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How You Attend to the World Changes What You Find There

And if you attend sloppily, what you'll find is slop

Do you want to understand what you're thinking about? Then think as clearly about it as possible. Do you want to think clearly about something? Then think in clear terms.

On the flip side, if you use muddy terms about something you're thinking about, you won't think about it as clearly. And if you can't think about it clearly, then you won't understand it clearly.

And that's why true stylists urge students to write clearly, with crisp words and modes of expression.

A writer uses abstract words because his thoughts are cloudy; the habit of using them clouds his thoughts still further; he may end by concealing his meaning not only from his readers but also from himself. Sir Ernest Gowers

Orwell makes the same point in "Politics and the English Language:"

Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly . .

Iain McGilchrist makes a similar point in his works.

He emphasizes that the left hemisphere and right hemisphere do the same things, hence the "pop psychological" idea of "left brain v. right brain" is inapt. However, each hemisphere does the same things in a different way. It's a matter of how they do their work.

The right hemisphere attends to the world in a broader, more inquisitive, sense. The left hemisphere attends to the world in a narrower, more acquisitive, sense.

So when a person with an activated right hemisphere sees a pretty landscape, he might marvel or contemplate the Beautiful. A person with an activated left hemisphere might think about how to acquire it, at least with a cell phone pic.

The different approaches change what they find in the world. The right hemispheric might find a sense of transcendence in that landscape. The left hemispheric might find a desire to possess it. The right hemispheric might experience wonder at the varied elements of the landscape; the left hemispheric might experience a critical disposition that notices the flaws in a parcel of land that he can't have.

Shift back to Gowers (and Fowler and Orwell).

I'm not especially interested in what hemisphere is more inclined to use words (the left is, incidentally, at least prose . . . the right hemisphere is more inclined to poetry). I am interested in the left-right arrow (<-—>) effect.

How a person attends to something affects him, which in turn affects the thing he's attending to.

If a person uses clear words to attend to his writing, his meaning will become clearer. If he attends to his writing with sloppy words, his meaning will become sloppy.