Novelist Elif Shafak begins her talk on diverse thought by asking her audience whether or not they think that they can taste words. She follows this by considering the ability that some people have to see color in writing and music, as well as the experience she has with one woman at a book signing who told her she gets hungry when she reads her work, due to the connections she draws with the words. This encounter caused Shafak to think about these connections herself, however she worried that these ideas were too abstract to convey.
Shafak continues by answering this question for her audience, stating, "Yes, I can taste words." She then explores some of the associations she's made with different words, and explains how implementing this kind of creative thought has allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of herself and the world around her. Often times, the "taste" of a word is affected by the stigma that might be associated with it, as well as the "exploitation of emotion." Shafak continues by considering the ways people think of her homeland, Turkey, in relation to the west, and how a lack of diversity has prevented a sense of plurality among people.
By looking at words and their meaning on a deeper level, Shafak is able to dive into larger sociopolitical issues, and highlight the need for solidarity and diversity moving forward.
Understanding the Taste of Words
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