Friday, February 24, 2006

A Parable About a Story About an Analogy

At the bottom of the right-hand column of this blog you will see the phrase "ye be forewarned" in reference to my penchant for word pictures and analogies.

Recently, I wrote a long post about my verbosity. I think if one were to categorize my long-windedness, there would be "short words" and "fact statements" and such -- but by far the category that would make up the vast majority of my loquacity would be "parables" and "stories" and "analogies".

Continuing the thought from the abovementioned post, I sometimes get the impression if I could just get to the point without telling a lot of stories or using a lot of word pictures which seem (to the listener, never to me) to be off topic or "out of left field" then said listener would be happier.

In my own defense I have often pointed to the example set by Jesus. (I know, I know, not a very fair comparison, but hey -- as long as we're jumping to comparisons, why not go to a gold standard?). Jesus often spoke in parables. He told stories. He used word pictures. Therefore, it is OK if I use them!

But I'm not Jesus. So maybe I shouldn't. I'm still conflicted, at times, between being:
  • the natural "me" that flows.
  • the "becoming me" that is growing and (perhaps) using less words than I used to.
  • the "unnatural me" that speaks and writes the way others want me to just so they will like me.
But recently, I was struck by two things I read, months and months apart.

The first was a short but wonderfully entertaining book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It is the fictional story of an autistic adolescent boy who solves the mystery surrounding the death of his neighbor's dog.

Reading how the boy organized his thoughts; how he viewed and interacted with the world around him; how he saw and remembered certain details -- all these fascinated me, because I do similar things. I came to this (only somewhat tongue-in-cheek) conclusion: Perhaps I am not a regular guy who happens to remember certain types of things well, and who sees details. Perhaps, instead, I am a very high-functioning autistic person.

I mean no disrespect to the autistic community or their families. I actually made this conclusion with a sigh of relief -- a feeling that, perhaps, I was not so "weird" after all. Perhaps there was a good reason my mind works the way it does, and I should stop perseverating on trying to be different.

Before I tell you about the second thing I read, I must digress (albeit briefly) to mention my joy, in Psych 101 class in college, in discovering the idea of "schemas". When I first heard this word and began to understand it's meaning, I was overjoyed and flooded with the same types of feelings I mentioned above. As far back as I can remember, I have had (what I refer to as) "boxes in my head" -- categories and labels on things. Learning about "schemas" helped me feel "normal" in that respect.

Just today I glanced at a headline on the Stanford Report which says "Noted cognitive scientist asserts that analogy is (almost) the whole enchilada". This made the bells and whistles and flashing lights start going in the "I'm wordy" and the "But that is OK" boxes in my head!

The lecturer was Dr. Douglas Hofstadter. I read the article and linked from there to a chapter Dr. Hofstadter authored entitled "Analogy as the Core of Cognition" previously published in The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science (2001).

I've read only about the first 1/3 of the chapter, but it is absolutely FASCINATING! And not only that -- it is also very VALIDATING to me. I will spare you the details and make this already long post no longer than it already is:

He says using analogies is not only the primary way in which we speak but, in fact, at the very core of the way we think and perceive the world. So not only did Jesus do it, a noted scientist says we all do it -- so I'm going to stop trying to stop.

So there!

~ Keith


Girl in the Globe said...

Two things that make you interesting:
1. It takes you 85 (grin) words to say what others can say in fewer...
2. You talk in word pictures.

I like both. =)


Unknown said...

Things that make you go hmmmmm...
Am still learning on all this "blog stuff" but it's fun so far...
What I want to know is, how come you have so much free time at work?? ~smile~