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Being philosophical about 'small talk' and 'good manners' of speech.

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Dec. 28th, 2006 | 05:56 pm
mood: quixoticquixotic

So, you're at the end of a call with a corporate customer service representative. She has been very helpful; you've gotten what you needed and you are ready to end the call. A novice philosopher of the Utilitarian school might be tempted, then, to just abruptly hang up. But you know there is a ritual you are compelled to perform. To some, it is distasteful: to say something or several somethings meaningless and utterly predictable; to belabor the obvious.

But, imagine. You know almost exactly, to a word, the next several of your lines. They will happen just as they will, without much effort on your part, if you let them. So let that go. Now, how much larger are you, inside this moment? How much more aware you can be. Knowing the play, you can study the actors, the set pieces. Listen to the timbre of the voices. There's a person in there, in those modulations. Good mood; bad? What are the sounds in the background? Did she skip lunch?

This is what time is, you think. A series of events happening one after the other, or at least, being arranged that way in what cognitive scientists refer to as the 'working memory'.
You've reached an anticipated portion of the roller coaster where it will do thus-and-so, and for a moment, perhaps at the peak before a plunge, you have a wider view of things. There's almost a sense of vertigo when you look at it, lean against the flow being the you-that-witnesses internally even as your vocal cords and speech centers carry out the ritual, saying the words.

Enjoy the ride.

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Comments {5}

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Triple Entendre

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from: triple_entendre
date: Feb. 19th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
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it's that way for me only some of the time. at "automatic" times i'm not "present" in whatever mental processes choose the response -- it feels reflexive. (it may ultimately be the same process "under the hood", but unobserved.)

Do you -- does it -- ummm... so hard to put words to cognition... OK, here we are: the brain-as-automobile-transmission metaphor. how much of your mind and/or your experience of 'mind' is automatic, and how much is manual?

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NobodobodoN

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from: nobodobodon
date: Dec. 29th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
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For me, the words are preordained, but the tone of voice is not. Unless I feel I've been wronged by that individual, I always make it a point to be surprisingly pleasant, socially generous, even delightful. The tone in response is always surprised, and usually delighted.

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Triple Entendre

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from: triple_entendre
date: Dec. 29th, 2006 11:01 am (UTC)
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That's a good example. In fact, it was just such an interaction that inspired this post.

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dragonflier

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from: dragonflier
date: Dec. 29th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I've had that experience before and you described it perfectly. I'll have to pay more attention to it next time. I'll have to imagine it as a roller coaster.

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Chango Zendanista

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from: earthmonkey23
date: Dec. 29th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, I sometimes forget to pay attention to the inner witness, we would all do well to heed its call.

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