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Week 8 Summary

On Tuesday of Week 8, our class was invited to join Professor Grobstein’s class. Every single person in the class was asked to identify herself as either a conscious or unconscious person in general. Then on projector, we saw various images that could be interpreted more than one way. I would assume that we all have seen those types of vague pictures at least once before. However, the conclusion (or moral) of the interpreting exercise was not merely “Every individual has different perspective, or point of view from each other.” After we did the blind spot test, we were able to perceive a deeper meaning.

During the blind spot test, we learned that because the blind spot of the left eye is different from that of the right eye, we can pretty much fill the gap with our both eyes. That made sense. But here’s a scary part. Although completing the blind spot with our both eyes helped calm down our fear of uncertainty of the actual world, we were still appalled because with one eye covered, we cannot still see the actual blind spot anywhere in contrast to the paper drill with two dots. What is completing the spot? Of course not the other eye, because it was already being covered. It was indeed our unconsciousness that completed our blind spot. So, we are all artists, or creators. Our unconsciousness “thinks” that we see the entire world that will never be able to known to us ever. Scary!! Then what’s the world really? Are we like the ghosts from the movie, “The Others?” Everything is not certain, and we are all deserted from each other because there is no guarantee that our best friend is looking at the same part of the world that we are seeing. But Professor Grobstein consolated us by saying that the unconsciousness of human’s brain creates the closer view of the real world. (I did not write his words verbatim, so this is not the best description. But when I heard that, I felt still scary, though.)

Back to the moral lesson, the deeper meaning we get out of the interpreting exercise in the beginning of the class was “our unconsciousness is the base that fills our missing world.” Then, we talked about examples/experiments of tacit understanding to further realize the role of our unconsciousness. I mentioned that playing the piano was an example of tacit understanding because every note and rhythm is not the player's concern. She just plays it even without thinking because she's done so many times. Several students shared their experience on the Serendip websites such as Hidden Bias and Blind Spot.

On Thursday, the class started with unique experience of touching/seeing the actual brain of the unknown person. Then, our class talked about the relationship between thoughts and words. It was obvious to us after reading Pinker’s writing that we utter words unconsciously, and many people proved this by saying that they sometimes lose track of thoughts while talking without consciousness involved. Then Professor Dalke questioned what comes first, and the relationship between words and thoughts. I came up with the metaphor: Words and thoughts are like a vector where thoughts are pure magnitude and words are direction. Thoughts arise in our head, but when we present them in form of words, we have “intention” or “purpose” to extend our thoughts, or share them.

Our class was intrigued at the “conscious” discussion of Words that we normally don’t think about. Professor Dalke then asked which comes first. Many people agreed on the idea that thoughts preceded words. The discussion reached the peak when Professor Dalke asked us to pass around her book and read the title. It was striking to know that only one person found the misspelling of the title, and the person turned out to be a nonnative speaker of English.

It proved us that we don’t usually scrutinize the spelling or grammar while reading, whereas nonnative speakers tend to be more conscious of what she’s speaking/reading. Are words and thoughts not related? Should there be a word to perceive a thing? By taking a further step on tacit knowledge, we learned many things about the psychological/linguistic view of words and its relationship with thoughts. Here is our next concern: How do we maximize the role of our unconsciousness? Einstein stated that humans are utilizing only 2% of the brain. Is 98% potential of our brain unconsciousness? How could we approach the betterment using the full magnitude of our unconsciousness? Can an adult nonnative speaker whose thoughts had always been processed in her native tongue ever attain the ability of being unconscious while speaking her second language? 


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