Stare

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:49 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“There are times when those eyes inside your brain stare back at you.”

—Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“You only really ever live in 1 place: a single occupant apartment made of bone, 22 centimeters by 18. You want furniture, you have to read.”

—Joe Hill, Twitterfeed, August 13, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (The Siren)

rackham_fairy

A Fairy by Arthur Rackham

You don’t have to be crazy to see things that 1) aren’t really there; 2) other people don’t see; 3) are glimpses of an alternate reality; 4) all of the above and maybe a whole lot more.

I was reading an interesting article from DarkLore, Vol. 8, edited by Greg Taylor: “Dreaming While Awake: A History of Sane Hallucinations” by Mike Jay. You can read the entire article here. In it he speaks of a 90-year-old gentleman, Charles Lullin,

whose sight had been progressively failing since a cataract operation five years before [in February of 1758]…[who] began to see considerably more than he had become accustomed to. For the next several months he was visited in his apartment by a silent procession of figures, invisible to everyone but him: young men in magnificent cloaks, perfectly coiffured ladies carrying boxes on their heads, girls dancing in silks and ribbons.

His grandson, Charles Bonnet, wrote about these visions and those of others with failing sight. It became known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

My mother was just shy of 94 when she passed. I thank all the gods that she retained her mind and clarity, her self, until the last three weeks of her life. When she was 91, however, she had a stroke. We were “lucky” because neither her motor skills nor her speech was affected, although her balance permanently disappeared from that point. She couldn’t stand without a walker, not from muscle weakness but because she would tumble over backward without one. For a woman of her vigorous physicality and drive it was quite a frustration. However, the worst of it was that the stroke affected her eyesight: she had alternating bands of vision and blindness in each eye. The brain, confused by the input it received, often took the jumbled bits and assembled them into something that made sense to it.

My mom at first thought these visions were fact until I explained to her that I wasn’t seeing the same thing. She got so she’d say things like, “There probably isn’t a soldier in a red uniform standing in the corner, is there?” And I would allow as how I didn’t see one. I remember one time discussing with her the weird perception of waking up and not knowing where you are, thinking maybe you’re in some place you lived in two or three moves ago. Mom said that sensation had gone a step further for her: she’d wake and although she knew where everything was and everything looked the same, that the neighborhood seemed familiar, she felt as if the house wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Somehow it had moved, she knew not where. I told her, “Maybe we’ve slipped into an alternate reality and you’re the only one who realizes it.” She laughed. “Maybe so.”

She’d wake up and lie in bed watching a parade of showgirls in full Vegas regalia promenade through her bedroom, up a staircase that didn’t exist, and through a nonexistent second story door. These things probably did not actually exist, but Mike Jay wonders, and so do I, what the true nature of hallucinations are, if no visual impairment exists, if one is not taking strong narcotics, if one is a perfectly rational human being. A significant minority of sane people do see and hear (and smell) things, as many as ten percent of the population. As Oliver Sacks says, “Seeing Things? Hearing Things? Many of Us Do” (New York Times, November 3, 2012).

Mike Jay speaks of “Lilliput sight,” where people see things much smaller than they are. And of parades of tiny people marching to and fro about the room, often ignoring or disdainful of attempts by perceivers to communicate with them. A friend of mine who was a paranormal researcher told of a highly proficient office manager and “nice lady,” who told him that every night for a month, little trooping fairies climbed up her bedspread, marched across the bed, then climbed down the other side and disappeared under the bed. She was too afraid to get up and look under the bed. And as suddenly as the phenomena started, it stopped. A temporary brain fugue? Maybe. But it sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Like many of the fairy stories of old.

But, although many of the percipients of odd things in such books as Lady Gregory’s Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland or W. Y. Evan-Wentz’s The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries were elders, a significant number were not. Or going blind. Or sots. Or craaaazy. The brain undoubtedly generates chimera, trying to make sense of bits of disjointed experience. These things may exist completely inside a rational mind, conjured up by misfiring synapses, odd perception, or neurological fugue.

