Thursday, October 18, 2012

8 Points For Understanding Disability/Able-bodiedness as Intercultural Communication

Intro: I reflect on this while reading The Handbook of Communication With People With Disabilities. A few days ago, something happened in German Class. We were reviewing body part names, and of course the easiest way to teach it, and another language, is to talk about form-function. So, when the professor said for example, "What are legs for?" Most the students unanimiously said "to walk". I instead answered every question with "Theoretically, use x (body part) to do y (action)." And my professor of course, laughed. Perhaps I was over the top, but as an analyst, it was my duty. So, I present this outline that explains, in part, the disability/able-bodied interaction.      

Understanding communication with PWDs (People With Disabilities) and Able-Bodies (ABs) as intercultural communication:

1.) A disability changes a person’s communication patterns because we are affected in the areas of 1.) mobility 2.) employment 3.) self-care 4.) communication and 5.) social relationships. This is because of how we see ourselves internally as unlimited, but our limitations are visible, unlike able-bodied dependencies, creating tension in situations where what is unfamiliar is emphasized.
2.) Cultural problems between PWDs and ABs are mainly because of a deficit between how PWDs make themselves independent, and how ABs view a PWD as to his/her level of dependence/independence. There is always an attempt to create independence where an AB sees dependency.
3.) Braithwaite and Braithwaite believe one should ask a PWD if they need help, before giving it. Look the PWD in the eye, talk to them as you would an AB.
4.) The verbal and non-verbal patterns of a PWD reflect an ongoing flux of external challenges and struggle for freedom and dignity, specifically in the first three realms mentioned by Crewe & Athaslan, while the last two are dependent on creating cultural understanding.
5.) Disability is the physical condition of being environmentally limited to perform certain sensory activities that AB culture takes for granted in daily life. A handicap is when the environment highlights these limitations and there is no way to overcome them.
6.) Nonverbal communication with a PWD should communicate openness and not uneasiness, independence and not dependence, assertiveness and not hypersensitivity, mainly by means of the PWD constructing assertiveness.
7.) Redefinition is the process by which PWDs redefine their disabilities in a positive light to show that everyone has disabilities and limits, and we can overcome them. While some say I’m confined to a wheelchair, I prefer to say liberated by a wheelchair.
8.) Disability becomes a culture when one recognizes the deficit between physical/mental ability and one’s ability to overcome it.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Universal Light Expo 2012


I just got back from the Universal Light Expo in Columbus. It took place this weekend. And there were Buddhist monks in the building making a mandala from sand grains and then they would later destroy it. They also did some chanting later on that evening, and dances that go back 4000 years, I believe the translator said. After seeing the Tibetan monks, I bought a pocketbook of writings by the Dalai Lama. Even though I am Agnostic, I’m still fascinated by Buddhism. You could see in the monks’ eyes a real commitment to non-violence that comes from real pain and exile from Tibet to India. I was honored to see those real traditions: Dances, chants, debates, and pantomimes.

There were booths there all dedicated to alternative healing methods. Being an ethnographer, and knowing that every culture has different systems of logic, I take all those power crystals, psychics, etc. with a grain of salt. They offer support to people who need traditions and rituals. I was able to talk about most of it artistically. One woman in particular I liked to see was a photographer who took pictures of light orbs with little quotes. I talked to her about some of the quotes she used from Goethe, Einstein and Max Planck. Also, Kurt Vonnegut. Every booth was decorated, it seems, with blue and white curtains. Mystical music played throughout the place.

I was enjoying the art and cultural analysis. So, some friends of my mom’s opened me up to this audiopathic therapy that supposedly “reprograms” muscle tissue or the brain, etc. So they stuck a vibrating box under my legs and put on some headphones and all I heard was this calm reverberating “mmmmmmmm….” mechanical sound. But after a while I got spaced out and really relaxed. Then, I talked Star Trek and quantum theory with the owner. I was honestly pretty spaced out. At the time, I think I thought it worked, but it wore off when I went home.

