A site of endless curiosity

In search of the passionate inarticulate

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I read Seth Godin’s blog from time to time.  I caught a very short blog entry – reproduced below.

Seth seems to want to say that if someone is  inarticulate – if they can’t really say anything substantial or with depth about something –  then that person is not passionate about the topic.  Let me expand on this.  What if you encounter a person who really can’t talk about anything substantial on any topic?  That is, if all the conversation you can have with the person in question is “small talk” then what is going on?

If a person is inarticulate in general, are they passionless?

Seth’s unstated presupposition in the blog entry quoted below is that expression of passion about something or some subject is (primarily or essentially) verbal (“How long before you run out of talking points?”).

Seth uses the example of Dan Dennett.  Dan Dennett, or perhaps more precisely professor Dennett, is a philosopher.  The “performance” of Philosophy is verbal and written.  Dennett has “talking point” galore as a fundamental mode of expression, or performance, of his passion for the philosophical topics that interest him.  Philosophy is fundamentally expressed in words (spoken or written).  Is there a “physical” (non verbal) performance or expression of Philosophy?  If one could not “physically perform” philosophy could you make an argument on the basis of the primacy of “physical performance” that philosophers are passionless?  It’s just like Seth’s argument exchanging the primacy of physical expression for that of verbal expression.  Philosophers could be “physically inarticulate” from that perspective and thus rendered “passionless”.

What about people who “do things” but don’t necessarily “think about things”?  With no talking points does it mean they are not passionate or “emotionally connected or informed”?  Is a physical performance a sign of passion?  For example, music, dance, or a magic show?  When does AC/DC’s  Angus Young run out of “talking points” in a guitar solo?  ( Watch six minutes of verbal inarticulation by Angus Young.  How passionless  and uninformed about music he must be! )

Let’s get back to the question.  Why the primacy of speech (and thought) as a hallmark of passion? – or intelligence, for that matter!  And if you encounter a person who “can not speak” – a person who is inarticulate – then what is the precondition for this situation?  Does it mean the person is not intelligent?

I encounter people who “have nothing to say” – on anything.  What’s going on?

From Seth Godin’s blog

How long before you run out of talking points?

Here’s how you know if someone is living the brand, is emotionally connected to the story and is literate and informed–or if they’re just emotionally connected in the moment:

Ask a lot of questions.

Cornel West can talk for hours about race, the Bible or Marx. He knows it cold.

Dan Dennett can write for three hundred pages about the philosophy of free will and consciousness and he’s just getting started. There’s depth there.

I’ve talked to brand stewards from JetBlue and Starbucks that could go deep or wide or detailed for hours.

Then compare these passionate leaders to a pundit, spin doctor or troll (for just about any cause du jour) being interviewed on TV. After three sentences, they run out of assertions, facts or interesting things to say.

There’s a lot to be said for being deep, scientific and informed.


Read more on (non-verbal) intelligences:

More from AC/DC Angus Young – Getting the crowed whipped up without saying a word, being deep, scientific, or informed.  Angus is the living brand of the band AC/DC – and he doesn’t need to utter a word.


Written by frrl

August 16, 2010 at 4:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I agree with you more than Seth Godin, passion and conversation don’t always lean on one another, as your Angus Young example proves very well.

    John Donland

    August 17, 2010 at 6:58 pm

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