They're connected because of what we've called them.
August 11, 2010 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Words can change the way we think and feel. An exploration of how language connects our inner thoughts to the outside world.

Created by Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante at Everynone, this piece is a response to the recent "Words" episode of WNYC's Radiolab. The episode explores the ways that language shapes our experiences, including the question or whether or not naming and describing a thing literally changes our perception of it, not just how we think about it consciously but how it's processed by our brains.

Everynone is a small production company based in New York and Los Angeles, and has previously created other videos for Radiolab: Moments and Parabolas.
posted by Narrative Priorities (23 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
The video is great, but please go listen to the episode too, because it's really informative.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:39 PM on August 11, 2010

Hmm, well. The video is ok, I guess, though I sort of felt like I was waiting for the product pitch the whole time. I was also left with a bit of a "so?" feeling. It was a nice montage of interesting moments, quirky little language games, slice of (mostly) silent life - though I'm not sure I would call it an exploration of how language connects our inner thoughts to the "outside" world.
further reading.

I can't wait to go home tonight and listen to this. I've been looking forward to this radiolab episode all summer long. in related news, I have no life.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:45 PM on August 11, 2010

Better this way.
posted by koeselitz at 12:46 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I listened to this podcast last night and was utterly floored by how amazing it was. Funny, insightful, poignant, perfect. The bit about the deaf-from-birth student not being able to communicate with his friends anymore was heartbreaking and so interesting.

Radiolab is so good I actually get aggravated that all the love goes to This American Life. NPR nerd rage I guess...
posted by lattiboy at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

This was a really great RadioLab episode. I just listened to it this morning. I've missed having new hour-long episodes to listen to. Hope more are on the way soon.
posted by marsha56 at 1:19 PM on August 11, 2010

Radiolab is so good I actually get aggravated that all the love goes to This American Life. NPR nerd rage I guess...

I love both. Am I allowed to love both? "Words" was amazing, but I've really been enjoying a lot of the newer TAL episodes too. It's actually from a slightly older episode, but the Peter Sagal story from the "Origin Stories" episode of TAL almost made me swerve off the road I was laughing so much when the big revelation hit. (See here for the details.)
posted by kmz at 1:21 PM on August 11, 2010

... the video was good by itself, but mind alteringly awesome with Ra He'Ya as the audio.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:28 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't watch or read any of that, but this post gives me a good excuse to shoot my mouth off. You know how Rhetors in Anathem could change the past? I think people can do that with words. After an event has happened, but before it can be categorized in your brain, it is still in flux and is subject to change. It doesn't become fixed in your mind until someone describes it. It can be you describing it to yourself: "Wow I just saw x" Or someone else describing it to you: "Can you believe we just saw x?". It is at that time it becomes a fixed event and you can process it as an experience. But here is where Rhetors come in. They observe the world, fix it in their mind a certain way, and then use words to transport their version of events into someone else's mind. They change the world through language. They can change the past. This is what lawyers do. They observe objective fact and process it in their minds in the manner most beneficial to their clients and then they transport that advantageous perception of objective fact into the minds of a judge or jury. They change the past through their words. That is why you fear and consequently hate us. Because we have fucking super powers!

This is also something I enjoy about participating in Metafilter. A post presents some information and people discuss that information, but if you can get in an effective comment early in a thread you can shape, not only the rest of the discussion, but the actual information in the post. Everyone who reads the comments following your comment will be affected by your take on the information and when they comment it will reflect the impact of your perception of the information and amplify it until you have the dozens of commenters and hundreds of lurkers with your take on reality in their brains without them even knowing it. Then they go out and interact with others with your version of reality in their mind and convey it to those they interact with. Your reality spreads exponentially around the world until your version of reality is reality. Inside my mind is a virus, language is its means of transmission, Metafilter is my laboratory, and you are all patient zero. And as you read these words you have already been infected.
posted by ND¢ at 1:34 PM on August 11, 2010 [12 favorites]

Am I the only one who finds the style of RadioLab aggravating? I should say, the S~T~Y~L~E. The content is great, but the hosts' delivery annoys me intensely.

even bigger NPR nerd
posted by msalt at 1:38 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

if you can get in an effective comment early in a thread you can shape, not only the rest of the discussion

To whit: Which is why one pony I would like would be an "ignore this user" button.
posted by Danf at 1:44 PM on August 11, 2010

To whit: Which is why one pony I would like would be an "ignore this user" button.

