Saturday, March 8, 2014


Some use the word resonance when describing an outer event that makes a deep impression on them. Or, just one they agree with. I can't tell you how many times I have sat in rooms over the last year or two and heard people say how something "resonates" with them. It is almost like watching the common cold spread from one person (All this in a work that supposedly eschews mechanical habits, mind you.)

People use this word, I believe, without even thinking.

I'll explain why.

Resonation is the deep reverberation of a sound. It impresses; but impression isn't necessarily an indicator of quality; and what we seek, I hope, is a certain quality, as is often said, a finer quality. So if something merely resonates, it's not at all enough.

    What we seek, I believe, is consonance. Consonance, a combination of notes that are in harmony with each other due to the relationship between their frequencies, is a more accurate description of what people are reaching for than resonance; most of the time, when people speak of something resonating, what they really appear to be saying is that they experience a consonance, a corresponding harmonious vibration, between themselves and the other. This is the essence of relationship; two things that work together or sound alike are consonant. 

    Resonance does indeed imply a certain quality, but it does not, in the least, imply relationship

    Consonance, on the other hand, always involves engagement with the other. 

    The roots of —con and —re alone make this quite clear: —con derives from the Latin cum, with—implying togetherness; and —re derives from Latin —re, gainst, back, implying (in fact) opposition

   So the words themselves reveal how they are appropriately understood and used.

    What is resonant finds its essential nature (resonance) on its own; what is consonant finds its nature in relationship.  

    So this talk of resonance is, for me, actually quite far off the mark; and I've heard the word resonance so many times in the past year or so that it's quite worn out in my ears.  Gurdjieff established the Institute for Harmonious Development, not the institute for resonant development.



1 comment:

  1. I've just finished reading the chapter "Russia" from Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

    I think the concepts of suggestibility and influence, discussed in that chapter, might be relevant to your points about resonance versus consonance.

    One problem with suggestibility is that anything essential, not to mention conscious, in the person is overridden, as it were, by the influence of another. There is no real participation of what is already there. No one is home.

    This helps me to understand better what consonance might mean and why it is of a higher quality than mere resonance.


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