As I've mentioned in previous posts, my Facebook project page and personal posts about the instrument receive some much-needed and valued attention from time to time. In those posts, I sounded as if I were taking offense or were harmed in some way by the comments from the Seasoned Builders and Players, a group of true master harpsichord builders and players from around the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I enjoy the posts immensely and can think of no better way to not only learn the craft, but to get back to my real roots that lie in the scholarship surrounding the original intent of composers and harpsichord and organ builders of the past.
When I was actively teaching at the university, I frequently delivered a lecture on the differences between debate, discussion and dialogue. Don't worry, I'm not going to lecture you, but I will point out some of the characteristics of each and leave you, the most capable reader, to draw your own conclusions about the comments I receive on an almost daily basis.
Debate is an approach that requires diametric opposition. Debate calls for winners and losers that often asks a judge to determine which is which and who is who. In the forum of the Interwebs, we are, more often than not, left to our own devices to judge the opinions of others based upon our own biases and prejudices. Most of the time, we agree to disagree and leave it at that, though, in our minds, we are usually the winner.
Discussion is a more generous form of communication in which all parties share information with the goal of reaching a consensus. Using this approach, topics can be explored fully with all parties contributing in ways that promote their viewpoints and opinions ultimately resulting in a dominant view winning the day. Yes, even in discussion we judge the opinions of others and, again, ours is usually the right one.
Dialogue involves a commitment by all parties to seek connection in ways that do not necessarily result in the domination of one viewpoint over another. In dialogue, it's okay to not be correct. It's also okay to consider it a dialectic in which the outcome(s) can be something quite different from what all parties expected. Dialogue requires careful, deep listening, not just hearing long enough for the other party to finish their thought. On the Interwebs, this can be accomplished in the form of repeating in comments what you think the other person is saying as a means of clarifying points to arrive at that depth of understanding so necessary for dialogue to be successful.
Lest you think I'm going to accuse the Seasoned Builders and Players of engaging only in debate, think again, dear friend! Granted, much debate ensues, especially when a neophyte such as myself interjects some point of building just learned from another builder or, more often, some hair-brained scheme I've devised in the dark hours of night between sleep and staring at the ceiling. No, the Seasoned Builders and Players also respectfully discuss and, on occasion, dialogue about all things harpsichord. And it's fantastic!
Even when passive (or outright!) aggression within the context of debate over something I've posted wins the day, if I'm still able to glean one small morsel of experience and truth from the comments, I win. In fact, whenever they comment on one of my posts or in one of the few harpsichord-related forums on Facebook, I win.
I win, I win, I win!
So, Seasoned Builders and Players, tonight I shall raise a glass to you all and toast to your learned comments and continued good health. Thank you all so much; you make my life better. Cheers, my friends!
Until next time...