Cosmos Café [1/8] - Speaking into the Air about Communication

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
1 COR. 14:9–10 KJ

This Cosmic “communication” will breathe life from “The Problem of Communication,” the introduction from Peters’ Speaking into the Air - A History of the Idea of Communication

About the book:

“Communication plays a vital and unique role in society-often blamed for problems when it breaks down and at the same time heralded as a panacea for human relations. A sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western thought.”

About the author:

Reading / Watching / Listening

Introduction from Peters’ Speaking into the Air - A History of the Idea of Communication
Speaking into the Air.pdf (171.8 KB)

  • @Douggins suggests reading only the first 6 pages for the Café. The complete introduction is provided.

Seed Questions

  • How does understanding the history of communication help us to understand our present definition(s) of communication?

  • Do we agree with John Durham Peters that the general “sense” concludes that communication is always breaking down? That the “difficulty of communication across various social boundaries—gender, class, race, age, religion, region, nation, and language—confronts us daily.” ? Is communication breakdown a sign of our time? Are we really unable to bridge the gaps of communication? How do we work with the concept of difference?

  • Can we have an empathetic experience of difference? From someone outside of our circle?

  • How Bodily Aware of the Tension when Difference arises are we so as to respond with honesty & skill?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Agenda items

  • Check-ins/talk about the weather

  • Brief discussion of Cafe Framing & Proposals

  • Open Discussion; reflect on seed questions


This is an experimental chat for the upcoming Cosmos Café… an introduction, a grounding or a taste, of sorts, into how the topic arose. We also try to convey what Peters means by communication in the recommended reading “The Problem of Communication” (the introduction to Speaking into the Air):

“Micheal grounds us in his understanding of communication as depicted in Speaking into the Air by John Durham Peters. This short conversation touches on the history of communication; the experience of difference in communication; the problem of communication as a recent phenomenon; dialogue and dissemination; the body and other forms media; sending and receiving the message; control of media; our relation to technology. Micheal and Doug also talk about the weather!”


Is there anything more important than the weather? Just asking … as with most everything it depends upon context. Are we (humans) in a controlled environment (eg. air conditioned/ structured/civilized, and so on and so forth), or are we at the mercy of forces beyond our control? Just asking? Can’t wait for January 22nd’s cafe ____ . Two hours is never enough, unless one is being tortured.


Come on ___ as the resident DJ and Darwinian Freudian, can we get real?


My in-laws arrived from the Philippines last Sunday at midnight. Nanay (Tagalog for mother) was easily spotted coming down the arrival steps wearing chinelas (sandals) … Kentucky weather, I noted, will be something to talk about, likely the focus of most of our conversations these first few weeks. Tatay (father) awoke before any one else the next morning and found himself walking outside, checking out the back yard. He attempted to grab a tool left in a container filled with rain water, only to discover ice for the first time. And frosted grass baffled him…like a child prancing around the grounds!

I do not mind only talking about the weather with them right now. My Tagalog (Filipino language) is just now thawing out from a few years of lack-of-practice freezing…and their English is just warming up too. Weather chats carry a certain air of importance around this neck of the woods. I’ll be saving the deep, dark discourse for times with the lot of you.


Not sure it’s a either/or question;maybe the ambivalence of weather makes for interest & a willingness to play in the rain. Darwin & Freud are interesting & have some good observations. I’ll keep may Weatherman view open ended there’s nothing like a good storm to clear the air & new possibilities.Besides Good conversation begins with a sense of wonder…wondering who will stop the rain?I’ll take Wonder,Interest-Curiosity,as a beginning to Feeling Alive & Giggle in my Wiggle to having to many answers.


I invited my friend and brother @natesavery to this, and he expressed interest! I won’t likely be able to make it, sadly, but hope you have a great talk. :ear: :lips: :wind_face: :radio: :tv: :video_camera: :computer:


Food for thought:

point being that communication has taken a turn ( a wrong turn?) and that reverse Darwinism now reigns. In other words, “fitness” as defined by we evolutionists no longer matters. How did this happen? A good question. Will we self correct? hmmm …

I read the entire intro last night and highly recommend it. Great seed questions @Douggins. I hope for a robust discussion.



Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity

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Rage Against the Machine’s “Fistful of Steel” and its lyrics remain lodged inside me, since my teenage years, everytime I hear or see the word “silence” …

Something about silence makes me sick
'Cause silence can be violent
Sorta like a slit wrist


"Fistful Of Steel"

Check it…uggh!
Something about silence makes me sick
'Cause silence can be violent
Sorta like a slit wrist

If the vibe was suicide
Then you would push da button
But if ya bowin’ down
Then let me do the cuttin’

Some speak the sounds
But speak in silent voices
Like radio is silent
Though it fills the air with noises
Its transmissions bring submission
As ya mold to the unreal
And mad boy grips the microphone
Wit’ a fistful of steel
Yeah…and mad mad boy grips the microphone
Wit’ a fistful of steel

