the mauve: J. Hooper and D. Teresi, The Three-Pound
Universe.New York, 1986. p.1. Hooper and Teresi begin
of modern neuroscience" with this scene from the Bible of
the beginning of Saul of Tarsus's visions on the road to Damascus
that converted him into St. Paul. The authors continue on to envision
a modern-day Paul
arriving at an emergency room "blind and babbling about unearthly voices." He's
examined by a neurology resident, who detects signs of "a grand mal seizure
traveler: "As the traveler passes through
the various doors between the world, his nature changes. The
metaphorize this alteration in terms of the donning and removing
of masks that conceal the inner character of the individual
and gave him an outer form adapted to the world to which he
is traveling. By putting on a mask, a spirit changes from his
self into a special form adapted to the human world...the salmon-people,
who look like, act like, and are humans in their own world,
put on their salmon masks and travel to the world of humans,
they appear as fish. Similarly, humans, who of course look
like humans in their own world, put on masks by which they
to other worlds. If they put on salmon masks, they will look
like all the other fish when they
travel to the land of salmon." S. Walens, Feasting With Cannibals:
An Essay on
Kwakiutl Cosmology. Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.59.
presence: "There is a certain tradition in our
Church of not dealing real happily with the mystics. The problem
today, though, is that we cannot afford the luxury of being patient
and obedient in this regard, because the issue today isn't how
I am getting on with Rome, it's how is the planet getting on with
our species." M. Fox, "Creative Christianity & Ecumenical
Visions." In, M. Tomas, At The
Leading Edge. Burdett, NY., 1991. p.50.
tree: Of several medullary relay nuclei that project
to the cerebellum via the inferior cerebellar peduncle, the largest
is the inferior olive. "Though
the exact location of Gethsemane cannot be determined with certainty,
Armenian, Greek, Latin, and Russian churches have accepted an olive
grove on the western slope of the Mount of Olives as the authentic
site, which was so regarded by the empress Helena, mother of Constantine
first Christian emperor, early 4th century AD)." -Encyclopedia Britannica.-Ecyclop
|the philosopher: In
1995, after a long illness,
Deleuze stepped out of a Paris window.
medulla mediates control of
involuntary vital functions,
one of them respiration.
manifestation: Encylopedia Britannica. This
refers to Medusa.
words: Having nuclei associated with the hypoglossal
and glossopharyngeal cranial nerves, the medulla oblongata mediates
the articulation of spoken words.
understand: muga (Jap.) "so
close an identification with things one writes of that self
as forgotten." L. Stryk.
secret: "'You talk about the secrets of Paris,
of Europe.' He put his hands behind his head and raised his arms,
and as he did he spoke from the side of his mouth as his left eye
narrowed. 'Perhaps there are no secrets now. But I make it my business
to invent a secret Paris, even if it doesn't exist, or only partially,
I have two secret cities here.'" R.B. Katji. In, D. Plante, "Paris,
1983." Sulfur 9 (1984). pp.102-109.
cave: The cave "leads from the earth to the underworld
but at the same time becomes a passage through trance to the dreamtime
celestial world, again bringing together the three realms (earth,
sky, underworld). In this way, it appropriates the entire process
of ecstatic and mythic or traditional training as a 'trip backward
into the mind,' where the conditioning techniques related to ecstasy
and its inducement and the symbols of the native mythic tradition
function...to reintegrate the mind with its inward source." R.E.
Ryan, The Strong Eye of Shamanism: A Journey Into the Caves of
Rochester, VT., 1999. p.117.
myelinated: Encylopedia Britannica.
i tire and pause at
a gap in the spiral
but continue to feel
for keyholes amidst the stones
for openings, echoes in curved walls
for immersed doorways...
-C. Guertin. From, "Incarnation." http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/traced/guertin/incarnation/maze.htm
bone picker: W.O. Steele, Talking Bones. New
underworld isn't just a place of darkness and death. It only seems
like that from a distance. In reality it's the supreme place of paradox
where all the opposites meet. Right at the roots of western as well
as eastern mythology there's the idea that the sun comes out of the
underworld and goes back to the underworld every night. It belongs
in the underworld. That's where it has its home; where its children
come from." P.
Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom. Inverness, CA., 1999. p.68.
source of all life and forms issues from the land of the dead,
the underworld, where it appears as life-giving water. Indeed,
the Hopi petition their own departed ancestors to visit their villages
in the form of clouds to bless them with the sacred gift of rain.
Thus death is understood by the Hopi as a return to the spiritual
realm from which comes more life." J.D. Loftin, "Supplication
and Participation: The Distance and Relation of the Sacred in Hopi
Prayer Rites." Anthropos 81, 1986.
of Freud's best theories--best because it is most outrageous and
unexpected, and yet somehow right--is that Medusa, the prototype
of all horrifying faces, is really the female genitals. She turns
men to stone--which means, in the code of the unconscious, that she
mesmerizes them, and takes away their power. A man becomes a statue
in front of a woman. He is rigid, hard as stone--but he is also immobile,
unable to take a step away from what he sees." J. Elkins, The
Object Stares Back. New York, 1996. p.172.
some accounts, Yggdrasil, the World Tree, has its crown planted in
the ground, and its roots in Heaven. Or am I thinking of the Katha
Upanishad, which says: "There is the old tree, her roots grow
upwards, her branches downwards...It is called Brahman, and he alone
is the undying." (II). Yggdrasil means "the horse of Ygg,
whose other name is Odin, the Norse God who, like Christ after him,
was wounded with a spear in his side, and hung for nine days
and nine nights, offering himself to himself, as sung in the Poetic
Edda, "Hovamol." Linked to "the horse of Ygg" might
be Medusa's head; as when it was severed by Perseus, from its neck
sprung the winged horse, Pegasus.
"'For the uprooted,
a tree is an element in landscape of no interest to him.' What
he seeks is the company of 'anonymous stones, buildings rising
in the glory of their anonymity' among which he strolls, since
neither the stories nor the cement which links them into buildings
are 'from here'. 'For the stranger, only a strange world can
be his.'" Z. Bauman, "Desert Spectacular." In,
K. Tester, The Flâneur. London, 1994. p.140; E. Jabès, Un Etranger. Paris, 1989. p.33-34.Medusa's
wisdom: "Medulla Oblongata is the goddess of
intelligence. She is extremely smart and crafty. She spends most
of her time teaching and picking flowers...She is very tall and
skinny. She has purple skin and long black hair. She is known for
her very big head because she is so smart. This relates to Medulla
Oblongata because everyone listens to her since she
knows so much." www.geocities.com/english1cp/medulla.html
threatening: "She is tall...bigger than Sasquatch,
and her body is covered with long, black, greasy hair. Her eyes
are large like an owl's, and her fingers are tipped with sharp
claws. Her lips are formed in the eternal pucker of an eerie whistle,
and children are told if they don't listen to their elders, she
will come to them at night and suck their brain our of their ears.
She is called Dash-Kayah, At'at'lia, Tsonoquah, and names whispered
when the time is right, and not for publication." T. Tafoya, "Dancing
with Dash-KIayah: The Mask of the Cannibal Woman." Parabola,
p.6. It is interesting that the Sorcerer at Trois Fréres cave also has "owl-like" eyes.
are the metaphors of altered self, and as such they are inherently
objects of immense power, around which great care and many precautions
must be taken. They must be shown, as are all numerous objects, great
fear and respect. It is all too easy for Western materialists to think
of these masks simply as objects of artistic merit and beauty or even
social significance, but they are far more than that. To the Kwakiuth
living beings whose power is literally that of life and death, for masks
take people from one world and move them to another and, in so doing, bring about
rebirth." S. Walens, Feasting with Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology.
Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.59.
mouth: "the most important of all human features
for the grotesque is the mouth. It dominates all else. The grotesque
face is actually reduced to the gaping mouth; the other features
are only a frame encasing this wide open bodily abyss." M.
and His World. Cambridge, MA., 1968.
concrete: P. Shepard, Traces Of An Omnivore. Washington,
disease: Encyclopedia Britannica.
medulla...contains portions of the vestibular nuclear complex, parts
of the trigeminal nuclear complex concerned with pain and thermal sense,
and solitary nuclei related to the vagus, glossopharyngeal, and facial
nerves that subserve the sense of
medulla contains several functional centers that govern digestion,
while injury to this organ may cause a loss of the gag reflex and the
ability to vomit.
trees bloom in late spring, when small white flowers grow in clusters
in the axis of the leaves. The
flowers are of two types. The so-called "perfect" one contains both
male and female parts, and are capable of developing into the olive fruits; and
the male, which
contain only the pollen-producing parts.
light being: N.
Hawthorne, "The Gorgon's Head." In, A Wonder-Book, Tanglewood
Tales and Grandfather's
Chair. Boston, MA., 1883. p.32.
olive is wind-pollinated. Especially where irrigation and fertilization
are not practiced, its fruit-bearing can be erratic. The trees
may have a heavy crop one year and not even bloom
know: "At the end of his life, he dreamed that
his dearly beloved child had died in his arms, and he had to let
go of her. In his dream, he grieved inconsolably that he must give
her up. As I talked with him about the dream, the meaning of the
child emerged. In the end everyone must lose what is most precious,
that to which one's whole life has been devoted. That precious
treasure is consciousness. It is the final sacrifice of the ego,
which must be offered up before the Mysterium Tremendum.
In the dream the old man fell on his knees and prayed to God to
give him back his child....'It is the prayer that may or may not
be answered. It belong to the unknowable.'" J. Singer, Seeing
Through the Visible World. San Francisco, CA., 1990. p. xxi
over: "In death men return to the "other
side," to the left hemisphere; but only if they have lived
according to the moral norms dictated by that side will they awake
into a state of reality, upon returning to the left
hemisphere." G. Reichel-Dolmaoff, "Brain and Mind in Desana
Shamanism." Journal of Latin American Lore. 7:1 (1981) p.85.
is detectable in the lower medulla, an aberrant circumolivary bundle
deriving from the pyramidal tract is found on the left side more
frequently than on the right. It is believed that the left aberrant
bundle innovates the right facial nucleus, thus providing an anatomical
substrate for control of some speech-related muscles on the dominant
side." A.M. Galaburda, "Anatomical Asymmetries." In,
N. Geschwind and A.M. Galaburda. Editors, Cerebral Dominance: The
Biological Foundations. Cambridge, MA., 1984. pp.19-20.
Le Van, "The Gorgon Medusa." www.perseus.tufts.edu/classes/finALp.html.
blood: Athene gave Asclepius, the god of healing,
Medusa's blood. That drawn from the left side of her head slayed;
that from the right healed. One way of looking at this is that
reading a myth rationally kills it, reading it intuitively makes
it comes to life.
in death: B.C. Dietrich, Death, Fate and the
London, 1965. p.129.
the bridge: At the transition from the medulla to
the spinal cord, there are two major crossings, or decussations,
of nerve fibres, to opposite sides of the body, which is why signals
conveyed here are the basis for voluntary motor function on the
other side of the body.
Eco, The Name of the Rose. San Diego, CA., 1983.
Grammatice: "Toward a Text of the Medulla Grammatice:
and Prospects in Editing a 15th-century Glossary." V.P. McCarren, The
Middle English Dictionary. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/chwp/mccarren
tree: J. Weishaus, "The tree on Gold Street."
"The symbolic serpent
seems to be at least as old as Mesopotamia c.2200 B.C., where it
appears on seal as the 'Serpent Lord,' a double-helixed caduceus.
