Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brraaaaains! (Say It 'Night of the Living Dead' Style)

Right, so Jerry said something that got me thinking. Great, one sentence into this post and I already have irony playing out – I wanted to write about thinking.

It is the most fascinating thing imaginable. Lets take it from a physiological point of view – you have a system of atoms to form molecules. You give them an ugly grey color and inject them with the capacity to conduct electricity. Some where in the process, consciousness is created, self-awareness. I can imagine by brain sitting in a bell jar, hooked up to something very Roald Dahl story like and the fact that I can imagine my brain, my b rain can imagine itself is scary. I can deconstruct my brain as I did at the start of this sentence. It is after all a mushy ugly whirly thing.

But what is scary is everything it is capable of. No, not my brain which is rather preoccupied with itself and the 5’11” it controls (that’s another post very I Am Joe’s Body). But just the brain itself. It creates things it finds attractive and tries to reach out to the real world and make it to suit itself. Talk about getting bigger than your boots. You have great works of art and music to appease the brain itself. It engages in pursuits to stimulate itself. Is it bored? Or does it feel that the main pursuit, main aim in life is to stimulate itself. You can lock a person away and they will go insane because there is nothing in outside world to stimulate or to change. So perhaps the brain is deficient. Or that is a cynical approach and perhaps its wired to be stimulated by the world.

Now I wont be presumptuous and speak on others’, mine will do. (Rather amusing to see my brain talk about itself, but then isn’t that just ego, except in this case on a more…micro level…I would presume the Ego is more appropriately used for the Personality than the brain…or we could take off on this string and wonder where personality and the brain are disconnected, if they are even)

So, what does my brain like – music and the electrical impulses that seem to scratch that itch in an unknown way but the end result of pleasure is identifiable. Or art where the electrical signals go down the optic nerves, somewhere un-inverting the image and making me smile or feel fear. Of course, again, the why is ignored but the end result studied.

Then there is the emotional part that has a far reaching physiological impact. For instance, while speaking with the person of interest, the conversation gets the itch so beautifully that other impulses don’t matter. Or for instance kissing someone in the early stages or just flirting, that rush that causes adrenaline to be released. Or the moment of orgasm when pupils dilate and endorphins hop around willy-nilly.

Now comes the point when I deliberately shut out all external stimuli. Rather clinical I know but to give it a human approach, when I become the loner no matter who is around. Inevitably at the end of a long work day, I let my b rain catch its breath and pretty much noodle about on the guitar. I guess muscle memory is allowing me to not thing and just repeating the action is a kind of meditation, no seriously. My brain isn’t disciplined enough to shut down (fuck, enough times I wake up after a long night’s sleep with red eyes and all haggard but whatever was bothering me night before, I have the solution in the morning, takes its toll tho). But yeah, there are all kinds of thoughts.

It’s a bad habit that I have stopped now after much pain – thinking about how I see my life in the future. Enough times random events or flaws have pulled the rug from below me leaving me stumbling, the brain jarred. Though I must confess, I do that even now for a few seconds before stopping myself…and unfortunately a lot of these thoughts are romantically inclined, one area that is prolific in kicking my butt.

Thoughts are wonderful and I love knowing that I think. After all Aristotle said that the wasted life was the unexamined life. Fuck, I’ve said it once and I will say it again, if there was money to be made studying philosophy, I would be the first to sign up but unfortunately, everyone’s got a mortgage to pay (plagiarised words I know).

Thoughts can be corrosive, like those in the recent past, the Mr. Brightside (do a lyrics search) kind or the one’s that make me wonder if I will end up lonely with just this brain of mine.

Then there are the ones that are so rare – when I have been praised for my work, when she tells me something that makes the corners of my mouth turn up, when I think about the Dogs…inelegant in their complexity I know but oh so pleasurable.

Here’s the thing, thoughts are like any extension of the brain. They can with practice be made to follow a positive pattern and make you feel better. Left unchecked and if you have a natural inclination, can be corrosive and leave scars deeper than the ridges.

And unfortunately, they are the only things that hurt the brain (the brain is incapable of pain, it has no nerves that allow that)…ironic isn’t it, no nerves so no pain and yet enough to fill a life time if allowed unchecked…


hedonistic hobo said...

I loved the last thought you left us with. More on personality and the brain and the connection betwixt when I see you next. But what you said about going insane in solitary confinement, I shall offer my 2-bit on. Maybe it isn't a weakness of the brain, after all you're going insane because the brain craves that external stimuli so it generates it itself. They may not be logical, linear thoughts but what do you need them for in solitary anyway? :)

When does the brain become the mind?

What is a Belgian Waffle without butter and maple syrup? What is Life without Death? What is a Brain without a Mind?

Zaphod said...

Oh without a doubt, if left in solitary, any manifestations are well, look, to sound crude, the brain pleasuring itself. If someone gets injured in one part of their brain, the functions taken care of by that part are taken over by other parts. So the brain, while it can flex anything else, doesn't do this with realization, it just does it and there’s a sort of mental block stopping us from realizing its being done...the same way, i think that when you are in solitary, the brain needs to please itself and makes manifestations 'real' ....i could go insane talking about this!

And what is apple pie without ice cream or a dog without a bone??

fivefeetzero said...

sometimes i think (hah! irony strikes once more) that thoughts are completely superfluous (both the negative AND the positive kind). let me explain:
thoughts occur when we stop living in the present and judge ourselves/people/events around us. they create expectations and also make us unobjective.
our mind (and the thoughts in it - a result of our past experiences) make us biased because of the constant flurry of analysis, the going over past events/conversations etc.
However, I'm not suggesting the brain is useless, it should be used for observations instead of thoughts - something that can happen if we are constantly living in the present, without any 'thought overdrive'. Observations aren't judgements, they're simply an understanding of reality, and they're far more perceptive than our thoughts can ever be.
i'm feeling rather inarticulate (it's been a long day at work) and i don't know if i've made any sense.
if i haven't, please don't publish this comment? ;)

basho said...

Interesting post. You should read anything by VS Ramachandra who looks at this question scientifically..he gave a series of talks on this recently in London which were kind of fun.

The eternal question.

"Fuck, I’ve said it once and I will say it again, if there was money to be made studying philosophy, I would be the first to sign up but unfortunately, everyone’s got a mortgage to pay (plagiarised words I know)."

caught my attention..and philosophers don't have mortgages?

I have friends who are academics, and one of them is a paid up philosopher. He's not i-banker rich really but he's not that poor either. A professor's salary, like your father (a memory of another post).

So..que sara? :0

jerry said...

hey man! that was fucking intense! and well done!

Zaphod said...

my brain and I thank go watch one of the Living Dead movies!

Zaphod said...

I'm 23. I want to have two or three careers in this life time (who ever limited me to one?)
However, apart from the fact that I love the rush I get from my current path (and stomach ulcers if I liev out this life doing just this), I consider an investment for another career, one that I may not do well at and won't have to live in a mud hut...

Disclaimer: I'm 23, I don't know what I want and I am even more clueless about what I would really want...I have some idea of what will make me happy...or at least I think I do...