First of all, let me just say: this article is going to be about Ray Kurzweil. He’s an author. And he wrote a book called How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. This article is about Ray Kurzweil and his booky, here, and how both will be at The Kentucky Center for the Arts  tonight being interviewed (the book probably won’t say too much, though) for the Kentucky Author Forum. It’s $20. You should go. This article will be about that, quintessentially.
But, really, I want to do this more:
I would like to share a secret with you. Here: when I see words I see colors. Mostly.
In all the misstep and brilliant little blowouts of gunfire and fluff (does anyone else get images of raw cotton – the close-up, macro kind – when they think of their own mind? Maybe?) that goes on in my head, when the pixels make the words of the English language we get to speak every day, I get a slosh-bucket riot of color. Not text. Sometimes textures. Sometimes movement. But not text.
A swatch of butter – real butter – yellow, the shade that is almost an absence of color, almost “nude” in its paleness, overtakes my vision when I think of the name “Josh” (this is not an arbitrary example, but I will mostly certainly not be explaining). This word has a texture too (not all of them do): it’s plush in the same way as a sea sponge. Squeezable. And this makes perfect sense to me because of the mouthfeel.
You drop your jaw to a comical length to say the first part of this word – that great and cavernous “AHH” of long “O” sound right after that freakish little lurch of “J” out of the gate. Do it; feel your mouth hanging there; it’s a big round thing that you’re saying there. It’s full. It’s plush. It soaks up all of your mouth there, doesn’t it? That’s a lot of sound there, and it’s almost too big. That’s a heavy, pregnant sponge.
But – wait:
Here is the end of the word; it’s silencing you. Oh no! “-SHH”. The almighty jet of hollow puff-cheek word-sneeze – they call this “hush” – that takes the big open maw of “AHH” and slices it off with a whisper. It’s enough to double you over. It compresses you. All the full, big, domed expanse of vowel love going on in your mouth just zippered up, pushed off a verbal cliff. Flattened. Compressed. Hands together, palms together. And the sponge is now just millimeters thick there between them, squished. And that word is done. You've got a puddle on the floor.
“Josh”: Butter yellow. Sea sponge. That’s the word in my head; that’s how it looks before I have to spell it out like in grammar school and use symbols and denotate its connotations and sandwich it up in a syntax, snazzy it up with punctuation. Slap it on somebody’s face like a sticker. Whatever you want to do with it. It’s a vessel. But the split second before? Butter yellow. Sea sponge.
And I can’t help it. All the words do this. I’m usually exhausted after writing. A little dizzy and slosh-water belly sick. Because all the words do this. All the words I want to use. All the words I don’t want to use but considered. All the words describing the one word I do want to use. It’s like playing 600 songs backwards at the same time. If songs were colors.
Does this make sense? No, probably not. Trying to explain it makes me sound like a distracted preschooler, too. These are the kind of conversations where words trail off in sad, little tails that drag in the dirt. Awkwardly look at the grass, or your hand. Fidget with a button. Bring up an intelligent book. Redirect. Ahem.
But that’s my story. That’s the inside out seam lines of what happens when I decide to think. Thinking is usually only for smart people, but I do it too. Kind of.
So. Right. Point. That illustration, that “secret” – that’s my quintessential mind. No, let’s do this: that’s my quintessential Mind. Quintessential Erin with her quintessential neuron blobs firing all quintessentially without my cognitive permission. Quintessentially. I’ll stop.
And the Mind and all its glorious (-ly stupid) mechanisms is exactly what author Ray Kurzweil (remember him? He’s the star, here) seeks to demystify with his new book, How to Create a Mind: The Secrets of Human Thought Revealed. Joining up with Jim Fleming – the host of PRI’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” – Kurzweil brings to the table the cogwork of the Homo Sapien brain, exploring the aspects of emotional and moral intelligence, as well as the origins of consciousness. In other words (“words” is a layer cake of grays and charcoals and black and chocolate colors. Like mineral strata in a rock face), Kurzweil could know why “Josh” looks like butter in my head. Spongey butter.
For $20, guests can attend the interview as Kurzweil and Fleming enjoy some Smart Conversation at The Kentucky Center for the Arts as part of the Kentucky Author Forum. Big spenders can enjoy dinner with the author plus the show for $110. This will all happen tonight, Monday, November 26th, starting at 6pm – so, you should probably consider your evening, like, now. Or maybe two hours ago would have been better – that’s when I started writing this informative article. Sorry, doves.
Your brain is beautiful. I know it must be, and it’s a crying shame that we can’t all belly-up nose to nose all the time and take a peek at how we each tic and quirk and idiosync. Let Ray Kurzweil take a crack at tonight and – maybe someday – we can try too. How do you See on the inside? Tell me. Tell me your name, and I’ll tell you what color your Mama gave you in my quintessential head.
The Kentucky Center for the Arts is located at 501 W Main Street. For more information on Ray Kurzweil, as well as tickets, visit the event page .
Image: Courtesy of Amazon www.amazon.com