I'm in the middle of a conversation with a new friend about pictures. It all began with a metaphor which cropped up in a discussion we had - a metaphor which I found somewhat startling, but which hadn't been meant to be taken as such, not in the way I saw it. He was just painting a word picture, but I saw the visual one. Now, I love metaphors. In fact, I talk in metaphors all the time; so much so that I sometimes fall afoul of academia, because my default mode is to explain something with something else - for example, it's like I can't make a general statement without saying at least once "for example" or "it's like". I understand the general through the specific.
But in this conversation, I also realized something else, namely the importance of images to the way I think. I'm a visual thinker as well as a verbal one. Yes, I have words running through my head all the time, but what goes with the words is pictures. This conversation with my friend is taking place via email, and when I write to him, I'm seeing him in my mind, sitting in the easy chair in front of the patio door at the house where we met. I'm talking to the mental image I formed of him.
On internet message boards, it really bothers me not to have a picture of the person I'm talking to; I will go out of my way to find some image to attach to them. So just be aware: those little avatars you use around the web, people like me will use that as their image of you in their heads. On one of the boards where I occasionally go to look for information on ebooks, there's a really irritating person who uses a penguin as their avatar. For all I know, in reality he is drop-dead handsome with a most charming smile, but to me, he's a penguin. An irritating penguin.
And there's the CBC radio host who has lately been doing pledge drives on one of my favourite TV stations. It really messes with my head, because she looks utterly different from the way I had pictured her when I only heard her on the radio. Seeing Shelagh Rogers' voice coming out of a body that doesn't fit my mental image of her is very disconcerting.
To top it off, this morning I was trying to post a comment on a blog, and I got one of those "Please prove you're not a robot" things. I mean, check it out! It used to be just skewed letters and numbers which you could actually read and type out. Now they're giving you pictures! And pictures of who-knows-what at that. What was I meant to do with this one? Type "dendsB ventilation-grate-in-plastered-wall"? That's what it looks like to me! I don't know where that robot gets off asking me to prove I'm not a robot. Talk of the pot calling the kettle black! (And to understand that particular metaphor, you'd have to know something about open-hearth cooking. At my house, the pots are stainless steel, and the kettle is white plastic, so the pot calling the kettle black would just be nonsensical slander.)
Life, the Universe, and Thinking in Pictures. It's all highly metaphorical.