Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vanishing Words

Dear Reader,

I hope you will forgive my doing a rare blogging double-dip today. Generally I tend to space my posts out (it placates my inner laggard) but today the ideas wouldn't be satisfied with sitting in quietly the queue. Compartmentalization seemed the best course of action. Why not get as much mileage out of this productive spree as possible? So there are my excuses and justifications, take them as you will.

What I'm writing about is an episode of the radio program Radio Lab. Some of you may be familiar with the highly produced show out of New York's WNYC. The hosts excel at inducing mental lapses in me. If I tune in I soon find myself staring into the middle distance, totally engrossed in the tale that's pouring out of my headphones. Such is was the case with the recent piece entitled Vanishing Words.

I recommend you listen to this piece since my synopsis can't do it justice. The crux is this: Agatha Christie wrote a great deal of fiction during her long career and recently a scientist has started to analyze the substance of her writing. He has gotten what he believes may be a glimpse into things that the author herself may not have realized about herself. The words Christie used to compose her mysteries may indicate the author was developing Alzheimer's disease. As I said, I recommend you listen to the program, it's very thought provoking.

It's fascinating to think that in everything you write there is a hidden piece of yourself. Behind the biases, prejudices, and habits we all possess, behind our individual style and education, behind our regional tendencies, there are the fingerprints of our mind. There may be a day when biographers add another data source to their toolkit: forensic analysis of documents. A hundred years from now someone might be combing through published works, attempting to divine whether a particular author had a particular mental condition or the exact moment when their mental capacity to write began to decline.

A strange sadness accompanies that thought. In the past few days I've been ruminating on empty spaces and shadows and this idea of missing words creates a lonely trinity. It seems every time you walk through an empty room you leave some phantom of yourself behind. A pale shade of who you were lingers in every hallway you walked, every empty elevator you rode, and ever deserted parking lot you crossed. Our youth sits in disused classrooms and boarded up hotspots, listening to silent music and waiting.

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