Friend of My Mind

Often when he was starting a new project, he didn’t know what was driving him, as if his thoughts had developed an independent life and a will of their own, as if they were merely waiting for him to finally think them, as if an investigation he was about to begin already existed before he had started working on it, and the path leading through everything he knew and saw, everything he encountered and experienced, already lay there waiting for him to venture down it. And probably that’s just how it was, given that you could only ever find what was already there.

Because everything is always already there.

~ Jenny Erpenbeck, Go, Went, Gone


Notes:

  • Post title “lifted” and post inspired by two quotes found in Beth’s post on “Alive on All Channels” titled a Friend of My Mind:
  • Martha Beck: “Think of a problem that’s had you stumped for a while: Your preschooler won’t nap, you can’ make yourself exercise, you need to cut expenses without sacrificing quality of life. With this challenge in your mind, read a few paragraphs in several totally unrelated books. Then relax. Play with your cat, wash the dishes, watch the neighbors through binoculars. Think of the problem periodically, then drop it again. This process encourages eureka epiphanies, like those moments in TV dramas where the brilliant doctor or sleuth gets the “ping” of insight that solves the case. Your first few ideas may not be perfect—many will be awful—but there are more where they came from. Once you begin encouraging the right brain to churn out solutions, it will do so more and more abundantly.”
  • Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong, TED talk [12:00-12:17]: “The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is, but that you can see the world as it isn’t. We can remember the past and we can think about the future, and we can imagine what it’s like to be some other person in some other place. And we all do this differently.
  • Art: Francesco Clemente with “Friendship (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Onward people, onward.

~ Linda Gregg, excerpt from “We Manage Most When We Manage Small” in “Too Bright to See / Alma: Poems


Source: Tatterdemalion

It’s been a long day

God has mercifully ordered that the human brain works slowly;
first the blow,
hours afterwards the bruise.

Walter de la Mare, from the The Return.


Notes:

It’s been a long day

breathe-gratitude-long-day


Notes:

It’s been a long day

paul-apalkin

Here is what I love about the brain:
How it remembers.
How it sews what soft it can
into a blanket for the nights
when I am cold with trouble.

~ Sean Patrick Mulroy, from “The Offering” in Tap Lit Mag (Fall/Winter 2016)

 


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

eye-sleep-face-skin

Each hair on your head is replaced every 2 to 7 years
A hundred hairs fall out every day and new ones grow back in their place

And look at your fingernails – they’re completely new every six months or so

The lining of your stomach and intestines
gets pretty beat up — it’s constantly exposed to acid and bile
and so those cells get replaced every few days

Every few weeks, your outer layer of skin is completely renewed

Every four months you have a fresh army of red blood cells
A hundred million new cells are born every minute and a hundred million old cells are destroyed
It’s actually the breakdown products of these red blood cells that turn your bruises and urine yellow

Every 10 years, you’ve got a new skeleton
a special team of cells breaks down old bone
and another builds new bone

Every 15 years your muscles are refreshed
You might think you gain and lose fat cells when you gain and lose weight
but the actually just get bigger and smaller
Over the course of 25 years though, most of them turn over

But there are a few things that stick around for your entire life

About half of your heart stays with you from birth to death because those cells
are replaced very slowly

Certain parts of your brain add a few new neurons over the course of your life
but the vast majority of your neurons developed before you were born
It’s the connections between those neurons — the circuits that store memories —
that are constantly changing

And there’s one more part of you that lasts your whole life (your eyes)
Months before you were born,
little cluster of cells stretched and filled themselves with transparent protein
As you grew, even after birth, more and more fibers were added, but that center endured
This is your lens the window through which you are watching this video right now
and its core has remained the same since the moment you first opened your eyes

~ Adam Cole and Ryan Kellman, excerpts from Your Body’s Real Age


Notes:

  • Photo:  Bang Sang Hyeok #305 (via Precious Things)
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

 

secret, disciplined, generous and unfathomable

owl-dream

Not the bald image, but always –
undulant, elusive, beyond reach
of any dull staring eye

– lodged
among the words, beneath
the skin of images: nerves,
muscles, rivers of urgent blood,

a mind
secret, disciplined, generous and
unfathomable.

