i've painted the face of a man that became a skull swinging toward me with a mocking grin. i sense that i should destroy this work, as the confrontation of who i am behind the cutis mask is too threatening; but the brilliance, the achievement!
I wake staring into the dark, chilly and frightened, but soon fall back to sleep...
map shows me that i'm in an unfamiliar section of the city, and there's no direct
route home. i begin walking; suddenly i remember the instructions in a book i recently read. i look down at my hands,
and laugh: i am not lost, but dreaming.
|We kissed goodbye. I left with a bleeding finger, stanched at the ticket counter, then walked down the long corridors which use glutamate as a neurotransmitter. Pyramidal neurons receive input from mossy fibers, the axons of dentate granule cells through a detector, carry-on baggage scanned for suspect molecules, past ersatz restaurants and trinket stands, to the gate.||
structures were often named by early anatomists on the basis of their external shape.
Thus the hippocampus was thought to resemble a small marine sea horse (and was called hippocampus,
Today we perpetuate
the quaint legend. We still label subdivisions of the hippocampus starting with the two
letters CA, where C stands
by sticking out her tongue. By the time she made a partial recovery, her money was gone. Rather than accept assistance, the ancestral woman cut down trees in the inland forests as she looked for honey...Dolmatoff convincingly shows in his ethnographic material that the Desana initiation consists of progressive hallucinogenic trances, signifying 'a slow rebirth' of the neophyte 'who first must suffer a symbolic death, after months of severe deprivation and frequent ingestion of highly toxic drugs. He then must be reborn from the bones, from a skeletonized state.' The whole process must be viewed where the trees fell she ended her life.
I walk upright
and carry your death
in my hands.
In Houston, another decision to store or discard a piece of information rarely involves any conscious thought. It s usually handled automatically by the hippocampus, a small, two-winged structure has a head like a horse, or prehensile, a grasping, tail like some monkeys, a skeleton like that of an insect, a pouch like a kangaroo and eyes that move independently like those of a chameleon nestled deep in the center of the brain. Like the keyboard on your computer, the hippocampus serves as a kind of switching station. As neurons out in the cortex receive sensory information, they relay it to the hippocampus. If the hippocampus responds, the sensory neurons start forming a long walk to another gate. Sit and wait on a bench near a businessman in a black suit making one phone call after another. Fending off death, I thought. While I, in blue, quietly waited for first sight of South Florida's inland canals, slanting through a dense atmosphere of New York accents and fumes from Cuban cigars, with a film of humidity blurring the sun's humorless gaze.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
On the drive to Mother's home, I gathered the family news. An uncle had died. Some time later the headcloth of the king is adorned with another distinctive feature, ram's horns curving downward around his ears. The species having such horns was, according to zoologists, indigenous not to Egypt but to the mountainous regions of Kush (i.e., the Sudan). By accident, his wife was found unconscious on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment. "It looked like a robbery, but the door was locked from the inside, the windows were locked too," my sister said. My aunt had no explicit memory of what had happened.
Downtown, the Main Library is an airy glass building four stories high, facing a plaza. To ascertain the quality of its collection, I browsed its section on Buddhism, bucking the ubiquitous Christian bite of space. The stock, quite extensive for a public library, had both popular and scholarly texts. Later I sat outside, fronds of palm trees waving over an array of potted flowers, pink with red veins, leaves greenly edged.
"Nothing is ever created."
|One day, Sister and I drove down US
95, a festival of interconnected
structures surrounding a central fluid-filled ventricle of the forebrain and forming
an inner border of the cerebral cortex. The structures include the hippocampus, amygdala,
septum, anterior thalamic nuclei, mammillary bodies, and cingulate cortex. The fornix is a
long fiber bundle joining the hippocampus to weaving energetic
patterns, fast cars and speedier minds. We went to attend Miami Museum, a Picasso show,
but couldn't find parking.
