It’s good to talk (to yourself)

We’re getting some major work done to our house at the moment, which means there’s been a steady stream of builders, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and decorators working on the place. One of the things that I’ve noticed: if a tradesman is working alone, within a few minutes of starting he’ll begin talking to himself.

I don’t just mean the odd epithet, either. I’ve heard explosions of delight (“YESSSS! TAKE THAT, YA BASTARD! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”) and of confusion (“What are we going to do with this bit, eh? It’s a nightmare! A nightmare, man!”); of anger (“For fuck’s sake! Who did this bit? Eh? Eh?) and of resignation (“It’ll have to do. It’ll be all right.”) Sometimes it’s funny, although it’s often a bit worrying when you’re in the middle of a train of thought and there’s an explosion of Tourette’s from somewhere above your head.

Yesterday, I had to do some work on the house myself. Guess what? Within five minutes, I was merrily chatting away to myself, swearing at walls and casting aspersions on previous workers’ parentage.

What puzzles me about this is that I don’t talk to myself when I’m working, other than the odd explosion of rage when the Mac locks up and eats the piece I’ve been working on. Is there something about physical work that brings out a mild form of multiple personality disorder?

3 thoughts on “It’s good to talk (to yourself)

  1. Stephen says:

    Well, off the top of my head, when we work on the computer we are usually expressing ourselves verbally anyway, or at least reading words (menus etc) even if Photoshopping. Whereas when we work physically, the verbal side of the brain gets no use, and starts butting in.

    I read “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” a while ago: the author’s theory is that most people are bad at drawing because the analytical, verbal part of our mind (wherever it’s physically located is not important, “right side” is a metaphor) interferes with the non-verbal, holistic part of our mind that is required to produce accurate renderings. It does seem to work: I produced drawings of a quality that surprised me using her “upside-down copying” technique, which disengages the analytical side because it can’t interpret the upside down image.

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