Word Implosions in Your Head

Some time ago I read an article that described what your eyes did when they looked at something. As you looked at a pine tree, for example, your eyes traced the shape of the tree so that whatever measuring device was used in the study could reproduce something that looked like a tree – maybe a child’s rendition of a tree, but a tree nonetheless.

It’s incredibly possible that this half-remembered theory isn’t real and that I never read such an article (much like the Eagles game I never went to). But now and then it surfaces in my mind and spurs other thoughts. Like how does your brain recognize objects?

Hello, my name is Tammy; I live in my head too much (which produces a top-grade talent for self-delusion, but that’s neither here nor there). Anyway … what does this have to do with word implosions? Here’s my screwball theory.

WikiVoc-axeAs kids, we learn words by associating sounds with visuals. That blurry face is Mom. The other one is Dad. The blue thing is a bottle. Reading works the same way as evidenced by flash cards.

Eventually the association process becomes automatic. You don’t look at your hand and take a second or two to come up with what that thing at the end of your arm is called (barring trauma, illness, aging, of course). Your vocabulary grows so that you glance at a ray gun and rattle off “Illidum Space Modulator belonging to Marvin the Martian from Bugs Bunny.” You get the idea.

Marvin the Martian

Here’s where my head-dwelling self begins to speculate. Is there a part of your brain that essentially rapid-fires words at you when you look at something? Right now, you’re likely looking at your computer screen. Is your brain shouting: glass, screen, computer, monitor, plastic, Dell, rectangle, blog, words, letters, vowels, consonants, squiggly line, straight line, punctuation, text? Is it making associations for you and moving into abstract concepts: Tammy, reading, friend, bored, pizza (as memory chimes in that you last saw Tammy and she was eating pizza!)?

Does a glance out the window on the way home from work look like a Wordle or  begin to resemble some sort of modern prose poem? Glass, train, fast, blur, grass, graffitti, bluegreenorangelettersswirlsredblackoutline, tree, snow, leaf, grass, dog, house, roofshinglegrey, cement wall, plastic chair, green ….

You get the idea. Maybe.

In my theory, all of these words are shouted by your brain in less time than it takes you to blink an eye. And another part of your brain listens to the shouts even faster and comes up with “passing landscape – no need for alarm, situation normal.” Or hears shouts when you see a friend (bluecoatcold, glasses, etc) and comes up with “release endorphins; initiate smile.”

If my theory is right, your brain shouts at you all day long. During the course of writing this post, mine pulled together words about the cup of tea I sipped from (yellow, hot, redorangebluespeck, milky, yum, sweet, tea, cup, lip, swallow, taste) and the act of typing (blackkey, whiteletter, finger, arm, scratch, red, sweater, movement, click, forward, backward, enter, qwerty) and so on.

Even if my theory is wrong, you could likely spend the next couple of minutes paying more attention to the constant word din in your own head. Like a song you can’t get out of your head when someone mentions the name. Sorry.

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