Saying What You Mean

Voice Card  -  Volume 5  -  John Card Number 23  -  Thu, Mar 30, 1989 5:41 PM

I was particularly struck by the following passage in a recent book:

An international conference on teaching mathematics was held in Ghana, Africa, in 1959. At a certain point the Nigerian delegation stood up and walked out. It was quite dramatic - they were dressed in beautiful African robes. Then the meeting broke up and I had this conversation with one of the people from the Nigerian delegation who went by.

"Why did you walk out, what's going on?"

"I can't talk to these Americans." (Nobody thought of me as an American.)

"Why not?"

"Because they say what they mean."

We're so brought up with the idea that communication fails when people don't say what they mean. The man explained "When two Americans have a confrontation - one's going to be right and the other's going to be wrong. We don't do it like that. We sit around under the tree, and somebody says something, and somebody else does, and we talk, and nobody has a position. It goes on for a long time, and maybe tomorrow, or eventually, everybody agrees on a position. Then everyone is right and there isn't anybody's point of view left out."

Possible relevance to Archipelago! The quote is from "THE MEDIA LAB" by Stewart Brand, a book that I HIGHLY reccomend. I probably won't bother to review it (since I prefer to review more timeless books), but if you'd like a glimpse into some of the breathtaking technology that is just around the corner, along with a peak inside the ultimate Ponarvian think tank, I can't reccomend this book too highly! Most interesting stuff I've read in the last year!