Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ones and Zeroes (Letters to Parth - 17)

My Dear Parth, my Flying Circus,

In a few days you step into 10. Devank turns one today. I wished him for you last night itself.

(He’s dev’ing fast and learning about sleep and hunger, heights and blows, Mia and you. Dadu and Thammi enjoy his company as does he theirs. Of course, none of them can help missing you. We wake up each day believing it to be the day we all meet. Seven indescribably strange years have passed since we last saw you. Meaning or joy cannot change the strangeness or the pain of the years, nor can the knowledge that greater joys lie ahead. Matter of time. Rejoice.)

I have a few daddy blogger friends – they write blogs about their experiences as fathers. I have been too busy playing with Dev to get down to that, but a lot of the stuff they think and write about is very interesting. I really wish I had the dedication or the opportunity to write about these experiences without putting myself into the writing. Since I can’t, I rarely try. Communication is one such real cool thing. How do we learn how to speak? It obviously means we have all the words and their meanings stashed away somewhere in our head. When we grow up as babies in a multilingual environment, we learn to stash them away in separate spaces. We possibly identify one language as our primary language, or the most important one, and I wonder how that gets decided. We link languages to the people who speak them and switch unconsciously to using their language with them. We event invent our own secret groups and languages that only insiders will understand.

Brodsky's Child, Oil on Canvas, 16" x 12" unmounted

People who study brains and computation say all of this stashing away of information happens in ones and zeroes. The basic functional units of our neurological system can create data patterns out of ones and zeroes by using chemical on-off switches. With the help of the body, the mind can also extrapolate this idea of representation in verbal and visual ways – like speaking and writing. The branch of science that deals with these complex but fun things is linguistics and is in many ways related to mathematics.

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