I think because I’d spent time watching the Buddhist traditions, the audiopathic effect lasted a little longer; I was more relaxed. The throat-singing is particularly mesmerizing. I suppose all these alternative healing processes (except the ones like massage and the more artistic endeavors like healing photography.) work on the same level as mesmerism. You tell someone what they want to believe and they buy into it: confirmation bias.

But, on some level I couldn’t contain my skepticism. I especially didn’t like the psychics or people that claim to be selling more than they are. I can suspend my disbelief for New Age sound machines that relieve stress or light orb photography, but not communication with the dead. They seemed to me to take advantage of people needing faith. So, I avoided all the booths about Tarot or communing with the dead. The rest of the time I tried to keep an open mind. But, then I had an empty stomach!

The food there was good! I had my first (and second, the next day) taste of Indian food: rice, naan, curry chicken, and some good ol’ lemonade. The second day, I had vegan mock tuna which was excellent. I like it better than regular tuna. Apparently, it’s just beans with some spices! It was dynamite! And I love regular tuna, too!

The next day, I spent more time with my mom’s friends who convinced me to try this crystal power belt thing across my chest that works by “infrared energy” to eliminate “negative ions”. I figured, “What could it hurt?” and did it. I felt heat coming from the belt, but also a deep relaxation. Belief is often the only thing that holds this culture together (i.e faith seekers, along with some kind of medical professionals.) I humored them and told them I felt heat and a “glow”. Maybe it was just heat, or maybe I just wanted them to be happy. In either case, it was good to explore new patterns of thought, look at some creative art, and interpretations of reality. One man (running the idiopathic booth the day before.) said that he wasn’t raised New Age, so all this crystal power was new to him, and the options were overwhelming.

That’s kind of how I felt, except I’m more familiar with New Age thought, and more than often humor it, because the end goal is to be happy and have faith for New Agers. After the crystal power belt booth, I went back to the audiopathy. I just thought of it as listening to music, and not as re-programming the brain. This time, he instructed me to get on a table. I laid down for about an hour listening to the rhythmic drone. Last night, it had given me vivid and intense dreams of the Buddhist Snow Lion Dance and talking to Captain Kirk in the Enterprise when I went to sleep. Toward the end, he asked me if I could walk ever and I said: “Only in my dreams.” I have no desire to walk, and I certainly don’t think there’s a sound you can play to make it work.

I passed by the orb light photographer again. Saw the Buddhists working on a mandala which they would again destroy at the end of the night. I have respect for the artists, those monks, and for the faith seekers. But I began to wonder how much was based on an able-bodied narrative that the body needs to be “healed” from conditions that make able-bodied people uncomfortable. Hence, the talking about “Could I ever walk?” and non-existent norms of mind and body, achieved through communication with special beings. In my view, it’s all just storytelling, and I enjoy that artistic aspect. But, I couldn’t help but think that some were just taking advantage of people’s desire to be special. My mom’s friend’s were probably upset that I didn’t go to the drum show, and left early, but there was a storm coming, and I had German homework to do

 Lastly, we perused the bookstore and convinced my mom not to buy anything. I was anxious to get home. But, for that time, I was enjoying being open to those new experiences. The form didn’t matter: They searched for faith. I searched for culture. For meaning! This music is a good idea of how I felt in there, like in the bazaar from Blade Runner. Over all, I liked observing: Until someone wanted to make me walk. Then, I stuck to my guns!

(Book I bought from monks!)

Saturday, October 13, 2012


III. Films as Hot Buttons:

Continuing from yesterday's post, how do films create and resolve conflict, once we have common scenes for analysis? First,the characters and settings in films often give rise to powerful emotions unconsciously. The case of the classic German director Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel presents these hot buttons quite vividly in The International Dictionary of Flims and Filmmakers vol. 1 : “By choosing a turn of the century setting, von Sternberg placed the story in his own childhood, and decorated it with images of his own adolescent eroticism.”8 (Pendergast, et. al, 1997, pg. 130) Von Sternberg, then a married man, had somewhat of a sexual obsession with the actress Marlene Dietrich, for whom she represented his erotic adolescence. Thus, films mirror the dreamworld in that they become a safe venue for expressing previously repressed memories, and “unacceptable” emotions.

