Books Dialogue Reviews

Book Review: The Supreme Art of Dialogue

The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning by Anthony Blake is, as the title says, a book about the art of dialogue. The structures of meaning in the sub-title refers to the flows that arise in the making of meaning during dialogue.1

David Bohm argued that society can be deeply affected by people are thinking in phase, and that this can be achieved through dialogue. The unity attainable in dialogue is different from agreement. In dialogue, disagreement is combined with a willingness to listen to others. The unity that emerges in dialogue actually makes it possible to enhance the differences.

Agreement and disagreement are too crude descriptions. Dialogue stems from a deeper, and as yet ill-defined, kind of unification.2 People think together in dialogue, rather than in competition. People also come to know each other in a very deep way.3

We are accustomed to using methods to achieve results, just as we might use a tool, but it’s more appropriate to say that dialogue uses us.4 The complex and ever-changing process of dialogue produces new meanings. In dialogue there’s utter trust in this underlying capacity in people.5

Meanings come together to create other meanings in dialogue. Dialogue, furthermore, allows and trusts the emergence of roles through the process itself.6 The greatest lesson of dialogue is that we can learn from each other—not through instruction, but through meaning. The whole point of dialogue is having a group to tap into a type of collective intelligence and awareness that is not possible in isolation.7

If what is on the surface is merely an ‘echo’ of reality, then what is below the surface—within or in silence—’creates’ reality.8

People in dialogue are like people wandering through a garden, discovering the structure of the landscape in which they move.9 All structures emerge out of the dialogue itself.10 What is unconscious can become conscious, or, in David Bohm’s terminology, what is implicit can become explicit. People in dialogue discover the meaning as they speak together.

An implicate information field becomes present as soon as people decide to dialogue.11 The role of listening is not simply to register what is said, but to become aware of what might be said. Listening contributes to the making of the dialogue, and is not merely a reflection of what is happening.12

People must be present to each other or there is no dialogue.13 Dialogue works with whatever arises in the moment. It can never be reduced to a formula.14 Dialogue is genuine only if people are invited to it. People can only volunteer. It is not possible to have a dialogue if people are told to do so.15

This is an excellent book!

1 Anthony Blake, The Supreme Art of Dialogue: Structures of Meaning, p.5.
2 Ibid., p.10.
3 Ibid., p.16.
4 Ibid., p.17.
5 Ibid., p.24.
6 Ibid., p.25.
7 Ibid., p.27.
8 Ibid., p.67.
9 Ibid., p.75.
10 Ibid., p.83.
11 Ibid., p.102.
12 Ibid., p.111.
13 Ibid., p.174.
14 Ibid., p.186.
15 Ibid., p.259.

By Jan Höglund

I share my reading, book reviews, and learning in my blog.

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