Mythical discourse: M. Serres, Fuex et signaux de brume: Zola. Paris, 1975. p.169.
Inside the Skull-House: My inspiration for the title of this project came from Nigel Barley's essay, "The Dowayo Dance of Death" (In, S.C. Humphreys and H. King, Editors, Mortality and Immortality: The Anthropology and Archaeology of Death. London, 1982. pp.149-59), in which he discusses the "skull-houses" of the Dowayo people of North Cameroon.
a journey: "One must therefore conceive of a philosophy that would no longer be founded on the classification and ordering of concepts and disciplines, but that would set out an epistemology of journeys, forging new relations between man and the world: ''The landscape contains pits, faults, folds, plains, valleys, wells, and chimmeys, solids like the earth and fluids like the sea. The metaphor is geophysical here: it could be mathematical. In any case, the model is complex. Here and there, locally, I identify fractures or discontinuities, elsewhere, on the contrary, relations and bridges.'" J.V.Harari & D.F.Bell, "Introduction Journal à plusieurs voies. In, J.V. Harari and D.F. Bell, Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy: Michel Serres. Baltimore, 1982. p.xxii; M. Serres, La Naissance de le physique. Paris, 1977.p.200.
epic: "Once epic is understood properly, as an innovative synthesis of older and newer genres rather than as a timeless genre, then it is easy to understand why the greatest failures in the history of attempts to write epic have been the poems that were the purest pastiches of past epics, with the least admixture from other genres." M. Lind, "On Epic." In, R. McDowell, Editor, Poetry After Modernism. Brownsville, OR., 1988. p.324.
accumulating body of research suggests that differences in male and female brains do
exist. The roots of some of these differences may go as far back as when the human brain
was first developing, a time when women and men performed tasks referenced to physical
strength and reproductive/nurturing/foraging abilities.
The brain of a modern female seems to process information more holistically than that of a male. For example, in a test that asked subjects to read a list of nonsense words and determine if they rhyme, men and women scored about equal; however, brain scans showed that the women used both the right and left sides of their brains, while the men only used their left side. But the invention of sophisticated imaging technologies is new, and scientists are first learning how to compare and interpret results, while interpretation itself is always somewhat psycho-politically skewed.
In contemporary societies, where many female and male roles are changing, exchanging, or merging, will the way their respective brains function change again?
Because it is hackneyed, the hero/heroine approach is dangerous. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject in just the last decade. This alone makes the myth worth risking apart; then re-membering, even while balancing on the edge of boredom. A long meditation, broken by links.
human brain: "The human brain is made up of many parts. Each has a specific function: to turn sounds into speech; to process colour; to register fear; to recognize a face or distinguish a fish from a fruit. But this is no static collection of components: each brain is unique, ever-changing and exquisitely sensitive to its environment. Its modules are interdependent and interactive and their functions are not rigidly fixed: sometimes one bit will take over the job of another, or fail, owing to some genetic or environmental hiccup, to work at all. Brain activity is controlled by currents and chemicals and mysterious oscillations; it may even be subject to quantum effects that distort time. The whole is bound together in a dynamic system that does millions of different things in parallel. It is probably so complex that it will never succeed in contemplating itself. Yet it never ceases to try." R. Carter, Mapping the Mind. Berkeley, CA., 1998. p.10.
elegant achievement: "Some observers may fear that by pinning down its physical structure something as precious and dignified as the human brain may be downgraded or vanish entirely. But explaining the origins and workings of the mind in biological tissue will not do away with the mind, and the awe we have for it can be extended to the amazing microstructure of the organism and to the immensely complex functions that allow such a microstructure to generate the mind. By understanding the mind at a deeper level, we will see it as nature's most complex set of biological phenomena rather than as a mystery with an unknown nature. The mind will survive explanation, just as a rose's perfume, its molecular structure deduced, will still smell as sweet. A.R. Damasio, "How the Brain Creates the Mind." Scientific American. December 1999. p.117.
unravel: "It should be clear, then, that the secrets of the neural basis of mind cannot be discovered by unraveling all the mysteries of one single neuron, regardless of how typical that neuron may be; or be unraveling all the intricate patterns of local activity in a typical neuron circuit. To a first approximation, the elementary secrets of mind reside with the interaction of firing patterns generated by many neuron circuits, locally and globally, moment by moment, within the brain of a living organism." A.R. Damasio, Descartes' Error. New York, 1994. p.259.