     Second, as I have written before with support for this theory by Freud and McLuhan, films likewise represent desires and strong emotions, and some may not come up consciously. These are called "hot buttons". Again, the important question is to ask why some "button" is being "pushed". However, this does not relate to the options for mutual gain, but to explicating conflicting emotions so that both parties can begin to negotiate. To provide a more concrete example, let me return to Star Wars. Luke Skywalker getting his hand chopped off with a lightsaber could invoke a sense of awe or a sense of dread and helplessness. Why? What does the hand mean? As Morton Deutsch states: “It is wise to recognize that you, as well as the other, have hot buttons that, if pressed, are likely to evoke strong emotions. The emotions evoked may be anxiety, anger, rage, fear, depression, withdrawal, and so on. It is important to know your own hot buttons and how you tend to react when they are pressed, so that you can control your reactions in that event.” 9(Deutsch et. al 2006, pg. 36) At this point, it is possible that the emotions may be purged, explained, and negotiated. Perhaps one party feels as though its “hand” in the situation is removed. If both parties feel this way, all the better, because they both have an allegory to relate to, and will respond in a style empathetic to Luke’s character when hot buttons are pushed: “It’s okay. Let’s solve this like Jedis.”

There is, of course, a myriad of ways to interpret films, and a huge difference between Luke Skywalker and Leatherface, for example. As Moron Deutsch points out above, it is important to know how to react when hot buttons are pushed. Anger and aggression are hot buttons. So, if a man identifies with Freddie Krueger, and so does the other: Why?

Again, the advantage of films is the ability to create such emotions in an atmosphere analogous to soft negotiation. You have agreed on a film, and explained why. The viewers are willing to be friendly, as the solutions to conflict and the diffusion or expression of hot buttons usually takes place within the film’s narrative. (i.e. “I like when Freddie kills things; he’s so extreme!” means “I wish I could be as powerful as Freddie.”) The emotional nature of films brings out this wish-fulfilling principle, which parties can then identify as coping mechanisms for hot buttons. Typically, these hot buttons in films are in the movie itself. We know Darth Vader is the villain of Star Wars because of the bad things he does in the film. That is, the parties have agreed, in general, what buttons he pushes. Then, is the time for film evaluation, and how the film presents conflict. With the tool of the film as a desirable narrative, parties should be able to identify hot buttons in the film, and explain why they arise.

IV: Films as Desirable Outcomes: Conclusion

The principle of storytelling presented by films provides a context for negotiation to conclude. That is, “How do achieve the best outcome, and both come out as heroes?” The mythic-dream context of the film can be personally applied: “How can we both be bad asses like Scarface? What does he represent?” Though it appears that such answers are Jungian in origin, I believe the symbolic interpretation of film imagery to be fundamentally personal, and not to be taken as literal or absolute.

This is the beauty of films in negotiation. Once you realize that films have the potential to generate interests in metaphorical, dream-like quests, you automatically have a basis from which to negotiate, to plan strategies for mutual gain, and ultimately for a chance to examine positions and build trust. Behind the magic of movies is the practical knowledge of how to negotiate human desires and conflicts in a friendly, entertaining setting. It is the magic of dreams that enables us to see the positives in other people with whom we share common experiences. The point is that every individual has his own very special problem in this life crisis about what he or she has been doing. Since films speak to us in different ways, the key would be to explain why it speaks to us the way it is does, to mirror dreamworlds. Films merely provide a context and lexicon for conflict resolution; but it is one that is ancient and dream-giving: that of drama and the hero’s journey.

In conclusion, the mythic-dream context of films helps us sort through conflict through identification of emotions, desires, and film events. It is perhaps the most primal and creative and friendly way to express these repressed desires. As the parties negotiate, identification and trust is built through a premise of understanding events in the film and giving them an interpretation them to match the situation at hand. Simply put: It is the magic of movies that McLuhan attests to that glues us together to transform the viewers.

1. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Ed: Lewis H. Lapham. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA: 1994.

2. The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. Campbell, Joseph. Ed.: Flowers, Betty Sue. Knopf Publishing Group: 1991.

3. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Ury et. al. 1981. Ed: Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY: 1991

4. A Short Guide to Writing About Film: Fifth Edition. Corrigan, Timothy. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, PA: 2004

5. The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Trans. Kaufmann Walter. Chicago University Press. Chicago, IL: 1967.

6. Wadsworth World Classics in Literature: The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud, Sigmund. 1900. Ed: Hallstein, David. Wadsworth Publishers: London, UK: 1997.

7. Language in Thought and Action 5th Edition. Hiyakawa, S.I. Ed: Hiyakawa, A.R. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt, Brace, and Company: 1992

8. The International Dictionary of Flims and Filmmakers vol. 1: pg. 130-131 Der blaue Engel. Ed.: Pendergast, Tom. New York, NY: 1997.

9. The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. Deutsch, Morton. Ed: Coleman, Peter T. Jossey-Bass Publishers: San Francisco 2003.


Friday, October 12, 2012


Note: In honor of the ReelAbilities Film Fest coming up the first week in November, I thought I’d post some thoughts on film theory and Communication. If I had to write another thesis, it would probably be on using film and pop culture to promote strong images of disability. This one though is about film and conflict resolution, which was another idea I toyed with, but decided not to develop at the time. So, maybe now’s the time, and I hope it makes you think about your favorite movies!


“The movie is not only a supreme expression of mechanism, but paradoxically it offers as product the most magical of consumer commodities, namely dreams. It is, therefore, not accidental that the movie has excelled as a medium that offers poor people roles of riches and power beyond the dreams of avarice.”1
- Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
(McLuhan, 1964 pg. 290)

People all have their favorite movies, and with those movies come strong dreams. Audiences identify with their favorite characters, experience their favorite scenes, and even sometimes recite the dialogue over their favorite film as it occurs, such as: “Luke, I am your father.” What is it about film that is relevant to negotiation? Dreams represent goals, desires, or in the language of Ury et al., interests presented in a psychologically entertaining and mythical story: As Joseph Campbell says in The Power of Myth: “When Ben Kenobi says, "May the Force be with you," he's speaking of the power and energy of life, not of programmed political intentions.”2 (Campbell 1988, pg. 145)

That is to say, movies have mythological and metaphysical structures that fulfill interests. (Security, belonging, sense of control.) Hence, egos can now be invested in the movies as the viewers watch and form positions on movies. A decision so simple as what movie to watch can become a contest of wills, as Ury et al. say: "I'm not going to give in. If you want to go to the movies with me, it's The Maltese Falcon or nothing."3 (Ury et al., 1981 pg. 6) But, the wonder of the film is that it brings people together to discuss what they dislike or like about the plot, in an entertaining atmosphere where interests are revealed. In the above example, dialogue is still possible based on the fact that we know that the viewer likes The Maltese Falcon. The key is to ask why.

In that way, because it asks why, many of the steps in Timothy Corrigan’s A Short Guide To Writing About Film mirror Ury et al.’s “Principled Negotiation”. Ury et al. called interests and positions what Corrigan called opinion and evaluation. In evaluation, aim is: “not pronouncing a film good or bad, but explaining why.”4(Corrigan 2004, pg. 15) Compared to Ury et al., both have similar methods for determining interests behind positions: “Examine each position they take, and ask yourself "Why?"” the advantage of film analysis in negotiation is that films represent desires, “hot buttons”, provide a context for discourse, which enables both parties to analyze their own feelings corresponding the film’s visual lexicon of characters, scenes, and film technique. (i.e. camera use or identifying themes.)

