Sunday, September 23, 2007

Interesting reads on the mind

A book I'm going to read (after the two that I'm reading now) is going to be The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker.

Wired magazine has an interesting review on Pinker's book which came out this September. The book covers more than this, and what I'm interested in is the fact that cursing may be something from a primordial part of our brains. It comes out of my mouth so naturally at times, and when frustrated or angry are the words of choice. They are satisfying. So that Pinker proposes that swearing was the first form of language. "He points to the fact that brain-damaged patients who lose the power of articulate speech often retain the ability to curse like a sailor. 'Since swearing involves clearly more ancient parts of the brain," Pinker says, "it could be a missing link between animal vocalization and human language.'" (Wired, Issue 15.09)

A completely different style of book review by The Financial Times newspaper on The Stuff of Thought (review by David Crystal). This review pulls out the overarching purpose of the book that is nuances in semantics and therefore the corresponding nuances in meaning. (I wonder if finally, there will be time when people realize one can not be objective, even a newspaper reporter, when one is forced to use language. More often than not, one's choice of words exposes one's opinion. Perhaps that is a different book and day: the choices with the written word and the objective press.)

Either way, I'm interested in the design of the human mind especially when related to language so it's going on my wishlist for when I'm ready for a new book.

Another book, again reviewed by Wired (same issue, 15.09) Is a British authored one entitled "The Book of General Ignorance". Revaling the world's biggeset misconceptions, which according to the review includes that Centipedes dno't have 100 legs and Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone. I knew both of these things, and want to know more. (I personally think that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison were opportunistic bastards (see why I'd like The Stuff of Thought?) who didn't invent anything but had a keen business mind for taking advantage of a time and someone else's clever developments. Neither have my respect, both seem to be given adulation in history classes as men more important than they are.) Again this book is going on my wishlist, too.

No comments: