Januar 15, 2010

Communication as Partnership vs. Individuality

If you want to achieve anything in this world, you depend on communication. It is simply naive to believe you could do things on your own. On a deeper level of your existence you of course depend on your communicative environment to develop enough of an individual personality to simply be able to think and act. But also on the level of the surface of cultural and social relations and meanings that build the reality you live in communication is essential. Moreover, it cannot be individual.

Let me take dancing as an example again. Especially in forms of dance which allow for a lot of improvisation, like swing in general or lindy hop in particular, it is vital that you develop means of exact communication. Of course, these ways to communicate cannot be individual. A dancing couple might have some specialities and you will certainy get used to the exact way your regular partner communicates. Still, individuality in the common sense means something that appertains to you personally.

This idea of individuality is actually meaningless. If you watch the linked video clips of dancers you will immediately understand that an actually individual style would break the communication. It is impossible to achieve anything on your own as the meaning that you will assign to whatever you want to achieve depends on your culture and society. Moreover, your action is only meaningful within a framework of communication partners. Without these partners, your life would immediately lose this meaning.

It is possible to abstract from the immediate influence of others - otherwise your actions would not be your actions but simply effects of changes in the multitude of communicative partners creating their version of reality. But this abstraction can never lead you away or show you a way outside of the relationships you were subjectivated into. You need partners to create meaningful actions and at the same time you need an audience creating a reference frame in which this meaning is interpreted and backed up.

Let us suppose there was an individual all alone - not getting into contact with others. Besides the fact, that she could never actually develop an individuality, the very meaning of individuality would be lost. It can only make sense within a reference frame in which it is contrasted with communicative relationships. To be special means to be different from others. Without these others difference could not be conceived.