For us, a language is first and foremost someone talking. But there are language games in which the important thing is to listen,
in which the rule deals with audition.
Such a game is the game of the just.
And in this game,
one speaks only inasmuch as one listens,
that is, one speaks as a listener,
and not as an author.
Last month I told you about tiotoling. Do you remember? Tiotoling
a new word on PMTH
that is taken from
and means "talking in order to listen." For a few months now we have
been using this word, putting it in the subjectheads of our postings,
asking and offering to tiotol each other. Everyone seemed enthusaistic
for this new word, at least for the time being. Then, Riet
Samuels seemed to call this enthusiasm into question when she asked:
So, should we coin words on PMTH? And, are terms like "tiotol" helpful? Or do they contribute to the word-clutter that makes reading in our field sometimes fairly tedious? A few of us had an opinion.
My (Lois Shawver's) response was that there is a reason to restrict our word coinage and a reason to let word coinage flower. I suggested that while coining words can limit the number of people who find our language immediately intelligible, it can also open conceptual realms in a very exciting way. (See my full response by clicking here).
But what about the word "tiotol"? Perhaps coining new terms can
be exciting, but what about this particular term, "tiotol"? Is it
a good term to coin? Joe
Pfeffer seemed to think so. He said:
Drury seemed to think otherwise when he told us:
Active listening? Whose term is that? I did a quick internet search. It's a term in the field of education, popularized, apparently, by Marc Helgesen in his book, Active Listening.
But is "active listening" just another term for "tiotoling"? My
quick review suggested these terms had substantially different meanings.
I like what Joe
Pfeffer said in response to Drury so I think I'll quote Pfeffer's response
I bought Pfeffer's argument immediately, and Maryhelen Snyder told Pfeffer that she found his words very clarifying."
My sentiments exactly. And, all of this seemed to convince the
people who questioned it. Samuels
set this conversation in motion) seemed to come around. In her later
she said about coining terms like "tiotol" :
And Drury, that had seemed to question the merits of the tiotol word
said to Pfeffer:
So, for the time being, there seems to be some consensus. We like our word "tiotol" -- at least for now. Perhaps all of this is complicated, however, by the fact that none of our spell checkers catch mispellings of "tiotoling." Pfeffer even said his spell checker suggested he change the world to "tootle"! Ugh!
But let me end on a more profound note. Towards the end of this conversation Drury raised the issue of whether brand spanking new words like "tiotol" were needed to convey nuance, or if we couldn't do it by just changing a single letter in an existing word. After all, Derrida coined his term, differAnce, Drury reminded us, just by replacing one "e" with an "A".
But, for now, it seems that "tiotol" wins out. It captures a meaning
that many of us feel are important, and I, for one, like the sound of this
yodeling, odeling word.
Picture this: It's a Saturday night and there is nothing to do.
It's raining outside and your car is almost out of gas. So you fire
up your handy laptop, and surf over to the Glassbook webstore where you
find a list of types of e-books to browse. Literature and Fiction
fits your mood tonight. You page down, looking at the book
covers, reading the blurbs about them, and settle on Gillian Bradshaw's
new book, Island of Ghosts. One moment later, and you have made your
purchase, downloaded the entire text with your warp speed DSL line.
of this is already possible. Just check it out.)
Then, the easy part. First, you stretch back in your favorite
recliner, then you simply turn your computer on its side and settle back
in to read. Turn your computer on your side? Yep. That
is the way we are making the transition. On its side, your laptop
can have the feel of a traditional book:
Woops! That book is "Treasure Island" -- well, you get the idea.
If you don't have your glasses, no problem, you can control the size of the print. If you don't know a word, just click on it, and your online dictionary will explain it. If you want to underline or take notes, that is all possible, too. You lose nothing but your dependence on the way things used to be.
And there is a important advantage. If you buy your books in this way in the future you will be a reader who can always travel light. Next time you want to change your residence, no more boxes and boxes of books to carry. If you want to take a flight to New Guinea, you can carry a library of reading material in your pocket.
A few years ago, what could have seemed more reliable than the corner book store and the university library? But all of these traditions have been thrown up in the air by the internet and how they come down is still anyone's guess. Instead of traditions, we now have a bushel full of questions.
And, it is not just leisurely reading that will change. The change to electronic text is likely to come even more quickly when it comes to scholarly books and journals. Scholarly journals are increasingly out of reach for library budgets. More and more technical publications tend to be electronic.
Will this revolution happen? Remember, it was in 1456 that the enterprising Johann Gutenberg printed 200 copies of the first book that came off of a printing press. Just fifty years later there were 1000 printing shops in Europe. Revolutions like this can happen.
But, I don't know. I see advantages. I want to be able to set up links between this book and that one, go online and collaborate with other readers who are reading certain sections of Derrida, and do a quick search for the passage a few chapters back that I'm trying to recall.
