I have contributed to a few threads over at Susans.Org and I remember my most powerful skill. I can stop conversations dead.
There are two parts to this talent.
The one is what Robert Oppenheimer was said to do at Los Alamos, sit in a meeting where people argued, then offer a summary that tied the threads together and make the next step obvious. I used to do this a lot when I participated in the Trans-Theory list, recap posts that acknowledged positions, marked differences and highlighted commonalities, and tended to calm down debates. Apparently Opje knew how to ask the good questions too, and while he wasn’t the kind of thinker who would go deep, his ability to make connections helped many deep thinkers move along their own work.
The second, though, is the kind of conversation stopping where you say something so beyond that people just are boggled. Domina Blue, who was in the Army, noticed how guy tended to like conversations where no one knew anything about the topic under discussion, and in their shared ignorance, they could babble on forever. Of course, that’s the premise on The View, too, where their lack of expert understanding allows everyone’s opinion to be equally valued.
Now, this doesn’t always stop conversations, though it often does, but it always requires me to be ignored so the babble can continue.
Some people are surprised that more people don’t value my work, more people don’t embrace my connections & summations, more people don’t share what I offer.
After all these decades, I’m not surprised at all. I’m the grad course, and to value me you have to value moving beyond ignorance rather than staying fixed in it. And ignorance, well, many people take it for bliss. It was the apple of knowledge that got humans thrown out of the garden of eden, and the woman who violated innocence was cursed with pain after searching for wisdom.
My bliss isn’t in ignorance. I was talking with my sister yesterday about the fact that change requires you to be a new person, but if the ties around you don’t let you change, that’s a very hard task, as they pull you back in. Family dynamics. That’s one reason that a diagnosis or treatment is so powerful, because it’s an authoritative statement that you have to change or else, a tool to use to force others to see you differently, to treat you differently.
Following my bliss means that others who engage me have to bite the apple, lose some of the walled off innocence/ignorance/comfort they have learned to crave.
And that bite, the requirement to see the connections that take us deeper, well, it always seems to be a conversation stopper.