A Week Spent in Conversation

There’s more where that came from…

“As the conversation evolves, the personality of each speaker becomes progressively divided: one part listens agreeably to what is being said, while the other, fascinated by the subject itself, like a bird with a snake, will increasingly withdraw and begin thinking about the matter. When we converse, we live within a society; when we think, we remain alone. But in this case, in this kind of conversation, we do both at once, and as the discussion continues we do them with growing intensity: we pay attention to what is being said with almost melodramatic emotion and at the same time we become more and more immersed in the solitary well of our meditation. This increasing disassociation cannot be sustained in a permanent balance. For this reason, such conversations characteristically reach a point when they suffer a paralysis and lapse into a heavy silence. Each speaker is self-absorbed. Simply as a result of thinking, he isn’t able to talk. Dialogue has given birth to silence, and the initial social contact has fallen into states of solitude”

[from José Ortega y Gasset, The Misery and the Splendor of Translation. For the whole text, go e.g. here.]

The week that’s just passed was, for me, full of conversations. And for someone who could very well stay silent for half a week, that’s both strange and wonderful.

I talked to a friend about the presidential elections in Poland, and people’s exaggerated reactions to the results; about how May is a time when too much happens in Kraków; about the way some people get irritated at others for just being the way they are.

Topics of other conversations ranged from climbing, through feminism and central heating (yup), to my future as a skinny-dog-with-genetic-disorders mom.

There was also the 10th SWT — a series of translation workshops, lectures, and discussions held annually in Kraków, where I had the chance to listen to some way more experienced translators talk about translation stuff.

I also had a mostly silent conversation with someone who came half an hour late to meet me — and because that was the first time I let myself be openly annoyed at someone for something like that, it was kind of interesting.

And for the last three days, I listened to Ann Snitow and people telling their stories during Trans*Festival. When I later told someone about it, I met with reserve, and the question: “did you dress as a man to go there?” — which only proves such events are needed.

And now, I’m sitting alone, thinking and rethinking, in a heavy happy silence. It feels so good that I had to share it.

Have a good week,


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I'm an unprofessional writer, reader and translator. I'm also a walking, breathing and listening addict. And I love being all that.

2 thoughts on “A Week Spent in Conversation”

  1. I love the quote! The problem appears when it’s only me who falls silent all of a sudden, just because I just HAVE TO think something through 😀 But most of the time I’m crap at responding accordingly to the things that are said – the best answers always come to me long after the conversation is over (that sounds like a piece of Biffy Clyro’s song, btw) or at least the said topic was already dropped. But maybe that’s why I have to write everything down…? 😛


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