Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Temple Grandin-- "Less Abstract Stuff"

I keep thinking about what this woman says in the talk--that we need less "abstract" stuff, even as she claims that we need all sorts of minds. I have a "verbal mind," which Grandin says in this talk are the people who "know every fact." It is interesting that she associates the verbal mind with the ability to retain knowledge, as if verbal thinkers are repositories for words. I'm not really quite sure what she is talking about when she speaks of "abstract," but given her emphasis that she is interested in effecting things "in the real world" it seems that she would not be much for philosophy or theory, even though she theorizes and perhaps even more ironically, we are theorizing about her.

I keep coming back to the moment in the film (which Grandin seems very happy with) when her science teacher says she could go into "animal husbandry." The film flashes to an image that takes the term "husband" as she pictures it in her mind--related to marriage.

I also keep thinking about the way she moves from the "bottom up" (as she says in this talk), which is brilliantly illustrated by the "automatic door" conundrum because it reminds her of the movement of knives and a guillotine.

To me, this seems to indicate that its not that she does not "abstract" things, but that she 'abstracts' things based on certain details that we tend not to notice, which makes her thinking very creative and metaphorical. Perhaps the difference is that a "verbal" creative or metaphorical person would be able to express more adequately why he/she is afraid of the automatic doors or could write about it in a poetic manner (verbally).

 This connecting of details in order to then abstract--what can we call it--a pattern but not a "gestalt" (as she says in the talk)  reminds me of one of Greg's "instruction" for our CATTt project last year where we were supposed to look for a detail in the image or the science of our particular accident. The detail will serve as a "trope" for our project.

Does the visual thinker simply find more interesting tropes? Are tropes a 'verbal' or visual phenomenon and what would be the difference in understanding?

Perhaps another issue is that once something concretely comes to mind and the association is made, it is more difficult to be unmade and unmoored; Here I am drawing on Grandin's recognizing the "fixations" of the autistic. The "door" for instance, signified one thing throughout the whole film-- the door did not take on any other symbolic and nuanced meanings. Is this another difference between the verbal and visual thinker?

Perhaps I am totally off on all accounts, but the film and the talk have really set me off thinking about these different embodied minds and processes of thinking.

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