I think about thoughts

I’ve never been a huge poetry fan, because I often feel that there’s such a surplus of language to get a point across (and in many cases, I’m not even sure I understand the message). Haikus, however, have always impressed me by their ability to succinctly make a point while meeting their 5-7-5-syllable requirement. I recently found this book, The Little Book of Neuroscience Haikus by Eric Chudler, and had so much fun reading through it. Here’s one of my favorites:

Cerebral cortex
Surrounding outer layer
I think about thoughts.

Image: wikipedia

Image: wikipedia

In three short lines, Chudler tells us where the cerebral cortex is located and generally sums up its function- complex thought. I think the last line is a pretty cool description not only of the cerebral cortex, but also of cog sci in general.

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4 comments

  1. I just discovered your blog and am loving it so far, but you’re killing me with the “such a surplus of language to get a point across” dig at poetry! 1) Poetry isn’t always about “a point”–it’s about an experience; and 2) If you look at it that way, as an experience, how much can be carried in so few words! The words become not about themselves, or about an analytical kind of cognition, but an evocation of something that can’t be expressed in the kind of words that express a point. Here’s another poem (it’s quite famous; you maybe know it already). It’s not a haiku, but it is a short evocation of an experience:
    The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
    Petals on a wet, black bough.
    — Ezra Pound

    1. I couldn’t agree more- poetry is often not about a “point,” and that’s what makes poems great. I’m a very concrete thinker and often have trouble opening up my minds to other forms of communication (i.e., poetry), so I often find myself asking “What?” upon reaching the end of a poem and realizing that I didn’t have the experience that I had hoped for and that other readers seemed to have. For that reason, maybe my gripe about poetry lacking a concise “point” is almost a defense mechanism. Nonetheless, I do have an appreciation for it as an art form- especially when I do have the desired experience!

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