Beginnings

In talking about blogs, I have often borrowed from my father’s favorite saying regarding excuses: “Everyone has one, and they all stink.”

Anyhow, here is mine. I am calling this page “Tree of Talking” based upon a concept the Danish science writer Tor Nørretranders put forward in his book The User Illusion. Communication, he wrote, is a bit like a tree. You have an idea you want to impart to someone else, you take all the raw imagery, cultural baggage, memory, and more, and you filter it down to one or a few words. Before you say something like, “He’s a real work-horse,” you pull from all the images you have work, eventually settling upon the image of horses as beasts of labor, working on farms or dragging stagecoaches. From the leaves of raw ideas, to the trunk of actual words. And then when you share those words with someone else, they undergo a reverse process. If you share a similar “tree of talking,” then those words expand into much the same sets of images. If, however, the person to whom you are communicating has a different cultural background or a different personal experience with horses, the image produces something else, and, as a result, you’ve not quite shared the same idea.

Anyhow, I intend this blog to be about the sharing of ideas (or the failure thereof), especially in the realm of how we human beings try to make ourselves at home in the world, or fail to do so. After all, the ideas in commonest currency–ideological, religious, economic–are often taking us out of the world, rendering us incapable of solving the myriad problems we face here in reality.

The world is our home, and as Ronnie Dugger, the founding editor of the Texas Observer, noted: “Home is where you understand the sons of bitches.” That could well be the motto of this modest blogging attempt.

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