What is the difference between what I understand,
Between what I say
What you hear,
And what you interpret.
What I intend,
And what you perceive?
It is obvious to me that you are the only one who…
I used to know someone who over-used obvious.
This demonstrated her lack of perception,
The irony being,
Obvious which operated on an intellectual level
Was an example of her lack of the emotionally obvious.
Is obviousness the source of what is wrong?
What is apparent to me
And I believe should be to you.
It is the basis of communication.
I do not hear.
I cannot hear
I will not listen
My mind is elsewhere;
Underneath my Beanie.
The words that leave my lips
Intend one thing
And the Babel translates into another.
I ask you to go left, you turn right.
When doctors speak, they frequently fail to communicate their intentions.
Mostly, because they are talking a different language.
That of medicine is far-away from the everyday,
of you or me or the ‘man’ on the street.
The individual a Channel 4 journalist interviews,
‘What do you think of Sunak/May/Johnson/Truss’ announcement today?’
Usually one person supporting, another opposing and a third, on an altogether different page, ‘Everything is smaller/dirtier/broken/delayed these days.’
Recently a colleague told me they had clearly communicated to me.
I hadn’t understood. I had missed the point, either not listened or read the intention. It was a miscommunication.
We miscommunicate all the time.
I can’t help returning to Heathcote Williams’ Mokusatsu. Have you read it?
It is my most referenced poem.
If what is said is what is meant and what is meant is what is understood, we will all get along.
Instead, there is obfuscation.
In 1945 it was bombs exploding over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, today it is Putin’s intentions.
In 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first electronic communication.
It said, ‘What hath God Wrought’ (And yes, the rest is history).
‘Mum, remember your cancer scare?’
The narrative that a family carries for decades.
When, the reality was, a doctor over-investigating, mis-interpreting results, signs, or symptoms.
In healthcare there are the black and whites, for example, the presence or absence of Covid.
Beyond this, in the netherworld are chest infections, heart attacks and cancer, all of which exist on a continuum.
‘No, it was pneumonia, not a chest infection.’
‘Severe angina not a heart attack.’
‘A benign growth, not malignant; yes, a growth we still need to cut-out.’
It seems half of society hears one thing and understands another.
This is the basis of Brexit, our mixed-up electoral system.
Look anywhere and democracy is in free-fall.
Politics, polemics, demagoguery combined with Twitter and Facebook.
People disbelieve what they see, doubting the existence of good or bad, pursuing a flat earth and making fools of themselves, although they believe it is you or me who is the fool for trusting Biden or whichever individual holds a meter ruler and advises the length of a piece of string.
‘No, a yard! A foot! A furlong!’
‘I like cubits…’
And so on.
How do we find a common language?
The system of communication that existed before Babel.
Before God decreed that misconstruction would be our standard?
The humans built the tower to reach heaven or God and their punishment to forever live in perplexity, to hover above or alongside the dark matter.
And what was that early divine inspired language?
What did Adam say to Eve?
Sorry to disappoint, Rabbi Eliyahu, it wasn’t Hebrew or Yiddish.
Ask Netanyahu, he will show you the power of double-speak.
Nor was it Latin or Greek.
Perhaps that early mode of communication was silence.
Gesture, smiling and hand-signalling.
It would have made everything more straightforward.
You can’t build a weapon of mass destruction with a thumbs-up or down.
Here we are.
Most believe their world is the world, their sense of a many worlds to look away.
And here, I hover,
Not quite off the ground,
Not quite floating in space,
Not quite wet or dry.
I hear the rain.
It is after six on a Saturday morning.
My wetsuit is on the table, ready for donning.
This week a news article revealed the dangers of cold-water pulmonary oedema, particularly a concern for women.
The Facebook group were worried.
‘I’m hanging up my neoprene,’ Said one.
Another, ‘You’ve got to die from something.’
The sanguine and the certain.
If only we knew.
Me, I will take my chances.
I will appear odd or bizarre or confused.
An anomaly on the horizon.
I will do my best to represent reality,
And, if I fail,
It wasn’t my fault.