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Brain Quote of the Month – Jan 14, 2013

Brain Quote of the Month – January 2013- Global Consciousness Study

“Highly Significant Data of 14 Year Global Consciousness Study Shows Evidence of Synchronicity.” The results of this study can’t really be understated: there is “highly significant” evidence that we may all be psychically linked.


Brain Quote of the Month – December 2012, Jonathan Edwards

Where we are now with Consciousness

…I digress from consciousness. Today Colin Blakemore, perhaps the most eminent neuro-scientist in the UK, laid bare his heart in his final Chandaria Lecture and confessed that neuroscience is still a long way from answering some of the problems the philosophers would like to have a response to. The good news is that he has taken up a post at the Institute of Philosophy to show how committed he is to trying to bridge the gap. This is not a trivial meeting of minds. It will solve nothing overnight but at least it has potential. I think there was also a change of atmosphere at ASSC this year with a recognition that nobody has the right to be sniffy over consciousness. fMRIists can make as big a fool of themselves as extended mindists.

I had hoped by the end of this year to have a new website to include the project that has taken up most of this year for me – a 300 page attempt to set out a metaphysical framework that can marry physics, intentionality and meaning and give constraints for a theory of experience. At least I have permission for an official College site and hope to have an active URL within a month or two. With luck by February anyone who wants to know anything about my views will get it with a few clicks of the mouse. (Entirely optional!)

I guess my positive thought for the New Year is that maybe the physics is going to be much easier than people thought in 1994. Old quantum theory has gradually been replaced by a form of field theory in which fundamental events occur not just at the nano scale. They can occur at any scale you like. The trouble is that much of the practical application of field theory unapologetically uses unjustifiable approximations that make a nonsense of any direct ontological interpretation of the theory. Yet the basic metaphysical requirements do seem to show through. If we could just pin down the true physical venue of the experience of the first chime of Big Ben at midnight on December 31st maybe we would discover that everyone was right in their way all along.

Website: To come.

Brain Quote of the Month – September, 2011 – David Friend

The Rise of the EM FieldSince the landmark paper of Nikos Logothetis et al. in Nature, volume 412, 12 July 2001 there have been a number of subsequent publications confirming that the best correlation with fMRI BOLD measurements of brain activity are the local field potentials around the synaptic activity of pre- and post-synaptic neuronal terminals.To quote from the paper:
‘LFPs are often dominated by stimulus-induced and usually stimulus-locked fast oscillations in the range of 30-150 Hz, as are human EEGs or magneto-encephalograms during visual or auditory tasks.’ These LFPs represent integrated local dendritic events and possibly adjoining astrocyte activity.
This does suggest that LFPs have an important role in the encoding of information in the brain, because they account for a large part of its utilisation of energy. It is important to note that these LFPs oscillate, so they have the potential for encoding information. What do they then do with it? These EM fields only exist over extremely small regions, a millimetre or so, but because there are many thousands of them active in the brain at any one time the sum of their activities can be detected by EEG terminals on the skull surface.
I would suggest their essential nature is modulatory. They act to modulate neuronal signals that can be transmitted into broader networks. How else is the capacity of the brain’s circuitry to be utilised so that, as reported by Melloni et al. 2007, conscious processing of stimuli is associated with precise phase locking of gamma oscillations across widely distributed cortical areas, whereas unconsciously processed stimuli evoke only local gamma oscillations? One can envisage that a network stimulus is initiated by an incoming signal to one or more neurons and then transmitted and modified by a multitude of LFP modulators along the signalling pathway. I do not see how EM fields alone have the capacity to account for consciousness unless you envisage them acting on some speculative, unidentified medium. I prefer to follow the empirical trail, and there is powerful evidence that consciousness is associated with particular structures in the brain.
Two examples demonstrate that consciousness cannot be associated with neurons and their individual environment. Take the enteric nervous system as an example. It works away independently of the brain, organising the digestion of food and shifting it along the alimentary tract with all the necessary enzyme release and collaboration with bacterial commensals. The ENS has 100 million neurons, but all its activity takes place at an unconscious, autonomic level; until you receive a nasty shock. Then your gut contracts and you get an awful feeling in your abdomen as transmissions between brain and ENS become unusually active. Perhaps a more potent example is the cerebellum which contains 50 billion granular cells and 50 million Purkinje cells. The computational activity of the cerebellum is essential for motor control and the fine control of some cognitive activities. Remove the entire cerebellum from your brain and your consciousness will not be seriously compromised. Caesar et al. [2003] carried out their work confirming the original Logothetis observation on the correlation of LFPs with fMRI measurements of brain activity on the climbing fibre and parallel fibre inputs into Purkinje cells. So the sum of EM activity in the cerebellum is immense, without a sniff of consciousness.
All the evidence suggests that consciousness has evolved because of brain structure and its wider connections to the nervous system, and no mystical element outside the brain is involved.
Comment: There are a lot of vegetative functions in the brain, and so a lot going on just below consciousness. In addition to the above, the brain receives 6,000,000 stimulations from the body’s muscles to tell it where, in 3-D space the body is.

