Re: The Flea

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 14:05:16 -0400

On Thu, 17 Oct 1996, Paul Hagood wrote:
> Here's where we may be moving beyond the traditional bounds of rhetoric.
> I've been practising meditation for about 8 years, and in the past few
> years I've become aware of some level of feeling in people that seems to
> be a "background" kind of thing - you can feel it whether the person
> seems to be happy or upset. That's why I used the word "flavor" - it
> seems to be a more continual undercurrent than what we normally think of
> as emotions. But it certainly is a central part of our capacity to feel.

I think your word works very well, and the connection to meditation is,
for me, very pertinent and fascinating. For some time I've been
thinking/hypothesizing that the West's major blind spots (related to care
of the environment, for example) are all related to not having our
intellectual traditions grounded or supplemented by practices such as
meditation, which connect us to the autonomic or "visceral" body in
important ways, traditions which in daily practice defy Cartesianism.

> For example, people seem to feel a "dark" flavor in Bob Dole no matter
> what he says, or what surface mood he's in. In this case, studying
> traditional rhetoric and speechmaking won't help. What is communicated is
> what feels like his essence. Of course, it's hard to tell at a
> media-induced distance if this is really the case, but I think that more
> elections are won on the "flavor" level than the debate and issue level.

Likewise I find this interesting. What you are getting at speaks,
for me, to the other half of the equation that Beth and Marcy outlined in
their last posts on this thread: Yes, a person's flavor is related to all
sorts of things like locale, history, class, race, gender -- but there is
also the fact that these are still factors which are individually inferred
and interpreted. Someone who lives in "my" neighborhood may infer a
completely different neighborhood from the one I infer! Someone in my
same social class and ethnic group may construct a world/understanding
quite different from mine (do studies of twins bear this out?). For me,
finding similarities and finding differences are pretty much equally
common experiences when I get into conversations about anything with

In other words, I can infer agreement or infer difference -- the question
of how and/or why I would do either is what I think your comments get to.

To go with your example, what would be involved if Bob Dole decided that
he wanted to not just change his argumentative posture but his flavor? I
tend to think he would have to start meditating, enter into therapy, or
something like that. So, I think there is a radical act of
self-construction involved, as well as an accounting of one's history,
beliefs, region, etc. I think both matters matter, and I figure the
interaction of the two produces the effect we call "reality."

> _________________________________________________________
> "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment"
> Jalalludin Rumi
> _________________________________________________________

Well, Rumi is a person who is *clearly* bewildered then :)
"Bewildered" is a great word/translation -- very different from
"confused" maybe.