Bagel Brothers – do not miss this coming Saturday (January 13th) morning breakfast bash: Trademark too-strong coffee, great food, even better comradery ! And, we’re extremely fortunate to have nationally-published essayist, Dr. Stephen Miller, as our guest speaker on a topic of critical importance to all of us.
We’re living in an age of increasing isolation from human contact; a time when face-to-face civil conversation is an antiquated artifact of a pre-technology time. We bury our heads into our laptops, send countless emails, craft text messages on our smart phones, distribute banal YouTube videos, pour meaningless drivel into social media—Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Linkedin. Almost hourly we’re shocked – or delighted – by outlandish Tweets. The avalanche of electronic media has drowned out the concept of truth and facts (64 percent of the U.S. electorate’s primary source of news is Facebook); none of us wants to be held accountable for what we say, believe or do – we don’t have meaningful conversations. We don’t look other humans in the eyes and have stimulating interactive Conversations.
Miller believes this digital trend degrades understanding, rational compromise, ultimately understanding. He wrote a well-received book Conversation: A History of a Declining Art which seems even more relevant today than when it was published. He will begin has presentation with a brief look back on the role of conversation on developing Western societies, and move forward to today’s challenge of increasing polarization fostered in large part by digital technologies. Don’t miss this Saturday’s Bagel Boys Saturday morning gather. Respond today with either “yes” or “sorry.”
Dr. Miller, a Reston resident, continues to pursue a lifelong interest in conversation by taking an historical and philosophical view of the subject. He chronicles the art of conversation in Western civilization from its beginnings in ancient Greece to its apex in eighteenth-century Britain to its current endangered state in America. As Harry G. Frankfurt brought wide attention to the art of bullshit in his recent bestselling On Bullshit, so Miller now brings the art of conversation into the light, revealing why good conversation matters and why it is in decline.
Dr. Miller explores the conversation about conversation among such great writers as Cicero, Montaigne, Swift, Defoe, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and Virginia Woolf. He focuses on the world of British coffeehouses and clubs in “The Age of Conversation” and examines how this era ended. Turning his attention to the United States, the author traces a prolonged decline in the theory and practice of conversation from Benjamin Franklin through Hemingway to Dick Cheney. He cites our technology (iPods, cell phones, and video games) and our insistence on unguarded fo