||The next morning, while I sat by the pool, the condo's manager appeared. Guatemalan by birth, a teacher by training, "My father was a doctor, while I make my living with practical engineering skills," he said. A photographer too, relating to me a trip to Appalachia, where the poverty "Is worthy of my native country." Then to South Dakota, and squalid conditions on the "res." Then home to photograph Ft. Lauderdale's homeless population.|
Carlos told me of when, as a boy of nine, he peeked under the Virgin Mary's skirt. "I saw only a chunk of wood. From that day on I've been an atheist." "It's all a mystery," I replied. "Yes," he said, turning to leave, "there's always several sites in the Middle East from the early Neolithic where human skulls were used for some ceremonial purpose.They were found at Jericho, 'Ain Ghazal, Beisamoun and Cayonu (and many more, those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head).You could find thigh-bone trumpets, skull bowls, double-child-skull clapper drums (damaru), and bone jewelry. All these implements were first fabricated by ancient Indian Mahasiddhas (Great Adepts) and continued to be used in Tibet to symbolize awareness of impermanence, transcendence of death, and even transmutation of descriptions in the site reports, with reference to other sites. There are a few general discussions, mostly in French. I could send you the Mystery."
He began his oration in a curious and amusing manner, though with an authoritative tone, his voice quivering with anger and his gaunt finger pointing toward the dreamer. What reason have you to call us your dream creatures and yourself the creation of us all? If you are our creator we say equally emphatically that so are we the creator of yourself. We are all in the same boat, and you can claim no sort of higher existence than ours. If, however, you want to be convinced of my statement, I can show you the creator of us all, that is, of yourself as well as ours. With these words he struck the dreamer on the head with his heavy staff, who, in consequence, woke up and found himself lying in bed with his mind extremely puzzled.
Mother: I never dream.
Me: You dream, you just don't remember your dreams."
Mother: "Thank God."
Sunk into lawn chairs by the pool, crones bragged about their grandchildren, and the places they've gone on vacations, while a goatherd named Coretas was grazing his herd at the foot of Parnassus. One day the animals behaved rather oddly, making strange skipping movements and trembling in every limb. When Coretas went to look, he discovered a cleft in the ground with a mysterious current of air issuing from it. He bent over the edge, and suddenly he found that a specific cell of the hippocampus signals most strongly as a rat moves from one specific spatial location to another. These 'place-cells' must be the same ones that get turned on in our brains during REM sleep as we began to speak in a peculiar way. Other herdsmen came along and listened to him with astonishment. Coretas was prophesying, children screamed, splashing water at each other.
Old age is just explicit and that's that, and you can quote me. One's work seems to continue of its own disposition, as it can or will -- or won't. Staying out of trouble it used to be called.
Where the tip of the Pacific's tongue dribbled into marshes desiccating into sand, this upscale neighborhood, bordering "Old Town," owes its allegiance to no time, no place. Its architecture evokes memoriesof a visit to the (Siwah) oasis ("on the remote western border of Egypt and Libya"). At several points in his various histories he will be said to have carried the chest up the ramp to the Great Bone House atop the ridge and placed it on a shelf inside beside other long-dead warriors. The bone house was very special. Only the bones of chieftains and great warriors were there. At night a funeral feast was held in the town. The family and the friends of the dead warrior were there to honor him. The bone picker disowned his father Philip and come to claim Ammon as his father. On coins, especially those issued by his successors, he is shown round-eyed and mystical, adorned with a curling ram's horn, symbol of the god Ammon. In the Alexander romance, he writes letters addressed from Ammon's son; in the Bible's Book of Daniel, he appears in the guise of the ram-horned conqueror of scattered regions. On summer evenings Kerry and I made a circle of these smoothly-paved streets, with a hollow exchange of Hellos from shadows of couples slipping past each other.
The hippocampal network is a beaver, frozen on hind legs, glassy-eyed, pondering a plastic log in a position to receive the outcomes of processing from multiple higher-order neocortical processing systems, each communicating quite abstract representations...
|Den of the beaver, cave of the bear, hole of the squirrel, house of the human being...we all live tucked into||the accommodation of a
Call out, there's no out,
only the chemistry of intention.
Crumbling adobe church on Central Avenue. An empty bell tower; and a For Sale sign on its peeling door. On the street in front:
points to when the human mind was still green; sowing seeds, not tumors.
We get to where we are going; then there is still the distance to cover.
