Re: Fwd: The Geek Syndrome

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Fri Dec 14 2001 - 19:12:05 MST

At 02:41 AM 12/15/01 +0100, Anders wrote:

>So, what do you non-visualizers do for kicks?

We let our fingers do the walking. :)

>It might be beneficial for transhumanism (and
>transhumanists!) to learn more about this range and to promote an
>understanding of it in popular consciousness, in order to both get
>inspiration for possible changes and help build a tolerance for truly
>different mindsets.

Absolutely. It would be a smart move if *every* educator, at least, learned
a bit more about this range, and took it into account. I frequently rant on
about my own, um, cognitive anomaly (or variant), but here I go again:

I was regarded as a real dope at school, and when I was 12 got shifted out
of an `academic' Jesuit school to a crappy `technical school' (woodwork,
rudimentary machine shop, etc), where I proved even less competent. I
suspect that I might be the only PhD ever to emerge from its dark Satanic
mills... :)

The key to this weird misdiagnosis of stupidity is likely to be my
inability to form mental visual images. I can eventually get most places
others can reach, but I have to do it by clawing up the walls with my
fingernails (speaking of fingers). (Yet I *dream* in full color images.)

The epiphany that set me free happened at the end of my first year at
university, when I abruptly grokked that when tutors and lecturers and text
books kept going on about `poetic images' they *meant* it... at least
sometimes. The everyday experience of perceptual hallucinations stood at
the ground level of the metaphor. *Fuck, people SEE things in their
HEADS??* You've gotta be *joking*!! I ripped into some psych literature and
found there was a body of evidence on this variation in mental modality
(cognitive mapping and mental imagery studies were not yet fashionable, not
for decades yet), but no educators seemed to have noticed. I went to my
English prof and said I'd like to do research in this area. He looked down
his nose and said with a sniff that in that case I might wish to change my
major to... (yuck)... psychology. NOT THE POINT, d00D, I wanted to shout,
but I was far too polite in those days. I'm not sure much has changed
since. (Although postmodernist approaches to the text would eschew anything
as crass and literally minded as image-like imagery; even so, the shared
*experience* of mental imagery probably underpins most enthusiasm for
reading fiction and poetry. Is this true of sf readers? We like gaudy or
numinously cosmic settings, but I wonder if the tendency to *actual*
visualizations--in comix, magazine illos, special FX movies, rendered
games, etc--might reflect an appeal to a lot of people who like the ideas
but *don't* autonomously roll their own images.)

Damien Broderick

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