Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Twist

Where I work we have some inspirational posters. Not these cheesy ones or these parody ones; we have our own cheesy posters illustrated in-house by our own graphics people, featuring cheesy quotes researched by our in-house Chief Inspirational Officer.
There is one such poster I see often because it is on my floor, between my office and both the kitchen and the bathroom – the two places I spend most of the day. This poster has a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The human mind, once stretched to a new idea, never returns to its former dimensions.” (The actual quote is "Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.") Either way, this is a good thought poorly stated. The image I get is a brain being stretched like a favorite t-shirt that has been mauled in the washing machine, rendering it misshapen and twisted, never to be un-stretched back the way you liked it. (“A brain, once washed, never returns to its former dimensions”?)
Instead of “stretched”, which implies an asymmetrical change in shape, Ollie should have used “expanded”, which implies growth in all directions: “The human mind, once expanded by a new idea, never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”
Of course, if the human, mind, once expanded, never shrinks back, then why did I need to take LSD repeatedly?
To my comparison of ‘stretched’ and ‘expanded’, Ollie said: “A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought, and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.” Which circles back to the LSD issue. Righteous, dude.
Whatever mind expansion he had going on, it was freaking him out: “It is by no means certain that our individual personality is the single inhabitant of these our corporeal frames... We all do things both awake and asleep which surprise us. Perhaps we have co tenants in this house we live in." How’s that bipolar thing working out for you? Ollie had some issues, yo.

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4 comments:

Meg said...

You so need to get yourself some t-shirt swag on this site. I'd start with the blog slogan.

Dual said...

Thank for visiting my blog!!Good day.

Debra said...

you spend all day in the bathroom or the kitchen? :)

JohnnyB said...

Meg, I'll work on it!
Debra, Hi! Well, maybe I don't spend the whole day in those places, but I avoid my office ;-)