Worldbuilders let people who donated money to them vote on what I would read if they hit $600,000. They did reach that goal, and they voted. It was between Goodnight Moon, Fox in Socks, Where the Wild Things Are and Jabberwocky. Jabberwocky won. So I got up this morning and headed, sleep-bleary, out into the woods to record myself reciting it... You can donate to Worldbuilders at worldbuilders.org. And you should.
The unconscious working of the brain makes interpretation of what a painful experience is all about difficult. We all have an inner world of thoughts and sensations, habits, fantasies, and dreams, and much of what happens to us is beyond conscious awareness. This makes many of us strangers to ourselves, unaware of how we truly feel at any one moment of our lives. Indeed, much of our behavior is automatic; we tend to resort to repetitive habits and attitudes that don’t really express who we are, or what we want to become.
To take the journey into our interior—to understand ourselves better—we need to help our unconscious to construct new meaning out of our experiences. Reflective writing about a painful experience becomes very complementary to talking about it because it engages a different part of the brain. Brain scans suggest that talking is more related to the right than the left hemisphere. As writing has a greater influence on the left hemisphere, it may stimulate parts of the brain that are not affected by talking.
What we get out of reflective writing, therefore, may be more explicit and analytic than what we get out of talking. Talking uses the part of the brain that seems to be more associated with what we think of as our unconscious mind and what we say may to a large extent be determined by habits of thought so deeply embedded that we are no longer aware of them. Our written judgments and interpretations, which engage more the conscious part of our brain, are likely be less formulaic and much more thoughtful than merely talking about it.
“This is huge,” said Eric Rasmussen, an American Shakespeare expert who traveled to France over the weekend to authenticate the volume. “First folios don’t turn up very often, and when they do, it’s usually a really chewed up, uninteresting copy. But this one is magnificent.”
The book was discovered this fall by librarians at a public library in St.-Omer, near Calais, who were sifting through its collections for an exhibition on English-language literature. The title page and other introductory material were torn off, but Rémy Cordonnier, the director of the library’s medieval and early modern collection, suspected that the book — cataloged as an unexceptional old edition — might in fact be a first folio.
He called in Mr. Rasmussen, a professor at the University of Nevada in Reno and the author of “The Shakespeare First Folios: A Descriptive Catalogue,”who identified it within minutes.