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Viikko 9


MotionTHB that one can learn anything if one just puts one’s mind to it
Role: Rep. (opp.)

Occasionally, it is claimed that people use only a fraction of their brain capacity. It is suggested that we could achieve a much better ”processing” efficiency, were we somehow empowered cognitively. The movie Limitless riffed on this idea, apparently, in portraying the fantasy life of a man who suddenly gains full control of his brain in taking a dubious empowering pill of almost the ”Matrix” kind.

After having seen a documentary on the dimensions of human memory by the BBC, I think it’s high time we considered the true nature of our cognitive faculties.

For some reason, I don’t seem to be able to master certain things. I think they are interconnected in some way. I’ll give a brief description of each one of them.

Card games   Memorising card game rules is not easy for me. I can play about three card games without tuition: Old Maid, Poker, Sevens (~ group solitaire) and Uno. The rules of other card games elude me, and I might not even be ABLE to learn the hardest of them, such as bridge, or any difficult card game with ancient roots and arcane rules.

Ballroom dances   The only thing I can dance a little is waltz, mainly because it goes in the 3/4 time signature. That, however, is of little use when it comes to most dancehall-played popular music — also the older, less recognised forms — as it is in 4/4 time almost exclusively. When someone shows me a dance move, I generally don’t register it or comprehend it. I don’t understand how jive moves differ from tango moves or those of tap dance or how they form sequences. It’s all Greek to me.

Party jokes   I understand humour well, and I understand it within each of its subsets such as puns, crass double entendres, absurdities, visual gags, cross-references, allusions, situation comedy and nerdy Easter-egg fun. What I can’t do, at any rate, is tell people jokes if and when they want to hear one. I assume other people are able to tell jokes because they a) consume humour ”products” all the time (a wide concept, ranging from movies to funnies) or b) they don’t forget jokes they have laughed at. But I can’t.

(Mixing drinks…)   This is not confirmed but I assume that it’d be hard for me to memorise the contents of different cocktails. And I’m not alone in this, as the favourite mixer of the drinking classes of Finland is soda water and the favourite spirit is vodka. And those two are a ”cocktail” or a drink in their own right. Drink contents seem oddly irrelevent, especially after downing 6 of them… what it would all boil down to would be puke, anyway.

I think that these 3 to 4 things are interconnected. They all represent orchestrated movements that come to their fulfillment in a social context. All of them ease up friction in social interaction and provide a lively, albeit a slightly flat pastime. Some lead toward finding friends or a partner. None of them can, however, guarantee that objective, or success in Life in general.

And I can’t do them.

It seems that people who are good at the aforementioned things have been wired that way from the beginning. It isn’t necessarily so that their execution ”resides” in a different part of the brain that the rest of us just leave deserted and uncharted.

The brain is noted for its plasticity, meaning that it may rewire itself due or thanks to trauma or 10,000 hours of intensive training. Yet, the older pathways are surprisingly resilient. I might learn a new card game, drink, joke or ballroom dance with concerted effort, a lot of patience and a dedicated mentor. That would not, however, be appropriate. At best, I could be become a mediocrity in any of those fields. Earlier beginners and talented masters would beat me at every turn. A better use of my available time is vital, given that life is a relatively short endeavour. I should focus on my strengths instead.

It seems, sad but true, that the unharnessed potential that there is in the brain, lies in processing faster what we already do WELL or learning areas related to what we already KNOW.

Thank you.

Arvio: Hieman henkilökohtaisempi puhe — vaihteeksi — on suhteellisen mukaansa tempaava sen yleisemmän teeman takia, joka aloittaa ja lopettaa puheen. Aihe ei jätä kylmäksi väittelyseuran jäseniä. Itse aktiviteetti vaatii aivokapasiteettia, vaikka vuorta nimeltä debatti voikin lähestyä kovin monelta kantilta.




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