Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Stuff of Thought

Though there's much to say about the current economic meltdown, the 2008 Election, Detroit's mayoral crisis and other pressing matters, today I want to mention Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Viking, 2007). It deals with language and how we filter the world and our lives, which reminds me of flash thoughts that came to me long ago, falling asleep in a relative's house near Portland, Oregon: It's not what happens, it's how we perceive what happens . . . Is this the key to life?

From Chapter 9, "Escaping the Cave:"

Literature [and movies and TV and art in general] can explore the themes that eternally obsess people in the world's myths and stories . . . Language is a medium that is public and digital, and so must hide the apsects of our experience that are private and smoothly blended: our sensations, our emotions, our inklings and intuitions, and the choreography of our bodies. Still, we are gregarious animals who like to teach and gossip and boss one another around, and few aspects of our lives are unaffected by our dealings with other people. As the channel in which much of this information is trafficked, language is adapted to every feature of our experience that is shareable with others, and a large part of the human condition falls into its purview [p. 427].

The Stuff of Thought reminds me to -- at some point -- touch on world view / worldview / Weltanschauung, ideology, social construction, and Zeitgeist.

But meanwhile, I'll just enjoy Marion Cotillard's existence in the movies and in pop culture.

Today's Rune: The Self.

Today's Rune:

1 comment:

lulu said...

One of my students did a presentation on Steven Pinker just yesterday.