Wit’ a fistful of steel
(‘Cause I know the power of the question)
Wit’ a fistful of steel
Wit’ a fistful of steel
(And I won’t stop cause I know the power of the question)

It’s time to flow like the fluid in ya veins
If ya will it, I will spill it
And ya out just as quick as ya came
Not a silent one
But a defiant one
Never a normal one
‘Cause I’m the bastard son
With the visions of the move
Vocals not to soothe
But to ignite and put in flight
My sense of militance
Groovin’, playin’ this game called survival
The status, the elite, the enemy, the rival
The silent sheep slippin’, riffin’, trippin’
Give ya a glimpse of the reality I’m grippin’
Steppin’ into the jam and I’m slammin’ like Shaquille
Mad boy grips the microphone
Wit’ a fistful of steel
Yeah…and mad boy grips the microphone
Wit’ a fistful of steel

Wit’ a fistful of steel
(‘Cause I know the power of the question)
Wit’ a fistful of steel
Wit’ a fistful of steel
(And I won’t stop 'cause I know the power of the question)
Ahh shit

And I won’t stop 'cause I know the power of the question

And if the vibe was suicide
Then you would push da button
But if ya bowin’ down
Then let me do the cuttin`
Come on!

A .44 full of bullets
Face full of pale
Eyes full of empty
A stare full of nails
The roulette ball, rolls along on the wheel
A mind full of fire
And a fistful of steel

And if the vibe was suicide
Then you would push da button
But if ya bowin’ down
Then let me do the cuttin’

Yeah! Wit’ a fistful of steel!
Come on!
Wit’ a fistful of steel!

I have much to say but saving it for the Cafe. Hope we can all attend.

I will leave you all with my pre-recorded, premeditated message, in case jury duty had me elsewhere. I had fun recording it, though it is more of a disseminated message… whatever is said can fall to deaf ears, as much of it will be irrelevant.

premeditated transcript

If this message reaches your eyes and/or ears, I am likely spending my time away from our first Cosmos Cafe in 2019 and in an enclosed space making crucial decisions for the sake of Kentucky. Welcome to jury duty. I tried to explain the urgency, the dire need to be present for this crucial Cosmic communication. I said…but I am their chosen fearful facilitator. They need me!!!
Yet…They… Did…not… bend. They were not nudged in the least. So I am here, present in pre-recorded form. Take it in, this dissemination, this individual dialogue, this singular discussion, as you see fit.
I will begin by reading not from John Durham Peters’ Introduction nor another passage or quote from his book Speaking into the Air but from David Bohm’s On Dialogue. I read his words recently and, given that we often self-reflect upon our communications via Zoom chat rooms, through our online medium, in spaces with bodies separate and minds fused or sometimes fissured, I felt his words fitting for starting off 2019.

This is from Chapter 2 of the book On Dialogue entitled “On Dialogue”

The way we start a dialogue group is usually by talking about dialogue – talking it over, discussing why we’re doing it, what it means, and so forth. I don’t think it is wise to start a group before people have gone into all that, at least somewhat. You can, but then you’ll have to trust that the group will continue, and that these questions will come out later. So if you are thinking of meeting in a group, one thing which I suggest is to have a discussion or a seminar about dialogue for a while, and those who are interested can then go on to have the dialogue. And you mustn’t worry too much whether you are or are not having dialogue – that’s one of the blocks. It may be mixed. So we will discuss dialogue for a while – what is its nature?

I give a meaning to the word “dialogue” that is somewhat different from what is commonly used. The derivations of words often help to suggest a deeper meaning. “Dialogue” comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means “the word,” or in our case we would think of the “meaning of the word.” And dia means “through” – it doesn’t mean “two.” A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of the dialogue is present. The picture or image that this derivation suggests is of a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us. This will make possible a flow of meaning in the whole group, out of which may emerge some new understanding. It’s something new, which may not have been in the starting point at all. It’s something creative. And this shared meaning is the “glue” or “cement” that holds people and societies together.

(a short interlude)

The dialogic osmosis
Of the Cafe we call Cosmos is
A flowing streaming
Of holy water meaning
Some kind of Cosmic Gnosis

I am looking forward to our talks to come in the Cafe and elsewhere on the Cosmos.


A basic notion for a dialogue would be for people to sit in a circle. Such a geometric arrangement doesn’t favor anybody; it allows for direct communication. In principle, the dialogue should work without any leader and without any agenda. Of course, we are used to leaders and agendas, so if we were to start a meeting without a leader – start talking and have no agenda, no purpose – I think we would find a great deal of anxiety in not knowing what to do. Thus, one of the things would be to work through that anxiety, to face it. In fact, we know by experience that if people do this for an hour or two they do get through it and start to talk more freely.
It may be useful to have a facilitator to get the group going, who keeps a watch on it for a while and sort of explains what’s happening from time to time, and that kind of thing. But his function is to work himself out of a job. Now, that may take time. It may be that people must meet regularly and sustain the dialogue. That form might be to meet week after week, or biweekly or whatever, and sustain it a long time – a year or two or more. In that period, all those things we mentioned would come out. And people would begin to learn really to depend less and less on the facilitator – at least that’s the idea behind it. Now, the whole of society has been organized to believe that we can’t function without leaders. But maybe we can. That’s the suggestion. Of course, it’s an experiment. We can’t guarantee that it is going to happen. But that is what takes place in any new venture – you consider all the evidence, you consider what’s the best idea, what to say about it, what your theories about it are, and then you go ahead and try it.

I believe Bohm, in these words about engaging in dialogue has unknowingly defined what we have done over the course of a year here at Cosmos and specifically with the Cafe. Marco began the facilitation process late 2017, the process mostly worked out itself at the beginning of 2018 and became disorganized later in the year, mostly because of an overload of commitments to various other talks, work, and play. I have stepped into this facilitator role, yet I wish to convey that I would rather “work myself out of the job,” rather us continue in this experiment, with no guarantee that a certain solution will provide unison…to come what may with a frame of mind and a frame of reference

In closing, and peering into the future of the Cafe, I propose we continue next week with Bohm’s On Dialogue Chapter 2, a bit lengthy perhaps but it would continue this theme of communications, which (in my thinking) would allow us to gaze deeper into the crystal ball, to tread further across the raging river where a burnt bridge would have allowed for a swifter pass, and towards the banks of valuable discussion and dialogue as we prepare for Mark Jabbour’s chapter entitled “Anger and the Road to Hell” from his book Election 2016 - The Great Debate, the Great Divide. I just finished reading a hard copy and love it, if not only to gain understanding from an alternate reality.

This is also to say that if in the Cafe conversation today 1/8 you decided upon a path towards a different topic for January 15th, then let it be!

Your fearful facilitator,


John I hear U loud & clear & have a concern of not including a listening ability that is non-defensive yet firm,confident,empathic in the experience of difference to move through all the WTF & not lose our dignity challenging another’s poor,cruel & ignorant behavior.Silence is only death when we have not listened with caring intent to what our Heart wants/needs to speak.Listening/Speaking are not mutually exclusive no matter how much we have suffered at the hands of other humans & life.Again John I hear U Loud & Clear from my own Broken Heart!!!


I had penciled in “Cosmic Time: Bohm & Krishnamurti” in my calendar … is Bohm’s Chapter 2 an extension or a replacement? Or did I miss a memo? Just going with the whirlpool … er, flow.

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I think “penciled in” is the key phrase right now.

I am leaving that particular date [1/13] open at this time. I would like to receive a bit more feedback than what a couple individuals posted on the Framing Proposal for Cosmos Cafe, Year 2019 thread. I am critical of my own process, thinking, for example, that inserting the Bohm/Krishnamurti dialogue into next week would be rushed, as we have not formed any conversation around that topic. Think of my proposal to do Bohm’s On Dialogue as part of the process, as something anyone can do, questioning the chosen topic, presenting something more timely, more fitting. I am sure this is all confusing, as the Cafe Proposal Thread says one thing and now I am saying another, but I expect our face-to-face today will clear the fog.

Talking about the Cafe Proposal process during our Zoom chat today is first on the agenda (well…second after talking about the weather). During our discussion we may find that having a monthly schedule would work…or we may see that going by the seat of our pants is our preferred method. FYI: @Mark_Jabbour’s Cosmos Café [1/22] - “Anger and the Road to Hell,” is set in stone as he is a “guest” of sorts.

:wine_glass:Here’s to more clarity! (or not!) :wine_glass:


Very clear, Very much to the point. Very much appreciated.

And now you know why I prefer to work in pencil (or erasable ink). :roll_eyes:


Every one that flatters thee
Is no friend in misery.
Words are easy, like the wind;
Faithful friends are hard to find.
Every man will be thy friend
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend;
But if store of crowns be scant,
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigal,
Bountiful they will him call,
And with suchlike flattering,
“Pity but he were a king.”
If he be addict to vice,
Quickly him they will entice.
If to women he be bent,
They have at commandment;
But if Fortune once do frown,
Then farewell his great renown:
They that fawned on him before
Use his company no more.
He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need;
If thou sorrow, he will weep;
If thou wake, he cannot sleep;
Thus of every grief in heart
He with thee doth bear a part.
These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.
William Shakespeare


Hey Doug, the temporary link to the video is not working. MY access is denied? Weird.

Not just you, John; I don’t have permission to access the file either. I’m guessing it’s a group-access-rights issue.

This is what you get when you deal with me…

I am unable to load the video to Vimeo (processing time much too high). I attempted to share this link, obviously not working. @madrush stated he will try to get to this tonight. If not, I will attempt an upload to Vimeo in the morning.


Thanks, Doug. As I mentioned before I have virtual amnesia for conversations in Cyberspace and need the archive to develop a metalogue. I look forward to the Bateson tomorrow.