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Old 02-29-2008, 09:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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About thinking

One day a friend said to me, "Ive already asked you this in my head." I asked if I had answered and he said I had. I do this too, and sometimes have whole conversations with people just by myself. Why do we do this? Is it rehearsal or an attempt to be prepared? Or is it just fun?

In a similar but different vein, someone I know thinks in pictures only. If you say to him "dog", he pictures a dog. He sees thousands of pictures each day, it is his thinking process. If you were to say to me "dog", I have a general concept of a dog and often think textually. I can mock up a pic, but it isn't an immediate reaction. How do you think?
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by namako
One day a friend said to me, "Ive already asked you this in my head." I asked if I had answered and he said I had. I do this too, and sometimes have whole conversations with people just by myself. Why do we do this? Is it rehearsal or an attempt to be prepared? Or is it just fun?
When I do this, it's about preparation. Rehearsing what I want to say keeps my mind free to handle other aspects of interaction while I'm speaking.

Quote:
In a similar but different vein, someone I know thinks in pictures only. If you say to him "dog", he pictures a dog. He sees thousands of pictures each day, it is his thinking process. If you were to say to me "dog", I have a general concept of a dog and often think textually. I can mock up a pic, but it isn't an immediate reaction. How do you think?
I think in general concepts as well. While I can think in language or pictures, I find it to be a very constrained method of thought. I often have difficulty expressing what I'm thinking in words, because words only allow an approximation of what I'm thinking. For example, a simple side-thought can provide context for an idea, whereas even coming close to expressing that context through words would require a paragraph or more.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thinking in pictures: I grew up riding dirt bikes, snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and otherwise going solo off the beaten trail...now I tend to be visual. I believe it had to do with watching for visual clues when out in the middle of nowhere to find my way home, or else I would get lost and risk a scene out of Deliverance. I do this everywhere now, large cities, airports, hotels...its a form of reassurance and it helps me to orientate myself in chaotic or unfamiliar circumstances as I would think is the case for others that way.

When you say you think textually, what does that mean? What does thinking in words mean...you pictures the words, the actual form of the letters? How is this helpful?
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I definitely do the mental conversation rehearsals - especially in stressful situations. I usually have long and drawn out mental arguments with people just to see if my emotions and viewpoints are logically sound and get a general idea of how far I take them.

But I continually piss myself off by explaining things to myself. Over and over in greater detail as if I were explaining them to someone who just landed from Mars...
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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i like these two sections from the philosophical investigations (wittgenstein) on this general question of thinking:

Quote:
114: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 4.5: "The general form of a proposition is: This is how things are."----That is the kind of proposition that one repeats to oneself countless times. One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the things nature over and over, and one is merely tracing round the frame through which we look at it.

115: A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.
without reflexivity, we trace outlines that we infer from the conventions of representation. so there is a way in which we do not think particularly: we shuttle back and forth conventions to forms we organize in terms of these conventions, checking the fit, but not necessarily wondering about the process itself.

2. interior: rehearsing what one is going to say is like the good comrade ms says above, a stress management technique. that's it.

3. there is an amazing book about a guy who thought mostly in picture: "mind of a mnemonist" by a.r. luria.
you should check that out.
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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What I find really interesting (in a sort of academic 'huh,' kind of way) is when I think in French. If I'm speaking or reading French for any extended length of time I'll start to think in that language instead of English; then, for a short while afterwards, I have difficulty getting hold of English words and concepts, as if English were my second language and not the other way around. This is why I could never work as a translator; I just don't have that ability to move seamlessly back and forth between languages.

When I'm doing something visual, I think visually. My learning process works this way, largely. When I'm composing or playing music, I think musically, which is also visual for me but isn't quite, either; I'm not sure I could explain it and can only hope that other musicians understand what I mean.
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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martian: interesting---when i am doing sound work, i organize it through shapes and color. how it works is tied to the layout and sound characteristics of the piano, so i think it's a function of how i think spread into that sound-space. i expect that folk who play other instruments would not think in this way--i used to imagine this as synesthetic, but now i am more inclined to think of it as a way of working that changes as your engagement with the instrument changes--depending on the kind of music you're doing for example..
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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For personal interactions, I tend to think ahead as much as possible. I usually pause for a split second before saying something I may regret just to process whether or not it's worth saying.

For mechanical stuff, it's all about the 3D. I flip that thing around and around in every different angle possible in my head.

For general day-to-day stuff, I think through what the results would be. If I do "A" first, what is step "B", then step "C", and so on. I try to be a couple steps ahead to improve efficiency. This is also extremely important when operating the equipment at work, especially for safety.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roachboy
martian: interesting---when i am doing sound work, i organize it through shapes and color. how it works is tied to the layout and sound characteristics of the piano, so i think it's a function of how i think spread into that sound-space. i expect that folk who play other instruments would not think in this way--i used to imagine this as synesthetic, but now i am more inclined to think of it as a way of working that changes as your engagement with the instrument changes--depending on the kind of music you're doing for example..
That's interesting and sounds sort of similar. When I'm doing my music (whch granted, is much more straightforward from a compositional standpoint than yours) I tend to think of it in 'layers;' the correct layers in the correct order is what gives me the sound I want. Part of this is evoked by the recording process itself, with different tracks containing different instruments and sounds. The overall effect I suppose would be something that could be described as a soundscape. There are colours and shapes involved, but the colours are secondary to the sound itself. I guess. I've never actually tried to put any of this into words before and I'm not sure I'm being too clear.

