thoughts on thoughts

October 6, 2005

Interesting piece Slate linked to with the caption How Amnesia Cured My Depression...the author's temporary utter loss of short term memory left him a more relaxed person.

As a guy with a chronic underachievement of certain kinds of memory, it's an interesting concept. One wonders if the brain is largely a zero-sum game, if an increase in, say, creativity need be balanced by a deficit in, say, short term memory. I guess that's a bit of wishful thinking, but there might be some trade-offs there.

As far as I can tell, I have a very tangental mind, and I think that it's one of my strengths (though it needs to be tempered when I'm trying to communicate with other people!) I've heard it argued that lateral thinking and the ability to see the parallels in dissimilar scenarios is one of the purest (and most difficult to replicate in AI) forms of intelligence we have. I often use trips to the restroom or to fetch water as a chance to roll a problem around in my brain, manipulating factors and statements as if they were worrybeads. And running through permutations is one of the things I do, just switching factors around and seeing if anything sticks, or triggers some further thought.

This habit, assuming some fellow geeks share it, might explain the unfortunate fondness for puns: our brains are frequently buzzing with alternate interpretations and takes on what's in front of us, and sometimes the alternate meaning a pun provides strikes us as amusing or insightful. I derive a lot of jokes from things I mishear, or misinterpret, from people I'm talking with. I can usually autocorrect and figure out the correct meaning ,but if the wrong one strikes me as amusing I'll deadpan that I misheard and don't understand, repeating the wrong version in the form of a question.

Bumper Sticker Retort of the Moment
The other day I saw that "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" bumpersticker. It's a nice thought, but...I don't know, it's kind of negative about "being lost" would think someone who enjoyed a good wander would appreciate the odd being lost now and then. I think a better slogan would be "Not All Who Wander Are Aimless", which expresses the idea that wandering is kind of the point of what they're trying to do.

Well, that's the bumper sticker I'd make, anyway.