Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Message

There’s a tendency to trust affect
Shared by messenger and messagee,

An assumption that it’s the manner
Of delivery that lets you know

What the message really means—a smile,
A restrained anger, a graceful ease.

Actors make bank as interpreters
Of texts by the way they make lines read,

And lovers quarrel, juries convict
Over posture, tears, or arrogance.

But you know there is the message, which
Is only information in terms,

And you know that you’re responsible
For deciding what that info means.

Reading affect is a meaning cheat,
Since the message is never complete.

You exploit the fact it’s widely thought
The affect is the message. It’s not.

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