January 28th, 2011 / 1:45 pm
Random

“He heard a bird flush / and he turned and pulled the trigger / and saw his friend get wounded.” — George W. Bush

The Long Now Foundation does these talks now and again in San Francisco and I always tell myself I’m going to go but I never go. The talks are long, sort of. And so now. This talk I’m talking up happened in October. Northeast of me now it did and I am looking Northwest. My ear.

It’s about how language shapes our thoughts and sort of controls our brains. A lot of it is about bilingualism and it makes me think on all sorts of things re: Joyce and Pessoa, i.e. voices, etc. Joyce for example said he was capturing “the great talkers” in Ulysses, was diagnosed schizophrenic by Jung. Pessoa obviously had some kind of disorder.¬†Anyways, there’s a movement right now in cognitive science I guess, away from a lot of Chomsky’s linguistics. And this gal be blowing the conk shell like one of them party whistles.

Lera Boroditsky is awesome. Towards the end of the video she talks up a lot of stuff that I’ve been thinking on a lot, especially internal monologue, which she’s going to figure out for me so I can do other things instead, which is awesome. She is awesome. I am 100% nerd crush.

I want to hear way more.

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8 Comments

  1. deadgod

      Yikes – your crush will remain forever juicelessly dusty if you don’t get the name right. email her how to spell “hilariously” and you’re In Like Albert.

      That blogicle title is a riot. Use of passive voice to disguise agency: check. Shift of focus from victim’s suffering to perp’s suffering: check. Use of series of ’causes’ to occlude perp’s responsibility: check.

      Hanoi George is a jackass, but he’s very practiced, and devious with the rote cunning that practice can grow, at being spoiled – and that’s the (great) talent he had that allowed for his political career.

  2. Ben Jahn

      Great stuff, Reynard. I describe the feeling of writing well as being bi-lingual in English, stringing words together that strike the mind as not necessarily foreign but new, or never strung quite like they’re strung. I think it takes something of a split personality to be able to accomplish, with language, in my own brain, what I’d like to accomplish in the brains of others.

  3. Ben Jahn

      Great stuff, Reynard. I describe the feeling of writing well as being bi-lingual in English, stringing words together that strike the mind as not necessarily foreign but new, or never strung quite like they’re strung. I think it takes something of a split personality to be able to accomplish, with language, in my own brain, what I’d like to accomplish in the brains of others.

  4. reynard

      yes i emailed blake about changing the name, there is an issue editing posts with embedded videos that aren’t youtube, hopefully she won’t see!

      yes i believe the bush administration’s word people were truly geniuses of syntax

  5. deadgod

      Well, I can’t doubt that Hanoi George was carefully coached, especially in the ’98-’00 run-up, before Rove, Cheney, et al. realized fully the limits of their pupil.

      But my suggestion is that he’d learned how to evade consequences over a half-lifetime of not being held responsible, ’til the confusion of privilege with virtue had become a personally ‘true’ identification. In other words, saying “and saw his friend get wounded” is evidence of an ability – the raw material – that Slick Karly, Tricky Trigger, Karen Hughes, and so on had to work with.

      (It’s also my perspective that, in the foxgoebbels/Wall Street Pravda sphere of America, one can say anything, and, as long as that statement fits in snugly enough along the emotional pinball route that the communal vocabulary has grooved, it won’t matter how counterfactual, nonsensical, self-contradictory, or demented the assertion is. (Maybe this has always been ‘true’?)

      That’s what the Rove administration of the executive branch proved ‘all over again’: in matching a community’s needs in order, in turn, to shape and so fulfill them, reason can be made to be arbitrary, elective, disposable. The National Socialism/Stalinism parallels with conservatism are not hyperbolic.)

  6. reynard

      agreed in general i have long thought on how bush seems to have been trained to crash and burn businesses in order to someday bankrupt the government by funneling the money into private enterprise and he did that

  7. Matt Weinkam

      Did you read this NYT article on the subject several months ago?

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?pagewanted=all

      This quote from it made me think about DFW (particularly his Kenyon speech) but I think it applies to Joyce, Chomsky, and probably all writers:
      “While we are always at the center of the world, and it would never occur to us that pointing in the direction of our chest could mean anything other than to draw attention to ourselves, a Guugu Yimithirr speaker points through himself, as if he were thin air and his own existence were irrelevant.”

  8. letters journal

      Does the woman asking questions at the end have an intense chest tattoo or is that a necklace?!