Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Words and stuff

Or: how I plan to increase my IQ by 10 points in less than 48 hours.

Wednesday night:
Alberto Manguel delivers the 2007 Massey Lectures: The City of Words.
"How can stories lend a whole society an identity...?"

Thursday night:
Steven Pinker presents his book: The Stuff of Thought.
Now, in The Stuff of Thought, Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best: language and human nature. The result is a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. What does swearing reveal about our emotions? Why does innuendo disclose something about relationships? Pinker reveals how our use of prepositions and tenses taps into peculiarly human concepts of space and time, and how our nouns and verbs speak to our notions of matter. Even the names we give our babies have important things to say about our relations to our children and to society.

So how is it that two seemingly parallel constructions:
The City of Words
The Stuff of Thought
— are in fact not?

The city is made of words.
The stuff makes up the thought.

My brain hurts already.

1 comment:

cipriano said...

I sifted through Pinker's new book the other day, at Chapters [too cheap to buy the thing in hardcover] and I was immediately and absolutely captivated by his section on * * * * ing swearing!
-- Cip