February 3rd, 2005

Barthes and Cognition: Note to Self

This post may not be of interest to anyone but me, but I think I need to start using this space more as a place to work out the things that I'm thinking about.

So, despite people who may not like Barthes, I found Mythologies to be very hard to put down. His basic argument is that we create "myths" out of objects that already have a concrete meaning by adding a second layer of meaning to them. For example, we have a mental concept of "rose" which is exemplified by a red rose, but the red rose also symbolizes passion. Because the symbolic concept is woven so tightly into the apparent meaning of the thing, we "naturalize" it. By this, Barthes means that we become unable to think critically about the concept because it seems such a natural part of the thing that we examine, even if it's actually completely historically and culturally dependent.

I want to try to relate this to the ways in which people naturalize things at a cognitive level. I know that I've read studies about this in economics - I think in The Winner's Curse, but my copy of that is at home - where people will become accustomed to a given level of income and see losing income as a loss even if it was unearned and temporary. I also remember reading something about how we can adapt to seeing the world backwards (there were experiments with people wearing weird glasses), but I'd prefer more psychologically rather than physiologically oriented stuff. Can anyone think of studies I should be looking at?

Of course, I have no idea what this has to do with the work that I'm actually doing these days . . . .
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Creativity: Note to Self

Some people doing work on creativity: Rollo May (you know his work), Herbert Simon, some guy named Weisberg. Simon and Weisberg seem to take the attitude that creativity is made up of very basic cognitive processes like pattern recognition, judgment, memory, etc. May's not so cognitively oriented, but they all seem to suggest that it would be very useful to consider whether there are actual cognitive skills and patterns that we can support to make people better storytellers!!
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Altoid Music

This is delightful. Now I just have to find someone who actually eats Altoids to supply me with two boxes.

I really should get Richard's funky Moroccan light working first, though. Maybe I'll stop at Radio Shack on my way home.
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    delighted