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Cost of Thoughts: Bolts of Intuition and the Calms Between

Every idea that costs a lot carries in its train a host of cheap ones; among these are even some that are useful.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Somewhere within the space of thoughts there is the cost of them. Beyond such abstractions as fleeting currency and bartering, there is energy and Time, those inextricable agents that ebb and flow like a manic sea. To think of thinking a thought, one might consider the chaos those thoughts are extracted from, like a potato pulled from the sludge on Acheron’s shore. There’s also the prospect of a certain quietude that falls upon the mind, like the eye of a hurricane, a pristine moment with dark horizons all round, but enough light and calm to see that thought drifting right in front of the inner-eye. In the flux of that storm, a sticky debris strikes, leaving cheap thoughts clinging to the fragile focus, while the calmness of the storm’s eye makes everything seem precious, a negative storm in itself. The ideal of an ideal mental state for thinking costly thoughts is as absurd as the regurgitated concept of world peace. It’s a nice thought, but cannot exist in this reality.

How long a time lies in one little word.

— Shakespeare’s, Richard II

Does a costly thought weigh more than a cheap one? In other words, does a costly thought just blow by and stick as surely as the cheap? Cost in the cognitive realm is measured in energy expended through time, C=E~T. Time is always stolen, making us all thieves, since every moment spent doing something is representative of the countless others forsaken. While the storm rages, does the accumulation of cheap thoughts lead to a costly one? The questioning itself is a whirlwind (naturally), one that needs some kind of way for the one’s considering it to ground themselves. Significant durations of time and energy don’t necessitate a costly thought. If that were the case, good ideas would require no more than a handful of hours and a metaphorical bump of cocaine, not to say that such methods haven’t worked before. But this is not necessarily so. Costly thoughts can come in the cheapest of ways, often in the midst of doing mundane things in the bright world, outside of the deep, dark, dampness within. Like a fairy ring of mushrooms sprouting overnight, these thoughts seem to come from nowhere. But just as the subterranean mycelium is tangled into maddening multitudes, ever-active, so the synapses of the mind are always firing away, unseen and sometimes inquisitively.

O time, thou must untangle this, not I.

It is too hard a knot for me t’ untie.

— Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night

Costly thoughts can be as light as a mote of dust and as heavy of the head that carries it. Such uncertain weights are only further complicated by the tangle of cheap thoughts. And yet…time-cheap weeds hold this broken world together, weeds that are only considered weeds according to the circumstance in which they grow. Dandelions might turn a suburban homeowner’s face red with fury, while chefs in Brooklyn will blush at the site of fresh dandelion greens growing in Prospect Park, a smart addition to an arugula salad. With that in mind, bestowing the labels cheap or costly to thoughts seems foolish. Nevertheless, some thoughts are terribly costly, taking years to shake the yoke of sticky ones. Perhaps it all comes down to the nature of the cognitive storm. Just as a worldly storm destroys as much as it brings sustaining winds and rain, so the internal storm needs those sticky thoughts as much as the precious ones, since both are as interdependent as clouds and rain, bolts of intuition and the calms between.

Hayden Moore

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