Ode to Healing – Part One

John Updike

updike_062612_620px

A scab
is a beautiful thing — a coin
the body has minted, with an invisible motto:
In God We Trust.
Our body loves us,
and, even while the spirit drifts dreaming,
works at mending the damage that we do.
That heedless Ahab the conscientious mind
drives our thin-skinned hull onto the shoals;
a million brilliant microscopic engineers below
shore up the wound with platelets,
lay down the hardening threads of fibrin,
send in the lymphocytes, and supervise
those cheery swabs, the macrophages, in their clean-up.
Break a bone, and fibroblasts
knit together the blastema in days.
Catch a cold, and the fervid armies
swarm to blanket our discomfort in sleep.
For all these centuries of fairy tails poor men
butchered each other in the name of cure,
not knowing an iota of what the mute brute of body knew.

— Continued —

For further reading:
Updike The Jew

 


Norman Is In Ireland (apologies to R.J.Squirrel)

Falling.  Bottomless.  Tumbling.
Bloodless,
painful joints;
Grasping

nothing.

Writing
to know You.
I is nothing with out U.

Writing this,
like this,
formless, meaningless….

I;

nothing

Meaning?
No meaning.
Am!

All I know, can know, hope to know, hear, see, feel:
no form. 

Am?
Was!

Pin-ball wizard!
Damaged hands.
Motion. Memories of motion; e-motion.
Broken/English, back-hand, left-hand, no hand.
No spin; dead ball.
For(n)ever!

Wish it’d “Go”!
But it won’t.

TTD

From The Correspondence File:

Catterel – [http://www.catterel.wordpress.com] – and I were commiserating about our “lost” comments:  some essence of our work, collected on the blogs of others we’ve encountered around the blog- o-sphere .   She agreed that the ‘essence’ might make good fodder the us word-grazers.  Of course she suggested I NOT use the tempting “that would be utterly ridiculous”.  So instead I’ll just say that it would be like going from the ridiculous to the bovine.

—–

To Tarot Man:  [http://www.tarotman.wordpress.com/about]

Hello,

Here I’ll answer your questions.  The best thing about blogging is that, by exposing your ‘self’ to interesting others, you get to meet wonderful people along the road.

1. My full name is…still unknown to me.  It changes several times a day, as I evolve.

2. I AM a…a grandfather, husband, retired psychotherapist, wonderer.  Tomorrow?  Who knows!

3. I AM…heterosexual, but my sexuality only one part of  a me.

4. I live with…two cats.  A Calico named Keiko; but my wife & I have these meaningless arguments about whether its “Keiko”, “Kieko”, or”Kikko”.  She has no voice [The cat; not my wife!!]; a rare characteristic in Calicoes.  [Not rare at all in wives; although I’ve only had one so I shouldn’t generalize.]  And I’ve only two in all.  [Cats; I mean. There are two cats.]

These catty arguments have continued since 1964, when we got married, and have only gotten worse, no matter how many cats, or cat names, we have chosen.  We HAVE called each other various names in our 48 years of wedded bliss.  Isn’t it strange how “bliss” is so often rhymed with “hiss”.

My other, current cat is named Shaina: she is the worlds’ loudest cat.  At night she’s ofter mistaken for a coyote!!

5. I love reading…since I was not able to for years after my stroke.

6. I do not eat nearly enough cheesecake!  There’s a wonderful Portuguese bakery near me that serves with “natas”.

7, 8, 9.   I’m a puer aeternus.

10. Sleep is under-rated…I do it all the time.

11. Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, Horace Silver, and Dizzy Gillespie.  Okay?

12. I AM single…not forever, one hopes!!,

13. I AM an Ethical Witch…Glad to meet you.

TD

Sitting Next To Death

Mr. D.S.President and Facilitator —  Los Angeles

International Association for Near Death Studies

Dear Mr. S,

First let me tell you something about myself.  In 2002, at age 59, a had a stroke which left me paralyzed and unable to comprehend language.  Couldn’t understand reading, writing, or speech.  Its called aphasia. I was told that I ‘coded’ several times.  All I felt, [internally, as it were] was nauseous and dizzy.  And suddenly it was three weeks later.

I was in  a rehab hospital for several months.  But slowly, over the past decade, more and more competencies have returned.  I’m still paralyzed [right-side] but I have a good life.

Recently a dream from those times returned.  And that’s what prompted my inquiry to IANDS.  In the dream, I’m in some sort of temple.  Not clear if its Christian or Jewish, but there’s a distinct middle-eastern theme.  And the temple is HUGE.   And  empty.

A mysterious man comes in and sits right next to ME!!  Doesn’t do or say anything.  His very presence is ominus.  Just sits right next to me.  But why is he sitting next to ME.  There’s plenty of space elsewhere.  But he’s invading my space.

Well that’s all there was to the dream.  Until about a week ago.  But then, Kla-blam!!  I realized what it all means.

“HE” is Death. He’s not ready for me.  Yet.  He’s, like, sizing me up.

He knows he’ll win.  He always wins.  Just not today.   Not today!!  I respect him.  And he seems to respects me.  We’ve staked out our territory.

And it goes.   Until it doesn’t ‘go’ anymore.
—   —   —
So that’s my story.

You must know many stories, many instances like these.   I just need to be with in touch people who understand it all.

Hopefully you can help me find some.

—–

 

doG and Man

A Dog’s Answer To The Meaning  Of  Life.

[caption added]

 

The Existence

Watch The Existence Above
—–     —–     —–
Director: Marcin Koszalka | Producer: HBO CE OTO Film Studio
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2007 | Story Teller’s Country: Poland

Synopsis: A famous Polish actor, 80-year-old Jerzy Nowak (featured in “Schindler’s List”, directed by S. Spielberg and Andrzej Wajda) decided that after death his body should not be buried, but used for the benefit of science. The documentary shows the process of making that decision, the actor’s dilemmas and important thoughts about death. In catholic countries – like Poland – the documentary will be controversial if only for its subject matter. This Polish actor is terminally ill and wants to tell the story from the perspective of a dying man. As an actor he wants to play his last role, at the same time the first leading one, and explain why he decided to donate his body to science. Personal, ironic, and often positive themes in the context of a fundamental, thought-provoking, taboo raising discussion. The film treats its subject in a way which is innovative even on the world scale.

—–     —–     —–

Yes, I’m obsessed with death!!  Having BEEN there, I’m entitled to speculate.  All I know is that each day is a blessing.  Even the “bad” days.  If I ever get information to the contrary, I’ll let you know.  But for now, here’s an interesting viewpoint from the watchtower in the Yenne Velt.

Stephen Hawking Speaks…

“Speaking is very slow.  But that gives me the time to speak very carefully.”

Short Pants, Long Wait.

I paid a visit to my local paramedics this weekend.   Well, actually they came to me.  They’re really nice that way.  And then, they really pimped my ride.  Cool!!  Sirens and flashing lights….   The whole “life and death” act.

The ambulance trip was a real heart-stopper.   Driving like a maniac.   I thought I would die.

Little stroke, which I thought was indigestion.  Nervous, but strangely not frightened.  Chatting up the medics.  Abdominal pain from stem to sternum.   Big hole in my field of vision.  TEA.  Temporary Esthemic Attack.    [‘m in no mood to quibble over spelling].

MRI, or whatever, negative.  “You can go now,” the nurse says.  My coumadin level off the chart.  Normal; 4.5.  Last night, 9.  Too thin, the blood.  Incredible weakness, dizziness, tiredness.  Breathlessness.

Now.  What to do?

Now.  Wait!

Stop taking the coumadin for five days.  Re-test the blood.  Coumadin stable for over thirty years.  Scary to stop.  My lifeline.  Scary to do without.

