Turning the Self Into a Messenger in Order to Connect With Another

People who 'come from a completely noncritical place' want the person who is subjected to criticism not to feel threatened. Their way to diminish that threat is to diminish the self.

The conscious desire of people who come from “a place of” is to further an empathetic atmosphere in conversations with the “other.” They want to endow their self with positive − or at least less threatening − qualities. People who “come from a completely noncritical place” want the person who is subjected to criticism not to feel threatened. Their way to diminish that threat is to diminish the self.

It’s a simple operation: Instead of the self constituting a source of authority ‏(“I am not criticizing you”‏), it becomes a type of messenger skittering between all kinds of places and reporting on them. It might come from “a place of empathy”; on another occasion from “a place of straight-shooting”; or, yet again, from “a completely noncritical place.”

The characterization of the self as a type of messenger is intended to implant in the “other” the feeling that the subject opposite him is not a supreme judgmental authority − hence frightening, threatening, emasculating − but a mere messenger who is reporting on the type of storeroom from which he has come. I am from the stockroom.

The need to reduce anxiety by transforming the self into a messenger mirrors the reversal that occurs in the speaker’s psyche. If the self were not judgmental in a manner which the subject himself perceives as threatening, there would be no need for the messenger pretense. It is precisely because the self feels that it constitutes a course of supreme, absolute, unchallengeable authority that the messenger disguise is necessary. The self is apprehensive that, otherwise, society will uncover its hyper-authoritativeness ‏(megalomania-narcissism‏) and denounce it.

The choice of the word “place” is not accidental. The subject pretends to be an object, because an object is something that lacks judgmentalism ‏(authority‏) and also because in the Hebrew culture the word makom, or “place,” has mythological roots ‏(makom is also a name for God‏). Over and above the camouflage, replacing a subject with an object of mythological resonance enables the speaker to satisfy his self − the ego − which might be “insulted” if it were replaced by a plain object ‏(“I come from a nonjudgmental storeroom”‏), but which now bears divine qualities.

People who “come from a completely noncritical place” are usually also people who can “connect to what you are saying.” The association between “place” and “connection” is clear: When subjects disguise themselves as objects, the mode of communication between them is also compelled to undergo a transformation. Now, instead of a direct and unmediated conversation which underscores the self ‏(“I think you are wrong”‏), communication is camouflaged under technical terms ‏(connectivity‏).

Why is the directness of the self replaced by a technical means? Because directness is a quality that possesses a high-anxiety coefficient for society. A direct person is one whose self is liable to generate surprise at any moment, to express itself without filtering or control, to act violently and wildly or, alternatively, over-sentimentally.

Because the aim of the “New Speech” is to camouflage the dangers latent in the self, value inheres in the transformation of its discourse with another self − communication − into a matter of technical features, effected by an operation of connecting ‏(think of two computers connected by a cable‏). The word that was chosen − “connected” − is very efficient for purposes of camouflage, because it contains a familiar dimension ‏(in Hebrew, the word has the same root as the word for “friend”‏). So, in precisely the same way that the word “place” infuses the object with divine qualities, the word “connects” plays on the tension between the technical and the emotional.

And, by the way, the reason that the fellow who “comes from a noncritical place” but “connects to what you are saying” is usually someone “for whom it doesn’t feel right” is that as part of the game of hide-and-seek played by the self, the self is also capable of switching subject with object grammatically ‏(instead of “I feel that this is not right,” “this doesn’t feel right to me”‏) and thereby to destroy the object without taking responsibility ‏(“Sorry, I don’t connect with this text, it doesn’t feel right to me. And don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely coming to you from a good place”‏).

Ayala Tal