language magic

You’ll find two paragraphs below describing the same thing. Which appeals to you? Why? I doubt you’ll find two more disparate paragraphs in tone, style, rhythm, vocabulary, creative musculature. I love putting these two paragraphs side by side.

Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant in a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasuredrome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes in a gym bag. (Diane Ackerman, An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain – first paragraph)

Today, when we look at the brain, we see an intricate network of billions of neurons in constant, crackling communication, a chemical labyrinth that senses the world outside and within, produces love and sorrow, keeps our hearts beating and lungs breathing, composes our thoughts, and constructs our consciousness. (Carl Zimmer, Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain–and How It Changed the World, 5)

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One thought on “language magic

  1. I respond much more openly to the first paragraph. It makes me smile, and keeps the brain out of the petri dish and in a more flexible, cheeky place. The brain is still a mystery, and I like it when writers address it as such.

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