Call Monday.

That’s easy for you to say.

Tease And Sympathy

[Do I have to even say (sic)?]

My “hunt-and-peck” typing hand, the only utile one I have, the one with the carpel-tunneled wristband on it, has developed bone-spur, or arthritis, or a cyst on pointing finger.  Tests will tell.

Now you were told, many times, NOT to point!!  Look what you’ve done“, is coming back to point at me.

So, I will whine!!

POOR ME.  Poor, poor me.  I try so hard…and fate-just-keeps-throwing- roadblocks-on-my-path.  Whatever shall I do?

That’s enough.  Thanks!!

So I went and bought a new Mac Mini [ain’t it cute] and a Dragon Dictate  [bite your tongue-?] using a student discount card, surreptitiously  “borrowed” from A. Friend.

There’s a necessary learning curve in this endeavor.   A fatal flaw, I feel.  [from the AA Handbook…   …   …Alliterates Anonymous!]  And I’ll need to stop writing for awhile.  I have to learn to use this shit.  Which takes me away from you, my many readers.  Three, at last count!

Just do the math.  One hand, two computers, speaking haltingly to a headset, flicking between two Firefox windows, taxi-dog to dictionary/spell-check…   …   …WHOA…   …   …I’m whining!!

Awareness is a bitch, isn’t she!

Taxi Dog At Work

Taxi Dog At Work

NeuroScience: Music and Brain

In this blog, University of Toronto students discuss  the course, Music and the Brain.  Posting permission is granted to present and past students in the course. The blog is moderated by Dr. Lee Bartel.

http://musicbrainerblogger.blogspot.com/2011/12/music-and-brain-imagery-and-imagination.html

