Efficient Trolling

Arnold Zwicky blogs at Language Log (and if you read only one linguistics blog, it should probably be Language Log). Earlier this year, he wrote about caring for his late partner Jacques. Jacques had brain cancer, and the best treatment available only moved him from impending death to inevitable dementia, an Alzheimer’s-like decline a decade down the line. Arnold spent twelve years caring for him.

This appeared on a linguistics blog because of Jacques’s particular problem: avoidance of evidence that he was in California. I encourage you to read the whole thing. He could read normally, but he could not consciously process the word “California” if it implied that Jacques himself was in California. For him, license plates were blocked, news reports were garbled, and postcards were illegible, but only the parts implying that he was in California. National news that mentioned California would have been fine; you could see those anywhere. His brain was effectively reading ahead, recognizing the word and the context, blocking it from his conscious awareness, and then rationalizing why the word was not there.

Prof. Zwicky has some comments about similar dementias. Others in the comments share their stories about caring for family members and their cases of implicit and explicit awareness. The dialogue draws out more details. It is a heart-rending account of loss.

And then one commenter tossed in, “TL;DR” Five characters, and I wanted to track the IP to put a brick through someone’s window or skull.

: Zubon

3 thoughts on “Efficient Trolling”

  1. The human mind is pretty wild indeed. We forget that it is just a bunch of elecrto-chemical processes going on in our skull and that we really have no idea how it works.

    And, as if to prove the point, somebody taking the time to post “TL;DR” as a comment on any post, anywhere demonstrates that the mental process can be a fragile thing. Somehow their egos feel that it is important that we all know that they did not read this post!

    I’ll buy the brick Zubon!

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