Brain Quote of the Month – August 2011 – Ralph Frost

In prior accounts of the trial theory of consciousness I advocate, the storyline goes that when we inquire about the source of electrical flux and potentials measured in neuroscience’s synaptic and neural studies, we quickly discover the energy comes from the aerobic respiration reaction. Considering that reaction, we discover the on-going generation of 10^20 water molecules per second being created throughout all the widely distributed sites in the body. Sequences of these particularly shaped molecules have the propensity to structurally code in an active 6^n analog/associative pattern.

In prior accounts, often I’d choose n=12 to get 6^n to come out to a high number around 2.2 billion options or different associations that could each pack into a stack of 12 molecules. These hydrogen bonding packets, once resonantly coded in relation with on-gong experience can then (1) unfurl or dissipate imparting influences in protein-folding so as to deliver expression or motility, and/or (2) become incorporated in bound water layers in newly forming protein matrices and thus be stored for use/retrieval/resonance in future events or cycles, sort of like excess food gets stored as glycogen in fats.

Hopefully, if one weren’t too terribly autistic or psychotic in their expressions, when replicated the expressions might prove beneficial to (absolutely conserve energy expenditures by) and thereby curry positive attention from both the individual and within the larger, enfolding social group.

In a 6^12 system there are 2.2 billion associations, and in a 6^18 coding, 10^14 associations. One can speculate this single common analog math divides between the different sensory channels or, repeats codes, so as to give odd influential results, for instance, should auditory codings flow within visual centers (synthenesia sic). Imagination, creativity, forethought, and one would surmise, wisdom would all function and easily develop within such a active internal language.

Yet, today, if we sift down into the lower numbers and shorter stacks and sequences (also shown with length-based initial, example-only, perhaps wildly speculative associated categories/functions),

6^12 = 2.2 billion – “complex, abstract thoughts or impressions”

6^6 = 46656 – “autonomous signals”
6^5 = 7776 – “touch”
6^4 = 1096 – “smell”
6^3 = 216 – “Turret’s Syndrome” [or your guess goes here]
6^2 = 36 – “feelings”
6^1 = 6 – “deep sleep/anesthesia”
6^0 = 1 – “red alert/flatline/anoxia”

and we consider the so-call six states of each unit as the six directional vectors:

a. bottom to top
b. top to bottom
c. left-back to right-front
d. right-front to left-back
e. right-back to left-front
f. left-front to right-back

within each tetrahedral-shaped water molecule.

With this backdrop then, for instance, assuming there are just, let’s imagine, only 36 “feelings”, and since emotions are said to prompt or be entangled at the root of each and every thought, the first two positions in all chains, or any two-unit sequence, can, speculatively, provide the ~emotional coding. Therefore, among the initial units in a sequence beginning with states a,c,e, say these code to some form of “flight” emotion, whereas units beginning with b,d,f code out to some version of “fight” emotion. Yet, then there is room to get added functional or dysfunctional alternatives or other versions, say, as breaking out various codes for “freeze” emotions or reversals to get predators and victims.

It’s something to think about.

Best regards,
Ralph Frost

Comment: A structure of water theory of consciousness and a whole lot more in human thought. This is an interesting and novel theory for a wide-ranging mind to consider when thinking about thinking. And thinking and water makes for many lovely metaphoric connections for poets.

