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What I'm Reading Today - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
What I'm Reading Today
I remember back in high school, some teacher or the other was trying to demonstrate the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon. Probably a psychology class, or some other social science. Did I take psychology in high school? I don't remember. But that's really not important.

The point is that it is kind of an interesting mental state to be in. We've all been there, where you are searching for the right word or phrase, you know that you know the answer, but you can't quite remember it. It's on the "tip of your tongue", but you can't quite spit it out.

Often times when you are in this state, you can describe quite a lot about the thing which you are trying to remember. You might remember that it is a short word, for example, or that the item you are trying to remember is often green, you can maybe even picture where in the textbook you read the information...strange triggers like that, even when you cannot bring the actual information to mind.

The teacher was trying to demonstrate this to us, by reading questions meant to provoke the "tip of the tongue" state. When somebody in the classroom found themselves almost remembering the answer, they would try to describe what they were thinking, what they remembered about what they were trying to remember. It was an interesting class exercise, if only partially successful.

Well I experienced this in a very strange way last week. I was talking to K & D about the book I was reading. I told them that I'd picked up a couple of novels from my local public library, but I couldn't remember just then what they were. "One is by that guy, you know, the one who wrote About A Boy and High Fidelity?"

"Nick Hornby," they supplied.

"Oh yes, that's right, Hornby. Well it's his other book. Not those two, a different one." They informed me that he's written more than three books, but neither of them could remember any additional titles. "Well there were only those three in the library. I got the third one."

D asked, "Oh, is it about a woman? Because I think I heard part of that on tape awhile back. If so, it's a really sad book."

But even though I'd read the first few pages before I'd gone to sleep the night before, I couldn't remember anything about it. It had completely slipped my mind.

The weird thing was though, I had a strong feeling that the title had a double-o in it somewhere. Or at least some double-letter. I kept thinking maybe it the word "cool", in it, or "good", or maybe "loop"? But that was such a vague and unlikely-sounding memory, I didn't even bother to voice it in the conversation. Even so, it continued to nag me. What was the title, and did it have a double-o in it?

When I got home that night, I was pleasently surprised to see that the book is titled How To Be Good. I was right, it did have the word "good" in it! The "tip of the tongue" phenomenon held true.

Now that I look at the cover art, I can even guess why it was the two o's that lingered in my memory, even while the rest of the title was lost somewhere on the tip of my tongue.


(And yes, it is the one about the woman, and it is pretty sad so far. But very captivating even so.)
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Comments
From: blueskies131 Date: May 23rd, 2004 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
that happens to me all the time. i can't stand it when it happens. i get really frustrated when the person i'm talking to can't figure out what i'm talking about too.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 24th, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup, me too.
mindme From: mindme Date: May 23rd, 2004 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've noticed sometimes the tip of the tongue thing spreads. You're like "oh what's the name of that guy..." and suddenly everyone around you can't remember his name.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 24th, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that's true too! Suddenly everybody just blanks out. Weird, huh?
bob_the_mighty From: bob_the_mighty Date: May 24th, 2004 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
It's all part of the Keepers Plan... Bugger those white mice using Earth as their private laboratory!!! You know, I should...

*shhhhhhthwap*

OW!!! WTF is this?!?!? A dart in my ass?!?!?!?!?


*slight pressurized hissing of a hypo*


Oooh...huh...ummm... dang... musta blanked out a second or two... as I think I was saying...that "tip of the tongue" thing IS really weird.. I wonder why that happens?

>;-D
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 24th, 2004 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my gosh, that explains so much! Darn those white mice, they are dangerous. At least the dolphins are nicer, even though they're smarter than us too...

*grin*
From: stilldocked Date: May 24th, 2004 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I love that book...
sherdeb From: sherdeb Date: May 24th, 2004 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep. That's the one. Keep in mind, though, I only caught snippets as Joe was listening. He says that as a whole, he liked it.
joline From: joline Date: May 25th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
ooh, i love that book! it's one of my favorite books, not for the storyline, but for the writing. it reads like the most well-written livejournal you could ever hope to find. i love it.

and, i recently had a tip-of-the-tongue experience, so it was neat to read this! i was writing a livejournal post about my old roommate, and i wanted to use this one word that described the way she talked to me so perfectly... and i lost it! it was just stuck in my skull. i knew it had something to do with "mocking" me, so i stuck "mockinngly" in MSWord's thesaraus, but i didn't get anything good. i finally settle on the word "disdainfully," though it wasn't right. about a week later, i was just riding the bus, when, out of no where, the word i'd wanted so badly to use hit me over the head. CONDESCENDINGLY! my old roommate spoke to me in a way that was condescending! it felt weird to have lost an entire word from my vocabularly. duh!
joline From: joline Date: May 25th, 2004 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)
oh gosh, i really need to proofread my comments. *blushes*
sorry for all the typos!
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 25th, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, the book was lovely. I finshed it while I was not-sleeping last night. You're right, it is much like an excellent LJ. It was very introspective and addressed some really resonant issues. It made me sad in some ways, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Condescendingly! Cool, glad to know you do it too occasionally. I do that all the time. Seriously. My memory seems to have started shutting down.
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