I’m Struggling With Julian Jaynes

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I first came across Julian Jaynes and his controversial (or at least provocative) book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, back in the late 1970s. I bought a copy, and read part of it, but my life was in a bit of turmoil back then, and I didn’t get too far along in it. Over the years, the book left my shelves, possibly given away or traded in. It wasn’t until two years ago that … click below for more!

The new normal

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“Oh, the humanity,” cried Herbert Morrison, as he watched in horror as the giant airship, the Hindenburg, burst into flames at its mooring. The year was 1937, and Morrison’s words still echo down the decades. As the disaster unfolded in front of him, Morrison exclaimed, “…it’s falling, it’s crashing! Watch it, watch it, folks! Get out of the way, get out of the way! … Oh, the humanity… This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.” Eighty-three years later, uttering … click below for more!

Dandelions and civilization

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Whenever I see a lawn with dandelions, I think, “This is the home of civilized people. This is the home of people who care about the environment and their community. This is where bees are welcome.” When I see a monoculture lawn, bereft of weeds or dandelions, I think, “Here is the home of an anti-social family; a place where life is restricted, wildlife discouraged; where community and the environment don’t matter.” I feel the same when I see a … click below for more!

The slow death of reading

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To me, one of the most depressing stories to come out of 2018 was posted in The Guardian, last August. Its headline read, “Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.” Its subhead reads, “When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age.” As an avid reader who has a dozen books or so on … click below for more!

Ollie and pet rescue

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We are suckers for the face of a cat at the window, a hungry cat, a cold cat, a lost cat, a cat someone has abandoned to fend for themselves and is doing a poor job of it. The pleading eyes, the rough coat, the quiet shiver in the rain or the cold. How can you turn away from that and still call yourself human? Ollie, our latest addition to our household, was one of those faces, quite recently. We … click below for more!

The meaning of dreams

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Jack Kerouac woke up most mornings in the 1950s and scribbled into a bedside notebook what he could remember of his dreams. Characters from his novels interacted with fantasies and real life events. The result was eventually published in 1961 as his Book of Dreams; 184 pages of mostly spontaneous or stream-of-consciousness writing, as this excerpt shows: WALKING THROUGH SLUM SUBURBS of Mexico City I’m stopped by smiling threesome of cats who’ve disengaged themselves from the general fairly crowded evening … click below for more!

Hypergraphia

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An article in the September, 2016, issue of Doctor’s Review looks at the curious, compelling affliction called hypergraphia: the obsessive need to write. I never knew before this that there was an actual illness of this sort. As someone who is often driven by a deep compulsion to write, I am both curious and a little afraid to learn more. And of course, I turned to the internet. Curious because I always want to learn, especially when it’s something that might touch … click below for more!

Judas, a Biography

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Long before Darth Vader, long before Lord Voldemort, long before Stephen Harper, Judas Iscariot reigned as the supreme icon of evil in Western mythology. Judas betrayed God. How much worse can you get?* For 2,000 years we’ve used the term Judas to refer to anyone who betrayed anything, any cause, any belief, any friendship. Yet, like all the icons of evil that came before, and who have followed, Judas holds a fascination for us that transcends his actions. Dante consigns him to … click below for more!

Why Do We Make Music?

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Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d, And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d, By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound. What then am I? Am I more senseless grown Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe! ‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs. Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King; He … click below for more!

Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

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This is your brain on drugs. Or rather, the right-hand image is your brain on psilocybin. The other side is your brain on a non-psychedelic drug. Researchers recently discovered some amazing facts about how our brains work on some chemicals. And some psychedelic drugs prove to have pretty amazing effects. But don’t try this at home… stick to building toy rockets and drones for your science experiments… Apparently Timothy Leary was right: psychedelic drugs change the way users think. For … click below for more!

Words, Your Brain and Sex

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One of the reasons I’m a dedicated librocubularist* can be found in a story on IFL Science that is headlined, “Learning New Words Activates The Same Brain Regions As Sex And Drugs.” It opens: While it doesn’t get much better than sex and drugs for many out there, new research has found that simply learning a new word can spark up the same reward circuits in the brain that are activated during pleasurable activities such as these. No wonder there … click below for more!

“A” Personalities: A Theory

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When someone tells me he is an “A-type” personality, I cannot help but think of the title of Aaron James’ bestselling book: Assholes *A Theory (Anchor Books, New York, 2014). After all, what else would the “A” stand for when someone boasts to the audience he is an alpha male as if the rest of the room was full of less-worthy betas? Self aggrandizement is not limited, of course, to assholes, but they certainly occupy centre stage (at least in … click below for more!

The Utility Animal

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In the July/August edition of Pets Magazine (the Cat Care issue) there are two articles that caused me concern. One is “The Loyalty and Bravery of a Cat” (p.28), the other is “Quick-Thinking Cat Saves the Day.” (p.26). The latter is a pet profile from the Purina Hall of Fame that honours pets for “extraordinary actions.” The former is about a YouTube video showing a family cat attacking a dog that had itself attacked the family’s four-year-old son. The acts … click below for more!

When good people do bad things in groups

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The headline is taken from a piece on Science Daily on a study about how groups change personal behaviour and morality. The study is reported on the MIT website. I’ve seen that change myself, many times over the years, and most recently locally. The study adds intelligence on the neurology of how such group activity changed people. The report itself is called “Reduced self-referential neural response during intergroup competition predicts competitor harm,” which of course would have most people’s eyes glazing over. … click below for more!

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