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Provocative thoughts from Patric Standford

Transmission Failure Syndrome

There is a great deal to be said for speaking and writing clearly, unambiguously and generally in terms that can be understood by a reasonably broad range of people who themselves are literate, numerate, socially aware and have a modest ability to communicate simply and directly. If what is being written or said cannot be understood, then nothing is being communicated. If the writer or speaker does not realise an audience cannot understand, there could be a serious human psychological problem at source which, though widely recognizable, would need expert treatment.

A case of communication or transmission failure syndrome (CTFS) is usually known to exist when an intended communication is clouded by complex terminology that may either have no meaning at all, or its component parts be formulated in such an esoteric jargon or consist of the misuse of otherwise familiar ingredients that no ordinary sense can be made of their product.

It is possible that a group of CTFS sufferers, when brought together, may indeed understand each other, though it is far from certain whether this is a fully intellectual understanding, or simply a sympathetic understanding syndrome (SUS) which is known to be a side-effect of CTFS, a type of natural defence mechanism which gives CTFS sufferers a feeling of confident superiority and well being, enabling them to project their attempted communications with such plausibility that even those who are not sufferers can be made to feel the disadvantage of inferiority in their presence.

It is known that large numbers of quite normally well adjusted people occasionally attend events created and presented by CTFS sufferers and the generation of quite lucrative markets have been known. Some books become best-sellers without any purchaser knowing how to turn the bizarre unfamiliarity of their vocabulary into a basis for understanding. This curious CTFS disorder, which is believed to emanate from and be nurtured by academic environments, has now been detected positively among creators of musical material, with a significant and increasing number of SUS performers becoming involved in the presentations of their work in concerts.

Copyright © 26 August 2003 Patric Standford, Wakefield, UK


From: Alistair Hinton, UK

Assuming him to refer here to composers rather than a certain breed of musicologists which tends to follow in such composers' wake(s), does he have any particular 'creators of musical material' in mind in this context? Answers -- if deemed too indiscreet for general publication -- may be marked 'private'. I'm not unsympathetic -- just curious!





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