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Some Reflect, While Others Wonder
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UnderstandUnderstand is one of my favorite stories. If you haven't read it, well, the whole thing is available online—as I discovered when I was trying to find out what year it was published—and it's not very long, either. Just follow the link above to get to the external link.
So, you've read it now, right? So of course you can see the reason I like it … I can identify with the protagonist and for a while imagine myself free of the all-too-real limitations of the mind.
Here's one passage that gets at that aspect.
No matter what I study, I can see patterns. I see the gestalt, the melody within the notes, in everything: mathematics and science, art and music, psychology and sociology. As I read the texts, I can think only that the authors are plodding along from one point to the next, groping for connections that they can't see. They're like a crowd of people unable to read music, peering at the score for a Bach sonata, trying to explain how one note leads to another.
If I'm lucky, I can see a pattern here, or understand some dynamics there; and if the thought is a really good one, maybe I'll spend hours or days trying to write it down, to formulate it for myself and others. How great it would be, to have it all just be clear!
Then, given how I like languages, the following is irresistable.
My new language is taking shape. It is gestalt-oriented, rendering it beautifully suited for thought, but impractical for writing or speech. It wouldn't be transcribed in the form of words arranged linearly, but as a giant ideogram, to be absorbed as a whole. Such an ideogram could convey, more deliberately than a picture, what a thousand words cannot. The intricacy of each ideogram would be commensurate with the amount of information contained; I amuse myself with the notion of a colossal ideogram that describes the entire universe.
Actually, I often think in that direction when I'm writing. I see the structure of an essay as a graph: trains of thought branching and merging, arguments converging to make a point (hehe), digressions trailing off into nothing or looping back to affect the main argument, random thoughts exploding like a firework at the end. And then there are the cross-references, tying the essays together into a single large graph … or associative net, if you like.
Speaking of graphs that represent thought, I should also mention mind maps.
Finally, we come to the heart of the matter, a passage that touches on so many important things that I don't even know where to begin, and that is so well written that it literally makes my hair stand on end.
Restaurant Effect, The
Thoughts About Stephenson
Usual Random Thoughts, The
@ June (2004)