So, I give progress my permission to march on -- for all that's worth.
PMTH is a closed community for professional therapists, as well as scholars,
professors and graduate students with specialities related to therapy.
We keep our list reserved this way in order to have a special place for
people who are concerned with doing good therapy to discuss their personal
issues about therapy in some depth. We go to other lists to discuss
things with people who don't fit this profile. If you want to invite
one of us to a list you're on, there is a way to do that. Or, if
you fit the profile for membership to PMTH, you can do that, too.
Whichever you want, you can write me and tell me, by clicking
This will send a post to me, Lois Shawver. Tell me of your interest. If you are looking to join us, also give me a little information about yourself that tells me how you fit the profile for joining the PMTH online community. And, in either case, .tell me that you got the idea to write by reading PMTH NEWS.
What is the history of the term "postmodern"? It's a fairly new word as words go. But words get invented all the time. This one has become increasingly familiar within the last 15 or so years, with Amazon books currently sporting about 3000 books on the topic. It was almost unheard of before that, but not completely.
Where did the word first appear? In a book on Spanish poetry criticism in 1934! (Frederrico de Onís used the word postmodernismo in his Antología de la Poesía Española e Hispanoamerica [1882-1932], published in Madrid). It appeared eight years later when Dudley Fitts gave it an English translation of "postmodern" in his anthology of Spanish poetry.
Then the concept showed its head in 1947 when D. C. Somervell (1947) offered an abridgment of Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History and held that "postmodernism" was a new historical cycle beginning in, get this!, 1875!
Some folks say that the poet Charles Olson spoke of postmodernism in the nineteen fifties, although I was not able to track this down. But, it was during this decade that a tension began to be created between those who described postmodernism as something positive and those who saw it as a negative thing. Bernard Rosenberg (1957)described it as someting positive, but Irving Howe (1959) and Harry Levin (1960) described postmodernism as something negative.
This tension between the negative and the positive picture of postmodernism
continued in the seventies with , Ihab
Hassan (1970) celebrating postmodernism while Leslie
Fiedler (1971) deploring it. Later in that decade, a classic
book by Charles Jencks The
Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977) joined Hassan, however,
to celebrate the postmodern. Jencks even told his readers:
Jean-Francois Lyotard was quite early in his use of the term "postmodern", well before it became a popular term. Lyotard published his key text on the subject, The Postmodern Condition, in French in 1979 just two years after Jencks published his book (mentioned above). Baudrillard and Jameson did not begin to use the word "postmodern" until the 1980s and by then the term was in more use.
And the situaiton today? As I said, today the term "postmodern" has become extremely popular, but some folks argue that it is too loose in meaning to be useful. Personally, I feel nothing could be further from the case. Loosely defined and ambiguous terms can be very useful. Take the word "therapy". It is notioriously difficult to pin down. Would you give that word up? Or, if you prefer, take the word "light" and think of using it to mean not only "things light enough to see" but also "things light enough to carry" or even, food to eat when you're trying to "eat light." "Postmodernism" is no more ambiguous than that..
The real test for a word's usefulness, I would argue, is the extent
to which the is used -- and with that criteria, the word "postmodern" wins.
I feel it wins because the word helps some of us say today things we long
to say. The term resonates with something in our lives. And
many of us had been searching for a term that reflected our wish to break
out of stagnant old traditions. For some of us, this term "postmodern"
reflects our new energy as we reach out in a more collaborative quest
for a better and more meaningful world.
Two new imaginary people have emerged this month on PMTH.
Their names are Frank and Fran. These are characters we are creating
in order to explore methods of de-escalating conflict. The exercise
began with me providing the following transcript between these imaginary
people. Read the transcript in order to understand the problem we
have been trying to find ways to avert.
So, you see the potential problem for Fran. Frank is making demands on Fran to stop doing something she wants to do. Perhaps she should stop, but Fran wants a dialogue about it. She doesn't want to surrender to her partner's demands without his having increased understanding of her issues, or without her agreeing that it would be good for her to change.
So, what is the solution? Of course, Fran could simply stop asking questions of their friends, but this would not enhance the communication between Frank and Fran. Again, what's the solution?
PMTH took on the challenge of this question and pooled its resources in hopes of finding ways in which Fran could promote more communication and avoid a futile dispute.
In this exercise, the part of Frank was played by Ed Epp. All of Frank's comments were written by Epp. The part of Fran, however, was written collaboratively by: Riet Samuels, Jude Welles, Nick Drury, Jerry Shaffer. I (Lois Shawver) functioned as an editor, mostly choosing between alternative responses when we had more than one.
Here is what we came up with:
Do you think Fran is succeeding in converting the dispute into a meaningful dialogue? I do. I have studied the dialogue in a bit more detail to try to see how she does that, but I can't escape the feeling that some aspect of her success is escaping me. I think Fran is succeeding in converting a potential dispute into a dialogue, but how is she doing that?
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