George Adie on using Awkwardness (27 September 1979, Pt V)

This continues and concludes the report of the meeting of Thursday 27 September 1979. Again, it is Boris who speaks. He now mentions a new matter which concerns him: he finds it very difficult to engage in casual conversation.

Mr Adie asked the obvious question: “Yes, but why do you want casual conversation? You see, this could be an abuse of the Work, couldn’t it? You can’t be made comfortable socially by the Work. The fact that you don’t succeed in this useless pastime may indicate that you are very identified. That is more important than knowing that you are not very adroit. Occasionally, you have got to be able to natter like an idiot, but why have you got to have this wonderful skill?”

Referring back to the first part of Boris’ question, Mr Adie said: “This is where much of your egotism comes in. When you want to have some casual conversation, all that happens is egotism, which some people may not find so interesting. They might even be offended.”

After a pause, he asked again: “Why do you want casual conversation?”

Boris didn’t quite answer the question Mr Adie asked, but said that he always seemed to overreact drastically, or underreact.

“But couldn’t you give me an example?”

Boris then recounted how once, when he was meeting someone, the other person said something that wasn’t particularly relevant to him, yet he felt inside an enormous reaction, which obliged him to speak.

“Well, you see parts of your automatic talking apparatus, saying things that are useless and valueless. Your feelings on the matter were useless and valueless, you could offer nothing but chance connections. No presence, see? But you don’t have to plunge into interesting casual conversation directly you meet a person.”

“Alright, I find that I am a bit awkward, let’s put it that way. I don’t find I command that charm. But have I got to have it? What interest me from the work point of view is not to criticise that state, to taste it. What is trying to manifest but can’t? All your casual conversation is concerned about Boris. That’s a nice conversation: how clever he is, how charming. This is your casual conversation. Maybe you’re not interested in other people’s lives. Casual conversation has to be mutual, otherwise people soon get tired. And you’re quite right to connect it with this sort of egotism.”

“You’re on the ground, in a very big field. I’ve said something that should be useful when you come to ponder it, but from this wealth of material choose something specific. Try and narrow it down, though.”

“Don’t use it to be able to excel in casual conversation, but rather use the casual conversation to show you a little bit of what is present. If you use that, you could see what prevents you being relaxed or at your ease. And so on.”

“What sort of feeling could there be in that scene? There is no room for any feeling? It doesn’t seem there’s any recognition of the other person at all, only considering. But you know the circumstances, try and use this or the other different situations, try and repair. For that you need to find out what goes on. Be free enough to find out. Things are moving a little bit for you, you’re on your right ground now, so. Do I say too much? Do I give you too much help?”


The final question was from Flora. Sadly, the tape ran out before the end of the exchange. She said that she had been forgetting all sorts of things that she had been asked to do, and to help herself with that, she had been watching how she listens to people.

“Yes, that is very right,” said Mr Adie. “Do you accept to try it at the moment? If a person wants something, do I agree to do it, or do I just make some faint effort and then forget at the first obstacle? But if I accept to see whatever my state is, then I am in touch, I am not kept away from my own life. If I can have a sense of commitment within my own life, then there is a chance of remembering, although perhaps not every time. We’re all very forgetful in different ways. Some people are better at certain things, but they have their black spots, too. Perhaps forgetting is a law, but then so is remembering.”

Flora then added: “What I noticed was that I have always thought I was a good listener, and it was quite a shock to see that it was like I was pretending to listen, and the other person would still be talking, and I would interrupt to show off the knowledge I had.”

“Alright, you’ve seen that process, there’s a sort of one-upmanship, a parade of, intelligence, never at a loss, always on top, never at fault, pretty alert. You’ve seen that process, you’ve seen that tendency. It’s still there. You could choose that as one of your lines of work, couldn’t you?”

“Choose one or two circumstances where you know you’re inclined to show off, and try and be quite simple. Even be prepared to be a little bit dull. Not so that they think you’re an idiot and won’t trust you do complete any job, but to allow yourself to look dull, for your own purpose.”

“Some people consider terribly about their clothing. I may have told you this before. There was a young woman who said in groups that she was never subject to considering. I said, alright, if I asked you to take a task to test whether you are subject to considering, will you do it? She said yes. I said, good, she lived near some shops, she was a young housewife who went to them each day, I said, just one day, you put on a dirty apron, have a smudge on your face, and go to our shops. She couldn’t do it.”

“Wouldn’t have done her any harm at all. She would have been quite free. Marvellous. Greasy grocer, butcher who wants to sell her something. Very interesting to see them all sniffy and haughty. But to do any harm to anybody, of course, just for the sake of overcoming this horrible cringing, considering: my hat isn’t quite right, or …”

This is where the tape ran out.

Joseph Azize, 27 June 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *