I sometimes engage in spirited discussions with a guy I know who is an expert in mayhem. By and large, I agree with much of what he has to say, most of the time, and I respect his knowledge, which is in most ways superior to mine. Doesn't cost me anything to say that, and if it's true, why would that bother me?
But ... we don't agree all the time. Sometimes, we kick stuff back and forth, trying to get to the meat of the discussion. We are both of us fairly forthright in our presentations–we call it like we see it and don't spend much time honey-coating the words to make them taste better.
We both understand that such back-and-forths are apt to bring more light to a subject than having six guys who agree with us tell us we are right. If you are a preacher, you don't spend time trying to convince the choir to come to Jesus.
Sometimes I am fascinated by the subtext we both use, the choice of words, the constructions, the now and then subtle, now and then not-so-subtle stuff that goes along with the reasonable discourse.
In context and out of it matters, of course, but consider these terms: "bullshit fantasy;" "expecting anything is stupid;" "despise when people say ..." And my favorite one recently, "martial ballerinas," as opposed to "operators ..."
When such terms pop up, they reveal things that are unsaid–that's what subtext is–and you can't help but get a feeling that when it goes back and forth and there's a J'accuse! and one of us writes, "I didn't say that!" sometimes that is ... less than convincing.
Yeah, that's right, you didn't say that in so many words. But, Dude, that's what you meant ...
It's all fun, and as a worker in words, I find it amusing. One of the first things you learn in a journalism class is that nobody is objective when it comes to reporting the news. However much you strive to be, the stories you choose to cover, the language you use to describe them, the subtextual tone, all of these produce a slant. If I did nothing but take a photograph of an event and show it, sans comment, the photograph itself will be a statement–the timing, the angle, the focus, and that I picked that to capture and not something else.
The written word is, at best, an approximation of communication. At its cleanest, it is incomplete and open to all manner of interpretation. Which is why people need to get together for coffee once in a while ...