Brain Food #592
Thinking about thinking
Thoughts of the day
Do you ever catch yourself thinking about something, and then wondering why you are thinking about that specific thing? This is an example of metacognition, or the act of thinking about thinking.
Metacognition can be a useful exercise, that can be easily implemented through writing in a diary, or the slightly madder act of talking to oneself. Some choose to write about themselves in the third person. It is a form of creating distance from ourselves combined with a close examination, during which we learn to recognise one’s mistakes, think about them, and turn them into lessons.
This form of metacognitive thinking can lead to much doubt, and not ever being sure of the best path to take. But as Bertrand Russell said, “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
If you have an intrusive, persistent thought, perhaps it is a sign to note it down. It may be trying to tell you something. And if you are doing your end-of-week retrospective, some questions to ask yourself may be:
What problems did I try to solve?
How could I have approached them differently?
What or who crossed my mind more than once?
Drafts and sketches are a fascinating way to see the metacognitive processes of an artist, whether this is happening through words or through images. Below (although in French) is the famous passage from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, where the character eats a madeleine and gets transported back to her childhood. When the novel eventually got published in its final form, this was given to it via the artist’s doubt, and review of their own work.