Home > Uncategorized > “This is your brain on Kafka:” absurdist literature makes you smarter

“This is your brain on Kafka:” absurdist literature makes you smarter

MotherJones.com, a nonprofit news organization specializing in investigative journalism and political and social commentary, recently published a fascinating article called “This Is Your Brain On Kafka,” by Tom Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs detailed a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science, performed by psychologists Travis Proulx of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Steven Heine of the University of British Columbia. The study found that reading absurdist literature heightens the brain’s ability to find patterns.

…Man is perpetually in search of meaning, and if a Kafkaesque work of literature seems strange on the surface, our brains amp up to dig deeper and discover its underlying design.

Confirmed. What’s fun about (good) absurdist literature is trying to decipher the underlying themes and symbols, manifested possibly and probably as a function of the author’s subconscious – much like dreams.  Jorge Luis Borges is an excellent example. In Labyrinths, a collection of short stories, the more bizarre the plot becomes, the clearer Borges’ motive.  His stories reflect internal debate over the genesis of causality and fate; the world as an information space; and the nature of thought, to name a few. Tracking the arguments each story makes is exhausting, time-consuming – even for a story of 20 pages – and incredibly fulfilling. Who knew it was sharpening my wit?

For the full text of Tom Jacob’s article in Mother Jones, visit http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2009/09/your-brain-kafka.

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