Wednesday, 17 January 2007

One sided conversations

I'm very interested in creativity and comedy. I've performed both stand-up and improvised comedy for a number of years. It's these persuits that started me as a wanderer. It's where I go to think up material or work out what it is I'm doing right and wrong as a performer. I state this here because it will help explain the inevitable diversions of this Blog away from places to plonk your arse, into my mental meanderings.

Today I had this insight: Any talk or public speech is a one sided conversation.

From improvisation I have learnt to think of conversation as a series of status transitions. Each statement attempts to change the relative status of the speaker with regards to the other people involved. The theory seems to be bourne out by observation.

An example: The difference between "Could I look at the book" and "Give me that book" is that the latter is a high status demand, whilst the former is a low status request. A reply of "No" raises the status of the responder: I control this book, I have the power. A reply of "I'm sorry, have the book" might be considered low status: Take the book, you're more worthy of it than me. This is a very simple example, in reality their are always nuances of body language, relationship and situation involved. It's an interesting way to analyse comedy, and a tool widely used in improvisation.

So back to my revelation: A talk or public speech is a one sided conversation. Does that mean that the speaker has freedom to continually effect status change? Or is it impossible to effect that change without feedback? Is the feedback of the crowd a form of group to individual conversation? For a speaker to be interesting should they be aiming at status neutrality, or should they try to raise or lower their status?

These are half formed ideas that I shall try to comment more on soon... when I've had a chance to cogitate.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

The grand plan...

The idea for this blog began about 40 minutes ago as I sat on a bench in the centre of Covent Garden London. Most of my best ideas have come while sitting on benches in all manner of places. I walk a lot and I daydream a lot. A scruff in a long coat and woolly hat. Striding with purpose, but headed absolutely no where. Nearly always the highlight of these wanders is the discovery of a place to sit.

When I stop marching and plonk me bottom down that’s when the ideas seem to come. I think probably the exercise gets the blood flowing, the repetition of the walk is a meditation, and the constant change of environment stimulated the creative juices. But it's sitting that lets you focus on the swirling mixture in your head and out plop the ideas.

Any old bench will do me, and I'm always amazed and delighted to discover the myriad of place people bother to erect public seats: Up hills, in secluded town squares, on the centre of a roundabout. So many seats are dedications: "In memory of bob 1925 to 2004", "Beloved Granma, who loved to sit". How great is that! A gravestone is a fine thing, but how much greater to say from beyond the grave, I came here, I loved this place, so take a seat and rest a while just like I did.

I love Benches. I love the idea of them. I love the moments I spend on them. I love that there are these function statues that say - stop, look, remember, rest and think.

So... I'm not an experienced blogger, put here's the grand plan. A bench blog. A place to celebrate the places we sit and the things we think about when we're sat there.

I'll do my best and your input is more than gratefully accepted.