Home > cultural commentary, learning > Poorly sick, but still thinking (I think)

Poorly sick, but still thinking (I think)

It hasn’t, so far, been an auspicious start to the year. I picked up some kind of bug just before Christmas that really kicked in the day after Boxing Day, had several days more or less in bed, and today’s the first time I’ve been able to stay awake and concentrate on anything for longer than half an hour without being interrupted by coughing fits.

Meanwhile I found, purely randomly, an article on How Deaf People Think. The top and bottom of it is, it will vary depending on the type, profoundness, etc. of the deafness and the point at which the person became deaf. But those who have been profoundly deaf from a young age are likely to think not in terms of an ‘inner voice’, but in terms of sign language.

This started a chain of speculation, not least because I’ve spent a lot of the last few days either asleep, dozing, trying to rest quietly or otherwise in a semi-dreamlike state. And when I’m in that state I tend to ‘think’ (if it can be called that) in terms of images; if language enters into it, it may be just one word, or a short phrase.

I don’t want to draw any parallels between deafness and dreams/trancelike states. I just wanted to say that the article raised the point for me that I tend to ‘process’ a lot of ideas and experiences in ways that don’t seem to require a great deal of language or ‘inner voice’, but work on the basis of visual imagery, and at least some of my writing seems to be a process of bringing that processing into language.

It’s late, I’m tired and poorly sick, and I’m not going to pursue the thought right now. But I just wonder whether other people have the same kind of experiences?




  1. January 3, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Yes I can identify with that. Having had long spells of illness when my thought processes were fogged imagery is more inspiring than logical words. I believe that’s because the subconcious processes experience and memory in this way. Hence we dream and the imagery in dreams can often give us ideas, inspiration and new ways of seeing as well as purging our minds of the day’s experiences. When you’re not well the subconcious finds it easier to penetrate concious thought because you are not fully engaged.
    My final thought is that a writer paints pictures with words. So maybe you have the image, translate it into language then the reader translates it back into imagery. Full circle!

  2. January 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I wonder if the deafnesss thing is similar to learning a language. I remember my brother saying that when he was learning Spanish he thought in English and translated into Spanish. After sometime living over there, he says that he no longer does the transaltion thing. When he’s speaking Spanish, he thinks in Spanish. Interesting.

    • January 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      I’d suspect signing is a bit like learning a language, but I don’t know enough about it to know how verbs are constructed – past, present, future, conditional etc. – and I’d guess that would be a key thing? I’ll have to add it to my list of things to find out more about…

  3. January 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I’m sorry for your recent illness. I too am just recovered from a mysterious malady that seemed to be neither cold nor flu with only sporadic low-grade temperatures. The worst symptom was a feeling of extreme weakness that undermined by delusions of immortality. I can only hope that I now have immunity.

    Your post on deafness is intriguing. I have often wondered if deaf people where more attuned to the subtle communication of others. Are they, for instance, better at detecting lies?

    As a writer, I’m sure that you know how difficult it can be to put your feelings into words, and how the very act of writing can alter that feeling.

    Several years ago, I lived in Germany and, after a time, I found that I could understand a lot more German that I could speak. What does this mean and how does it all tie together?

    • January 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      There’s a lot of it about, I think. Mine was probably just a cold, but it wiped me out for over a week.

      I only really have known one person who was very deaf. She lip-read and was attuned to body posture, gesture and other behavioural cues. I had the sense she was good at picking up lies for this reason. She was also able to communicate quickly and effectively with other deaf people by signing, and in night clubs was able to have ribald conversations with other deaf people and make rude comments about others in the clubs, entirely through the medium of sign.

      Some years back I spent a lot of time reading and speaking French and eventually found that when I was talking French, I was thinking in it too. As to what it all means – not a clue!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: