Thursday, July 12, 2007

Yesterday, Arvind asked me a really surprising but rewarding question. I was quizzing him (or interrogating him, depending on your point of view) about the Outward Bound trip he once took in the Pacific Northwest, trying to figure out exactly where he'd gone kayaking and backpacking. After a few minutes, he asked "Do you have a spatial memory?" I had no idea what he meant--a spaital memory as opposed to what? I thought he was making a joke about his attempt to memorize words through "emotional memory" rather than verbal memory--a couple of weeks ago he drew a stick horse on one of his vocab flash cards, thinking he'd remember "parampara" better as the sound of a pony rather than as the Hindi word for "tradition." But that wasn't what he meant by his question. He said, "I've noticed you seem to organize information very spatially, do you think you do?" Interesting question, I thought. I definitely think my work is more spatial than visual, and that puts me in a certain camp of architectural historians (as Svetlana Alpers knows all too well). But I hadn't thought too deeply about whether I mentally organize information in a spatial or relational manner. Everyone in the room seemed to think Arvind was right, so I guess they can hear something that I can't when I speak.

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