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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Reading Changes Your Brain

http://www.hulu.com/watch/673135#i0,p104,d0

If the link doesn't work this is the clip from DNews called Reading Can Change Your Brain!

This is not the first time I have read about how reading can change your brain, but that is not what interests me about this piece. I am more interested in how the fictional worlds we choose to expose ourselves to affect our psychology and the choices we make in life.

One day when I was in high school a group of my girlfriends were singing a song at the top of their lungs that went something along the lines of "I'm a loser." I don't remember the exact song but when I hear it I remember it. It struck me then that we hypnotize ourselves (or something) to buy into these ideas/memes/stories/ways of seeing life that art sells us. At the age of 17 I started going through my music collection and deleting all songs that had words that I didn't want in my head, life mantras I wanted to reject. The project took me 8 years and by the end of it, I didn't have much music left and that music I had left was usually love songs and country music--because songs about love generally have memes I am willing to take on and, sorry country music haters, their lyrics are far more philosophically sound than any other genre I have found. Today, I actually prefer music without words.

But music is just one way bad ideas hypnotize their way into our minds. (And I am using hypnotize for lack of a better word.) TV and movies are extremely hypnotic. And reading, that thing we are oh-so-good if we do, is another. I have many years of research left into this topic before I see myself forming any conclusive conclusions but I have long been extremely wary of any form of fiction I expose myself to. The above clip from DNews, for me, is a confirmation for me that I am on the right track.

But it also makes me want more philosophically sound fiction! I want books to read that feature characters using NVC and relating to each other and themselves in emotionally healthy ways! More books in which characters treat each other with the respect that the heroes of Atlas Shrugged did. I think this is not just the number one way I would get better at NVC, but perhaps the best way to change the world.

Right now every TV show, every book, every movie (or almost all of them) show us example after example of people relating to each other with coercion, manipulation, threats, bribery.... I would really like to see more freedom and respect oriented fiction! (Please let me know if you run across any.)


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