Or maybe they aren’t. Maybe the doors to perception do open at random intervals and people catch a glimpse of numinous tides, of What Could Be, or What Is in some universe Over There.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (TheSiren)

rackham_fairy

A Fairy by Arthur Rackham

You don’t have to be crazy to see things that 1) aren’t really there; 2) other people don’t see; 3) are glimpses of an alternate reality; 4) all of the above and maybe a whole lot more.

I was reading an interesting article from DarkLore, Vol. 8, edited by Greg Taylor: “Dreaming While Awake: A History of Sane Hallucinations” by Mike Jay. You can read the entire article here. In it he speaks of a 90-year-old gentleman, Charles Lullin,

whose sight had been progressively failing since a cataract operation five years before [in February of 1758]…[who] began to see considerably more than he had become accustomed to. For the next several months he was visited in his apartment by a silent procession of figures, invisible to everyone but him: young men in magnificent cloaks, perfectly coiffured ladies carrying boxes on their heads, girls dancing in silks and ribbons.

His grandson, Charles Bonnet, wrote about these visions and those of others with failing sight. It became known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

My mother was just shy of 94 when she passed. I thank all the gods that she retained her mind and clarity, her self, until the last three weeks of her life. When she was 91, however, she had a stroke. We were “lucky” because neither her motor skills nor her speech was affected, although her balance permanently disappeared from that point. She couldn’t stand without a walker, not from muscle weakness but because she would tumble over backward without one. For a woman of her vigorous physicality and drive it was quite a frustration. However, the worst of it was that the stroke affected her eyesight: she had alternating bands of vision and blindness in each eye. The brain, confused by the input it received, often took the jumbled bits and assembled them into something that made sense to it.

My mom at first thought these visions were fact until I explained to her that I wasn’t seeing the same thing. She got so she’d say things like, “There probably isn’t a soldier in a red uniform standing in the corner, is there?” And I would allow as how I didn’t see one. I remember one time discussing with her the weird perception of waking up and not knowing where you are, thinking maybe you’re in some place you lived in two or three moves ago. Mom said that sensation had gone a step further for her: she’d wake and although she knew where everything was and everything looked the same, that the neighborhood seemed familiar, she felt as if the house wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Somehow it had moved, she knew not where. I told her, “Maybe we’ve slipped into an alternate reality and you’re the only one who realizes it.” She laughed. “Maybe so.”

She’d wake up and lie in bed watching a parade of showgirls in full Vegas regalia promenade through her bedroom, up a staircase that didn’t exist, and through a nonexistent second story door. These things probably did not actually exist, but Mike Jay wonders, and so do I, what the true nature of hallucinations are, if no visual impairment exists, if one is not taking strong narcotics, if one is a perfectly rational human being. A significant minority of sane people do see and hear (and smell) things, as many as ten percent of the population. As Oliver Sacks says, “Seeing Things? Hearing Things? Many of Us Do” (New York Times, November 3, 2012).

Mike Jay speaks of “Lilliput sight,” where people see things much smaller than they are. And of parades of tiny people marching to and fro about the room, often ignoring or disdainful of attempts by perceivers to communicate with them. A friend of mine who was a paranormal researcher told of a highly proficient office manager and “nice lady,” who told him that every night for a month, little trooping fairies climbed up her bedspread, marched across the bed, then climbed down the other side and disappeared under the bed. She was too afraid to get up and look under the bed. And as suddenly as the phenomena started, it stopped. A temporary brain fugue? Maybe. But it sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Like many of the fairy stories of old.

But, although many of the percipients of odd things in such books as Lady Gregory’s Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland or W. Y. Evan-Wentz’s The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries were elders, a significant number were not. Or going blind. Or sots. Or craaaazy. The brain undoubtedly generates chimera, trying to make sense of bits of disjointed experience. These things may exist completely inside a rational mind, conjured up by misfiring synapses, odd perception, or neurological fugue.

Or maybe they aren’t. Maybe the doors to perception do open at random intervals and people catch a glimpse of numinous tides, of What Could Be, or What Is in some universe Over There.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Experience

Sep. 8th, 2015 10:45 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“Experience is food for the brain.”

—Bill Watterson, Kenyon College Commencement, May 20, 1990

brainfood4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Experience

Sep. 8th, 2015 10:45 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“Experience is food for the brain.”

—Bill Watterson, Kenyon College Commencement, May 20, 1990

brainfood4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“There’s an even drearier little secret that veteran scientists never let kids in on—that if they enter science, they have to check their minds at the door. The reason is that mind, as most people think about it, does not exist in conventional science, because the expressions of consciousness, such as choice, will, emotions, and even logic are said to be brain in disguise.”

—Dr. Larry Dossey, “Is the Universe Merely a Statistical Accident?” The Huffington Post, June 23, 2010

 mind-brain4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“There’s an even drearier little secret that veteran scientists never let kids in on—that if they enter science, they have to check their minds at the door. The reason is that mind, as most people think about it, does not exist in conventional science, because the expressions of consciousness, such as choice, will, emotions, and even logic are said to be brain in disguise.”

—Dr. Larry Dossey, “Is the Universe Merely a Statistical Accident?” The Huffington Post, June 23, 2010

 mind-brain4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (lilith)
Random quote of the day:

"If…Descartes…had kept a poodle, the history of philosophy would have been different. The poodle would have taught Descartes that contrary to his doctrine, animals are not machines, and hence the human body is not a machine, forever separated from the mind…"

—Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up

 poodle4WP@@@


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“If…Descartes…had kept a poodle, the history of philosophy would have been different. The poodle would have taught Descartes that contrary to his doctrine, animals are not machines, and hence the human body is not a machine, forever separated from the mind…”

—Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up

 poodle4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’”

—Sir Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis

 neurons4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’”

—Sir Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis

 neurons4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (Default)
Mutant from hell of the day: the woman here at work who likes to stir the pot and cause trouble with whoever is handy. (Unless you're male and then she's all flirty.) Not as bad as some work mutants I've known, but still an irritant. Most times I pretend she doesn't exist which vexes her mightily, but late in the day yesterday I succumbed, I'm afraid. She yelled at me for going through some printouts looking for a stray job of mine because I "wrinkled her papers." (I didn't.) Then when I said, "I didn't wrinkle your damned papers," she asked, "Why are you always so rude?" I wish I could say I walked away and didn't continue in this three-year-old vein, but I'm afraid I said, "I'm rude because you're you," before I walked away. Not one of my best zingers, but I want to progress beyond the need for delivering zingers.

*sigh* Why do some people get their rocks off by conflict? Life is short enough as it is. And I don't want to give this incident more importance then it's worth. It was a petty interaction, nothing more. But it brought up some associations from the past that got me thinking.

Because it's times like those where a ghost from my childhood springs up, puts her hands on her hips and starts trash talking. It's a Pavlovian response dredged up from the tough school in the tough neighborhood I grew up in. I like to think I have progressed beyond that little person who could lay schoolyard bullies low with my razor-sharp mouth. But apparently my amygdala has other ideas. I was reading how the amygdala is the center of the brain that takes fear, anxiety, stress and the like, and develops aggressive behaviors in response. Press button A, get response Number Three.

The meat centers of the brain, the pure animal inside the struggling-to-be-civilized human, don't give a fig for karma or grownupness or enlightenment. On the meat level, it's all about an eye for an eye. I guess that explains a lot of the world's heartburn, probably including the behavior of the Mutant from Hell. Her misplaced aggression is clearly something she learned early as a response to something that made her feel small and unimportant. She has succored her mutation in her black little heart with glee ever since.

But there's meat level response and there's meat level response...I still maintain that it's better to regret being a meat puppet than to think it's a valid way of conducting one's life. I guess it's that glee in doing mischief that separates the Mutant from the schoolyard trash talking kid.

Or I could be wrong and rationalizing the hell out of my own behavior.