Brain Quote of the Month – June 2011 -Brain Ethics Team

Dear all,

We hereby announce that the popular BrainEthics blog, after seeing some months dedicated to competing science interests, has now resurfaced at

The BrainEthics blog presents the latest news and views on cognitive neuroscience, and the broad and narrow consequences that these findings have.

As part of the blog revival, we have decided to launch a podcast, specifically aimed at interviewing prominent scholars in the fields of neuroethics, neuroscience and psychology.

Go to for more information

Best wishes,
The BrainEthics team

Comment: This is a worthwhile subject to investigate for any one interested in brain science.

Brain Quote of the Month May 2011 – Alice W. Flaherty

I propose that meaning in the sense of importance has a great deal to do with valence, the pleasure-displeasure, good-bad dichootomy that I argued earlier is the most basic aspect of emotion. This sense of meaning has its origins in the limbic system, as opposed to the linguistic meaning encoded primarily in the cerebral cortex’s temporal lobe. Within the limbic system the amygdala, with its ability to label stimuli as good or bad, is especially important. The interaction between temporal lobe meaning and limbic meaning reflects what has been called the tension in language between the dictionary and the scream. Without the former, we would have no ability to communicate; without the latter, the need to express our needs, we would have no drive to communicate.

Comment: So much of what we think about takes place before we think of it. We don’t think and have a good feeling. We have a feeling and get moved to speak. It is the body’s reaction to the big teeth of the dog that makes us grow alert and move out of the way.

Brain Quote of the Month – April 2011

If there was consciousness like ours

in the sure creature, that moves towards us

on a different track ‘ it would drag us

round in its wake. But its own being

is boundless, unfathomable, and without a view

of its condition, pure as its outward gaze.

And where we see future it sees everything,

and itself in everything, and is healed for ever.

Comment: Rainer Maria Rilke – eighth Duino Elegy. Ah, the instinctless human. To bad for us, yet on the other hand, to have less than limited perfection, gives us the consciousness and theory of the other at the same time when we are about two years old.

Brain Quote of the Month – Mar 2011

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research has just published its latest issue entitled “The Dawn of Higher Consciousness” at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit the journal website to review articles and items of interest.

Thank you for your continuing interest in and support of JCER,

Huping Hu & Maoxin Wu
JCER Editors
QuantumDream, Inc.

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research
Vol 2, No 1 (2011): The Dawn of Higher Consciousness
Table of Contents

The Dawn of Higher Consciousness
Huping Hu, Maoxin Wu

The Central Enigma of Consciousness
Chris King

Quantum Epiontic Consciousness: The Ultimate Nondual `Matrix’ of
Graham P. Smetham

Quantum Mindnature Matrix: Mechanisms of Formative Causation of Evolution
Graham P. Smetham

A Comparative Study of Equine and Elephant Mental Attributes Leading to an
Acceptance of Their Subjectivity & Consciousness
Marthe Kiley-Worthington

Book Review
Review of Srecko Sorli’s Book:Einstein’s Timeless Universe:The
Foundation for Cosmic Religiousness
Katarina Habe

Comment: this is where consciousness came from.

Brain Quote of the Month – Feb 2011

Manifesting the Mind
April 28-29, 2011
BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute and Promega Corporation
Madison, WI

The over-arching theme of this Forum’s is exploration of the Mind-Brain
phenomenon and how this relates to human consciousness. The
challenge faced by planners of Manifesting the Mind was to respect the
many interests of our audience, to cover a wide range of topics —
ethnobotany to neurotransmitters to recent clinical reports on the use of
entheogens. One goal of the Forum is the exploration of these diverse
topics in understanding human potential and how we conceptualize the
next step in the evolution of consciousness on this planet.

Nicole Haselwander
Project Manager, Communications
Corporate Affairs
Promega Corporation
2800 Woods Hollow Road
Madison, WI 53711

Comment: What do you think is the next step in the evolution of consciousness on planet Earth. An interesting thing to think about in post apocalyptic days after, say, MATRIX.

Brain Quote of the Month – January 2011

Dear Fellow JCS-online Members:

We at JCER wish everyone a Very Happy Holiday Season!