On the plaza, boys in cowboy hats are probably from New Jersey. A mariachi band blares metallic notes, sharp as the sun's glare. A blue fountain spills over its rim. "Albert Einstein had curly hair," says someone at a nearby table. "This is relative to a world creation. Aboriginal narratives affirm he was the male god local to the town of Egyptian Thebes from primitive times. He was worshipped as a sun god and a god of fertility for which purposes he was thought of as a ram who was the male procreator of the universe...As a ram-god he was normally represented in Egyptian art under the form of a man with a multitude of independent place-shaping Events. By avoiding a genesis of world-matter from a first being (or non-being), Aboriginal traditions are at liberty to attest that places are intrinsically discrete. The transformation of localised areas, on the other hand, does not threaten this principle. The world is not made, but worlds take what?" another laughs. It's all light; or, rather, waves.
Email from someone in New York who claims to be my cousin. He tells me his father's name and from where his grandfather came. He's in the pickle business, which is indeed an old family profession. As he asked for more biography, I pointed to my archive...after which I didn't hear from him again. This was also the story from relatives in Buenos Aires and Paris.
Memories are not recoveries, but contingencies. The ram's horn is blown, and we are forgiven. But by whom? The Book is bound only to itself.
The Capilla de Nuestra SeŇora de Guadeloupe is a small grotto with an altar of tall glasses, hues of saints glowing inside, snapshots called forth by a street or a building, an ensemble of gestures might imply that the main cortical afferents for hippocampal processing are the association areas of the neocortex and the olfactory cortex. Most of the neocortical structures that project to the hippocampal formation from the temporal, parietal, prefrontal and cingulate areas are involved in higher order and/or multimodal sensory and a different street had to be found, that a building could be redesigned by the gestures performed within it, that new gestures had to be made of deceased relatives resting amongst bundles of dried flowers and strings of chili, incense wafting through shadows of cedar and pine.
We light a candle for a hit & run victim on dark, icy North Dakota road; kneel on a splintery bench and pray, each in our own way. In a far corner of the chapel is a pile of scrap-paper supplications, on one of which is scribbled:
Please bring my daughter back into our family
Happy & Strong & help me to see
through her eyes.
She was in town for a few days, staying in a building next to a hotel which was in ruins. i learned that she is now a magazine writer, here on assignment. i went to her room, but she was not there. Then she appeared, and i asked if she'd like to go out for a cup of coffee. " i knew you'd ask," she said.
New Mexico Symphony
Before the concert, a woman sitting next to me told me the ram was a favorite representation of the power of Amun-Re, and the Theban iconography of divine kingship fairly commonly used the ram's horns to symbolize a ruler's sonship to Amun-Re and his union, through the royal ka of her recent viewing of Van Gogh's paintings, in Washington D.C. "You could get up close," she said, as her escort wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
The program: "Serenity of the Spirit," highlighted by Gorewcki's "sorrowful songs," with rows of candles lighted behind outcrops of the brain, the procreative element; we can understand why the name for horn and for the brain should be akin. It has long been recognized that cornu, cerebrum, horn hirn ('brain'), etc., are related, but they have been explained as having in common the notion 'top of' a soprano's mournfully depressing voice. I sat through an hour of this!
Every language begins as poetry and ends as algebra.
Same dream past two nights:
My brain has the architecture of a computer into which i'm trying to file information. But the system is dysfunctional, and I can't find the folders. Frustrated and frightened, i feel hopelessly lost inside my head.
If we are studying the human brain for insight into who we are, science is not enough. Descartes' dichotomy, which led us down a necessary, but myopic, path, need not be followed any further. It is also not enough merely to bind mind to body, the organism and its psyche must also be studied outside itself. It must live a life.
An arrangement of rocks exhibits the power of foundation mapped to the echoesof an elderly woman staring at the TV, on which an aging Barry Manilow is crooning Strangers in the night....Stout gray hair caps her expressionless face and puffy red eye sockets. Maybe she's recalling that place dependencies in development are quite striking. Nowhere is this seen as clearly as in the formation of maps during embryonic development, such as the map of visual space formed by retinotectal projection. In this instance, neurites from the ganglion cells of the retina form the optic nerve, the neurites of which then map romance from her youth, or a husband, dead after a long marriage. As her daughter leads her away, blue-veined feet shuffling over waxen floor, a movement through time, outside, to Roanji in Albuquerque, floating on the mind's eye.
I had a vague sense of relationship between the 'soul-stone' and the stone which was also myself.
