Monday, July 21, 2003

Thinking through or with?
In an email, Bills Koslosky at Wireless Doc writes about the title of my blog in conjunction with the Asimov-quote I like to use:


Your blog name: thinking with my fingers

Derived from:
"writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." ~ Isaac Asimov

How could (you?) change this excellent quote by Dr. Asimov, whose books on medicine and biochemistry awakened my interest in a medical career. The difference between the prepositions "with" and "through" is striking. With your interpretation, the activity of writing is detached from your brain and resides only in the mechanical activity of your fingers. It is similar to the quip, "Voting with your feet." For Asimov, he's suggesting that the physical act of typing (most likely he was using a manual typewriter) served to stimulate his thoughts processes as well as serve as a means of recording and expressing his thoughts. In this sense, he's revealing something about his makeup.

To think with your fingers, brings to mind some disreputable person on the public train who manages to grope without remorse.

Of course, at first I was quite a bit annoyed at this, as I am not exactly a person who gropes in a train without remorse. For a while I considered deleting the Asimov quote, as I didn't know about it until after I had named the blog, and as such did not derive the title from the quote. Then I went away from computers for the week-end, and got to thinking.

Blogging, I do grope without remorse. I link to other people's work and deal with it quite freely. Here on my blog I make comments about things I don't like, I say nice things to the people I like, I promote or warn against as I see fit. Some people are flattered and some annoyed... pretty much the same reactions as a grope creates, depending on context. So yeah, in this definition of the term, I think with my fingers.

I am however also a Norwegian, and thinking "through" (gjennom) something in Norwegian would indicate exactly what Bill Koslosky claims thinking "with" means in American. To think "with" (med) in Norwegian indicates using that part of the body to stimulate and participate in the thought process, so you'd think with your dick if you're only thinking of one thing... but if you think "through" anything, that would probably be your rectum. Thinking with something indicates that I am not only using that part of the body when I think, but also that I think in conjunction with this thing, that activating it activates the thought process. And since the fingers are rich on neural endings, stimulating them, by for instance touching a keyboard, type-writer or computer doesn't really matter, means stimulating large parts of the brain. This stimulation is similar to going for a walk in order to think, for instance, it keeps the brain activated and eases the process of thought. This is something I discovered a long time before I discovered computers, and it has been confirmed by experts since then.

So I think I'll leave things the way they are. If people like Bill Koslosky get annoyed with me for abusing the words of their heroes, I guess that counts as a grope. And the people who think what I write here is stimulating in other ways - well, I guess that counts as a totally different kind of touch.

And as to your other question, Bill: Norway is the only country where I have lived for any length of time. It treats me well, I don't feel an urge to emigrate, but it isn't paradise. We have, for instance, a very high rate of suicides, particularly among young people. I live far from everything but lovely nature and clean air, and the cost of living is sky high while academics are not really paid well. So I can't really say if the UN listing indicates the quality of life here. It's just life, you know, with all its little quirks.

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