Conference Dates: April 10-12th, Wrigley Institute, Catalina Island
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
~T.S. Eliot, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
The tip of the tongue; the word left unspoken; the glance unreturned; love unrequited; affronts without apology; policies without persuasion; ire; incoherence; desire; disappointment; apathy; aphasia; silence. As human beings, we have all experienced gaps in communication—a moment when the vast capacity of language seems insufficient to say just what we mean.
In an age when new media and new necessities have reduced every distance to digits on a dial, the distance between ourselves and another can still seem the most irreconcilable of them all. Sometimes the farthest we’ve ever felt is from the person right beside us. The internet has given everyone a platform to speak, but taught us little of how to listen. Our debates are dominated by dogmatisms, with little deference to discussion. Science and technology surround us, but results from a lab with the ability to benefit lives are too often lost in translation.
In such a time as this, how do we reach across the gaps in our communication? In the midst of all the selfies and the Snapchats, are we losing our presence as people that touch and laugh and dance together? Across politics, art, science, academia, and the dinner table, how does what we are communicating speak, or fail to speak, to what we value in life?
Through critical immersion into the vehicle of communication, our goal is to take divergent perspectives and develop convergent understandings about this issue: the heart of polymathy. "Then how should I begin?" asks Prufrock. The Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study’s inaugural Student Conference, Gaps in Communication, is a good place to start.
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