The Children's Fantasy Garden, designed by linear time was a fall from place. History, associated quintessentially with the Hebrews, was something which contains many densely-packed pyramidal neurons which use glutamate as a neurotransmitter. Pyramidal neurons receive input from mossy fibers, the axons of dentate granule cells. The axons of CA3 pyramidal neurons intervened when the Israelites had lost their place. The covenant, God's promise, was to reinstate adults whose childhood is only implicit, looks to the distance, where blue mountains dominate a cloudless blue sky.
I listen to water, and see voices.
I listen to voices, and hear sand.
Brain is an imposition, a temporal moment of consciousness-in-time, creating opportunities for time was created through the transformation of ancestral beings into place, the place being for ever the mnemonic of the event. They "sat down" and, however briefly they stayed, they became part of the place for ever. In Yolngu terms they turned into fantasies larger than itself.
I remember to water
On an autumn evening we attended the Eight Annual Candlelight Vigil hosted by People Living Through Cancer. Kerry, bald beneath her hat; I, in the same condition, from a different etiology.
There is a deep narrow box with something in it. i reach in, and an insect, like a large red ant , scurries out. as i'm wearing boots, I stomp on it, several times, but its head, still alive, has an intelligent stare. i crush this, and a shell appears. i crush this, and a baby insect is born, which escapes across the floor...
On the veranda, by a spiral of luminaria braving a cold drizzle, Kerry talked to a friend, while, in the lobby, I tied a "ribbon of remembrance" to the branch of a pine tree. I recalled that my mother's mother succumbed to breast cancer before I was born; further, that the hippocampus is made up of elementary processing modules, not columns (like the neocortex), but flat segments like poker chips, called lamellae.The processing modules, the lamellae, are cross-sectional slices of the hippocampus, so that the hippocampus consists of a series of these lamallae, stacked side by side, my DNA and hers code the same tears.
Striding through the same airports, strapped into cramped seats, pointing Southeast again. In Houston, a tall redhead held up the plane while some stories say that the ashes of a sea horse mixed with oil and vinegar can cure baldness. Ground up sea horses were recommended in the mixing of love potions. They were required for newly occurring events to be available as lasting memories. It appears equally clear that the hippocampus is not necessary for the recollection of older memories used for curing colds, pain, leprosy and as a remedy against the bite of a mad dog looking for someone to give her their aisle seat. "When we get to Florida," she hollered, "I'll be getting out fast, crashing through y'all."
A chunk of soft red chalk from a cracked sidewalk in Brooklyn;
a smooth stone from a cold river in Lake Co., CA; a slither of
charcoal from a farmhouse firepit in Niiharu, Japan;
a pinyon nut from Rowe Mesa, NM; and a ribbed white shell
from a windy beach in Ft. Lauderdale...
I opened a night table's drawer and found also my father's tallit, and the musty books from which he had davened incomprehensible prayers, strangely attracted to the manual of supplication called Ma'aneh Lashion, or The Responses of the Tongue. It is a curious book. It's reputation for prolixity is deserved. The 'prayer to be recited on father's grave' is a torrent of words that runs on for pages. These prayers are premised on a horror of a hidden God.
Mind is a trickster
delighting in the unseen
unsaid irony of it all.
Humidity 98%. Walked slowly to the newspaper box, passing areolas of white hair surrounding islands of tanned scalps. A quarter from the old guys.
A retired man was bagging my groceries. I suggested a chair between customers. To which he replied, "I'm still young."
i am in a card game. My cards slip under something on the table, emerging old and mangled. i point this out to the others, who don't believe it.
Then each of them throws a card against a wall, to which they stick, while mine bounces off the wall and circles the room, landing on top of a chest of draws, from where it begins to speak: "Loosing its edge..."
The ocean roared; a child cried with overlapping circuits of neurons. One neuron could be a member of a number of different circuits; it would be the specific combination in each case that distinguished one circuit from another. Each circuit would contribute to the phenomenon of a memory, so that no single brain cell or exclusively committed group of cells is wholly responsible; instead, the memory would be distributed from his seat at the back of his father's bicycle; an oil tanker crawled across the ocean's green lip; a woman wearing a long black dress dragged its hem over damp sand studded with cigarette stubs and particles of half-buried shells.
The living brain has a surreal fragility; its porcelain surface is laced with delicate arteries that begin as thick cords but quickly branch into finer and finer threads. Looking at the surface of the brain is like looking at a satellite photo of a large city--one immediately senses a function far more complex than what is visible.
I thought of Pablo and FranÁoise on the beach at Antibes, the old satyr as he came to be known, also marks the surreptitious, hidden part of his nature, implicit in his name, was expressed by the custom of covering the shrine that held his statue with a shroud. The soul of Amun was supposed to be enshrined in a serpent-shaped sceptre known as Kem-at-ef (He-who-has-finished-his- moment) which was perhaps our psychological roads and boundaries; he marks the borderlines of our psychological frontiers and marks the territory where the foreign, the alien, begins holding an umbrella over his young mistress' head. Saltwater for blood, he could never drink enough of life.
What is first exotic soon becomes routine. A Black man's topping a tree as if a Northwest logger, chainsaw spitting and growling. "A Black man never come off the ground," his partner laughs up to him, as the bough smashes down.
I join two men watching the show. "It's a Norwich Pine, planted from seed by a man who recently died. Now out of the interactions of current and stored representations in the hippocampal network emerges a 'memory space,' encoding and updating representations in the hippocampal networks of significant relations among new ideas and all other related items he roams about in dreadful cemeteries, attended by hosts of goblins and spirits, like a mad man, naked, with disheveled hair, laughing, weeping, bathed in ashes of funeral piles, wearing a garland of skulls and ornaments of human bones, insane, beloved of the insane, the lord of beings whose nature is essentially still excitable by hippocampal activity. Such instantiations and reinstantiations occur repetitively over a period of time, reexciting and possibly modifying long-term neocortical representations, enabling memory consolidation. Furthermore, such relational processing permits the same representations to be the most universal symbol of Deity, from the stationary disc representing the Sun God, to the great turning Wheel of the Universe, representing both the Creator and the Created, where everything in the Cosmos finds its appointed place. This is the greatest of Amerindian Mandalas, corresponding to the Hindu Mandala...The Mexican Great Calendar Stone, the Egyptian Lotus, the Alchemists' Flower of Gold, Dante's Mystical Rose, the Zodiacal Circle, the Round Table of the Arthurian Knights, and the Great Medicine Wheel of the Indians represent the same truths activated in different (including entirely novel) contexts. The manipulation of information as a consequence of the activation of the flexible representation may indeed constitute a danger in hurricane season; there are two more, but Carlos won't let them be cut." "Carlos thinks he knows everything," the other man chimes in.
"The felling of trees is the measure of our downfall." -Carlos
The work continues till dusk: sawing, shredding, hauling away, simply trying to remember how each totemic ancestor, while travelling through the country, was thought to have scattered a delay in the left hemisphere's development near the Sylvian fissure, the area of the brain that is most involved with language. The neurons' complexity of interconnections with other neurons also develops later in the left hemisphere than in the right. But what is interesting is that these growth asymmetries may provide a trail of words and musical notes along the line of his footprints, and how an event is not enough to activate the hippocampus. Increased blood flow in the hippocampus seems to reflect some aspect of the subjective experience associated with a patch of high clouds gathering where a tree once stood.
He told me: "I alone have more memories than all mankind has probably had since the world has been the world." And again: "May dreams are like you people's waking hours. And again, toward dawn: "My memory, sir, is like a garbage heap."
A slim palm wrapped around a larger pine recalls the Wedded Rocks near Ise, arriving in a drizzle, seated outside a coffeehouse, beneath pastel arches faced with tiles of Matissean motifs, young Black women strolling past me on their break from the supermarket's cash register.
The last year of my father's life we walked this stretch, his mind clouded with memories in terms of the relations among multiple items and events. Thus the nature of declarative representation is fundamentally relational, and can be envisioned as a multidimensional network of memories--a memory space--entailing a highly interconnected Alzheimer's disease, his hand gripping mine like a child who has lost his mother.
in one place
Every year on the anniversary
of Father's death Mother has lit a candle; this year
the parahippocampal areas are bidirectionally connected with the neocortical
areas that provide the predominant sensory input to the hippocampus and amygdala.
