An introduction to an issue on Communication. The temptation is to say nothing at all. We hear more and more about communication from people who communicate less and less. The intention is decent — to “share.” But we’ve confused openness for honesty, and the beauty of expression for truth itself. “Sharing” our guilt becomes a substitute for the hard work of straightening up. Popular therapies, undisputably a help along the way, become mistaken for the journey itself. We are slowed by the dead weight of jargon and private languages. “Let me share with you my feeling that you’re being incredibly aggressive” may be better than calling someone a son of a bitch. But then, Orwellian newspeak is a useful tool for politicians who dare not speak their heart. We talk in constructions that are neither poetic, nor plain. We use language to emphasize our differences, rather than heal; “hippies” have no trouble making themselves unintelligible to “straights.” Who gains? Spiritual seekers can be as oblique in their references to karma and spirit and consciousness as Nixon trying to explain the missing tapes. THE SUN has been guilty of this, too. In the heat of composition, we can forget that to some readers Don Juan is a Latin lover, not a Yaqui sorcerer. Some of the barriers to communication are legitimate; a scientist cannot be expected to explain the more sophisticated turnings of his mind to a sixth grader. But if he doesn’t respect the youngster, he’s missing the most important communication of all. The mystic and the nuclear physicist agree: “things” do not exist independently; all objects, all events, all of consciousness is part of the same fabric, mutually dependent and fundamentally connected. Who, then, is communicating with whom? Call it God talking to Himself, if you will, but for that to make sense we must begin with something more simple: humans talking to humans, out of the profoundest need to share truth, not ideologies or slogans or the vocabulary of any one tribe. “Truth” that is nothing more than the congealed prejudices of those who have shared the same experience — analysis or EST or Guru Maharaji — does little to enhance the human condition. How to preserve the integrity of the communication — between lovers, between nations, between the very atoms that make up our bodies — is the fundamental challenge. “Instead of knowing things by their names, it seems that one must first have silent contact with them,” Sartre reminded us. As we suggested at the outset, that might be the place to begin.

— Sy