Of all Sigmund Freud’s discoveries, perhaps the most fundamental is that our capacity to speak can alter and effect our relations to others and to ourselves. What a gift is this marvelous capacity to talk! In theory, there are an infinite number of ways in which we can talk to one another to a variety of as‐yet‐unknown ends, a rather upsetting realization in light of the typically rote, anxiety‐inducing, and overwhelmingly functional conversations of everyday life.
In an effort to glimpse the possibilities engendered by our ability to talk and listen, a “conference” will be held on Saturday, November 15th, 2014 at the University of Chicago in which all participants will both talk and listen to each other in an intensive fashion. The morning will begin at 10:00am with coffee. The first experiment will start at 10:30am, when each conference participant will be paired with another participant and assigned either the role of “talker” or “listener.” With your partner, you’ll then set off on a stroll or find a place to sit to talk for up to an hour, during which time each party is to dutifully and genuinely assume his or her assigned role (more information will be provided before the conference about what this means precisely). The second experiment will begin at 12 noon, at which time you’ll be paired up with a different conference participant and given a different role. Thus, if you “listened” during the morning, you’ll “talk” during the afternoon experiment, and vice versa. At 1pm, we’ll then serve lunch for all participants.
Although this conference draws upon psychoanalytic theory for inspiration, it should not be taken to be providing therapeutic services of any kind, as none of the participants are required to be licensed in any way. This conference aims ultimately less to introduce participants to a new set of ideas or practices than to simply thematize an activity in which we are all already engaged: namely, talking with, and thereby relating to, other people.
For more information about this event, please open this document, which explains what the day is going to look like, why we’re getting together to talk and listen like this, and what participants will be asked to talk about.
To register for the conference, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address, phone number, institutional affiliation (if any), and a brief statement as to what brings you to this experiment. Please also email this address with any questions. All are welcome to participate.