To this day, snake permeates the mythology of most human cultures,
especially of the southern hemisphere. It arises shamanic visions
from the ayahuasca-drinking Amazon to Australia Aboriginal dreamtime
paintings to the Hopi Snake Dance. The symbolic serpent first appears "in
the context of the patriarchy of the Iron Age Hebrews of the first
millennium B.C., (where) the mythology was adopted from the earlier
Neolithic and Bronze Age civilization." (J. Campbell, The Masks
of God: Primitive Mythology. New York, 1976. ) "In
its quest to overthrow the Mother Goddess, Monotheism reversed the
symbolism of the snake from healing to harm, from a messenger of
good, to a harbinger of evil. In our own time, Freudian psychoanalysis
tells us that "Medusa's snaky hair conveys the image of a multiple
female phallus, (hiding) the traumatic image of castration from the
viewer." J.E. Harris, How the Brain Talks to Itself.
New York, 1998. p.341.
The drawing is by G.
Reichel-Dolmatoff, redrawn from Desana sketches, is notated, "The
Human Brain. The fissure is occupied by an anaconda and a rainbow
boa." G. Reichel-Dolmatoff, "Brain and Mind in Desana
Shamanism." Journal of Latin American Lore. 7:1 (1981).
p.88. Additional image is of the central nervous system..
up: This reminded me of the last lines of Allen Ginsberg's
poem "Galilee Shore": Just think how amazing! someone
getting up and walking on/the water.
original meaning refers to a wooden boat; e.g., one made of bark. "Here
question oppresses me: Was Death not the first Navigator? Well before
the living entrusted themselves to floods, was not the coffin given to the sea
and to the torrent?
The coffin in this mythological hypothesis would not by the last bark.
be the first. Death would not be the last trip, it would be
the first. For some profound dreamers, it will still be the first true
trip." G. Bachelard, "The Charon Complex, The Ophelia Complex." Spring 1982.
Cold Mountain, or Cold Cliff, it is the name adopted by the T'ang Dynasty
poet who lived in the T'ien-t'ai Mountains of China. He descended the
mountain once in a while to get leftovers from his friend, Shih-te,
cook at the local monastery, and also a poet. Their poems--over three
hundred of them, mostly attributed to Han-shan--were found written
on rocks in the area. In the poems, "Cold Mountain" is also
used as a metaphor
for an enlightened mind.
road: "To get back on the road because the road
was the only place where you knew where you
were going." -John Kielty Bell.
neuron receives signals through the shrubbery of its dendrites, and
information to other neurons by way of its axon tree." E. Harth, The Creative
Loop. Reading, MA., 1993. p.46.
breathing: S. Grof, Psychology of the Future. Albany,
"Here (the medulla)
we keep track of those chemical signals in the bloodstream--low oxygen
and high carbon dioxide--that drive us to breathe more. From the
medulla, impulses flow down the spinal cord and out through peripheral
nerves to contract the muscles of the rib cage and diaphragm. The
chest expands, the diaphragm descends. All this translates into breathing
in. Then, as the lungs expand, their stretch receptors become increasingly
taut. This sends signals up the vagus nerves to inform the brain
stem. There they generate a flurry of inhibition, which turns inhalation
off." J.H. Austin, Zen and the Brain. Cambridge, MA., 1998.
Dr. Austin also points out that when one breathes in "many of its amygdala
nerve cells discharge. In contrast, while exhaling, only half that number
fire....More specifically, expiration quiets down the firing of the central
amygdala," and thus the organism's fear responses. (p.178) Although
his experiments were not done on humans, one can cautiously project their
results to include human anatomy.
wealth: E. Harth, The Creative Loop. Reading,
MA., 1993. p.171.
I: R. Creeley. From, "The Rain."
Green Man: "A good search of many churches and
cathedrals will often lead you to discover, somewhere, a carving
of a human head within a mass of leaves. Sometimes, the leaves
appear to grow out of the head itself; at other times the human
head seems to be a chance result
of the configuration of the leaves." P. Lister, "Who is the Green Man?" http://emrs.chm.bris.ac.uk/morris/cclarke/greenman.htm
"The Green Man
signifies irrepressible life. Once he has come into your awareness,
you will find him speaking to you wherever you go. He is an image
from the depths of prehistory: he appears and seems to die and
then comes again after long forgettings at many periods in the
past two thousand years." W. Anderson, Green Man: The Archetype
of our Oneness with the Earth. London, England,
living face: Ibid. p.164.
