Watching the mauve: J. Hooper and D. Teresi, The Three-Pound Universe.New York, 1986. p.1. Hooper and Teresi begin their "drama 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 with interictal spiking."  

the traveler: "As the traveler passes through the various doors between the world, his nature changes. The Kwakiutl 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 true 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, where they appear as fish. Similarly, humans, who of course look like humans in their own world, put on masks by which they can travel 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.

mysterious 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.

olive 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 (the first Christian emperor, early 4th century AD)." -Encyclopedia Britannica.-Ecyclop

the philosopher: In 1995, after a long illness,
Gilles Deleuze stepped out of a Paris window.
deleuze.gif (20920 bytes) becoming-air: The medulla mediates control of
involuntary vital functions, one of them respiration.

a manifestation: Encylopedia Britannica. This refers to Medusa.

gurgly 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.

a 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.

a 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 reintegrate the mind with its inward source." R.E. Ryan, The Strong Eye of Shamanism: A Journey Into the Caves of Shamanism. Rochester, VT., 1999. p.117.

both myelinated: Encylopedia Britannica.

crawl space:

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."

the bone picker: W.O. Steele, Talking Bones. New York, 1978.

underworld: "The 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.

"The spiritual 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.

pudenda: "One 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.

upside-down: In 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 ancient: Ibid.

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female 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."

her 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, Summer (1981). p.6.  It is interesting that the Sorcerer at Trois Fréres cave also has "owl-like" eyes.

mask: "Masks 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 masks are 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 death and rebirth." S. Walens, Feasting with Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology. Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.59.

Her 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. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World. Cambridge, MA., 1968.

a world of concrete: P. Shepard, Traces Of An Omnivore. Washington, D.C., 1996. p.91

injuries or disease: Encyclopedia Britannica.

hungry: "The 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 taste." Ibid.

digestion: The 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.

Spring: Olive 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.

the light being: N. Hawthorne, "The Gorgon's Head." In, A Wonder-Book, Tanglewood Tales and Grandfather's Chair. Boston, MA., 1883. p.32.

High winds: The 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 the next.

never 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

crossing 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.

"Another asymmetry 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.

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Chrysaor: A. Le Van, "The Gorgon Medusa."

Medusa's 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. 

even in death: B.C. Dietrich, Death, Fate and the Gods. London, 1965. p.129.

cross 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.

therefore: U. Eco, The Name of the Rose. San Diego, CA., 1983.

the Medulla Grammatice: "Toward a Text of the Medulla Grammatice: Procedures and Prospects in Editing a 15th-century Glossary." V.P. McCarren, The Middle English Dictionary.

This 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..

standing 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.

disembark: The original meaning refers to a wooden boat; e.g., one made of bark. "Here one 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. It would 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. p.174. 

Han-shan: Meaning 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.

the road: "To get back on the road because the road was the only place where you knew where you were going." -John Kielty Bell.

axonic: "A neuron receives signals through the shrubbery of its dendrites, and passes information to other neurons by way of its axon tree." E. Harth, The Creative Loop. Reading, MA., 1993. p.46.

breath and breathing:   S. Grof, Psychology of the Future. Albany, NY., 2000. p.183.

"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. p.93.
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.

the wealth: E. Harth, The Creative Loop. Reading, MA., 1993. p.171.

stranger: J.B.S. Haldane.

What am I:  R. Creeley. From, "The Rain."

The 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?"

"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, 1990. p.14. 

the living face: Ibid. p.164.

spew: One 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. New York, 1970. pp.87-8. 

"whatever else 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."

Horned 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.

"The 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.

red 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 (of Turin) 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 the disaster."

stone 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.

an aspect: A. Le Van, "The Gorgon Medusa."

fluidity: 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.

Like a monk: J. Berger, About Looking. New York, 1980. p.178.

never 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 and Postwar American Art. New York, 1996. p.28.

was concerned: Ibid., p.180.

in 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 not accept
the place I was in.
I felt I should be somewhere else.

A city, trees, human voices
lacked the quality of presence.
I would live by the hope of moving on.
-C. Milosz. From, "To Raja Rao."

Beauty: "The 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. p.191.

probes 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 Dreams. San Francisco, CA., 1997. p.29.

his doubt: P. Auster, "Pages for Kafka. "The Art of Hunger: Essays·Prefaces·Interviews. Los Angeles, CA., 1991. p.23.

He said:  From, Ezekiel 39:1-8.

in materialistic science: S. Grof, Psychology of the Future. Albany, NY., 2000. p.185.

the skeleton: M. Eliade, Shamanism, NY 1964. 159-60.

The rain: S. Takahashi. From, "Rain."

are inherently: S. Walens, Feasting with Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology. Princeton, NJ., 1981. p.59.

serpentine: "In 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, the serpent becomes the vehicle of the shaman's journey to the Otherworld." R.E. Ryan, The Strong Eye of Shamanism. Rochester, VT., 1999. p.131.

the place: C. Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy--The Art of Joseph Cornell. Hopewell, NJ., 1992. p.10-11.