Vim and vigor

Craig said in his comment on yesterday’s post that our discussion about the word “vim” had made him think of the film director “Vim Venders”, and he noted his surprise when, weirdly enough, the name of that august artiste showed up on this blog several days later.

When I first read Craig’s comment, I thought to myself “yes, that is quite a coincidence”. And suddenly I realized that my “Stealth ads” post was probably the result of my own subliminal word association from our earlier discussion.

Now I wonder how many of my posts – indeed how many things one ends up saying and doing in the course of a day – are just word associations tumbling forward. Perhaps we make decisions in life – even large decisions – based on random bits of half-remembered verbiage from conversations left over from earlier in the day or week.

We each think of ourselves as rational beings, and yet the human mind is probably more like a loosely connected soup of tendencies, a mental amoeba, floating through its little sea of immediate possibilities, extending its thousand tentative pseudopods of thought and action. When one of those pseudopods comes upon a tasty morsel, the entire organism will drift that way, seeking with renewed vigor the gradient that may lead to higher concentrations of mental nourishment.

It is not easy to see this happening, for the process generally goes on beneath our level of awareness. We find ourselves making decisions, and we rationalize those decisions, spinning complex and plausible stories for ourselves and for each other to explain the zigzag path of our own mental focus over the course of a day.

And so the mind, that ultimate amoeba, drifts ever toward its nourishment.

4 Responses to “Vim and vigor”

  1. J says:

    Connected to this. I often find myself doing or experiencing something which I thought about earlier on in the day/week. Or perhaps thinking about someone who emails me a few minutes later.
    It is tempting to think of these as coincidence, or supernatural. However a much more rational explanation presents itself, I have come to the conclusion that I (and maybe others) think about a tremendous amount of things every minute, mind flitting from one subject to another, and putting this memory to the side. When something relevant presents itself we retrieve this memory and “remember” thinking about it.

    It makes me think about how many important subjects or insights I come up with and put aside, never to think of again.

  2. Craig says:

    Lest anyone be confused, I made a joke about Wim Wenders, twisting his name to Vim Venders in the context of the discussion of the word “vim”. I loved “Until the End of the Vorld”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Wenders)

  3. admin says:

    Yes, I was continuing your joke in this post. I just assumed that anybody familiar with Wim Wenders’ work would know perfectly well how to spell his name, and would get the joke.

    But it’s good that you added that, just to be sure.

  4. Trishank says:

    You might find Kahneman’s `framing’ hypothesis interesting:

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/thaler_sendhil08/thaler_sendhil08.html

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