Another Serving of Nil

No dessert for youYesterday's monologue—or perhaps more so Craig's comments about it—triggered the memory of a program I heard last week on NPR's Talk of the Nation. The guest was an author with a rare form of autism that, among other things, results in extraordinary visual representations of numbers in his mind.

When Daniel Tammet thinks about numbers, each one has a distinct personality. Thirty-seven is lumpy, for example; four is shy. He has a rare form of autism that gives him astonishing mental powers, such as effortlessly calculating huge numbers in his head with the speed of a computer.

In the context of perception—and as Craig mentioned, its highly idiosyncratic nature—the knowledge that there are people for whom numbers are essentially living beings should forever put to rest the misguided notion that we are all the same. I've always considered my own thought processes to be more visual than otherwise, but compared to Mr. Tammet's mental world, mine is obviously mundane in the extreme.

Come to think of it, my mind's barren landscape is to blame for my flippant treatment of Craig's characteristically thoughtful commentary yesterday. If only the words rattling about in my head were more visually intriguing, I wouldn't have to resort to concocting inappropriate responses—or inappropriate blog posts for that matter—to amuse myself.

How can I take responsibility for my actions when I had no part in designing my brain? My mind may be boring me to tears, but is that my fault? I think not.


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