Tag Archives: brain

Snakes, flowers, suns, rain, teardrops, eyes, and some other stuff

14 Oct
art by Alexandra Hanson-Harding of flowers, snakes, suns, tears, raindrops, dots, triangles, eyes, and more. Snakes, flowers,

Guess what my latest masterpiece means and you will win a prize. Of some sort. I’m sure.

When you have a lot of important stuff to do, like putting dishes in the dishwasher, researching hideous diseases you might (probably) have, or writing down “Call Linoleum Guy about Thursday,” (because unfortunately the not-yet-researched disease is unlikely to do away with one BEFORE Thursday) sometimes you just gotta woman up, get out the markers, and go to town in your sketchbook. As you can see, Ms. AHH is using a number of classic thematic elements, such as the blue flowers common to Iznik pottery (I should know what they are called), mandalas, eyes, snakes (love drawing snakes), pyramids, suns, dots, bricks with what looks like a creepy pair of eyes in them, dots, stripes, teardrops and raindrops, xs and os, what looks like a game of tic tac toe kind of, and many other things that add up to um, a battle between the Apollonian and the Dionysian elements of life? Yes, indeed, I’m sure that’s exactly what it means, and I’m the artist, so I should know. But actually, art is not for the artist alone. It is a dance between the artist and viewer/critic. Writers can blab everything they want about their art, their horrible childhoods and everything else. But the artist must remain mute, or at least cryptic, and let the dance of interpretation begin. For the moment one puts one’s art out into the world, it belongs to the world, too. Especially when one puts it on the freaking INTERNET. So, friends, interpret away.

Writing Prompt: What’s a piece of art that just pulls you in?

135 Journals Book Club: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

13 Apr

http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman-ebook/dp/B00555X8OA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397358503&sr=8-1&keywords=Thinking+Fast+and+SlowThinking, Fast and Slow

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman starts his best selling economics/psychology tome with an intriguing idea: that people’s brains have two modes of operation:

  1. Fast: i.e; the part of the brain that gathers information quickly and indiscriminately, then quickly turns it into a story or assumption, and often causes us to act on it. It’s handy when as y sister once said, “You don’t know what ait’s going to feel like when a car is bearing down on you at 60 mph—you just get out of the way.”

However, this quick thinking part of the brain is sometimes wrong. In that case a person can use the part of the brain that is

  1. Slow. This part of the brain works more slowly and with more effort to reason out whether or not an assumption is true or not—even if the answer is not intuitive. This part of the brain is activated less often because it is tiring, requires discipline, and is expensive in terms of energy requirements.

Throughout the book, Kahneman gives examples of many ways that humans make mistakes in our thinking. He shows how we are in some ways wildly overoptimistic, that we are prone to judge by the most dramatic or memorable events rather than the typical ones, that we tend to be overly risk averse, for example.

One of the most interesting ideas in the book for me is that when people tare thinking FAST, they sometimes answer an easier question than the one that was asked. This interested me in part because it is something famous people frequently do—albeit deliberately—in public interviews. It amused me that people do this to themselves, unconsciously.


As Kahneman points out, this part of the brain is activated less often because it is tiring, requires discipline, and is expensive in terms of energy requirements. (Not that it’s literally “a part” of the brain—more of a systemic way of thinking). As neuroscience fans know, the brain consumes far more than its fair share of the food and other resources we give our bodies, and slow thinking requires more of that energy.


It becomes more and more clear that Kahneman’s work is less about neuroscience than it is about economics. It focuses on years of experiments done by him and others. About risks—whether someone would accept $100 and so son. Some of this later part of the book can become something of a slog, in my opinion. He is too good an academic not to provide evidence to prove his point, but aferwhile, it seemed like a bit of overkill. However, it does add to the richness of his thesis. Also, he uses a very useful technique at the end of each chapter of providing several small examples of what he is talking about.


Oh—by the way, if I were to read the book again, I would not read it on a Kindle. I would purchase a copy and write notes all over it. There are a number of great terms, like affect heuristics, that I’d like to throw around at dinner parties. But now I not only forget what affect heuristics are, I forget what heuristics are. I may have to make it my word of the week so I remember it. Also, WYSIATI (what you see is all there is). Overall, my slowly considered opinion is that this IS a fascinating thesis but that there are some parts that are a little more skimmable than others.


Writing Prompt: Can you think of a time when thinking fast was helpful? Or a time when thinking slow was better?




24 Feb


Don’t know what inspired me to make this. Must have been meandering. Have you found anything interesting in your meanderings lately?