—–

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 4-
Music on the Brain: Imagery and Imagination
Sacks, Oliver. 2007. “Music on the Brain: Imagery and Imagination.” In Musicophilia, Tales of Music and The Brain. Vintage Canada, Toronto: ON.
Summary:
In this chapter of Sacks’ book Musicophilia, he discusses the concept of musical imagery, as it exists for individuals. Recalling the vivid internal musical symphonies that could be evoked in his father’s own mind, yet not for his mother, Sacks concluded that not everyone possesses an equal capacity for such mental imagery. Professional musicians, however, are remarkably skilled at this trait.
Sacks contemplates composers of past and present and the creative musical stimulus that occupies their minds.
While some composers rely on an instrument during their creative process, many are able to conceptualize and hear the music entirely in their head. In addition, he examines Beethoven’s deafness and its effect on him as a composer; contrary to a musical demise that some may have predicted, following his sudden loss of hearing, it would seem as though the music grew more intellectually complex. Could it be, perhaps, that through the loss of an input source of hearing that his internal musical imagery was intensified as his auditory cortex became increasingly sensitive. Since Beethoven could no longer perceive external music, he was forced to rely upon more abstract, imaginative powers of thought as he composed. Through these measures, his music was an undeniable success.
His own personal history with music has also influenced Sacks mental musical imagery. Although not heightened to the acuteness of his father’s, Sacks noted his ability to glance at a piece of music which he had learned several years prior, and instantly begin to feel as though he was playing that music: he could “see” his hands on the keyboard, and “hear” the music in his head. This mental rehearsal to which he refers is an extremely important tool for performers before and while they are learning new repertoire, and before performances. Research has provided proof to the effectiveness of imagined practice.
Through their study of music’s effect on the mind, Robert Zatorre and colleagues have discovered that imagining the sound of music stimulates the auditory cortex to almost the same degree as actually hearing the music. Imagining the act of playing has an equally stimulating effect on the motor cortex, which in turn, continues to stimulate the auditory cortex. This evidence is encouragement for performers to visualize and imagine playing new music before attempting it; this process initiates neural circuitry that will be formed during the actual learning, thus, making the physical attempt much more fluent, as if the musician had already learned the music. The pathways have already been created; half the work has been done.
He continues to describe the mind’s tendency to predict music that is familiar to us. Studies of individuals’ brain activity during familiar listening experiences, wherein audible music is removed, demonstrate how the mind will attempt to fill in the missing segments of music; according to MRI brain scans, although music may have been removed, the auditory control centers displayed greater activation these times than with non-familiar musical examples.
Research has also allowed investigators to learn of frontal cortex stimulation that occurs during deliberate, conscious and voluntary mental imagery, such as frequently relied upon by professional musicians. Those who do not depend on such musical imagery for their vocation, may find most of their imagery is the result of unconscious thought. Even when one is not aware of why a musical association is occurring, it is a continual occurrence. Some experiences of musical imagery can be predicated by repeated listening; a favourite song, for example, can become embedded into one’s subconscious and revisited unconsciously, for unexplained reasoning.
Verbal associations may also initiate musical imagery: lyrics from a song, similarities of a situation, a key word may all cause an involuntary lapse of music in one’s mind. Finally, repressed emotions may be another factor in musical imagery that seems to be cultivated out of the blue. Sacks draws upon personal experiences through which he can relate to each unexplained onset of musical imagery. Clearly music is always on his mind.
Reflection:
Having spent a great volume of my time as of late researching biofeedback and EEG neurofeedback training as it applies to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Sacks’ chapter speaks volumes to me. I am flooded with inquiry questions and ideas for future research into the discipline of brain therapy, and reading his insights with regards to musical imagery, I am curious as to the overlap that I see.
Studies and therapeutic applications involving neurofeedback are based upon the notion that one is able to consciously retrain the brain. Through monitoring EEG patterns in an individual and applying biofeedback therapy which functions through operant conditioning principles, the subject can change the produced brainwaves. Thus, successful biofeedback or retraining of brain activity.
Sacks describes the cognitive processes of visual imagery used by musicians before learning new music, and even when they are away from their instrument. According to brainwave MRI scans, activity occurs in the auditory and motor cortex during these sessions of imagining hearing and playing music. As well, if an individual deliberately, voluntarily imagines music, the frontal cortex is also involved. This knowledge could prove to be effective in the treatment of ADHD, which is shown to affect the frontal and motor cortex within individuals.
Whether through consciously invoked musical imagery of playing or simply hearing a melody that is familiar, benefits may be sought in the for patients. As well, evidence of auditory stimulation during familiar listening exercises could also prove to be beneficial to ADHD sufferers if implemented into therapeutic practices; if could offer individuals‘ increased spans of attention and focus, and help to engage concentration.
This chapter has left me with further areas of interest to explore and contemplate, in the field of music and brain research, and has given me new insight into the power of both music and the human mind.
Posted by at 1:29 PM

1 comments:

Sarah N said…
Concerning the issue of musical associations, I find this to be a very perplexing topic. It is always amazing to me how two similarly trained musicians can conjure up such opposite mental imagery about the same musical passage. But I think the same thing can happen with language. In rehearsals with my group I often try to explain what I want to convey with the music using words. I used to find that this didn’t work often enough to be helpful, and I wanted to understand why.
Probing deeper, I found that even words that seem to be the most simple and straightforward can have very different connotations for people based on personal experience, or education, or any number of reasons. For example, take the word ‘interesting’. I’ve worked with those who consider ‘interesting’ to be complimentary when referring to someone’s playing. It means that you have created interest, that your playing is not boring, it has ideas. But there are others that consider the word ‘interesting’ to be a very negative comment in regards to playing, often because certain teachers have used this word when they don’t think a student has played well but they don’t want to openly insult the student.
One of the hardest things about playing in an ensemble is developing a musical and verbal language that you all share and understand. Experiences like these make me think that mental associations, whether musical or otherwise, are always extremely personal, and one must always investigate to find out what someone really thinks or feels or hears.
December 20, 2011 7:52 PM