On December 21, 2010, Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research has published Volume 1 Issue 9 entitled ” Various Approaches to Consciousness & the Principle of Existence II” at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit JCER web site to review articles and items of interest.

Thank you for your continuing interest in and suport of JCER,

Huping Hu
JCER Editor
QuantumDream, Inc.

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research
Vol 1, No 9 (2010): Various Approaches to Consciousness & the Principle of Existence II

Table of Contents

Methods and Applications of Non-Linear Analysis in Neurology and
Elio Conte, Orlando Todarello, Sergio Conte, Leonardo
Mendolicchio, Antonio Federici

The Dis-closure of World in Waking and Dreaming
Gordon Globus

The Principle of Existence II: Genesis of Self-Referential Matrix Law, &
the Ontology & Mathematics of Ether
Huping Hu, Maoxin Wu

Cerebral Dynamics and Discrete Energy Changes in the Personal Physical
Environment During Intuitive-Like States and Perceptions
Mathew D. Hunter, Blake T. Dotta, Bryce P. Mulligan, Kevin S.
Saroka, Christina F. Lavallee, Stanley A. Koren, Michael A. Persinger

Cutting through the Enigma of Consciousness
Chris King

Human Consciousness and Selfhood: Potential Underpinnings and Compatibility
with Artificial Complex Systems
David Sahner

Book Review
The Character of Consciousness
Peter Hankins

The Kingdom of Lies
Marc Hersch

Review of Edmund Husserl’s Book: Crisis of European Sciences and
Transcendental Phenomenology
Stephen P. Smith

Review of John Watson’s Book: Schelling’s Transcendental Idealism: A
Critical Exposition
Stephen P. Smith

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research

Comment: This is an example of a journal devoted to the exploration of what consciousness means. You may want to go look for what academics think on the subject. Many of the articles have fascinating points of view, and come from many different disciplines, and backgrounds.

Brain Quote of the Month – December 2010

Writer’s Block – Alice W. Flaherty

What tends to be called block, whether painter’s or potter’s or physicist’s, is generally restricted to a field seen as creative or artistic, in which the problem is not well defined and requires more divergent than convergent thinking. At the other end of the spectrum are careers where the problem is well defined, where most of the thinking is convergent. One of the paradoxical joys of medicine [she is a neuro-scientist, non-fiction writer and bipolar] and other applied sciences is their relative freedom from block. When your find a vascular surgery patient with blood spurting from her graft site, the response required – if you have medical training – is usually immediate and obvious. At least, it is obvious compared to [sic] a task such as writing the great American novel.

Comment: Poets and natural scientists have the same rush, says Ludwig, and there is the divergent thinking and out of the box solution. Accountants are pretty rote though there was ______, and TS Eliot was a clerk. Wallace Stevens a lawyer.

Brain Quote of the Month – November 2010

Hypergraphia – the urge to write – Wikipedia

Several different regions of the brain govern the act of writing. The physical motion of the hand is controlled by the cerebral cortex which comprises part of the outer layer of the brain. The drive to write, on the other hand, is controlled by the limbic system, a ring-shaped cluster of cells deeply buried in the cortex which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being’s need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system. Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. Although temporal lobe lesions cause temporal lobe epilepsy, it is also known to run in families. Hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe. Hypergraphia has been observed in 8% of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.[1]

It is also associated with bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive episodes have been reported to intensify hypergraphia symptoms. Additionally schizophrenics and people with frontotemporal dementia can also experience a compulsive drive to write.

Neurologist Alice Weaver Flaherty, in her book The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain, describes its relationship to writer’s block and to compulsive reading or hyperlexia.

Comment: This Wikipedia ‘definition’ is worth keeping in mind, even though it is a bit simplistic and one-sided. There are more than a dozen areas of the brain that contribute to a great writer or poet. And I will have a review of Alice Weaver Flaherty’s The Midnight Disease under the book review section, soon, if not already… yes, it is there and growing longer…

Brain Quote of the Month – October 2010

Ken Robinson – The Element – October 2010

The A quadrant (cerebral left hemisphere) relates to analytic thinking (collecting data, understanding how things work, and so on). The B quadrant ( limbic left hemisphere) relates to implementation thinking (organizing and following directions, for example). The C quadrant (limbic right hemisphere) relates to social thinking (expressing ideas, seeking personal meaning). The D quadrant (cerebral right hemisphere) relates to future thinking (looking at the big picture, thinking in metaphors).

