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My head still hurts
on November 18, 2006
I have long been a Steven Pinker fan. It is great to have a neurologist appear who can explain the workings of the brain in a fairly easy to understand, often humorous and precise way. Words & Rules, though made my head hurt. I felt a little like the rat in Flowers for Algernon: a vague feeling that I might have understood this more easily at one time not too long ago, but boy is this difficult to wade through now. Which is to say I blame myself rather than Pinker. I think it's a very difficult subject and my tenuous grasp of grammar didn't help. Unlike his previous books, an actual understanding of the parts of speech helps here.
That said, delving into the minutiae of how the brain works is ultimately rewarding, even if I only understood maybe 75% of this. Watching vicariously as Pinker et al close in how how we think and talk is truly awesome. I find myself paying close attention to how I speak; how I hesitate in choosing words; what associations I seem to need to find a word or person... . Very cool, though you can probably get sucked into some kind of fugue state if you overdo it.
Still highly recommended, but make sure you're snowed in somewhere and have a lot of coffee.