TGIF.
pjthompson: (Default)
I was very sad to hear of the death of Spalding Gray. Two months ago I heard that he'd disappeared and it didn't look good, but it was sad to hear yesterday that they'd fished his body out of the East River. Maybe it's some kind of relief for his family to finally know the worst so they can start to deal with it, but that seems kind of like something outsiders think while watching a family in crisis. I keep thinking of his three little kids and how devastating it's going to be for them to grow up without a father.

I loved his work. My friends and I would go see him whenever we got the chance. My favorite venue was an intimate theater at UCLA where actor and audience are real close, maybe ten or fifteen feet away from each other. That close to Spalding Gray, it was like sitting around after dinner listening to a remarkable and gifted friend tell you about the extraordinary thing that happened to him just the other day. He could entrance you with the fluidity of his thought and expression, his weird and wonderfully skewed humor, his odd and touching perceptions. Those intimate talks of his gave me a real sense of bonding.

Of course, I know that what I saw was persona, that I don't really know Spalding Gray or his family, but there was something so personal and magic about his monologues that gave me this wonderful sense of a shared journey. My friends and I took to calling him Spuddy because in one of his monologues (Gray's Anatomy?) he mentioned that his mother used to call him that, and because we felt enormous affection for him.

And I can't help thinking about the razor's edge many artists walk. There's a fine line sometimes between creativity and the darker aspects of the mind. A number of artists, like Spuddy, have bipolar disease; others (in my experience) seem to live closer to the edge of depression then the rest of the population. I've spent my times on the dark side, but fortunately my meds have been regulated for the past several years and I'm pretty well balanced.

No, I'm not bipolar. My thyroid went wonky several years back, eventually went cancerous and I had to have it yanked out. I've been cancer free for several years now. Knock wood... After the yanking out, it was a process of getting the synthetic thyroid hormone dosage right. The thyroid gland has something important to say about every major function in the body and if the hormone isn't right, your mind and emotions can rollercoaster in really nasty ways.

Combined with that rollercoaster, I was seeing a charlatan doctor for another problem who didn't listen when I told him I was spiraling into depression. He put me on absolutely the worst medicine he could have, just exacerbating the problem. It was the only time in my life when I seriously thought about suicide. It's just not part of my usual personality makeup to do away with myself—just not me. But there was one night there in the midst of that atrocious chemical soup when—if I'd had an easy means to do it—I have no doubt in my mind—even sitting here on a sunny day, balanced, and thinking life is pretty good—no doubt that I really would have done it. I just didn't want to go on. I wanted my life to end right there.

Fortunately, the apathy that is often a major accompaniment to depression was just as strong as the urge to die. The effort involved in getting dressed and leaving the house, finding a means to end it all, just seemed like too much trouble. I compromised by going to bed and praying that I didn't wake up.

All things considered, I'm glad no one listened to that prayer. I'm glad my better angel put his arm around my shoulders and said, "This isn't you talking. It's bad chemistry and this will all seem better by-and-by." I'm glad I woke up. I also got help almost immediately after that because it scared the crap out of me. I went to another doctor, explained what was happening, and she took me off of the bad medicine. Within a few weeks, the depression was gone, all thoughts of suicide gone. I didn't go back to the charlatan doctor. I haven't had a really bad patch of bad chemistry since, but I'm acutely aware of that razor's edge we walk, how a little chemical tweak here and a little tweak there can send our systems seriously out of whack and our emotions out of control.

Spuddy wasn't so lucky. I heard they were trying to adjust his meds but were having trouble getting it right. Bipolar is really tough that way. And when he got on that ferry there was no one to put an arm around his shoulders and say, "It's just bad chemistry, Spuddy." Or maybe there was and he was too tired to listen anymore, too tired of fighting it. No one will ever know, I suppose—certainly not an outsider like me. Did the East River, that broad avenue of bodies for over two hundred years, seem to him like a metaphor for his life? Or the perfect metaphor for his death? Or was it just easy, just there, no reason in his tortured mind and tired spirit not to do it finally, to go to sleep and never wake up?

It's certainly not for me to say. I just hope he's finally found a peaceful sleep.

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