OPENING HEARTS: A PARALOGUE
ByLynn Hoffman, Gisela Schwartz, and the “Transforming Mother.”Lynn’s Introduction: Why do I use the word Paralogue for this story?When Gisela and I began to write back and forth about the people shewas seeing, I was reading French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotardabout postmodernism. This was a concept that he made famous bydefining it as “incredulity to metanarratives.” Lyotard went on todescribe a “postmodern” conversational style. In the paragraph below,he suggests how it differs from the usual forms of Western argumentor debate:"For us, a language is first and foremost someone talking. But thereare language games in which the important thing is to listen, in whichthe rule deals with audition. Such a game is the game of the just. Andin this game, one speaks only inasmuch as one listens, that is, onespeaks as a listener, and not as an author. It is a game without anauthor. In the same way, the speculative game of the West is a gamewithout a listener, because the only listener tolerated by thespeculative philosopher is the disciple.” This compressed notion swelled inside my mind. What did Lyotardmean by the emphasis on listening? What was so special about “agame of audition?” And most of all, how was such a process to bethought of as a “game of the just?” I had long wanted a way to talkabout a style of communication founded on the qualities of what I callmy Three Pillars of Wisdom: Goolishian and Anderson’s “Not Knowing,” Tom Andersen’s “Reflecting Process,” and the “Outsider Witnesses” of Michael White. These ideas have been helpful in creating sustainingsocial webs.Another inspired concept used by Lyotard was the term “paralogy.”Originally, “paralogy” was a Greek word defined as “nonsense,” sinceit carried the sense of bypassing or “going outside of” logic, but thatwas exactly what Lyotard wanted. He felt that postmoderns needed away of speaking that was not tied to an if-then causality, and did notinsist on any one “truth.” This form of discourse would valuecollaboration over competition, and would respect contradictionsrather than trying to get rid of them. Taking this thought further, I feltthat the type of online exchange that Gisela and I were experimentingwith could then be called a Paralogue rather than a Dialogue or aMetalogue. Gisela agreed with me, so that is what we did.