As I advance my ability and understanding of piano, I find that it lends itself to a completely different form of thinking than a guitar does. At first I thought this was odd, but as I went along I eventually realized that it was a natural extension of the instruments themselves. A piano organizes sound differently than a guitar, and with a piano I tend to think in a more 'structured' fashion, viewing it in terms of notes and chords and modes. I think some of that may be simply a lack of familiarity with the instrument; I haven't yet reached the point where playing a piano is intuitive for me. On the other hand, because a piano does organize differently from a guitar, there's also a natural dichotomy. Guitars are about intervals and chords and spacing, because of the way the frets and strings are placed relative to each other (each fret in sequence increments one semi-tone higher, and all of the strings save one increment in perfect fourths; the one exception is a major third instead). A piano, on the other hand, naturally lends itself to scalar thinking because it organizes the notes sequentially. On the second fret of my guitar I can play (at the same time using one finger, if I so choose) an F# in two different octaves, a B, an E, an A and a C#. There's no equivalent to this on a piano.

It occurs to me that this is quite the threadjack.

Thinking - it does a body good!
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I always spend time rehearsing conversation. This way I can be prepared for diversions. In fact, regarding debate, I often think on behalf of the opponent trying to prepare to counter.

I think that I think in thoughts. Like dreams, I can't determine language or appearance. It is a function of its own. I'm sure it is describable, but it would take a lot of effort to figure it out.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:06 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Great topic. I often find myself talking to... well, myself, in my head and sometimes out loud; depending on my mood. I always seem to ask questions in my head though, not say them out loud, and then get confused a few minutes later, wondering whether or not I had asked out loud.

Also, when I'm preparing for an audition, I often find myself going over the lines in my head and my facial expressions emoting said lines. It's really embarrassing if someone spots me doing it but whatever.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:26 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I tend to think in two different ways, one being a linear narrative, almost as if my life is a movie. This started after I listened to the song "I Spy" by Pulp and read a lot of books about Jarvis Cocker and his thought process. Typically, it ties up with the writer in me. In thinking in this narrative style, I often get caught up on sentences flowing through my brain and will spend some time thinking about the sentence, revising it, making it the best sentence possible. This narrative style comes in handy when I'm trying to lull my brain to sleep; it allows me to roam off into fantasyland with ease.

My second thinking style is more or less my default thinking style. It's sort of like a flowchart drawn for brainstorming purposes. You have the main thought in the center, and then branching out from it are all the possible connections. Then off of those ideas, more connections, and so on, and so on. If you think about it from a physiological perspective, it is a very real yet abstract representation of just what my brain is up to when it's thinking. My class notes often feature mentions of semi-relevant connections, or odd connections I've made between what I'm thinking about and what my brain comes up with. For instance, we were discussing a piece in my writing class many weeks ago by Mary Louise Pratt called "Art of the Contact Zone." In the paper, Pratt discusses this Andean man who wrote a letter (a letter the size of a book) to the King of Spain, and the letter partially consisted of pictures (mostly of symbols of colonial oppression), with explanations in a melange of Quecha (the man's native tongue) and Spanish. The royal court of Spain could not understand it, but 500 years later, I look at it and my brain thinks: This was the V for Vendetta of its time. It is probably a good thing the Spanish court didn't understand it.

If you mention a concept to me, my brain instantaneously comes up with all the possible connections to that concept in my memory. Sometimes this can get me off track, but other times I appreciate it.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I either think in pictures with visualizations, or just 'think' without text of any kind.

Memorizing in pictures is best for memory both long and short term but takes a little effort. Once I learned the trick it made studying most subjects requiring memorization much easier and faster.

In general for a basic task I'll think and it sort of comes out of whatever makes us intelligent.

While we get slowly closer the brain is still too much of a magical black box to really understand how this works or works differently for other people. A few moments ago I talked to someone about the Ras oncogene but I have not studied it for years and years, and yet when the right stimulus appeared it magically came to the front with the information I could recall (and not all that I once knew). It wasn't in text, it wasn't a picture or a color, it just was there.

Now if I want to think about how it works, and not just recall how it works, then it gets visualized.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:56 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Interestingly, i asked my boss today how she thinks and she answered readily that she thinks in pics, but not color.

Ustwo: Your think is similar to mine. Not the same conclusions of course, but the process. I would throw text in my trough, probably because reading and writing are a learning tool for me. What's interesting in your post is "it was just there". When I mentioned it was "just there" to the person who was described in the OP as thinking only in pics, he really did not understand. He flummed up and phlegmed up and was just a agog and agagged. He could not wrap his pretty little head about it, and began ranting about what the hell. He questioned me and I could not come up with a concrete or ready enough answer. Funny though and not to change the subject but I feel that same way about feelings and posted a thread. What the hell are they?
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Last edited by girldetective; 03-10-2008 at 08:16 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 03-12-2008, 12:12 AM   #15 (permalink)
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visuals here, all the time. my imagination and mind is constantly producing visuals. Its everything from just an image, to me seeing myself and this other person talking when i do the "self conversation rehearsal" thing. sometimes it pops up in cartoon form, sometimes its real as could be. dont ask me why, i obviously have no idea.

i also have the same problem as skafe from time to time. ill explain shit to myself exponentially upping the detail until i piss myself off.

the human mind is a strange thing.

im glad you posted this. untill now i thought i was the only person alive to hold these fale conversations with a person that wasnt there, and ive questioned my sanity a few time. So, now at least i know im now totally insane.
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Old 03-13-2008, 06:34 AM   #16 (permalink)
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In my artwork I have looked into this aspect of my own thought process.

For me, my thoughts appear from a blackness, a darkness I suppose. They are white letters when the thought is not related to anything instantly visual. Sometimes they are black on black.

When I am thinking about anything to do with art or creative activities, everything is very visual and I have a very fertile imagination.

I also have conversations with myself about a number of things, usually when it involves important decisions.
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Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
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By any skill of thought or trick of seeming.
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When we would utter to our thought our being.
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