2/18/2014

More than Words or Between the Gush and the Cold Place

Quick. Someone asked you to name your top 5 favorite books. 
The adrenalin starts to pump for no apparent reason. Your brain releases a Dopamine Seratonin and Endorphin Cocktail. The grey masses that govern logic and creativity synch together under the blissful gaze of your amygdala as it too joins the party.

The lists appears in your pre-frontal cortex, sparks of pleasure behind each one listed in your perfect top 5 order. And following the 5 nanoseconds of time that has passed, you gush forth your top 5 list and its sounds like this:
 

blahblahblahCOOLblahblahblAWESOMEblahblahblahNEVERFELTSOblahblahblahTHEBEST!!!

Thing is, asking someone for their top 5 list of anything and you going to get the enthusiasm and passion wrapped in a mass of words that might not make much sense to you, the asker of the question.
And if you, the asker of the question, is someone who can relate and decipher the word gush, then your question is asked from a point of understanding of the context from which your askee is answering the question. Basically, you know what the hell he's talking about.



But if someone who's background  and context is as far removed from yours, that it might as well be on Pluto, asks you a brain engaging question like the one I posed, you would want to  put your answers in a context they would understand. The word gush would just alienate our Plutonese question asker. 

The narrow path through the valley of segues is this:
As a librarian when someone asks me  for my favorite books, I'm going to speak in a language they understand, without a) making sound effects and b)talking till their eyes glaze over.


Usually when someone does ask for an opinion of a book, they are looking more than just the standard "good" "super crap" answers, they are looking for bountiful and nourishing depth. But conversely they want something short of a full first hand account of the storyline, and the nitty gritty specifics of what is happening in the book. 
In short, they want a giggle, some encouraging words and little bit of flesh but never the full monty. 

Its a skill, something that is touched on in librarian training through book review training and book appreciation training, but requires the personal touch of a 'live' interaction. These interactions help you gauge the way a patron will react to your words through their body language or their blanket refusals while making "I'm going to kill you" gestures.
Really, its something you have to see experience in order to be better and not to misread situations like offering a priest, Fifty Shades of Grey.


The caramel center of my little piece of mind pie, lies in the interactions I witnessed when asked to appear on a panel to discuss science fiction and fantasy. 
AND. 
What my favorite SF and Fantasy novel were.

I love talking about the things I love but I learnt long time ago, you have to speak about these things to other people, as if they were from Pluto. You would have to remove all the feel good brain chemistry and steer it in a direction that empowers your ability to communicate rather than your enthusiasm. Perhaps finding a happy middle between the two. 

So I stressed about this panel.

How on earth do I find that happy middle ground between the Gush and Cold Analysis? It also didn't help that the people I was talking too were other librarians who had no knowledge of SF or Fantasy. (The closest  they may have come to the genre was perhaps ignoring Lord of the Rings on tv, or hearing about that weird Game of Thrones show, with the really hot guy.)

My expectations got the better of me and I succumbed to writing down the things that I wanted to say. And when it was all their on black and white, I realised that if I ever tried to tell a patron about these books they would look at me, and then run for the hills in the face of my gushing. 

So I tried again.
I endeavoured to find that book (or books) that occupied the venn diagram of favourite but also good for a novice reader. And attached with these choices had to be a "why" great than "because it has magic in it".
It was hard, but I did it. 

So clutching the paper against my breast, I ventured to that place beyond the Curtain of Spiced Meats stuffed in the Intestinal Casing of a Sheep, to tell the people what they needed to heed. 

T'was 5 of us that sat at the table, facing our fellows, awaiting their baleful questioning arrows. 
The Good Lady Cheryl made her mighty presentation, and we watched and listened for.......
it was mighty and we learned much. 

When the words stilled on her lips, her gaze  fell on me, and with pointed finger said:
"Speak unto the throng so that they might hear your words of wisdom."


I verily almost shat myself but rallied to speak thus unto the assembled hordes of Book Warriors:


"SF and Fantasy for me, embodies the concept of telling a story.(Wave hands) Within the pages of a Fantasy or SF books you find whole universes created by the will and imagination of the story teller;  And it’s a wonderful experience to walk through those worlds and be excited, and awed by the reading of it. (Nod head, sagely)

So the books I have chosen have made me feel that excitement and have engrossed me fully pulling me away from those things that steal your time so effectively. (Mime sending a text)
I have also chose these books because I have recommended these to patrons and have gotten positive responses, but I have taken into account the popular and critical responses for these authors as well in my decision making processes.
These are my guiding principles." (Make Amen hands)

I spoke the hallowed names of the scribes I had chosen,  singing a song of greatness for the words written in their mighty tomes. The Hordes nodded and rebutted with questions which was totally my bad, for I had not enunciated properly when I started.  But for ought I had stressed, for the information flowed with neither Gush or Coldness but through that happy place of Middle Ground.

My colleague to my left, then took up the message and from his words (that he took from an article he had written some years ago. Humph) flowed the love of the stories and the magic they could bring. With wonder he started and with wonderful words he ended. 

Then, to the amazement of others and the astonishment of the Librarian Horde before us the second companion to my left took from his pocket a magic device and plugged it into a thing that projects image against a wall and thus we saw moving images of ......films with robots and stuff blowing up. 
But nay, despite the lack of sound, we found much pleasure to be geeked at. 

Then spoke another, with words that mesmerized for all the wrong reasons because  people started glazing over.
And then more speaking:

blahmagicblahblahsystemsblahawesomeblahtaintedblahblahsoulblahincredibleblah.


By the time it got to the fifth person, the damage was done. The audience was in fact dead. 

But lo, soon they were revived by cookies, tea and coffee but they were just merely ghosts getting ready to leave, not the fresh faced human beings we started out with. 

The talk I was looking for didn't materialize, and I can't put the blame on my colleague, from his perspective he was knowledgeable of the genre and could speak about it with authority and at length, with sound effects.  I just expected a little more from everyone. (Yes even myself.)

On my way back, thinking about the things said (and left unsaid), I came to this cold comfort of a conclusion. 
The three components that make up effective communication Sender - Message - Receiver work best if all participants are aware of the fourth component: Response.
Because that's how Dialogue is made.


 
















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