January 11: sprouts and literature

I used to dislike sprouts. Many people dislike sprouts, especially when they are young. Now I like sprouts. The taste is the same but the taste needs to be interpreted by the brain, which has lots of other information concerning sprouts, like the fact that they are nostalgic to me now because my feelings about them as a child were so strong and, maybe, the fact that I know they are doing me good. The nostalgia thing is what plays with me most, I think. I enjoy getting up in the winter on a  cold and frosty morning when it’s still dark outside. Again, nostalgia. A route back to the mysterious land of the past.

The brain fiddles with you. The same happens with colour and language, I read this week that it is not necessarily that the Ancient Greeks (Homer, the wine-dark sea) did not see the colour blue through their eyes. They had no specific word for it, so the brain placed the colour elsewhere. Brain scans have apparently seen activity in the brain which imply the viewing of a black and white drawing of a banana as to some extent yellow because we know its usually yellow.

The implications of this go far in things like Neuro Linguistic Processing and sports psychology, but have always done in literature. The sprout is a touchstone of our surprising, wayward sensibility. The sprout makes literature possible.


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