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Communication is easy, but at the same time it’s quite difficult. That is why there are so many books about communication, as well as university courses, improvement seminars and coaches. It is an industry and a lucrative one. When you read the title of this book, you probably thought: it’s another one. It’s written by another know-it-all consultant, who will tell us how much we need to improve in order to sell us another training course or seminar that ‘‘will boost the impact we have on our interlocutors’’. Believe it or not, this book is different. It is based on two emotions: amazement and bewilderment.

 

Astonishment is the emotion that expresses the wealth and the wonder of the sounds we emit and the letters we write down every day. The fact that we can understand each other (more or less) and that we can organise the world is astonishing. We can evoke perfectly-imagined worlds, and bring laughter to our loved ones. And all of this is done without too much effort. Language is very easy for us: it flows out when the brain and the larynx are working as they should.

 

Bewilderment, on the other hand, expresses our emotion about the poverty of language that is often completely inadequate when we want to express our feelings, or if we want to convince our fellow men/women of our beliefs. Even more bewildering is the deliberate abuse that is made of language in order to denigrate, insult, curse and verbally destroy people. We are seeing a tremendous increase in hate speech and poisonous human interactions.

 

Not everything can be said with words. On the contrary, there are many things that escape a precise linguistic formulation. Pain is one of these things. How can you describe the pain of a broken rib, or of a needle that is stuck deep under your fingernail. Hellish, intense, unsustainable? This says little. I have regular attacks of migraine, and then I think of a brush with iron needles that is biting into my left brain hemisphere. But this is just an image, or a metaphor.

 

Take the pain of a broken heart. Poets have put a lot of effort into capturing their heartbreak in words, but usually conclude that there are no adequate words for this feeling. There is even a literary theme that focusses on the ‘unspeakable nature of feelings’. When reading Gothic Novels of the 18th and 19th century, you will continually run into the most horrifying events and dismayed reactions to those most awful events, which are only described as ‘with no pen’ and ‘where words fall short’.

 

Think about your own speechlessness when you want to comfort somebody who has lost a loved one. Fighting your tears at a funeral, what do you say that makes any sense?

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A PLAYBOOK
JAN FLAMEND
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Lay-out Intertext Bookproductions

Format Soft cover with flaps

Size 15,5 x 23,5 cm

Contents 256 pages, full colour

Price €29,50

Crowd funding pre-inscription €19,50

ISBN pending

Publishing date 20 December 2018