– Denise Levertov, excerpt from Williams: An Essay from Selected Poems


Notes:

Thundering Hubbub

patty-maher

Nothing is wrong.
The mind says that
Something is wrong which activates
An inner drive to do something
It is thought alone that destroys your peace.

~ Wu Hsin, excerpt from Morning Statements from This Too: The Water Cave Tutelage


Photograph: Patty Maher via Aberrant Beauty

 

Man v. Finch? Bet on Finch.

bird

Jennifer Ackerman provides a masterly survey of research in the last two decades that has produced a revolution in our understanding of bird cognition…Scientists once assumed that difference (in brain size) equalled inferiority, but this has proved to be as false as the notion that brain size is an indicator of brain power. It appears that what counts is neural quality, and the avian equivalent of the cerebral cortex has proved to be as densely packed with neurons as our own…

Species such as the western scrub and the blue jay store away many thousands of seeds during autumn and retrieve their food supply when the winter pickings are slim. In recalling their stores’ whereabouts, the birds have an impressive success rate of over 70%. And even their failures often imply high intelligence, because they result from theft. Jays not only store seed supplies; they also steal from their store-hiding neighbors.  This behavior requires feats of memory but also leads to some astonishing corvine trickery. If a bird is aware it has been observed while burying food, it will often go back and re-hide it elsewhere. A further indication of complicated thought processes is the fact that only scrub jays with experience of stealing show a capacity for these sneaky countermeasures. In short, even among birds, it takes a thief to know a thief.

One of the most fascinating parts of Ms. Ackerman’s survey is her chapter on bird song. The avian counterpart to the human larynx is the syrinx, a double-sided complex of muscle, cartilage and delicate membrane that is probably the most sophisticated producer of sound in all nature. Birds learn their songs at an early stage in their development and then replicate those vocalizations with astonishing millisecond-long discrimination and accuracy. In one study, a Ph.D. student competed with a zebra finch, whose brain weighs less than a gram, and was shown to be vastly inferior to the bird in his ability to reproduce faithfully a single four-“word” sentence. While spectrograms revealed the human words to be hopelessly variable, the finch repeated its song phrases with perfect, machine-like consistency…

– Mark Cocker, Giving Bird Brains a Good Name in his book review of Jennifer Ackerman’s new book: The Genius of Birds.


Notes:

  • Post Inspired: “As the birds know, who fly the continents, the oceans, for their secret reasons, a map of the earth written inside their bodies, marked under their breastbones: a continuance of the now most fragile, always travelled patiently enduring world.” ~ Hilda Morley, “Sea-Map”
  • Read longer excerpt from Lithub: The Genius of Birds
  • Image Source: beatrice lechtanski photography (via Staying Lifted)

 

Miracle? All of it.

HongBo-Drawing

Fashionable descriptions of the inevitable triumph of machine intelligence (over man) contain many critical biases and assumptions that could derail them from turning into reality. […]

Our brains use energy at a rate of about 20 watts. If you wanted to upload yourself intact into a machine using current computing technology, you’d need a power supply roughly the same as that generated by the Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric plant in China, the biggest in the world. To take our species, all 7.3 billion living minds, to machine form would require an energy flow of at least 140,000 petawatts. That’s about 800 times the total solar power hitting the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Clearly human transcendence might be a way off.

~ Caleb Scharf, Where Do Minds Belong

Find more at Steve Layman’s Blog: A Power Shortage. (Thank you Steve)

Notes:

  • Related Posts: Miracle? All of it.
  • Drawing: HongBo 洪波 (Chinese, Shanghai, China) – Untitled, 2011 – Drawings: Pastels. Source: Thank you Your Eyes Blaze Out
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
%d bloggers like this: