Preference: Critique or Conversation?


I’ve always found it hard to enter into a “critique” mode … I find it hard to do a book review and offer a critique on the authors ideas. By this I don’t mean I’ve tossed out the need to be criticial or as a person I don’t easily dish out criticisms. What I’m saying is it’s just “hard” and in some way a more “draining” exercise for me. I know we can’t swallow everything we read or hear. And we need to be on guard especially when in our Malaysian context there’s a greater tendency to just follow the crowd, ot the trend or what pragmatically works. So, there is a need for IMHO some kind of “healthy critique” mode we need to operate at some point. And thus, “Critical thinking” is not to be eliminated. But, somehow … it’s not as energizing for me … necessary at times but not so prefered most of the time. If there’s something I disagree with, there’s a tendency that I’d “critique” it in general (as in not personal) and probably just focus on what I find “connection” with … and put more energy there.

That’s why the whole “conversation” mode appeals to me so much. For stuff I’m ignorant I’d rather be silent, or ask questions, or wait and give some time before I say something. And then, at times even suspend judgement for a while (I know that’s hard because internal battles go on in my mind during this stage), learn some patience – give the other some space to continue. When engaged in “conversation” mode … I think the “critique” element is there but not so much at the forefront .. so as not to stop the “flow” of conversation. A lot of restraint is needed so there’s meeting of minds, ideas, and possibilities at some point. There’s a kind of “safety” in this kind of environment … and yet there’s definately potential for “change” to happen … not in a head on collision way often when one is in a “critique” mode, but more in a subtle way where it’s not the other pressurizing us to adpot their view point .. but the listener given space to make adjustments or alignment themselves. Very likely, it wouldn’t be exactly as expected from the speaker but it’s “change” nonetheless.

So, I prefer “conversations” without ignoring the need to “critique” when needed. But I suppose it’s more about what comes to the forefront … a more level ground “conversation” marked by much restraint, space and patience – allowing the “critique” mode to be more subdued while not extinguising our critical faculties .. emphasizing the relational dimention of truth-engaging, or knowledge-exchange with a strong accent on the human face than just dabbling in the exchange of ideas and disembodied knowledge.

I’m not sure how much sense I’m making here … but … it’s therapeutic I must say. 🙂

with all the above off my chest, I’d like to continue with much appreciation to many bloggers who blogged their notes, feeings and insights … from the recent Emergent Convention 2005 in Nashville. As one who was unable to make it for obvious reasons of distance, I find myself in no position to offer “critique” but it would be fun to pick some aspects and have an “imaginary” conversation with stuff that just “resonate” or “connect” (that’s the fun this whole internet and blogging experience offers) so, on with the conversations …

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