of the functions the medulla regulates is that of vomiting. Did a man
turn to stone when gazing on the hideous Gorgons, or vomit? I suspect
the latter, as horror is an occasion to purge what nourishes one's
conceptions. For example, "For the Kwakiult (of the U.S. Northwest
Coast), vomiting comprises the basic paradigm of transformation and
rebirth." S. Walens, Feasting with Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl
Cosmology. Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.17.
mudras: "Mudras are
symbolical gestures made with hands and fingers not unlike the gestures
of an Indian dancer. They must be conjoined with their mental equivalents,
for their power is derived from the adept's own mind which alone can
evoke the mystical forces to which they correspond. Their chief function
is to help in the achievement of higher
states of consciousness." J. Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet.
York, 1970. pp.87-8.
it may be, gesture is a body thing; part of the body's shape, its
envelope, its presence to itself and others. And just as certainly,
a new era of the body is upon us, wherein the creative effects
-- spiritual, epistemological, ecological, aesthetico-ethical,
ontological -- of our corporeal finitude are being cognized (as
if for the first time). "We have just only begun", as
Gilles Deleuze paraphrasing Baruch Spinoza has it, "to understand
what the body is capable of". An era that recognizes that
we have/are embodied minds, enfleshed psyches and that our inner
states -- thinking and imagining, dreaming, feeling, remembering,
self-experiencing -- cannot (except in the misinformed fantasies
of certain techno-transcendentalists) be disengaged from the body." B.
Rotman, "Gesture, or the body without organs of speech." www.cgrg.ohio-state.edu/~brotman/gesture.html
Owl: "Over Europe and Asia, and indeed, most
of the world, the owl is, and has long been, a bird of witchcraft,
death and doom. The Chinese refer to it as 'the bird which snatches
away the soul.' and say that it sometimes calls, 'Digging the
grave!' It is believed to suck the blood of infants, sometimes
doing so in human guise." E.A. Armstong, The Folklore of
Birds. New York, 1970. p.114.
history of religions could almost be written as the history of horned
gods and goddesses. From ancient civilizations to modern times, the
horned head or headdress symbolized divinity, honor, power. This universally
utilized motif has been as much at home among American Indians as in
ancient Mesopotamia or Egypt. Among the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Hittites,
Greeks, Etriscans, Gauls, Celts, Buddhists, Scandinavians, and others,
many of their major deities were represented with horns or a horned
headdress, or they were represented by the horned animal itself, which
was sacred to the particular god." R. Mellinkoff, The Horned Moses
in Medieval Art and Thought. Berkeley, CA., 1970. p.3.
overrules: The red particles are found on the
fibers of all image tapes and have varying degrees of hydration,
color, and refractive index (from about 2.5 to 3.01). These properties
are characteristic of the artist's earth pigment, red ochre. Common
worldwide, this pigment has been used by artists for at least 30,000
years. The highest refractive index particles are hydrous, crystalline,
highly birefringent hematite with indices of 2.78 and 3.01. The
iron earth pigments are hydrous iron oxide ranging in color and
refractive index from yellow ochre to red ochre depending on their
history. W.C. McCrone, Red Ochre and Vermilion on Shroud
Tapes? Centro Studi Medievali (Pontremoli MS, Italy), 1988.
The owl "still-hunts
from a low perch from which it surveys the surrounding area...The
Indians envision this searching to be the individual who is the
owl's spirit-double. They maintain that when the owl spots the
correct individual, it will drop from its perch onto the head of
that person, who then captures the owl, paints it with red ochre,
and says a prayer to it before releasing it again. The only living
creatures that are painted with red ochre are owls and people." S.
Walens, Feasting with Cannibal: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology.