II. Films as Desires:

“The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth.”
- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (Campbell, 1988 pg. 48)
Paraphrasing Campbell, a hero is a person who has looked inside himself or herself and undertaken a quest for something greater than the individual self. Because of the reflective nature of the hero, he or she ultimately returns to realizing that the power that transformed himself or herself. “...if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.” (Campbell, 1988 pg. 113) The power to look inside your bliss and discover your inner power through mythical transformation is the power that film gives to the viewer. This is why viewers identify with characters in movies. Through the experiences of the characters in movies, dreams are presented. For McLuhan, this was a transformation of the “world of display” once privileged only to the rich, as was Greek drama. This world was previously taken from the rich by photography. It has only been transferred to a dramatic medium, which is now widely available to popular culture. The advantage of the use of film in negotiation is this widespread appeal coupled with the drama’s ability to create myth, and the power of the visual media to create dreams. Speaking of Greek drama (which McLuhan transferred to film drama) Nietzsche reminds us in The Birth of Tragedy that art is a“ saving sorceress ”, and that “she alone may transform these horrible reflections on the nausea and absurdity of existence into representations with which humankind may live.”5 (Nietzsche trans. Kaufmann, 1872/1967 pg. 60) In just this way, movies arouse emotions by mise-en-scène and take forms with which we can live, such as Luke Skywalker, Scarface, or even Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the point in negotiation being to explain why we identify with the characters or mise-en-scène.

That media create dreams is not a new idea. Freud’s classic example is a glass of water. If I desire a glass of water, but cannot reach it, there is a good chance that the water will show up in a dream as a medium to express thirst: “If I succeed in appeasing my thirst by means of the dream that I am drinking I need not wake in order to satisfy that thirst. It is thus a dream of convience. The dream takes the place of action, as elsewhere in life.”6 (Freud trans. Wadsworth 1900/1997, pg. 35) Now, that I’ve established how dreams are transferred through films to the viewer, through mythic structure, visual imagery, and Freudian wish-fulfillment, I can demonstrate the usefulness of negotiating through film. Firstly, film provides the method outlined by Ury et al., namely:

“1. Separate the People from the Problem
2. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
3. Invent Options for Mutual Gain
4. Insist on Objective Criteria”
(Ury et al., 1981 pg. 15)

The first two steps are equivalent to using Timothy Corrigan’s evaluation vs. opinion. That is: What elements of the film do we find agreeable and why? Of course, in separating the person from the problem, film has the advantage of expressing desires in a form which is only a movie, so we cannot blame the person (using evaluation) for identifying with particular happenings in a movie. Films are emotional configurations that mirror the metaphorically-based dreamworld. Emotions are necessarily far-fetched, and include our deepest fantasies.

Another advantage of films in explicating emotions during conflict is the ability of film to invent options for mutual gain. First, the film sets up a soft negotiation “context”, in which the parties have come together for entertainment, but still leaves room for principled negotiation because the options for mutual gain are presented in the film itself. For example, we might say that one party identifies with the conflict of Luke Skywalker, and the other with Darth Vader. Why? From here, the options present themselves through narrative. Perhaps one side feels downtrodden and so gives itself power through Luke. What wish does he fulfill? At the very least, the parties have come together to watch Star Wars, and that will build trust. In believing film debate to be a source of cohesion, I am also supported by S.I. Hayakawa’s notion that the function of chit-chat reveals social cohesion. “It is the togetherness of the talking, then, is the most important element on social conversation; the subject matter is only secondary.”7 (Hiyakawa, 1992 pg. 58) The subject matter of conflict is enhanced by the cohesion of viewing films together. Finally, the objective criteria are given by the film, its history, and its narrative. (Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how films, according to me, both create and resolve conflict! See if your favorite characters are mentioned!)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Empowering Dialogue and The Nature of Power

Empowering Dialogue and the Nature of Power:

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil1
(Nietzsche 1886/Kaufmann 1963:89)

Many people believe that effective dialogue is about peaceful agreement, and conflict resolution; that if an attempt to gain power or address control comes into a dialogue, there must be some partisan or repressive agenda at hand. Only one side can have power. This is false. Anything can be effective communication if it accomplishes its goal. Insulting can be effective communication if it influences the listener negatively. Lying can be effective if it deceives the receiver. The core of interpersonal communication and dialogue is power because it affects and influences actions. By openly examining the nature of power rather than avoiding the abyss and sinking in, I intend to look back into it, and show how power can be used to gain resources for, and direct two or more parties toward dialogue.

