Sunday, October 03, 2004

Ought not a thought come from more than nought?

Where do your thoughts come from? When you think, what makes one thought pop into your head more than another one?

Try this: Read the previous two questions again, but this time try to be aware of the ‘words’ as you read them in your head. Although, there is no sound, it almost seems the words are ‘out loud,’ but within your head.

Try this too: Most people don’t know this, but Canada has been involved in many secret military operations that have killed numerous people in part of South America.
What did you think/say when you read that? “Really?” “Where?” “What is your source?” “I don’t believe you!” something else? (actually, I would be interested in knowing what you thought, so please post it)

Lastly, I want you to think of the last time you had a heated discussion with someone. I imagine the words just flowed out of you, quickly and effortlessly. Some may have been appropriate and maybe some were not. The exchange can be so seemless, one might only think about their words afterward.

What I am trying to describe is how the thoughts we have and the words we speak seem to pop into our heads and leave no trace of their origins. It is truly a fascinating experience. It is as if ‘you’ don’t actually have any control at all when thoughts pop into ‘your’ head.

Any thoughts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS IS RACHAEL - woOO. Ok, now that that's cleared up - well last time I forgot to let you know you see - but you may have guessed - anyway!

I'm uneasy about what all you mean by this :P but then, I'm not sure if you mean what I think you do.

It's true when I go back and focus on the words part of what happens includes 'hearing the words out-loud' but that is not my normal experience in reading or thinking.

For the second, I thought something like "alright" - which is common for me, with the background notion that I'll file that as vague and unverified - until I know more. I also thought something like "that's too simplistic." and "what kind of people?".

Note, the reason I'm saying "something like" is because I'm a very abstract thinker - so my ideas don't normally fit right into word form. I'm curious if you're assuming we normally think in language - and if you yourself do?

I'm not sure about heated discussion, but in trying to talk to you guys last night you saw this first hand :P

I had a whole host of ideas very present in my head, but I couldn't verbalize them well. Often when I'm talking to people I need to appeal to examples, use expressions and gestures and just hope people know what the heck I mean (sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn't :P).

Like most people, in order to articulate something well I need to have already thought about verbalizing it and have kindof pre-prepared sentences and argument structures ready or you get the kind of thing I just mentioned above.

Otherwise, for me it feels more like "sending" to my mind to help me put my thoughts into a coherent sentences. Unfortunately, she's a little slow :P it was during the walk home I started "receiving" the same ideas back in concise, coherent word structures.

Same thing with what I was telling you about my journal... it feels like sending a request (alright brain, here's the ideas - go at it) and then the response (what you see in my journal).

Now, as far as control over these more abstract thoughts... I'd say I have a lot of control over them and usually (maybe always) know why they're there.
*In the sense that I'm thinking about concept x because y came up and so on.

This certainly makes it seem to me that I do have a certain amount of control over what thoughts are going to 'pop' into my head.

Although, I get a lot of 'crap' floating around all the time too that isn't abstract: music, pictures, pieces of stories, etc. that don't seem to have anything to do with anything and aren't always easy to get rid of. My best explanation for these is on par with your explanation of dream content.

Alright, give me something interesting back :P

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Darren,

It's Susan, your book club drop-out! I find the whole "where do the words come from" thing fascinating too. More than once recently I've been having a heated discussion and heard myself come out with a perfectly appropriate word that I may never even have spoken out loud before (I read a lot). Sometimes I end up getting embarrassed by this because I'll pronouce the new word wrong. (I remember doing this with the word "epitome" - I said it with three syllables, the last one rhyming with "home" :-p).

There's a famous quotation: "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?" (attributed variously to E.M. Forster, Graham Wallas, and Alice in Wonderland), and Erica Jong wrote somewhere: "How can I know what I think until I see what I write?" That seems to be the exact opposite of Rachael's experience in the previous comment, where she knows what she thinks but then sometimes struggles to translate it into verbal form. There are probably individual differences in the degree to which people's thinking is verbal versus conceptual.

I'm not nearly as bad as Forster, although for myself, I do find sometimes that I can *think/feel* I know exactly my opinion on a topic in a rough conceptual sense, but when I start to speak about it I find that I gave a little too much weight to that feeling. Not that I'll say something *completely* opposite, but putting an unexamined idea-sense into words can result in non-trivial and sometimes surprising alterations to it.

Hmm... that just made me worry that maybe the initial sense *was* the genuine one, and the verbalized one only changed because in verbal form it became accessible my superego censor - ack!

3:14 PM  

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