So you can read my books

Monday, May 22, 2017

The JIMMY BUFFET of Ancient Greece


How The Mind Assigns Meaning 
To Words

Do you think Insect Lady garners the same meaning from the words she is reading 

as you would if you read the same thing?

Of course not.

She would filter them through her own way of thinking and past experiences ---

which I would not rather dwell upon too long, thank you very much!

Midnight just swatted me for inflicting that picture on him in the first place.

 I imagine you are familiar with Diogenes the Cynic ...

because “cynic” meant “dog-like,” and he had a habit of basking naked on the lawn 

while his fellow philosophers talked on the porch. 

While they debated the mysteries of the cosmos, Diogenes preferred to soak up some rays.

Which is why some have called him the Jimmy Buffet of Ancient Greece -- 

hence the title of my post.

Once upon a time on that porch, Plato pontificated:

“Man is defined as a hairless, featherless, two-legged animal!” 

Whereupon Diogenes leaped up from the lawn, dashed off to the marketplace, 

and burst back onto the porch carrying a plucked chicken, shouting --

“Behold: I give you... Man!”

 Now, you know why they called him a cynic. 

You also get a hint at why you say something so clearly and yet are misunderstood so thoroughly.

We don’t really perceive separate objects at all - 

we perceive our nervous systems’ responses to a boundless flow 

of electromagnetic waves and biochemical reactions.

 For instance, if you hear purring and feel fur rubbing against your leg, 

your brain tells you that your cat is by your feet  ...

until you look down and see one of Insect Lady's fuzzy children trying to get your attention!

Our initial impressions spring from our past experiences and associations ...

but like with Insect Lady's spider child, life insists on being surprising.

Words don't mean what they mean ...

but mean what the listeners 
believe they mean.

Say Republican unknowingly to a Democrat and you will not get the response you intended.

Two people may understand what the word cat denotes. 

 However, one person may have grown up around cats and learned to enjoy their company. 

The other, however, may have been attacked by a cat when young, 

and so s/he associates the word cat with very unpleasant emotions and judgements. 

So, the meaning of the word cat (in terms of it's associations) is different for each of those people.

So, when you say "I'm bringing my cat to your house", one person may be pleased and react positively, 

while another may become angry and yell at you that you certainly are NOT going to bring the cat!

 Understanding that connotative meanings differ from one person to another may help you 

in writing your novels with the idea that clarity of language 

is lost in the mists of your reader's past experiences and current worldview.


Just Because I Like This Tune


  1. Good post! You had me hooked when I read the title in the blogroll in my sidebar.

    1. Hook your reader with the first line -- or the title, right? :-)

  2. Every reader brings his own experience to the tale and no two will read the exact same story.

    1. Which is why the book we write and the book the reader reads are never the same. :-)