Power is, as Nietzsche suggests, a reciprocal (though not always equal.) creative force. Power sharing is the most important aspect of interpersonal communication, because power is the ability to influence or control events. It is not negative. It is beyond good and evil. It can only be used for negative means. Power depends on resources parties can employ to influence and attain direction. The effectiveness of a power resource used depends on “endorsement” by another

 group. So, power exists in the interpersonal relationship-interaction. For effective interpersonal communication, use power for attaining mutual goals, and disregard ideology, which is more of an abstraction that does not exist outside the mind. One can tell the use/effectiveness of power through the outcome it produces. In interpersonal communication, we want to aim for mutually empowering communication that is whatever enhances the ability of both parties to create and control events. In this perspective, my three biggest influences have been political science, mythology, and mindfulness. (In order: Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and Thich Nhat Hanh.)

First, when I include political control, I do not mean domination. Domination is not a mutually accepted relationship. In that way, I mean the French and Raven definition of legitimate authority (trust), based on increasing power; whether legitimate, expert, or referent (never coercive power; which French and Raven include.) Paraphrasing Friedrich Nietzsche: If you want to be a friend, you must be willing to risk being an enemy. Nothing can get done if you are too soft, and avoid real issues. The most important thing is that you attain mutual goals, dealing with the persons or parties themselves, not whether or not you think a person likes you. This includes attitudes and events about which you share the same ideas and perceptions. Trust should be reliable, repeatable, and efficient. The danger of sacrificing interests in a power sharing relationship is that the sacrificed concerns are not addressed or viewed as legitimate: Openly discuss power in relationships. Doing so will help increase power in life and the lives of others as well as direct both powers toward a goal, the higher aim of the relationship.

Heroes have goals such higher aims, and heroes are motivated by mythology. Giving himself/herself to the Greater Good, the hero follows his/her bliss, and becomes immortalized by spiritual/physical heroic deeds beyond self-interest. This Greater Good that attains bliss is called mythology. Mythologist Joseph Campbell states that: “Wherever you are - if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”2 (Campbell and Moyers 1988:113)


Myths are stories designed to instruct and uplift the listener and storyteller. We are commonly used to thinking of myth as meaning lie. But the importance of the myth has for centuries been its inspirational or instructional value. For example, ancient Greece was rich in myth. We can hear the stories of Odysseus, Hercules as well as Jason and the Argonauts, and still find qualities and lessons that inspire us. Modern psychology has proven to benefit from the mythological format. (In diagnosing Oedipus complex, schizophrenia, and forming the archetypal tragic plot.) In each case, psychologically or interpersonally, these myths are dramas that are goal-oriented and instructional. As long as you have that inner power, power sharing becomes a matter of seeking external power sources, and negotiating.

Sources of power come from people who wield influence, or groups of people who have influence. These are present in goal-oriented power structures, namely hierarchies, and determined by who has access to the top of the hierarchy. People can increase power by using skills to get up the hierarchy, or by arranging coalitions of shared power, or gathering allies to obtain their goals. Successful power sharing mythological hierarchies interpersonally include King Arthur and his knights, or even Batman and Robin. In the aphorism of J.W. von Goethe quoted in Benjamin Jowett’s The Dialogues of Plato: “He is dead in this world who has no belief in another.”3 (Goethe 1832/Jowett 1937:182) Power needs to be divided and shared if it is to be set on a path.

Often it is necessary to reform these power negotiations and to rename them. For example, instead of being in a battle with an enemy, think of dancing with a partner, and cooperating. War is not the only power metaphor. In fact, it is a bad one for power sharing, because it is based on absolute ideology, which is an abstraction of the mind. As Mark Juergensmeyer stated in his textbook Terror in the Mind of God: the global rise of religious violence: "A satanic enemy cannot be transformed. It can only be destroyed."4 (Juergensmeyer 2000:220) The previous quote would be a warning to those who would use the war metaphor. If you believe you are in a war, then war is bound to follow from it. Another way to reexamine the problem is to remember what Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Human life is more precious than any ideology, any doctrine...[I]f you have an ideology, and stick to it thinking it is absolute truth, you can kill millions.”5 (Nepstad 2004:268)

