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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Malleable Organ

                                                                                                                          Michelle Salvati
In Nicholas Carr’s novel, The Shallows, he expresses his feelings towards the internet and its effect that it has on individual’s brains.  He strongly exhibits facts from himself and experts that show the brain can change due to certain experiences.  In Chapter 2, Carr says, “While we know that our brain is an exquisitely sensitive monitor of experience, we want to believe that it lies beyond the influence of experience.  We want to believe that the impressions our brain records as sensations and stores as memories leave no physical imprint on its own structure” (38).  He later goes on to say that his thoughts about the brain being unchangeable or uninfluenced were wrong, and that the brain is “forever a work in progress.” 

In Chapter 3, after Carr realizes the brain is malleable, he expresses a strong point that proves his new belief.  Carr says, “We begin with primitive, literal renderings of the features of the land we see around us, and we advance to ever more accurate, and more abstract, representations of geographic and topographic space.  We progress, in other words, from drawing what we see to drawing what we know” (40).  I agree with Carr’s point.  As children we often draw our surroundings and what we see with our eyes.  As we get older we start drawing what we know.  For example, as children we might draw a flower exactly how we see it but as adults we might draw a flower how we picture it or imagine it looking.  We are able to picture and imagine what an object, in this case a flower, looks like from what we know about flowers.  We know flowers have petals, can be any color, have a stem, and grow from the soil. 

Nicholas Carr also expresses that the human brain begins with mostly sensory imaging, such as drawing a flower, to a more mature and experience altered brain of an adult.  Maps are drawn by experience of a person’s brain with shapes, distances, and realistic features.  To be able to draw a map one would have to have prior knowledge and understanding of different things.  Carr says, “Eventually the drawings became more realistic, outlining the actual proportions of a space, a space that often extended well beyond what could be seen with the eye.  As more time passed, the realism became scientific in both its precision and its abstraction” (40).   

The brain of the child was once dependent upon visual aspects of life, but the brain of the adult is a more intellectual and objective analysis of experience.  Nicholas Carr has many facts and ideas that back up his idea that the brain is a forever changeable organ.  It changes with different experiences as a person grows.  Carr shares strong facts that prove his point.  As Carr finally sums up his point he says, “Our intellectual maturation as individuals can be traced through the way we draw pictures, or maps, of our surroundings” (39).  I agree with Carr’s many points in The Shallows on this particular topic. 

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