Tag Archives: brain

Cornucopia List: August 6

I realize this list is more a personal indulgence than perhaps a piece that others are interested in, but as they say: it’s my blog and I can write what I want to. So here goes my list of things for which I’m grateful.

  1. Massages–I wish I could get these more often, and I’m talking about therapeutic massages, but any are nice. I have a soft tissue condition (chronic myofascial pain) which causes my muscles to knot and not release. This causes hard, rocklike nodules that can refer pain to all other sorts of areas in the body. Hard trigger point massage is about the only way to release these (or a long vacation in a hot place) and it’s painful. Unfortunately our medical system likes to think that massage isn’t necessary and in the long run it costs our system more. So massages I appreciate with a deep and undying love.
  2. Dreams–These are the dreams of sleep, not of the waking hour. We spend a third of our lives sleeping (more or less) and in a way it seems a waste not to do something. Of course, our bodies replenish their stores so that we can function properly in our waking hours, but it doesn’t always seem enough. So I love remembering my dreams. They’re rarely mundane and run the gamut to strange adventures and even stranger lands. And yes, I have managed to write quite a few dreams into stories or poems.
  3. Faerieworlds–I’ll write a review of this event in the next day or two, but it was such a good time for just camping, hanging out, wandering about and listening to some awesome bands, that I’d do it again. Oh and the wings. What fun to dress up as fairies just because you can. There were some astounding outfits and spontaneous performance art by people attending. It gave me ideas!
  4. My Brain–Oh brain, where would I be without you? A brain is something not to waste, which means I don’t want to spend all my evenings being a couch potato. I want to explore, do new things, have varying adventures from socializing with friends, to reading, writing or hiking. The brain is complex and not always knowable even to ourselves. I hope it continues to work well and to expand in knowledge and memory.
  5. Randomness–What a humdrum place our world would be if it was completely regimented. Not all surprises are good and not all random things go well but to see or experience the unexpected, to not know what is around every corner, now that is what keeps us living and moving and adapting. I love random things. In fact I like randomness so much that I abhor schedules. Ah to live a very random life.

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Blank Minds

I have nothing to say today. Really. My mind is blank or filled with things that aren’t for public consumption. But then that makes me think of minds and our ephemeral memories. We are, in essence, made up of memory, which temporally places us between past and future.

I wrote about memory once when I was writing a column for fearsmag.com, a now defunct online magazine caught in the apocalypse of the dotcom fall. Memory is what defines us. Beyond the personality imprint of birth, we begin to remember things, who our parents are, what we like to eat, what feels good, how to walk and talk.

But memory is an odd beast. We could all watch an event; a soccer game, a murder, a birth, a celebration, and everyone would remember it differently. One person might be more attracted to pattern over color, or auditory over visual. How important an event is will also color how well or long we remember it. It is the biggest problems with witnesses for criminal cases. People remember different things and remember them differently because the mind can start to extrapolate and problem solve.

So when I remember December and holidays, I don’t remember each year’s specific holiday nor the ones of the childhood. I remember a particularly good or bad one but couldn’t tell you which year it was. I remember the overall feeling I would get from Christmas and it will be broken into atmosphere, the tree and gifts, and the family and friends and whether overall, people got along or the times were horrid. I’ll remember the taste of turkey but not necessarily a particular turkey. In essence, my mind files all Christmases in the same folder with post-it notes on the truly significant ones.

Therefore memory isn’t accurate while at the same time it is. It isn’t accurate as to chronology, linear sequences or even all details. (I remember you saying this but in fact you remember differently.) It is accurate in context to the person and what is significant. Though, haven’t we all tried to remember something important or where did I put the keys and we cannot remember. Memory is faulty. Datafiles become corrupted. I find too that time affects memory. The sheer distance of hours to an event will have the details fade to only the most important ones.

If we could truly be immortal, how much would we remember? Would we only remember about a hundred years worth of stuff and get vaguer and vaguer ideas of our own histories? I remember being in Byzantium. Well I think I do. I remember the age, or did I just dream that? Barring Alzheimer’s or other conditions that impair memory it might just be that we won’t remember much that isn’t in the most recent two centuries.

Without memory we would have to relearn everything every day and society would remain rudimentary at best. Yet even animals have memory and some of it is ancestral memory, or what we call instincts. It varies by species but in fact no creature could exist long without memory, beyond a simple cell. And without memory I wouldn’t be writing on this blog.

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Dreams & Nightmares

The title is the name of a poetry magazine specializing in speculative forms. However, I’m talking about those things that hit you when you’re asleep.

We all dream. It’s part of the mind’s way of processing daily events and emotions. If we don’t dream we go mad. People who suffer from apnea risk never dreaming because they don’t go into the right leve of sleep, REM (meaning rapid eye movement) where dreams take place. A person can develop a neurosis or suffer other health problems if they don’t achieve sufficient sleep and depth of sleep. This is still debated because the brain is a crafty organ to understand.

Needless to say that most mammals seem to dream. And that dreaming is part of the normal sleep process. While a dream might be the processing of the day’s events, it is also a place of alien concepts. My dreams rarely correlate to what happened during the day. Sometimes they will, like being at my ex’s party this weekend (we’re still friends) and going to sleep thinking about a relationship I”m writing in a story.

It brought out a strange dream about my ex not paying attention to me though there were two of him in the room. I awoke crying, realizing that it was a dream and thinking how bizarre it was to dream of our relationship many years in the past. But that was a combination of things on my mine or recent events.

However, I often dream of different worlds and societies, or  place where people walk around with their skins off. How these dreams relate to my everyday is very unclear. My dreams are often fantastical and science fictional. I read once that a study showed that creative people suffer more nightmares on the average than others. Why that is, I’m not sure anyone knows.

My dreams have often been the fuel for stories and sometimes poems. Dreams however, have dream logic. They’re often a mishmash of images and even storylines. In an average night a person may have five or six REM episodes, and although we have longer ones later into the night, I bet our brains sometimes mix the different episodes into one.

So a dream may be vivid and colorful and have a complex plot but as I start to unwind the storyline I see the gaps in it. I must then iron it out and not be slavishly true to the dream. Years ago I had a dream so complete with religious society, nobility, races, conflicts, plots, characters, that I started writing a novel from that dream. I had enough material to get through half a book. I’m still writing that book and I can no longer tell how much was dream and work I’ve put in since then doing world building. But I have the dream written somewhere and I know that society was very complete.

Where did that dream come from? Not from what I was reading, nor from my day-to-day activities. All I can presume is that I entered a different world, one of what-if. My sleeping brain, given freedom to roam and create, said hey, what if there was a world like this? And off it went.

I’m glad  my brain makes bizarre connections and imagines worlds and races not of this earth. My creativity sometimes carries on even when I’m not aware of it. I’ve also gone to sleep with a half completed story whirling in my thoughts specifically so that I can dream up an ending. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes several naps. And sometimes I’m still looking for an appropriate ending.

I am very happy that I can remember at least some of my dreams. It makes my sleeping more fun and my creativity more bountiful.

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