A Piece of My Mind: Conversations

By Jeanne Fiorini

There sure is a lot of chatting going on these days. As if the telephone, email, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Skype, and regular old postal mail wasn’t enough, I recently got a so-called “invitation” to get Logitch Vid HD….say what? Where’s my invitation to visit Tuscany?

Mind you, this invitation comes to a person who has yet to buy a cell phone (horrors!), who doesn’t text, twitter or tweet, who doesn’t blog and can barely type. Some people would say I’m under-connected. I do have a Facebook page and post there when I have something to express or promote, and I do appreciate the occasional bit of heart-warming and/or interesting information from friends, relatives, and clients. 

But the worldwide web does just about as well as network television in its potential to be an instrument of learning versus its established function as a medium for mindless blather. Consider Facebook: most of what is posted there on any given day is inane. “OMG, I forgot to put on deodorant this morning!” “Time for a nice bowl of chili after a long hard day.” “Why is my first toe longer than my big toe?” “If I was any grumpier today I’d be one of the Seven Dwarfs.”  (These are not actual postings, so don’t be offended if you think you’ve been quoted.)

Are we really this desperate to be seen and heard?  Are we really so self-absorbed that we think others have a need to know – and really care about -- what we had for dinner? Everyone claims to be so busy, with a life that is full of activities and responsibilities, and yet an unspeakable number of hours are spent documenting the most obscure and irrelevant of details.

These are glory days for the Knight of Swords, and by extension, his older brothers Mercury and The Magician. They’re the ones responsible for all this chatting, these dynamic, archetypal personas of the Tarot. The Knight of Swords in particular is driven by a desire to express varying points of view through the written or spoken word, is an enthusiastic advocate of the mind’s endless capacity to learn and explore new ways of thinking. Unafraid of debate, intellectual calisthenics, and oppositional points of view, he’s Instigator, Jokester, and Negotiator all in one. 

The Knight of Swords’ moniker could be “The Communicator.” He’s the person fluent in many languages, who makes you feel as though he’s listening to you alone even while in a crowded room, the person who can make you laugh in spite of yourself, the person who could sell you the shirt off your back because he understands what you want to hear and knows how to say it in just the right way.  The Knight of Swords is the patron saint of linguists, sales reps, philosophers, wordsmiths, spin doctors, and stand-up comics.

Clearly, the art of communication is the point of power for the Knight of Swords. With root origins to the words “common,” “communion,” and “community,” communication and the forging of common bonds by means of thoughts and ideas is a power that can be used for good or for evil. With so much of it flying around in this technology-driven world, we need to be mindful of communication’s power to inform and entertain as well as to seduce us into a coma of dazed complicity. 

All sorts of industries are currently using the perception of community-building to sell us their products and the “added value” which will be brought to our lives. Apparently, the notion of creating community is good for business. You don’t have to look far to see it:

  • “LinkedIn:  Relationships Matter"
  • “Share your Toyota story at www.facebook.com/toyota”
  • “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life”
  • Buy a certain Johnson & Johnson© product and you support the cultivation of an unnamed plant (chrysanthemum?) in a third world country 
  • “Twitter: Join the Conversation”

Ah, “the conversation.” Another phrase that makes us think something is happening that really isn’t.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a conversation as “an informal spoken exchange of thoughts and feelings; familiar talk; close association.” But interestingly, the original English interpretation of the word meant “to live communally or to associate socially with others”, the “talking” aspect of conversing not coming into play until the late 16th century.

At its core, then, to have a “conversation” implies more of a Six of Cups or Three of Cups dynamic than that of the Knight of Swords, which has more of an intellectual tone than a relational one. And that relational tone is the essential difference between actual communication and the rest of what is swirling around our mental and electronic air waves these days.

While the Knight of Swords is performing very loudly, there are very few Cup players in the current contest of who can finish the game with the most contacts. We are flooded by an incessant stream of two-dimensional “connections with” without a corresponding “relationship to.” Does “connecting” equate with conversing and communicating?

If I think about the moments during the week when a real conversation happens, when communication feels like communion, and when words and ideas are conveyed to create a meaningful association within society, it would be during a Tarot session. I suppose you could do a reading without these components, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of such a session nor would I want the karma for having been the deliverer of it. 

When people ask what you love about the Tarot, what do you say? One of my standard replies has been that a Tarot reading affords the opportunity for a genuine and heartfelt conversation, a commodity for which our culture provides not only scarce, but narrowly-defined corridors. 

The Tarot process offers the “Three C’s” to both reader and client: communication, conversation, and connection. Vitamin C, that’s what Tarot provides! I’m glad to have these nutrients in my life, along with calcium tablets and a good cup of coffee. I’m not saying that the various ways we create electronic connections in the world are useless, only that being technologically over-connected might be more trouble than it’s worth. 

And yet, as with any debate involving the Knight of Swords, there is always the other side of the issue, such as this lecture given over the summer which makes a valid argument for the development of an International Council for Internet Chatting: http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html. 

You’ll have to excuse me now while I go post a link to this article on Facebook.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2010

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