Sunday, June 06, 2004
Is conversation a lost art? I don't think so. More than anything, it has become even stronger. Before I delve deeper into the discussion, let me define what conversation is first. Conversation entails at least two people exchanging ideas about events, people and importantly enough, more ideas. Hence, it is the main component in communication where there is a giver and a receiver.
Another key component to conversation is the immediacy by which ideas are communicated. Thus, it is conversation when two people are talking to each other, exchanging what they believe in. Having said that, now comes the question of it being "art". There is no clearcut definition of what art is. When asked about what is jazz, Duke Ellington answered, "if you have to ask, then you'll never know." Yet, loosely, art is creating, and showing what is beautiful. This being the case, we refer to painters, poets, dancers, etc. as artists. Simple as it may sound, the complexity arises in the fact that people vary with their concept of beauty. As there are different variations of what is beautiful, so are there variations of what the term "art" means.
Having said that, how do we consider conversation as art? The beauty of conversation is that it is about the transfer of one idea to another. It is about reception and the giving of information. It is even a higher artform when a presented idea is challenged for what follows is a deeper conversation where each of the speakers engage in arguing and persuading one another. We call this argumentation and debate.
Is conversation a lost art? No. With the advent of computers and high technology, conversation is brought to an even higher level. Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and the Third Wave, dubbed our times as the age of information. How can he be wrong? The emergence of email, beepers, cell phones and other electronic devices attest to this fact. This emergence of high technology as used to relay information made conversation more accessible even if the communicants are far from one another. And because this brought about the possibility of interacting with one another wothout physical presence, the communicator of an idea is less inhibited to present his/her side and so, is freer to say what he'she wants to say. Conversely, the receptor is likewise, less inhibited to disagree.
The best example would be the political climate we are in. If it is anything at all, it is about the free exchange of ideas. True, we may be in the slumps right now, but that is a different topic altogether. Conversation-wise, we are at the top of the art form. That is the true essence of democracy, that is the right to express and be heard. That is the essence of the art of conversation.