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Nemonymous
02-16-2009, 10:17 AM
"Another pleasure of Venice was a fascinating conversation over dinner one night as to whether one thinks in words or not. I said, certainly not; one thinks in images and the language found for them is nothing more than a translation. I was hotly supported by a professor who is a Croce-ite. Apparently this is a topic which splits intellectual Italy to the core: and it's a question I can't leave alone - wherever I've been since, it's started again, and there has been a dog-fight. Do you think in words?"
from a letter by Elizabeth Bowen to Charles Ritchie (27 March 1953)


*Footnote in book containing this letter (Love's Civil War - Simon & Schuster 2009): "Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), Italian idealist philosopher and politician. The area of Croce's theory which exercised EB was probably the idea that art is rooted in imagination and intuition, preceding thought, which is 'realized' in writing."


ME: When I walk by the sea thinking about my next story or my next blog entry, I tend to formulate in my head only the words in which I'm going to express my ideas. I later put these on the potter's wheel and mould gradually - and I think words and images come simultaneously, with neither the front runner. In fact the images are ready-mashed within the words and need blending. Writers are Master Chefs, perhaps.

Odalisque
02-16-2009, 12:40 PM
For me there is no absolute answer to this, as I think in different ways at different times. I can distinguish the following (all of which I've done):


Thinking in meaningful words, but never words divorced from their sound. For me, words are never divorced from their sound. I always sub-vocalise when I read silently. This is probably my most characteristic way of thinking.
Thinking is visual images. When I do this, I may have difficulty in describing what I see in my mind's eye.
Thinking in inarticulate sound -- music, animal noises, gibberish.
Thinking in meaningless words (or, rather, sequences words without clear reference) -- I think this may be a defence mechanism against unwelcome thoughts rising towards the surface.
Thinking in sound and visual imagery combined.
Thinking in wordless ideas. I recall doing this a lot as a child, and being frustrated to find that I lacked the vocabulary to express the ideas. Harder to say how often I do it now -- my vocabulary is much better.

Nemonymous
02-17-2009, 09:38 AM
I don't think I can rationalise my thought processes as clearly as you do, Pet, in sub-sections. Who knows whether one's own thought processes are uniquely working in a certain way? We can never know, except perhaps through gauging them through the words of others describing their own thought processes.

I now look at a picture above my desk. It's an old black and white photo of Forties Britain in a back ginnel, with two aproned and head-scarved women talking to a little boy who looks like me as a toddler (though it isn't me). I don't think of it in words when I look at that photo. But hopefully you can see it through my words.

vegetable theories
02-17-2009, 01:50 PM
I remember the moment, as a kid, when I was first able to read in my head rather than reading out loud. It was a sort of revelation.
From then on I was able to think in my head in words, but word-thoughts were always slow boring thoughts, as they are now.
I think I think with my whole body. Thoughts like, hungry, horny, thirsty, cold, sad. I think images and words cluster around these body-thoughts like iron fillings around a magnet.
I'm not discounting the possibility of real rational logical thinking. I'm just saying that I've never been capable of it.
There are bigger thoughts that move with the speed of tectonic plates. I think people have about 3 or 4 of these in a life.
I've recently had an exhibition of paintings and I always feel then that I want to burrow, dig, hide. I paint Narcissus repeatedly and it calms me. I think that impulse to retreat is a body-thought, a soul-thought.
Hmmm..
You've certainly got me thinking, Des !:D:confused:

Humble Genius
02-17-2009, 05:45 PM
I sure do. I also do this: I conduct my life as a movie, as if there were video cameras inside my head. During times where something very interesting is happening I'll literally say "action" inside my head and "cut" after the scene is over. I wonder if I'll be allowed to view the film upon my death.

Dr. Bantham
02-17-2009, 08:39 PM
I sure do. I also do this: I conduct my life as a movie, as if there were video cameras inside my head. During times where something very interesting is happening I'll literally say "action" inside my head and "cut" after the scene is over. I wonder if I'll be allowed to view the film upon my death.Fall guys tumble on the cutting room floor
Look-a-likes fall on the cutting room door
Bauhaus - "She's in Parties"

Bleak&Icy
02-18-2009, 12:36 AM
Ludwig Wittgenstein once famously wrote: "The limits of my language means the limits of my world." Here is what I believe he meant. A number of years ago I returned to university, after a lengthy hiatus, with the misguided idea of pursuing a graduate degree in Classics. It soon became evident that I possessed neither the temperament nor discipline to excel in that rarefied field. In one of the introductory lectures the professor told us that the penultimate end of studying Classics is not to read or compose in Greek, but to think in Greek. When one can think in ancient Greek, he said, one can think thoughts that cannot be thought in English. This, I believe, is what Wittgenstein meant by "the limits of my world." But more than likely I have misinterpreted his idea.

yellowish haze
02-19-2009, 04:51 AM
I remember the moment, as a kid, when I was first able to read in my head rather than reading out loud. It was a sort of revelation.
From then on I was able to think in my head in words, but word-thoughts were always slow boring thoughts, as they are now.


And this got me thinking: dear Ligottians, do you also hear words in your head when you read fiction?

A few other questions that come with it:

"1. What is a toy?

2. How do you play with a toy?

(...)

52. Do most people do what words tell them to do?

53. Are words powerful?

54. Are these words powerful?

55. Are you paying attention only to these words?

56. Is there a voice in your head speaking these words?

57. Is that "your" voice?

58. Are they "your" words?

59. Are you "alone" now?

60. Are you "alone" in your head now?

61.When your inner voice speaks these words, are any of your own words also being spoken?

62. Have these words been directing your thoughts in a particular direction?

63. If you had not been reading these words, would your thoughts have gone in that direction?

64. Are you being led by these words?

65. Are these words dominating your mind?

66. Have these words taken over your mind?

67. Are these words playing with you?

68. Does that make you a toy?

69. What is a toy?"

--A Round of Questions by Thomas Wiloch

:eek:, :eek: and :eek:!!!

Shrub Niggurath
02-21-2009, 07:47 PM
When I read fiction, it's like there are two distinct but related streams of activity in my head, a stream of imagery and a stream of ideas. I say "ideas" instead of "words", because though this stream of thought seems distinct fom my visual imagination, sometimes it has an abstract, pre-verbal quality to it. Anyway, as I'm reading these two streams weave about one another, frequently intersecting, like a continuous, writhing caduceus of phantom serpents. Sometimes imagery will predominate, sometimes ideas, but the two streams are constantly bobbing in and out of prominence, and frequently intersect.