Monday, January 15, 2007

Symbolic Thought: As many of you already know, I'm a fan of the Wizard Academy's Roy Williams. The following is from his weekly memo, always a worthwhile read. This week he delves into four kinds of thought, according to Dr. Ricardo Gattass:

Verbal Thought is hearing a voice in your mind.
Analytical Thought is deductive reasoning that seeks to forecast a result.
Abstract Thought includes fantasy and all things intangible.
Symbolic Thought reconciles the pattern recognition of the right brain with the deductive reasoning of the left-brain to connect the unknown to the known.

If you will educate, encourage, or persuade, you must symbolize the abstract by pointing to a concrete thing that shares an essential attribute with the abstraction you're trying to describe.

This can be done using:

(1.) Words.
"Your life and her life have become intertwined like two ropes, joined in a knot. And that's a good thing. It gives you both something to hang onto. If you're in love, you know exactly what I'm talking about." These three sentences were the opening lines of a radio ad that sold thousands of a specific item of jewelry.

"What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." Jesus gave the farmers of his day a glimpse of another realm by comparing it to a seed with which they were all familiar.

(2.) Pictures.
In his book, Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud uses graphic sequential storytelling to illustrate how we attach complex meanings to the way simple lines relate to one another. He's not talking about comic books. He's talking about visual symbolic thought. Grasp what he's teaching and you'll hold a lever that will move the world.

Buy the book. It's one of those rare, breakthrough books that will make you suddenly see things that have long fluttered at the edge of your consciousness.

No comments: