There are identity shifts and there are shifts in ways of thinking… not all for the better.
As an example of this, let me walk you through a bit of what I’ve been thinking over the past day or so. Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am very much interested in the brain and how it works. I am sure that this has its origins in the fact that my older brother is autistic. He is also low functioning and nonverbal. It has been a dream of mine to actually be able to connect with him. This has not come to pass over my lifetime and I am now resigned to accept that.
I became familiar with different parts of the brain: Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas responsible for speech; the pre- and post- central gyri and their adorable motor and sensory homunculi; the hippocampus; the limbic structures. I even began visualizing these different parts in action when I spoke, moved my arms or legs, or hurt my thumb. I am still amazed at what this sturdy 3 pound organ located in the skull, can accomplish.
Everyone knows what a human brain looks like. We see pictures everywhere.
It really shook me up when my colleague sent me the following description of the brain:
“[The brain] is a viscoelastic substance not so stiff as a gel or as plastic as a paster. One authority described the brain as comprised of about 100 billion closely packed elastic cells held together chiefly by colloidal forces, the brain has a density slightly greater than water and a viscosity comparable to glycerin. The surging blood flow through the brain imparts to it a firmness that helps it to resist deformation.” Andrew Lautin, M.D.
My brain is like a bowl of oatmeal? Really? I suppose this must be the case, since the ancient Egyptians had a custom of removing the brains of the deceased through the nose. That would be difficult if my conception of the brain was true, but easier if it were the consistency of…. oatmeal.
It turns out that all the solid brains one sees in jars, have been hardened by formaldehyde or other fixatives.
You can imagine the shift in visualization of my own brain. How can I reconcile myself with the fact that this colloidal mass (read jello) in my head is responsible for moving my arms and legs and sending pain down to my damn thumb?
Today’s watercolor experiment:
I was feeling a little down today (understandably), while I was considering what to paint. I reverted to “taking a pencil point for a walk“, to express what I was feeling. The result is below. I had some brain structures in mind as my pencil was wandering: the hypothalamus and the infundibulum, for example. Of course, we can’t forget the proverbial pot of oatmeal that makes everything ok.