hard problem:"It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does. If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one." D.J. Chalmers, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness." In, J. Shear, Editor, Explaining Consciousness--The 'Hard Problem'. Cambridge, MA., 1997. p.11
humor:"The hard problem is, "How the hell does it happen? My experience is that this isn't the hard problem at all, it's the impossible problem, at least within the present scientific paradigm." Peter Russell. At the International Conference on Science and Consciousness, Albuquerque NM., April 29, 2000.
consciousness:"In both art and science now, the matter of consciousness is high on the agenda. Science is trying hard to explain consciousness, with distinctly limited success. It seems to pose the most intractable of problems. For the artist, consciousness is more to be explored than to be explained, more to be transformed than understood, more to be re-framed than reported." R. Ascott, "The Shamantic Web: Art and Mind in Emergence."
Reflecting upon itself, brain creates mind.
Reflecting upon itself, mind creates void.
Reflecting upon itself, void creates universe.
Reflecting upon itself, universe creates consciousness.
Reflecting upon itself, consciousness creates brain.
science: "There are easily a dozen levels of organization within the neurosciences, ranging from membrane channels up through synapses and cells to circuits and regional specializations between the cerebral hemispheres. And that's just the anatomy: functionally, we have reflexes, one-trial memories, learning, and so on, all the way up to hallucinations, obsessions, and creativity. We have time scales ranging from milliseconds to lifetimes." W.H. Calvin, "Filling the Empty Niches: The Popularization of Cognitive Neuroscience Has a Long Way to Go." www.williamcalvin.com
"as the genetic gazetteer nears completion, and as the brain comes closer and closer to accounting for the mind, it grows harder to imagine human beings remaining at the center of the process of science. Instead, science appears to be in charge of its own processes, probing and changing people in order to further its own course, independent of human agency." J. Lanier, "The Endgame of Humanism." Civilization. October/November 1998. p.63.
my path: I am aware of pitfalls of what literary critic Bob Perelman calls a "voice" poem. But one must evoke an immortal self, subscribe to the kenning of the soul, to fall into "the pathetic fallacy" of the first person singular. If I fail to avoid this, it is an inattentive slip, and not, I hope, a failure of vision.
in other words, the science of
the path--what could be more exactly what we are involved
in--it is not the path, but it is the way the path is
-C. Olson. From, Letters For Origin: 1950-1955.
London, 1969. p.106.
metaphor:"Speaking metaphorically himself, (W.H.) Leatherdale argues that science needs a nonliteral dimension, that a literal interpretation of the terms and concepts of scientific theories impoverishes and disempowers them...'Such an interpretation of theories would threaten to make science die of clinical antisepsis. For science needs the inoculation of ambiguity and the semantic haze that surrounds the neutral analogy of a model or the unexplored resources of a metaphor if it is to marshal its resources for survival and growth. Too doctrinaire an exiomatization, or literal reconstruction, even supposing this were possible in any neutral untheoretically-infected way, might free science from the infection of error due to uncritical reliance on a model or metaphor, but it would kill it stone dead in the process. .'" -J. J. Bono, "Science, Discourse, and Literature: The Role/Rule of Metaphor in Science." In, S. Peterfreund, Editor, Literature and Science. Boston, 1990. pp.61-7; W.H. Leatherdale, The Role of Analogy, Model and Metaphor in Science. Amsterdam, 1974.
mythology: "In modern science a 'fact' is perceivable because of a background of myth. Each phase of the moon would have a name and a story associated with it, as would each animal. Through myth a cumulative body of knowledge would be passed on, and the means for passing it on would be a story, an engraving on a bone, or a painting on the wall of a cave. The story or the painting would serve to connect the part with the whole, the event with the myth, the quotidian with the sacred." W.I. Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light. New York, 1981. pp.101-2.
etymology: "Etymology is not primarily an intellectual occupation or pastime. (Jean) Piaget refers to an 'etymological instinct' in children. Max Müller, the nineteenth-century philologist, once remarked that 'there is in the human mind a craving after etymology, a wish to find out, by fair means or foul, why such a thing should be called by such a name.'" R. Kugelmann, "Etymology as a Psychological Operation." Dragonflies. Fall 1978. p.45; M. Müller, Lectures on the Science of Language, 2nd Series. New York, 1867. p.548.
electracy: "Electracy is a name for the digital apparatus that is emerging within/out of literacy, as literacy emerged out of orality. An apparatus is a matrix of interdependent forces/entities/conditions: technology, institutional formations, individual identity formations. The process of passing from one apparatus to another is historical, particular, specific to the conditions of a given period and place. So the sheer introduction of a technology by itself does not determine any particular outcome (viz the different histories of writing in the Greco-Roman vs the Arab-Muslim worlds). Also there is a long period of transition, of adaptation and accommodation, in the paradigm shift, with many hybrids intermediate embodiments. Tragedy, for example, is still partly oral (manifesting features of ritual), but with literate additions--the parts are scripted; one actor at first, then more, is/are separated out from the ritual chorus and giving scripted parts to speak. To get to the web, then, it is easy in the above context to see that it is transitional, manifesting some literate features (the home PAGE, the table and list as tags for controlling layout--both being fundamentally literate devices), and some electrate features (nonlinear = digital linking), picture and other graphic features, moving towards new media, streaming video, and the like. The web is in flux and is clearly a transitional medium with no established form." Gregory Ulmer, Invent-L@lists.UFL.edu. March 07, 2000
soul: "This is not a substantial view, an immortal substance separate from a mortal substance, but a functional one. Soul refers to an interpreting, integrating, adapting activity necessary for meaning within each individual and for the species as a whole." J.B. Ashbrook, "Making Sense of Soul and Sabbath." Zygon 27 (1) March 1992. pp.45-6.
log-book: "The log
was originally a speed-measuring device for ship at sea (with a a thin quadrant of wood
connected to a line that was reeled out). Whenever the vessel's speed was measured, each
log of the watch was recorded in a journal kept for that purpose. Gradually, this journal
became known as the 'log book,' and was also used to record the general proceedings of
shipboard life and navigational matters....
"Users of computer networks must usually 'log themselves in' before they can operate the system." J.D. Jeans, Ship to Shore. Santa Barbara, CA., 1993. p.194.
images: The images are usually a reverse ekphasis, the attempt to represent images with words. "The minority and obscurity of ekphrasis has not, of course, prevented the formation of an enormous literature on the subject that traces it back to the legendary 'Shield of Achilles' in the Iliad, locates its theoretical recognition in ancient poetics and rhetoric, and finds instances of it in everything from oral narrative to postmodern poetry." W.J.T. Mitchell, "Ekphrasis and the Other" Picture Theory. Chicago, IL., 1994.
paratext: "This fringe, in effect...constitutes, between the text and what lies outside it, a zone not just of transition, but of transaction; the privileged site of a pragmatics and a strategy, of an action on the public in the service...of a better reception of the text and a more pertinent reading." -G. Genette, "Introduction to the Paratext." New Literary History No.2, Spring 1991.
singular experiences: "The further one goes, the more private, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible , and nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity...Therein lies the enormous aid the work of art brings to the life of the one who must make it..." This, from R.M. Rilke, I read as opposed to Franz Kafka's apparent feeling that "the procedure is to absorb the artistic content only to the extent it can expunge the personal from its form of expression; the more impersonal it can become, the more artistic it can be." R.M.Rilke, Letters on Cézanne. New York, 1985. p.4; I. Buchanan, Deleuzism. Durham, NC., 2000. p.102. With both these viewpoints in mind, it seems to me that art incites a dialogue between the personal and impersonal, between the unique and archetypal, between all that I am and who I am not. And that this conversation, this conversion, serves to balance, and to throw into disarray, every work that aspires to be art.
topography: "Although there is one single unique physical reality to the geographical organization of the earth, neuroanatomy must represent a variable physical reality that differs from individual to individual. Thus, human brain map atlases of structure and function require a representation that accounts for variance among individuals. Further, neuroscientists have yet to agree on a standard reference system and nomenclature to define brain location. This again differs from geographical maps, where the conventions of longitude, latitude, and altitude represent a universal standard." J.C. Mazziotta, et al. "Atlases of the Human Brain." In, S.H. Koslow and M.F. Huerta, Editors, Neuroinfomatics. Mahwah, NJ., 1997. p.255
located inside: "What I want is for us to 'imbeg' the question of what is inside and what is outside. What we need, I think, are metaphors that are ecological and dialectical, and we need to go back and question those that are not. The peristent image of the brain as inside the head and controlling behavior and abstract mind outside is too powerful to overthrown the links to work practices and political organization that evolved with it in the first place." S.L. Star, "The Skin, the Skull, and the Self: Toward a Sociology of the Brain." In, A. Harrington, Editor, So Human a Brain. Boston, MA., 1992. p.224.