The mention of Thich Nhat Hanh brings me to the concept of mindfulness. As he is quoted in the textbook Bridges not walls: a book about interpersonal communication: “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.”6 (Shafir 2009:219) Rebecca Shafir has also called mindfulness one-pointedness; it is the ability to concentrate and be in the moment. This seems to abolish the notion of attaining goals, but it does not, because the goal will emerge from the communication itself. Without the ability to listen, dialogue (and so interpersonal communication) becomes powerless. It is important to focus your intention on the collaborative trajectory of power: power is always creating something and always in dynamic play, it can only be noticed and given direction. The creative and dynamic play of power means that power is productive and formless. It takes shape in things. It can result in the production of order and reality, including hierarchical authority. It even extends the body. To quote Foucault in Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison: “We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in negative terms: it ‘excludes’, it ‘represses’, it ‘censors’, it ‘masks’, it ‘conceals.’ In fact, power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production.”7 (Foucault 1974/Sheridan 1977:194) It is through power that the individual creates knowledge for himself or herself, discovers truth and the realm of objects. Only when two parties seek to harm their opposites, cling to ideology, or otherwise repress another’s voice is power a negative instrument. Nietzsche’s twin abysses are always staring each other down. The point is to fight back against the abyss. But, in the process do not become what you are fighting against. This is what I mean when I talk about power sharing. All communication is in essence a power struggle, or a sharing of power. It is not limited to self-disclosure. Once you grasp the formlessness and one-pointedness of power, your interpersonal skills will become more powerful. As it was put by semanticist S.I. Hiyakawa in the context of conversation: “It is the togetherness of the talking, then, is the most important element on social conversation; the subject matter is only secondary.”8 (Hiyakawa 1939/Hiyakawa 1992:58) Powerful people make powerful relationships. In Goethe’s Faust, this notion is explored quite explicitly when Faust sells his soul to the devil in exchange for love. By following the power of love, a power evil cannot understand, Faust overcomes the Devil’s bargain. It is his following of bliss that makes him stronger than the Devil. The Devil is: “part of that power that which would do evil ever more, and yet creates the good.”9 (Goethe 1832/Kaufmann 1963: 158) In conclusion, power is a creative force that makes things happen and frames reality. As such, it is the basis of all communication, and power sharing is the essence of the interpersonal. Power can be pushed toward something, and pushed away from something. Thus, powerful people set their own paths, and then pursue them. The intention of the power will attract the kinds of obstacles and allies in your path. Thus, communication is a power struggle. There will be many obstacles to your bliss, but if you steel yourself, surround yourself with resources, friends, and courage, nothing stands in your way. In short: there is no wrong way to communicate interpersonally. Only conflicting ways; Conflict builds courage: “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”10 (Nietzsche 1895/Kaufmann and Hollingdale 1967:xxxii)

Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1886) Trans. Kaufmann, Walter. (1963) Beyond good and evil: prelude to a philosophy of the future. Chicago: Chicago University Press
Campbell, Joseph. Bill Moyers. (1988) (1991) The power of myth with bill boyers. Ed.: Flowers, Betty Sue: Knopf Publishing Group
Plato. Trans. Jowett, Benjamin. (1937) The dialogues of Plato: Translated into english with analyses and introductions. New York: Oxford University Press American Branch
Juergensmeyer, Mark. (2000) Terror in the mind of god. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press

Nepstad, S. E. (2004) Religion, violence, and peacemaking. Journal for the scientific study of religion, 3(43), 297-301

(2009) Bridges not walls: a book about interpersonal communication. Ed.: Stewart, John. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education Publishing Inc.
(1995) Foucault, Michel. (1975) Trans. Sheridan, A.M. (1977) Discipline and
punish: the birth of the prison 2nd edition. Ed: Rainbow, Paul. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Inc.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1808) Trans. Kaufmann, Walter. (1963) Goethe’s Faust. Chicago: Chicago University Press
(1992) Hiyakawa, S.I. (1939) Language in thought and action 5th Edition. Hiyakawa, S.I. Ed: Hiyakawa, A.R. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt, Brace, and Company

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1900) Trans. Kaufmann, Walter and Hollingdale, R.J. (1967)

The will to power: a new translation by walter kaufmann and r.j. hollingdale.

. Chicago: Chicago University Press