How does language create the mind?
Language is one of the most sophisticated cognitive skills we possess as humans. It expresses and shapes thought. It contains an implicit classification of experience and is designed to change the neural pathways to the brain, thus changing minds. The changing patterns occur through the use of sounds and symbols. Think about metaphors. A metaphor finds connections between things in the mind and new connections enable the mind to see the world differently.
Thus communication may seem like a miracle. And believe me, many times I have marveled at that. Two or more beings engaged in changing each other's brains. It would be nice if we entered conversations open to changing our mind.
There are many neurolinguistics studies conducted on how the mind creates language. Few follow the opposite direction -- figuring out how language changes minds. By language I intend the deliberate and considerate use of terminology and phraseology to communicate intent, share vision, engage in thought, and inspire action.
In my welcome note, I talked briefly about how engaging in a dialogue is a way to think together and create something new.
Writers often say that they do not know what they think until they put pen to paper. Putting pen to paper is a very different sensory experience than typing on a machine. Letter writing is a lost art. Writing a letter is giving a gift of oneself. It's about sharing; it implies reciprocity and creates a two-way relationship. Addressee and writer connect and through the power of the written word give each other back to one another. For this reason, in a time of narcissistic monologues in which we do not know how to say "you", there is little space for letter writing.
We've done away with writing letters in the name of efficiency. And certainly email is helping us stay in touch with our mobile friends. Memos and emails help companies communicate with hundreds of employees simultaneously. There is something to be said for a hand-written note: it's personal, it's intimate, it communicates much more than just a desire to stay in touch. I hand write my letters and notes. For communication that really matters I choose snail mail. Does this strike you as soft? Who has time for letter writing? Precisely my point.
How does letter writing touch you?
[Fall in Zurich. Photo by Lisa Maire/Epa]