where is my mind?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/

Beyond being a fantastic Pixies song, I ask, “where is my mind?”  Nicholas Carr’s article, Is Google Making Us Stupid has opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t think the way I used to anymore.

I’m an English major and as much as I hate to admit it, my heart sings at the prospect of a lot of reading material; and it groans like a crotchety old man when it is presented with said material.  I remember a time when I could sit down anywhere at any time and just read like no other.  Now, I have to set time aside, hide away in my room or in a small corner of the library where all is quiet and time has stopped. I force myself into focus and start reading, but after the first few paragraphs my mind starts to wander.  Usually once I’m seriously interested in something, I can continue reading the same piece at any time, but the fact that I needed to initially make myself read is disheartening.

Carr has talked to several people who are having the same experiences and some have stopped reading all together.  It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone, but at the same time, change is scary.

Carr addresses the question, “is Google making us stupid,” I say no.  Changing the way our minds work does not make us stupid, and it is not necessarily bad.  Our brains are beautiful because they are adaptive.  The fact that our minds are willing to change with the technology it is presented with is truly an amazing thing.  Because of the internet, we have trained our brains to skim and scan for information.  What used to take hours in the library, now takes minutes online.

In terms of writing, if anything, the internet has provided us with ways to get our point across without having to say anything at all.  If my last single friend texts me saying they got engaged, I could easily reply “congratulations,” attach the Forever-Alone meme,

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and they would know I mean I’m happy for them, but I feel as if I’m going to die alone.

As fantastic as this new way of thinking and communication is, we are leaving behind our old way of thinking.  To which again I ask, “where is my mind?”  Change is good, and I think as long as we are aware of these changes, we don’t have to completely abandon our old way of slow and deep thinking.  I think if we take time out of our day to read for about an hour a day to retrain our brains to read, we can create a duel-thinking in which we can both read deeply, and scan informatively.  But then again, that’s only if we’re willing to try.

This is Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this has been a fairly educated post.

 

 

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abductions and mannerisms

If I were to be abducted by aliens on my way to the cafeteria to meet my roommate for lunch, I would be grateful for an excuse to miss a meal, as well as have a complete heart attack.  However, I’m sure these space people would be very considerate; and after restarting my heart, offer me a six-inch sub.  As I nervously bite into the sandwich, perhaps they would ask me what the hardest part of college was.  After munching thoughtfully, I suppose I would say, “The most difficult subject I have encountered at this unnamed university is Defining the Relationship 101.”  At this point, the aliens may offer to return me to my dormitory before my roommate, Izzy notices I am missing.  However, seeing that Izzy usually takes several hours before noticing my absence anyway, I would instead tell them all about the strange phenomena that is “ring by spring.”

Ring by spring, by crude student definition is basically, “to get engaged to be married by the spring semester.”  The spring semester of which year of college is a minor ambiguity, but all the same, it is enough to send every student with a Y-chromosome running for the hills.

The term “ring by spring” came along in reference to the fact that a lot of men and women who attend this school end up developing romantic interests in each other, resulting in marriage.  Theoretically, word spread that this college was a great place to meet a nice Christian guy, which I personally believe is the reason why the head count ratio is approximately sixty women to forty men.  The common belief now, is in addition to an education, women are primarily paying thirty thousand dollars a year to find a husband.

While this is true for some women, it is not true for all of us.  This, however, is a fact that is commonly overlooked.  Now, as a woman attending this university, if I am to befriend a man, I need to immediately establish a strict friendship with him whether I am romantically interested in him or not.  Then, if I am interested in a relationship with him, I need to find out if he is married or if he has a girlfriend.  If not, I may move on to step three, which as far as my research goes, has yet to be determined by anyone.

Luckily, I have yet to meet anyone on campus of whom I am interested in.  Therefore, in my case, the lack of the step three discovery has been rendered obsolete thus far.  Unfortunately, the aliens would probably not be satisfied with an inconclusive study and rather than send me back to Oregon, decide to vaporize me and use my remains as seasoning for the otherwise bland vegetable, space corn.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this has been an almost animated blog post.

the other literature theme

I like looking for themes in stories, and as I was reading this year’s common book, “The Other Wes Moore,” by Wes Moore, I was pleasantly surprised to find one.  Honestly, in most true stories I’ve read in the past, there has not been the pattern of a constant theme; which has been my main turn off toward historical literature.  This story, however, was quite different.  It grabbed my interest because it was written in the manner of a novel, but it held it because of the constant theme of decision-making and outcome.

The Wes Moore boys were dealt the same basic hand of financial distress, mothers under pressure, and generally being ignored because of bigger issues going on in their worlds.  However, the way the boys handled their situations and what they made of their lives was intensely different.

Interestingly enough, the Wes Moore in prison was readily willing to place the blame of his current situation in prison on the expectations of the community around him growing up, rather than himself.

He argued that people expected him to turn out a certain way, so he did.  People expected the author, Wes to be successful, so he followed suit.  The Wes who wrote the book, disagrees with this theory, and I concur.  While the level of community support does tend to factor into one’s success, it does not determine it.  If it is expected that one will fail, he may choose to prove that idea wrong or go along with that assumption.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this was an almost objective blog post.

talking with Wes Moore

“The Other Wes Moore,” was the story of two boys by the name of Wes Moore, and how they grew up.  Oddly enough, they had similar living situations.  Neither of them financially had very much, and yet one got into dealing drugs and eventually landed in prison; while the other, the author of the book, became the first African-American Rhodes Scholar from John Hopkins U.  To say their lives turned out differently would be an outrageous understatement.

Wes Moore, author of “The Other Wes Moore,” interviewed with a news panel on his book.  The link to his interview can be found in the previous post.

On the panel, Wes describes how he came across the other Wes Moore, and how they started exchanging letters and became acquainted with one another.  He found it interesting how each of them came to have such different lives when they had been dealt the similar hand of an absent father, single mother, and a few siblings.

Something I found interesting about this interview was the fact that Wes addressed the community as part of the reason he and the other Wes turned out so differently.  He said, there was no single thing his mother or the other Wes’s mother could have done.  He, himself was encouraged by the community and his grandparents to better himself, so he did.  The other Wes, however, only had that encouragement from his older brother, Tony.  Evidently, that encouragement was not enough for him.  I found this odd because the vibe I got from his book was that it was ultimately their individual decisions that molded them, rather than the community.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and I have nothing to say in this particular bit.

the purpose of purpose

http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/past%20issues/brev13/lott_gen.htm

Every story has a purpose, or “take-away.”  This take-away is the heart of a story, without it, the audience has no reason to listen.

In the personal narrative, Genesis, by Bret Lott, Lott describes the first real turning point in his life.  He is a young boy sitting in a church when he receives his first piece of Biblical literature, the book of Psalms.  Immediately, Bret recognizes the importance of this piece of paper, and for the first time on his own, writes his name on it with a stubby golf pencil provided on the backs of the pews.

One begs to ask, who cares?  Until it is explained, the reader doesn’t recognize this moment to be the first step in Lott’s life toward his walk with God and future as a writer.  The value of this piece is the fact that we now know more about Lott and where he began his career and spiritual life.

Though Lott’s exposition of receiving the book and writing his name on it was interesting, the chief part of his narrative was the glimpse of his future.  Without it, he would have is simply trapping the reader in a chasm of inane nothingness.  The point being: one should always have a point.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this was an almost absurd blog post.

the acknowledgement of alteration

Every night my dad would tuck me into bed.  We had tickle fights and said our prayers, but what I remember most is when he read to me.  He’d read me any book I wanted, and nine out of ten times, it was a Little Golden Book fairy tale.  He’d crack open the foil spine and read, “Once upon a time.”  The white walls would fade away as Daddy’s voice filled the room.  Clutching my stuffed elephant, I craned my neck to see the pictures.

As time went on, I noticed how not all stories were exactly the same.  Sometimes two different books with the same title had completely different plot lines.  I had another book with a pink cover that had an assortment of fairy tales and children’s poetry.  One of them was the story of Aladdin, which was quite different to the 1992 Disney Classic.  In this version, there were two genies as opposed to just the one I had grown accustomed to from the movie.  I also saw the same pattern of dissimilarities with the Little Mermaid and various narrations of Rapunzel.  I was completely baffled until I came to the only conclusion my six-year-old mind could offer: not all stories were the same because storytellers changed them.

This was revolutionary.  If I didn’t like an ending, who was to say I needed to accept it?  I could bend a fictional world to my will and the characters would be subject to whatever fate I presented them with.  So I began to walk.  I walked around our entire house and out back until I had nowhere else to go but back inside and around the coffee the table.  And around and around I walked.  All the while I thought to myself, what if Aladdin never found the lamp?  What would have happened to the Genie?  Would the Genie have stayed in the Cave of Wonders forever?  Would Aladdin still have pursued a relationship with the Sultan’s daughter, or would he have given up on that dream?  I circled that coffee table over and over, never tiring of the constant motion of one foot in front of the other.  I was a hamster without a wheel.

I never stopped walking.  Today, my coffee table is a small university in Oregon, full of paths with twists and turns and hills.  All the while I am still thinking, dreaming, designing, and writing.

I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this has been an almost underrated blog post.