Princeton, NJ., 1981. p112-13.
toward disaster: Maurice Blanchot begins his book, The
Writing of the Disaster (Lincoln, NE., 1988), with: "The disaster
ruins everything, all the while leaving everything intact. It does
not touch anyone in particular; 'I' am not threatened by it, but
spared, left aside. It is in this way that I am threatened; it is
in this way that the disaster threatens in me that which is exterior
to me--an other than I who passively become other. There is no reaching
structure: The structure is located on the Lower McCleary
Trail, in Portland, Oregon's Forest Park. Built by the Works Progress
Administration (WPA), the building was maintained as a restroom
until it was vandalized beyond repair.
aspect: A. Le Van, "The Gorgon Medusa." www.perseus.tufts.edu/classes/finALp.html
Both the pons and the medulla are separated from the overlying cerebellum
by the fourth ventricle, and cerebrospinal fluid entering the fourth
ventricle from the cerebral aqueduct passes into the cisterna magna,
a subarachnoid space surrounding the medulla and the cerebellum, via
foramina in the lateral recesses and in
the midline of the ventricle." Encyclopedia Britannica.
a monk: J. Berger, About Looking. New York,
lost: "Harold Rosenberg said that the Depression
forced New York artists to make a 'personal code' of 'ascetic discipline.'
From the rigor of their aesthetics they evolved an ethic of the
hard life, and with this ethic they protected their art from their
frailties." C. Radcliff, The Fate of a Gesture: Jackson Pollock
American Art. New York, 1996. p.28.
concerned: Ibid., p.180.
the vortex: "The inside of the medulla
is an incredibly confusing and comp0lex array of nuclei (areas
of gray matter) and tracts (areas of white matter). This is not
surprising since axons from the spinal cord must pass through the
medulla on their way to and from the brain, while at the same time
the cranial nerves leaving the medulla each have nuclei for their
cell bodies. Additionally, the medulla controls many of the 'unconscious'
functions of the body, such as regulating blood pressure and breathing.
Because so many different structures pass through the medulla,
even a tiny area of damage in this part of the brain can cause
severe symptoms." R.S. Cicala, The Brain Disorders Sourcebook.
Los Angeles, CA., 1999. pp.9-10.
For years I could
the place I was in.
I felt I should be somewhere else.
A city, trees, human
lacked the quality of presence.
I would live by the hope of moving on.
-C. Milosz. From, "To Raja Rao."
face of the Medusa was in itself mild and beautiful; take away the
human face and you have the sacred Egyptian emblem of the serpents
and the winged circle (in Greek,
the Cadaceus). B. Johnson, Lady of the Beasts. San Francisco, CA., 1988.
reality: "In our eagerness for conceptional meanings,
we ignore the actual beast. We are no longer astounded by its facts,
or wonder over its presence--that, for instance, a snake dislocates
its jaw to swallow an animal larger than itself, that its digestive
system works without chewing, without teeth or gizzard or cud,
like a rhythmic peristalsis that squeezes its meal against the
snake's backbones, crushing its prey into a digestible pulp. Or
that, for instance, the fact that its discarded skin after shedding
appears to go
on shedding." J. Hillman, "A Snake is Not a Symbol." Animal
San Francisco, CA., 1997. p.29.
doubt: P. Auster, "Pages for Kafka. "The
Art of Hunger:
Essays·Prefaces·Interviews. Los Angeles, CA., 1991. p.23.
said: From, Ezekiel 39:1-8.
science: S. Grof, Psychology of the Future. Albany, NY.,
skeleton: M. Eliade, Shamanism, NY 1964. 159-60.
rain: S. Takahashi. From, "Rain."
inherently: S. Walens, Feasting with Cannibals: An
Essay on Kwakiutl
Cosmology. Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.59.
classic period imagery, the Vision Serpent was invoked during the ritual
of communication between this world and the Otherworld. In fact, the
letting of blood was often the vehicle through which its presence was
conjured. Interestingly, this serpent-formed spirit guide plays an
essential role in Mayan ritual and iconography. It is the Vision Serpent
that symbolizes the path of communication between the two worlds, and
ancestral figures were often shown leaning out of its jaws. Conversely,
becomes the vehicle of the shaman's journey to the Otherworld." R.E. Ryan, The
Strong Eye of Shamanism. Rochester, VT., 1999. p.131.
place: C. Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy--The Art of Joseph
Cornell. Hopewell, NJ., 1992.