Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your Brain as Ventriloquist Means You're the Dummy

I recently heard a story about a woman who suffered a stroke and, for a time, lost all ability to deal with language. Not just the power of speech but language as a whole. She said the voice in her head went silent. She also reported she liked it more than just a little bit.

We all have that voice in our heads. I’m not just talking about the Jiminy Cricket voice reminding us to listen to our parents and tell the truth. Or the voice in our heads which consistently remarks how wonderful it would be to pull up stakes, move to some remote part of a Canadian forest so you can finally completely focus and write the definitive work on the genius found within the collected works of Gallagher. Or is that just me?

I am referring to the voice in our heads which is simply the way we think. Most of our thought processes are simply interior monologues. As in the three o’clock in the morning voice which says, “Did I finish that report I have to hand in to the boss first thing in the morning? Uhh, that would be no.” As well as the three o’clock in the afternoon voice which says, “I really wish I had chosen a different major in college because it might have led to true fulfillment and a sense of completion in my life. Then again, how would a philosophy major have led to that? I couldn’t just open up an ethics repair shop, even though there is a screaming need for one in as many locations as Starbucks.”

Thinking is just talking. Some of the easy thoughts occur with very little discussion or words of any kind. Thoughts like “doughnuts good” require no polysyllabic treatises to get the crux of the issue across to all portions of the brain making it possible to coordinate the motor center to walk to the car, drive to the store and reach into the display case and the number sense center of the brain to calculate that the amount of money in your wallet will allow no more than five doughnuts and the spatial relationship portion of your brain to figure out that the doughnuts with the greatest surface area give the greatest enjoyment and all the while not only shouting down the super ego trying valiantly to remind the rest of the brain that the excess weight already being carried by the body is not healthy and the addition of five doughnuts to the spare tire residing just above the belt is not a choice recommended by the surgeon general but also pushing the super ego’s head into the toilet and giving it the king of all swirlies.

Other thoughts and concepts require additional methods beyond a mere string of words to enable the brain to process them to the point of successful understanding. Theories of English composition are often beyond the realm of most people and simply having one of the aforementioned interior monologues will not get a thinker to the desired outcome. For that we must step beyond mere words and add a catchy tune.

“Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.” I rest my case.

Really, when was the last time you went about looking up something in a phone book and didn’t sing the alphabet song? Admitting it is the first step to acceptance.

Of course, I have absolutely no desire for a stroke, but being able to turn off the voice in my head from time to time would really be a good thing. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to sleep? How much easier it would be to watch an entire episode of “The World According to Jim” without the continual interruption from your brain voice saying “Can you believe someone actually sat down at a keyboard and wrote this, for money?!” How much easier it would be to endure that committee meeting without your brain voice repeating over and over “kill me now, kill me now, kill me now”.

If we were able to develop a switch to turn off the interior dialogue the health of many a person would be improved. But until then mankind will just have to rely on artificial ways to mute the voice. Ways which are very unhealthy like alcohol. Ways which are more benign like watching three hour long baseball games thus deadening many parts of the brain. As well as my personal favorite – playing songs from the hit television series “Glee” at a volume which can be heard in neighboring states.

Shhh, Christopher Pyle’s inner voice is finally asleep. You can contact him later at

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Secret to Success...Speedy Internet

I finally found out how to make all my dreams come true. I just need a cell phone which loads the internet really really fast.

There is a commercial for some cell phone company which has a split screen showing the different ways a young woman’s life would go depending on just how quickly her phone loads. On the everything-is hunky-dory left side of the screen the internet page loads three seconds faster than on the stuck-in-a dead-end-life right side of the screen (I actually counted). Because her phone is faster on the left side she happens to meet a person who has great influence in her world of endeavor (believe it or not, ballet dancing) and because she happens to meet this person she is wined and dined and given the lead in a fabulous production of Swan Lake wearing distinctly scary make-up. The poor right-side woman is stuck rehearsing her talent all alone, waiting tables while other people wine and dine and simply sitting in the audience of Swan Lake, but at least she is wearing decidedly less scary make-up.

So, if I want to have my novel published and get on bestseller lists throughout the world I need to get this particular cell phone service and constantly load pages quickly so I can be standing in front of my big city brownstone apartment building and, through sheer happenstance, meet J.K. Rowling who absolutely falls in love with my wit and way with words and she introduces me to her publisher who immediately sees my brilliance and offers me a lifetime contract and a seven figure advance on my first book for which I don’t even have an outline. The fact that I currently live in a single story ranch style home in a small town in western Kansas won’t stop this from happening if I just shell out the money and sign on the bottom line for the two year contract with the cell phone guys who are all sweetness and light when I sign on but when I want out of the contract it turns out they subscribe to the Shylock school of debt and I will have to give them a pound of flesh to become free to cell phone elsewhere. Even though I have a few extra lbs I do not wish to have any of them forcibly removed by AT&T.

Another way to interpret the aforementioned commercial is to say if you cannot wait three seconds for the internet page to show up on your handheld phone device you may actually need to seek professional help. I mean really, we are talking about three seconds here people. Think about it. It was less than the gestation period of your average African Elephant ago that it was not possible for a person to use a five ounce bit of electronic circuitry to connect to a magical ether full of reference materials, breaking news and videos of really cute kitties playing the piano. Now that we have access to all this stuff we need to have it happen faster and faster for it to be truly worthwhile.

Have you noticed whenever you google something on Google (the lowercase google means the process of casting a question into the internet like a net into shrimp rich seas and the uppercase Google means the actually uber-search engine created by uber-rich people who live on a compound in California like a cult without the matching sweat suits or fascination with comets) they not only tell you how many results they offer but the time it took to offer them?

I just googled “meaning of life” and was gratified to get the answer in 0.29 seconds. The problem was there were about 81,900,000 results.

If a cell phone company really wants to have the world beat a path to its door they need to invent something other than a phone which downloads internet information quickly. The next tool all consumers truly need is a junk filter. Just think how much more useful and enjoyable so many aspects of the internet would be if you had something like that. You go to YouTube and type in “funny videos” and engage the junk filter thus making all the videos by teenagers who think Carrot Top is too sophisticated for their tastes disappear. Think about all the benefits of such an internet surfing tool. If you searched “brilliant plans by government officials” or “reasons to see the most recent Jim Carrey movie” the screen would simply go blank.

Christopher Pyle is proud that if you google “occasionally keen” his blog is the top result of over three million results in 0.14 seconds. He can be reached at