Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

April 21st, 2010

Word-based brains and Visual-based brains

Posted by christina in Web Columns

My favorite columnist, Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle, assembled some thoughts on how word-based people feel when asked to go visual. It ran on my birthday, which was perfect because he could have been describing my life. Not only is drawing, painting, and even photography a frustrating and often daunting experience for me, but I also have trouble understanding why many visual people think what I do with words is magic.

The column also reminded me of when I was writing arts stories for the newspaper. I became wary about interviewing visual artists. So many of these wonderfully creative, intelligent people would have so much trouble describing what they do. Even basic facts about their lives were often hard for them to articulate. They would become flustered and embarrassed. I did my best to assure them that all they had to do was talk — my job was to organize the nuggets and write the story. Sometimes that helped, sometimes it didn’t. I’m sure both sides came away shaking their heads about how the other half lives.

Here’s the column that sums up how my half lives.

2 Responses to ' Word-based brains and Visual-based brains '

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  1. on March 31st, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    This is really interesting stuff… I wonder if there’s any kind of questions or tests that can show clearly which of the two predominates in someones brain…

  2. mark robb said,
    on October 3rd, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Yeh, the old right hemisphere, left hemisphere. An example I have always been partial too is when they tried to cure epilepsy by severing the large nerve which connects the two halves of the brain. The patients (if they survived the operation!) had some interesting side effects. If they were asked to cover one eye and they looked at a pencil they could either say it was a pencil or write down the word pencil but not both! The parts of the brain which deal with speech and the part which deals with written language are on opposite sides of the brain and the information would normally pass from one half to the other but cannot do so when the connecting nerve is severed.
    I still think that all people can paint or draw, it is just that they “delearn” the activity when they are quite young and somehow become persuaded that it’s just not for them.

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