Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 6 February 2007

Multiple Intelligences

I was reading In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind by Bernard Baars yesterday.  In Chapter 3 to illustrate a point about prototypes and imagery he gave a list of words to read and asked what came to mind if we gave them some time to sink in:

  • bird
  • chair
  • animal
  • robber
  • woman
  • vegetable

So, I read them and even though he asked what came to mind, I had cause to pause when I read “If you are like most people, these names for abstract categories will bring to mind, not an abstract definition, but a specific mental image.”  I felt a twinge. Um, no…

I decided I didn’t give it enough time and tried again.  Um…

Well I was at Wendys, there was a chair in front of me. Got an image for that ‘name’.  WTF.  I remained puzzled. Really, I was having trouble.  I tried a few times;obviously I wasn’t allowing enough time for it to ‘sink in’.  I thought of the robin he suggested to bring up an image of a bird and my mother to bring about an image of a woman. But those images were attached to the words ‘robin’ and ‘mother’ and came with what I felt was an extraneous exercise to bring up the image after honing in on a particular.  What exactly does a robin look like?  To bring up an image of my mother was to recall her at a specific time and place.  She was really an abstract thing also that involved more than just imagery, but feeling and emotions; truly existing closer to calling to mind of the words “My Mother” before an image was formed*.  For the general words there was always the conscious step of calling to mind a particular first.  Which is what he was talking about.  But he made it sounds as if this step was not conscious, that it happened automatically.  I was perfectly happy with moving on to the rest of the reading sans image on my understanding of the word itself.  I especially had a problem with coming up with an image for an animal [and robber]. It really was an exercise to do what he said ‘everyone else‘ does normally.  Really a kind of predicament for a ‘visual’ artist.

Does that mean he is right about the norm or mistakenly working within a paradigm. Maybe we don’t naturally bring up a particular image…because I am still puzzled; calling to mind the many times I sat in a philosophy class while a professor explained Plato’s Theory of Forms and explained that when you think ‘Dog’ you are really calling to mind of a particular kind of dog-like a doberman.  I remember nodding my head.  But now I’m wondering.  Did I just nod my head because I got the image of a specific dog when he said the word doberman [and I don’t really form a complete image for that].  Ugh! How frustrating, I can’t say for sure.  Baars example somehow made me think about it before a specific was brought into mind and I found I actually had to search for one to get an image. So now I’m inclined to think that the nodding of the head in agreement to the example of ‘forms’ was mistaken.  I was really fine with the abstract definition of bird, chair, woman or dog; not finding it necessary to bring up a particular image even now. That’s just extra work for no reason.

And this underlines and causes a problematic situation for me because it is not really the first time this has come up, it’s just something I brushed off.  I allow myself to fit into the role of a visual person, because sometimes imagery is there and useful. It just has never been appropriate to interrupt a conversation by saying “Well you know what I don’t really think in images.”  I realized a long time ago that I very rarely think in images.  I assumed I thought in a kind of bodily awareness-a kinesthetic thinker.  I ‘understand’ things when they ‘feel’ right to me.  The answer to a question comes to me with a kind of click in place seating of my awareness to a certain ‘placement’ or ‘structure’ of my thought/being-like the feeling of a remembered thing including sensations.  However, the conundrum is that I constantly complain about the inefficacy of words [and I don’t believe consciousness only involves words or the verbal], but it seems with this Baars thingie that they are enough to drive my thinking – without imagery**.

Coincidentally, my sister called just a few minutes after the Baars crisis to ask me if I’d heard of Howard Gardner.  Yeah… I have.

Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi

Art, Mind, and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity

I remember a few years ago when I was working on my undergraduate degree telling my friend, a neuroscientist, that lately I had been selecting my reading through a kind of intuitive reaction to the titles, then amending that statement to … but I supposed that’s how everyone selects their reading.  The title catches their interest.  I came upon Gardner this way.  The titles of these two books caught my interest. Besides his name is practically married to Chicks-see-me-highly.  [See the categories for proper spelling.  I seem to refuse to commit that to memory.]

She was reading about him. Her response to my Baars induced predicament was, “Well, the words are enough for you, that’s one of your types of intelligences.”  Um… Words are NOT enough for me! Words suck for expressing the important things.  Ugh! Now I’m going to have to read those Gardner books.  I had not because my intuitive response to the phrase “Multiple Intelligences” in a title of a book was “Duh! Tell me something I don’t know.”  I still won’t be reading those anytime before the end of April.

*And so it seems we will finally be getting to the things I want and need to know…how my mind functions in comparison with the ‘norm’ or at least I have come to a new awareness for the first time in a long while.  I guess that means I should be more diligent about those Consciousness Diary exercises from the webcourse.

**Eh, maybe it’s just the nature of those general abstract things within the context of reading.


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