Hello my little kittlings,
Communication is complicated : I don’t think many people realise just how complicated it really is. It’s actually quite incredible that we ever manage to understand each other at all.
Imagine, if you can, that this web log is a message in a bottle,
(Pay attention, now, this is something of a magic trick):
Here, I carefully whisper my ideas. I choose my words, somewhat intuitively, to suit the message that I want to share with you. In a moment, I will press “publish” and throw my bottle into the sea. At that point, only I will know what the message contains.
You will have no idea.
Now, here is the tricky part, this is really a quantum message in a bottle:
Once you read these words, you will ascribe to them a meaning. Based on your mood, your experiences, your own train of thought; you will give to each of these words a tone and inflection that I cannot predict.
And so, once you read these words, it is I that does not know what my message contains. Only you really know what I have written.
Now, of course, if I were writing for one person alone, I could take a guess. I could measure my words, based on all that I know of you, and try to provide you with the phrases that you need to understand what I want to say.
But the person that I would be writing for is not the person who will read it. The person who reads this message has had experiences, thoughts and ideas, since last I met them, which I am not aware of yet.
Similarly, if you knew me, you could try to guess at what I meant; but the Renaud who types these words is not the Renaud you last spoke to. I, too, have changed in myriad small ways since last you built an image of me.
And so, this quantum message in a bottle also travels through time. This is a message from a past Renaud to a future you, or from a future Renaud to a past you. Each of us communicating as best we can with another, out of sync.
Last, but not least, I cannot know you – nor you, me – though we can, over time and exposure, build passable impressions of ourselves.
The words that you read are attributed in your mind to an imago of me. A little homunculous Renaud that you have built yourself, over the time we have spent together. And, if I were writing to a single person, I would also be writing to an image of that person in my mind. A projected you.
[Now, this might seem terrible to you, I know it seems terrible to some, but I disagree. We can know each other to the same extent that we can ever know anything: We build a clay figure of ourselves in each other’s mind and, as time goes by and we learn to know each other better, we tweak and adjust this little golem to better represent its parent.
This is fine. This is how we discover each other. This is the process of being human(ity), and we get better at it all the time. I may not know you perfectly – oh, anonymous reader – but I aim to.]
What all of this means, is that I am writing a uncertain time-capsule to an imagined future traveller, and you are reading indistinct hieroglyphs by the hand of an imagined predecessor.
We are, each of us, doing our best to comprehend each other.
And so, if you read these words and you find them unclear, simply remember this: I have written them for you in an act of friendship, even though I may not know you. These are merely ideas for you to consider, to weigh and measure up against the boundaries of your world.
And perhaps, when you see your words distorted by the dimensions of another’s ear, you will decide that this is okay. It is a part of the process of communication. Our words are made in our image.