stranger things

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there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so

hamlet, william shakespeare

recently i have been doing a lot of thinking about thinking. i guess this is a more profitable pastime than worrying about worrying, an activity i used to specialise in (and still can, given the right circumstances).

this reflecting upon thinking led from my musings in the blurred lines post to do with putting ideas into words. when i try to observe my experience of thought, i notice that words don’t play a major part in the process. thoughts seem to come in a rush of jumbled impressions made up of visual imagery, memory, scent, sound, emotion, atmosphere, and other stuff i haven’t found the words to express.

it seems that if i come upon a thought which intrigues or troubles me, i get the urge to pin it down, and it is then that i attempt to translate it into language. which came as a big surprise. until lately, i’d pictured the process of thinking as something akin to writing letters to ourselves. but it seems to me now that endeavouring to explain that process has stronger parallels with trying to describe our dreams to one another. and it is almost impossible to avoid making dreams sound as if they make far more logical sense than they do.

some days i am overwhelmed by the miracle of language. at other times, i despair at the inadequacy of words to help us solve human problems.

it would be unjust to lay all the blame for this confusion on donald trump and nigel farage. however, i do believe that when politicians abandon responsibility for truthfulness, we experience a widescale communication breakdown. i’m not talking about truth in the sense of integrity in their private lives – i don’t care if politicians have adulterous affairs, or do drugs. but i do care when they intentionally mislead, or tell barefaced lies to, their electorates, and momentous decisions are made partly or wholly on the basis of that misinformation.

One thought on “stranger things

  1. Interesting blog post. it makes me wonder to what extent thinking is a purely human process, and what thinking could be like for non-human beings. If we can think without language, then are words only a partial representation of actual thoughts. It might be that some thought is possible without language, but that human thought has been shaped to some extent by words as language became the dominant form of communication? I guess poetry is one way to break the confines which more formal language places on our ability to communicate deeper thinking and emotion.

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