I see that look. What is this pretension, this business of “conversation as high art”? Don’t people converse all day long, you’re thinking? No. Most people pass their lives and never hear a Conversation. They cannot imagine what they’ve never heard. Just like they cannot believe in love until they are loved. Just like faith is reified by spoken words.
I’m not interested in a phenomenology of general human conversation. Nor am I interested in those periodic elevations of wit or eloquence that produce transcribable literary chat in salons or at round tables. And not the high substance and learning such as you’d hear among astrophysicists. Forget just making our talk more creative. Not style, not intellect, not creativity; what Conversation is about is the discrete moments of transforming love among friends, through talk. No, not counseling, not therapy, not teaching. Talk.
Legends grow up around Conversation. They are always recounted to include a golden glow. Sometimes the participants remember a golden haze, sometimes distant observers describe a light from inside the grove or cave or cell. See, for example, the stories from the Egyptian desert, or from Francis and Clare, or the Russian startsy.
Talk begins as talk, and becomes antiphonal chant. The friends in the talk realize at some point they are as fascinated by the shape and direction and new truths as any listener would be, though the words are theirs. It’s as if higher powers have taken on the voices. They’ll remember the night as magic.
You’ve heard this before, you’re thinking, in the 60’s, when counter-cultural drop-outs turned on to LSD. High on drugs, the trippers saw the profundities of the universe for the first time. Wow, man. The next morning, not much seems profound.
All spiritual experience is actually similar; the experience is too delicate to hold. Manna melts in a day. The wind blows where it will. Remembering a conversation which seemed like magic is impossible; you won’t be able to remember it. (This is true of prayer as well; an inner witness is often forgotten if not written down.)
The difference between the LSD trip and the Talk, though, is great: the hung-over tripper can remember the content – what he saw or said or heard – he’s just not sure it is profound instead of banal. On the other hand, the day after a Talk, we can’t actually remember the content. The mind didn’t fix it into memory.