Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting in a state

I'm struggling a bit with Twitter and facebook. They seem to be a bit of a soundbite culture. They ask, "What are you doing?" and "What's on your mind?"

Usually I'm not doing anything and there's nothing on my mind.

They scarily remind me of conversations I used to have, which went ...

"What are you thinking?"

"errr ... nothing."

"You MUST be thinking something!"

"I'm really not."

That always ended in a huff.

But it's true.

It's called defocussed attention.

It's a kind of free-floating state of creative day-dreaming. On the one hand I'm thinking about nothing ... on the other hand I'm thinking about lots of things simultaneously. I have "wide associative horizons". I like the sound of that though I have no idea what it means.

Sometimes, when you ask me a question, it will take a while for me to answer. You'll have to put up with me being quiet and staring into space while I gather together all the various facets of my answer to the question. This happened once when I was with someone and they said "don't get autistic on me". It's a bit like that.

Have you seen "The Minority Report"? Remember the scene where Tom Cruise is in front of a big, clear screen, touching and moving various elements around with his hands? That's what my thought processes are like. I can't give you a straight-forward answer but I could probably draw you a flow diagram.

You see, when faced with a question or a problem, analytical-type people get alert, focussed and engaged. I don't. I tune out and switch off. I drift away to see what I think and feel. Eventually I may come back with an answer. But you'll have probably moved on by then.

It's all about cortical arousal. When you're excited, tense, alert, anxious your brain patterns get all excited and your cortical arousal is said to be high. When you relax, chill, daydream and take a nap your cortical arousal is said to be low.

So typically, when faced with a problem, the cortical arousal of analytical people increases, while that of creative people decreases.

To come up with an idea or a solution to a problem, my approach is to go into a dozy, trance-like state. I let my daydreams take their course and see what they show me; I allow lots of free-association of thoughts and memories that collide with half-remembered dreams and vague intuitions about possibilities; I visualise and mentally rehearse what I would like to happen.

This is great for the conceptual process but doesn't work so well when someone asks you if you want a cup of tea.

So you can see why Twitter and facebook don't work for me. Twitter asks what appears to be a very straightforward question ... "What are you doing" ... and gives you 140 characters with which to answer.

No wonder I sit and stare at the computer screen for hours on end, and then still can't think of an answer.

You should try having both parts of your brain work at once. I can relate to both the analytical and the day dreaming, I do both. I am highly analytical - my scientific training - and I love to work out what is going on with situations but then my mind gets distracted and floats away pondering something else that leads to something else that..... well you get the picture. My creative side I guess as well. I think I need to sit down and get one half of my brain to talk to the other side and see what happens. Lol

I must admit I don't like being asked what is on my mind either but that is because I don't like sharing my half processed thoughts, I would rather they wait until the process is finished and that could be days away.

Thanks for some fantastic thought provoking blogs by the way
I'm starting to suspect that we were separated at birth.
I recently signed on to facebook and I seem to spend a lot of time reading people's postings(or is it walls)I don't seem to manage to write anything! You're right about the soundbite thing. It all seems a bit fragmented but I'll keep trying. At the moment I resort to just "poking" people.So to save me going onto facebook consider yourself well poked!!
Joanna ... someone described my blog as "the insane ramblings of a welshman!". Glad you're enjoying them!

Angela ... or maybe we're just typical artists ...

Duncan ... i'm still getting the hang of facebook too ... see you in there!
Lol Maybe it is my welsh heritage
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