Friday, 10 May 2013

Three Stooges Syndrome

I must be getting back into the swing of posting all the time, since I'm finally posting late again. I consider this a side-effect of writing every three days, but today I have a good excuse! Okay, not really a good excuse; but it caused me to find a Word of the Day, so I think it gets me off the hook. See, yesterday I was very tired. I've been spending the last few days attempting to right my sleeping patterns, with only marginal success, and as a result I've been feeling tired. That alone doesn't excuse me, however, it meant that when I was looking for a Word of the Day, I was under some mental duress. I was having a lot of trouble finding a word. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I am running out of ideas. I have heaps of opinions, concepts, stories, hypotheticals & all manner of other crap to write about and share with you. But see, that's kind of the problem. Every posting day, I have to find something to talk about from the plethora of miscellany that makes up my mind and it's a bit of a mess in my head at the moment. Even more than usual. Seriously, even a sub-conscious sherpa would get lost in my mental minefield at this state of mind. Usually, the way it works, is that there's something that I've been thinking about a lot that sticks out. But yesterday, I had no such luck. I was thinking about everything. So I was having trouble picking a single word of the day yesterday. So, today, I'm going to talk about that.
The Word of the Day is: 'LETHOLOGICA'.

Lethologica /leethōlojikǝ/ n. The inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word.

The term lethologica is also used for the mental disorder of forgetting words, so while you can still use the term in your day to day life you should be aware of that. But the term is quite appropriate as our word today for two reasons. Firstly, I could not decide on a single word yesterday, because I'm thinking about so much. Such as story-writing and fanfiction; the rise of the 'adult' cartoon; the death of the 'whodunnit' murder mystery; science fiction vs. fantasy; a list of my favourite things; the rarity of female protaginists; the oddity of daytime television; 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe; human/animal interaction; how to characterize an iconic figure; my back-burner blogfiction & movies that suck for no good reason.
That's a lot of stuff, and that's just off the top of my head, so I couldn't really pick one. Secondly, and most importantly, I was actually looking for a word to describe this state of mind. I am thinking about a LOT of stuff, but the thing is, despite all of this activity, I can barely think. It's a weird feeling, a kind of static motion, and when I tried to find a word to describe it I came up empty-handed. I couldn't find the word to describe my state of mind, because it seems that such a word doesn't exist!

It's a little bit like the Centipede's Dilemma, or Analysis Paralysis, conditions wherein a usually easy task becomes more difficult to do when we concentrate on it (e.g. driving a car). But that's not the same thing as what my brain is doing. In fact, the only published material I've found that's relatively similar to it, is a joke from The Simpsons. It was from the twelfth episode of the eleventh season: "The Mansion Family". In the scene, Mr Burns is recieving his results from a series of medical tests:

BURNS: Well, Doc, I think I did pretty well on my tests. You may shake my hand if you like.
DOCTOR: Well, under the circumstances, I'd rather not.
BURNS: Eh?
DOCTOR: Mr. Burns, I'm afraid you are the sickest man in the United States. You have everything.
BURNS: You mean I have pneumonia?
DOCTOR: Yes.
BURNS: Juvenile diabetes?
DOCTOR: Yes.
BURNS: Hysterical pregnancy?
DOCTOR: Uh, a little bit, yes. You also have several diseases that have just been discovered -- in you.
BURNS: I see. You sure you haven't just made thousands of mistakes?
DOCTOR: Uh, no, no, I'm afraid not.
BURNS: This sounds like bad news.
DOCTOR: Well, you'd think so, but all of your diseases are in perfect balance. Uh, if you have a moment, I can explain.
BURNS: Well . . .
Doctor puts a tiny model house door on his desk.
DOCTOR: Here's the door to your body, see? And these are oversized novelty germs.
Doctor bring up some small fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk.
DOCTOR: That's influenza, that's bronchitis, and this cute little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here's what happens when they all try to get through the door at once.
Doctor tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The "germs" get stuck.
DOCTOR: "Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Move it, chowderhead!".
We call it, Three Stooges Syndrome.
BURNS: So what you're saying is, I'm indestructible!
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, in fact, even a slight breeze could-
BURNS: Indestructible . . .

It may just be a joke, but I believe that this is what my brain is up to. There is just so much crap in my head, that when I try to think about one idea and flesh it out, all the rest of my head comes flooding in and my brain is overloaded with the information, and seizes up, resulting in this kind of mental Three Stooges Syndrome.
I find it strange that I have to resort to fiction to find an explanation for this state of mind, since I'm sure that I'm not the first to come across this concept. Not only has every writer had this particular brand of writer's block, but I know for a fact that others have come across a situation wherein something is so prevalent that it negates itself.
Allie Brosh, of Hyperbole and a Half, wrote a blog post about how she was so depressed that she started to feel good about herself. Many people as cynical as me know of someone who is so nice and likeable that you couldn't help but hate them. Yogi Berra was once quoted saying: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded," on the subject of Ruggeri's, a St. Louis restaurant. There's that crazy moment when you go out for a night of drinking, and you stay out so late at night that it's actually early morning. From TV Tropes, there's the movie rating So Bad It's Good the judgement that a movie is so poorly made, so badly acted and has such a bad story that people can enjoy it for it's failings.
Surely everyone has had that moment when you've heard a joke so funny and laugh so hard that you stop laughing because you run out of breath. Then you do that silent-laugh where you shake madly with your eyes closed and your mouth open until you can take another breath. If you haven't done this, then I suggest you watch some Jimmy Carr stand-up and try to experience it for yourself.

I could go on forever with examples, so obviously this "Three Stooges Syndrome" isn't some rare condition, it's quite common in everyday life. I'm not even the first person to blog about it! So I wish there was a single word to describe it (especially since I don't like calling it a 'syndrome') but unfortunately Dictionary has let me down in this instance. Maybe it's because it's on holidays . . .
If you happen to know a better word for this condition, I'd love to hear it.

Huh . . . you know my brain is still a little worse for wear, so I'm a little stuck on how to go about the end of this post. If nothing else, what you should take from this is that minds are complicated things. Hell, let's do another one of those fun A.W.N. Quotes:

  "The human brain is a complex engine."
- The Absurd Word Nerd

We are all prone to these kinds of hiccups, so for any other writer, caught up in an overactive imagination, I have a couple of suggestions. Make sure you've had a good night's sleep, because a tired mind is already pretty sloppy. Don't try to force words out, because inspiration is natural & forced writing is often contrived writing. Most importantly, exercise your mind; you can't climb a mountain without training for it, and you can't write a story without building up to it and preparing yourself.
I think this is why I had trouble yesterday. I was hoping to write blogfiction, but I hadn't prepared for it and so I was flustered and I tripped up on the cogs of my fast-spinning mind. You have to ease into this kind of thing. That's also the reason you're supposed to write every day, because it loosens up your writing muscles.

Right, well, that's enough from me. If you've ever come across Three Stooges Syndrome at any time in your life, or ever come across an idea that doesn't have a word for it, why not let me know about it by leaving a comment?
Until next time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, working through life one word at a time.

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