There's a greasemonkey for that.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:05 PM on August 11, 2010

You can't killfile my mindvirus. If it doesn't get you here it will get you next week when you are talking to your boss, or your barber, or even your momma. My shit is the common cold.
posted by ND¢ at 2:10 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Carry on....
posted by stonepharisee at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2010

That was an excellent Radiolab episode, and one which I probably would have missed if not for this FPP. Thanks for posting it, Narrative Priorities.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:46 PM on August 11, 2010

I just listened to this one this morning too! I really enjoyed it. Also, Jill Bolte Taylor's book, My Stroke of Insight (her story is discussed in the NPR episode), is a fun, informative and quick read.

Random thought...not only does naming a thing change our perceptions of the thing (and the things around it, too), but how we name that thing matters as well. And by 'how', I mean both how we arrive at a name for a thing (the process) and how it is referred to (the name itself). Thinking about this in terms of etymologies, associations, evolutions, sound symbolisms, spelling, pronunciation features and's mind boggling. Words like buzz, snark, Scion, iPad, nigger, hipster, disk, about, LOL, columbine, liberal, the, even, like. And then you realize that this applies to every single word. Ever. Which creates a layer, elevated in the mind, like a giant, fluid net of endless creativity and expression. Words are the coolest things ever.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2010

Jill Bolte Taylor gave a talk at TED about her experience with the stroke as well, that the Radio Lab episode used some bits of.
posted by Drastic at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2010

an "ignore this user" button.

The WELL has that. One practical problem is that someone usually takes the bait, and so you see the echo if not the original.
posted by msalt at 8:28 PM on August 11, 2010

kmz: "I love both. Am I allowed to love both?"

Yes you are, because while both are high-quality radio storytelling programs, their storytelling "mandates" are very very different. One of these doesn't have to be better or worse than the other and, more importantly, public radio needs more smart, sometimes funny, button-down storytelling, not less.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:59 AM on August 12, 2010

Am I the only one who finds the style of RadioLab aggravating?

No, you are not. But all of you are soulless robots.*

*I keed I keed. One of my best friends is a RadioLabaphobe. It's just hyper stylized and anythign hyper stylized is polarizing.
posted by edbles at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2010

Don't know if anybody is still reading this thread, but the original version of this video is slightly different. I've noticed at least one really obvious edit.
posted by kmz at 9:13 PM on August 15, 2010

One of my best friends is a RadioLabaphobe.

I'm not sure I AM a minority. What?

No, that's just it. I fear nothing about Radio Lab. I love the content, just wish they would deliver it without the cutesy reconstructed dialogue.
posted by msalt at 9:51 PM on August 15, 2010

Uh I was just trying to say that I have the same debate that shows up in any RadioLab thread (that you were about to initiate with the "anyone else find RadioLab aggravating?" comment) with a good friend of mine. I always fall on the "I really like the fast cut and thorough sound design" side. He always falls on the "I find it affected and indulgent" side. Generally our perceptions of any art that is over the top and hyper-stylized send us into the same debate. I occasionally refer to him as a soulless robot for having these opinions. I meant 'phobe in the commonly used "hate-a-thing" sense of the word instead of the "fear-a-thing" sense of the word. No offense was meant, I hope none was taken.
posted by edbles at 11:13 AM on August 16, 2010

none taken, of course. Minority was a joke on "one of my friends." (jokes explained are funnier, etc.)

I often like affected, indulgent, over the top style -- the Smiths, the Decemberists, Lair of the White Worm, etc. -- though usually better with a straight face. Other times though I think it detracts from true talent (Hendrix, Emo Phillips, Radio Lab).
posted by msalt at 6:34 PM on August 16, 2010

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