Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Great Literature Equals Great Minds?

Some smart guys down at Emory University (Atlanta) sat down and did an odd research project.

They handed the novel....Pompeii (Robert Harris)....over to almost two dozen students, who were wired up to monitor their brain activity for a couple of weeks.

Pompeii, as written by Robert Harris, is a tale of intense moments and the lead-up to the volcano blowing up around 79 AD.  Some of the basic facts are woven into the story, but the majority of the book is fictional in nature.

Thoughts, ideas, fear, and courage are all elements of the story built into the book.  To say that it's fairly dramatic....would be an accurate statement.

So, it's an odd thing.  Over this almost three-week long test, the students read the book and then completed it.  Brain activity around the left side, which notes the influence ability of the brain....was way up.  The strange thing is that even days...almost up to a week....after finishing the book, the students were all still hyping up on brain activity from this region.

The activity would eventually settle a bit....but the theme and story carried their brain on for several more days.

This all brings folks to ponder over the meaning of this.  Epic fictional story....strong characters....decisions made....lives lost.

There is some thinking that great novels or readings like this....have a big effect on us.  Short-term?  Well....that's now pretty much guaranteed.  Long-term?  Unproven.

I'm not much into the mental health science business.  But I am into history.  When you settle down and examine a dozen of the better known leaders from 1850 to the 1950's era.....they all were well-read individuals.  It wasn't so much education or university background, but they read on a intense scale.

A hundred years ago....Roman history, Greek philosophy, and great British literature were all standard for most folks who considered themselves "intelligent".  It wasn't uncommon for folks to meet up on a Sunday afternoon, and read passages of Shakespeare or Dickens.....to others in the parlor or on the front porch.

We might accidentally discover that great minds have a starting mechanism, which activates when we read.  Course, if proven.....then what?  Would it change anything in the world we live in?  I kinda doubt it.  We aren't about to reshuffle the deck and suddenly start reading a Tale of Two Cities, or discussing Socrates with the grocery clerk at Piggly Wiggly.

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