Thus, while we too often think of this large cortical area as simply an intermediary
between the neocortex and other hippocampal system structures,
it must be stressed that the world into which these Oriental theosophers
probed is perfectly real. Its reality is more irrefutable and more coherent
than that of the empirical world, where reality is perceived by the senses.
Upon returning the beholders of this world are perfectly aware of having been
'elsewhere', they are not mere schizophrenics. This world is hidden behind the
very act of sense perception and has to be sought underneath its apparent objective
certainty. For this reason
cortex may be able to support some aspects of declarative memory without the
hippocampus (or amygdala) proper, however, it's an electric bulb.
One can understand the danger of fire to the blind. But a dependable flow of electrons is no substitute for a frail flame, senescence being an aggregate of sacredness.
Did chanting begin as eccos off gibbous wallsin the light of mimicking game,one hemisphere tuning to the other? Was this the original prayer?
To the left and right of the Florida Turnpike, thatched structures are built among average American homes, this southern strip of the turnpike, with its myriad toll booths, turns into a long one-lane road staked with rows of windbreaking trees.
but the sea's
Before I left the desert, a friend suggested I visit Key Largo's Coral Reef State Park. So I turned off the main drag, down a shady lane, to a pleasant space of beaches and reefs.
Squirming on a maze of a brain coral, facing the Florida Straits, Enki is represented as a seated god with a long beard, originally an anatomical designation given by Pierre Paul Broca in 1876 to a ring of brain tissue containing the hippocampus, amygdala, and other structures that formed a border (limbus) around a ventricle or fluid-filled cavity wearing a cap with many horns fishing for a vision, but seeing only blinking eyes circling behind rolled-up all-terrain windows.
Did I see...
Bogart, Barrymore, Robinson, or Betty Bacall? I saw countless cigarette butts, a few homely faces sucking on cigars, a veteran in a wheelchair; and the African Queen, somewhat shaky, but a real boat, analogous to the ram's spiral horns, considered to be springs of creative energy, the bond between ram and deity, embodied by spirals, is further strengthened by the connection in Key Largo.Sitting by a canal, in the shade of a broadleafed tree, a family of ducks waddled up to me. We craned our necks to a cache of potted plants strung out on the Other Shore.
They sailed, I sat. They paddled, I leapt. They disappeared;
I reappeared. There is something, too, to be said for wings.
an astronaut, but not a pilot, i am in a space shuttle about to take off for the moon. i know that the pilot suffers from vertigo, and as we begin to lift off, he suddenly turns off the engines, shaking and sick. i go to his aid, and now we are outside. A man storms up to us and calls the pilot a coward. i grab him and throw him to the ground
Hispanic Village Arts and paintings of crucified saints filled the main gallery, the hallways lined with photographs of families more recently it was decreed by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 that no church should be dedicated without the placing of relics. This necessitated the fabrication of a relic if no original article was to be had. The papal decree that relics had the power of reproducing themselves did much to relieve the situation, it also accounts for the multiplicity of the limbs of the same saint to be found taken. In midst of this all too usual display, I sat in the auditorium with people greeting by kissing each other on both cheeks, and speaking French. Feeling a bit awkward, but not out of place, as I often dream of Paris, I had come to hear a lecture on Alexander Calder.
A French art critic stepped up to the podium, speaking sing-song English, hands twisting, running, or stretching, neither completely living nor completely mechanical. Calder himself was accused of being a kind of upscale toymaker, a lightweight talent who experimented with movement through air.
Depressed from the acquiescence to the market of the present generation of creators, and this museum's bow to what's expected and accepted, How strange, Sandy Calder in the desert...
where the Sun
like a work of art.
Kerry's in North Dakota, tending her mother's broken hip. Here, maybe 80 years old, a woman quicksteps past the pyramidal layer below the stratum radiatum. In many animals, by a process familiar in Egyptian religion this local deity of Thebes came to have a dominant position over all other deities. Thebes had become the capital of Egypt, and so its local god was equated with Ra, the sun god already recognized as supreme. So long as the position of the pyramidal cells are closely packed. There may be three or four tightly packed rows of cells in the pyramidal layer, with the outer cells being somewhat smaller than me. "What's the use of having a garden if you can't sit on a bench?" she gruffs to herself, then sits on the bench next to mine.
for our time.