment but, i just can’t “find the right words”

    Relax. Have a great weekend.

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