Brain Quote of the Month – May 2010

Norman Doidge – The Brain That Changes Itself

Culture can influence the development of perceptual learning because perception is not (as many assume) a passive, “bottom up” process that begins when energy in the outside world strikes the sense receptors, then passes the signals to the “higher” perceptual centers in the brain. The perceiving brain is active and always adjusting itself. Seeing is as active as touching, when we run our fingers over and object to discover its texture and shape. Indeed, the stationary eye is virtually incapable of perceiving a complex object. Both our sensory and our motor cortices are always involved in perceiving. The neuroscientists Manfred Fahle and Tomaso Poggio have show experimentally that “higher” levels of perception affect how neuroplastic change in the “lower,” sensory parts of the brain develops.

Comment: It is worth repeating this version of what Damasio puts forward in scientific detail in Descarte’s Error. A surprising number of scientists and specialists in consciousness get perception backward, and thus the entire theories they come up with about how our mind works are backward. We are not waiting, we are always moving forward into perception.

Brain Quote of the Month – March, 2010

Patrick Lane

The memoir arose out of the rather fragile wreckage of my life in the month following my release from a treatment centre for alcohol and drug addiction. I began writing about my garden because it was a safe place to explore. I worried that once sober and clean I wouldn’t be able to write anymore, so I avoided poetry and fiction, practices where I’d succeeded. There Is A Season was never intended to be a book, but was only an exercise, a way of re-entering my writing life. That it turned out to be a memoir, and a successful one, is fortuitous at best. The novel, Red Dog Red Dog, began a few weeks following the completion of the memoir. It was a natural segue and a desire on my part to actually finish a novel, three previous attempts in the 70’s and 80’s dying on the altar of alcohol and cocaine. And, no, I never ask why I’m writing. I sacrificed two families to poetry, my life to art. After fifty years of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, writing is as natural as breathing to me.

Comment: Yes. The way a fertile poet’s mind works and how a master poet moves from one project to another based on where his brain can and will go. And, yes, ‘writing is as natural as breathing’ to a writer. See, the following website for further comments:

Brain Quote of the Month – December, 2009

“Based on his work with plasticity, Taub discovered a number of training principles [for teaching stroke victims to speak again]: training is more effective if the skill closely relates to everyday life; training should be done in increments; and work sdhould be concentrated into a short time, a training technique Taub calls ‘massed practice,’ which he has found far more effective than long-term but less frequent training.” (Norman Doidge – p156, The Brain That Changes Itself)

Comment: Look under Lecture Notes, item 59: Invent your own language game. A plasticity game for poets.

Brain Quote of the Month – November, 2009

‘The optimal definition (that has the least number of problems) of consciousness is: ‘consciousness is a mental aspect of a system or a process, which has two sub-aspects: conscious experience and conscious function.’ A general definition (that accommodates most views) is: ‘consciousness is a mental aspect of a system or a process, which is a conscious experience, a conscious function, or both depending on the context’, where experiences can be conscious experiences and/or non-conscious experiences and functions can be conscious functions and/or non-conscious functions that include qualities of objects. The term context refers to metaphysical views, constraints, specific aims, and so on. Based on this investigation, (i) qualia are properties of conscious experiences and/or qualities of objects, (ii) mind includes experiences, functions, or both, and (iii) awareness includes experiences, conscious functions, and/or pre- and sub-conscious functions. These are a posteriori definitions because they are based on observations and the categorization.’ (Ram Vimal, 2009 October 29, personal communication).

Comment: And you thought consciousness was as simple as opening your eyes. Not so. When you get down to trying to say precisely what it means, the definition gets long and involved, as Ram Vimal, has noted on the Journal of Consciousness Studies listserve.

Brain Quote of the Month – September, 2009

Descartes’ Error – Antonio Damasio

At each moment the state of self is constructed, from the ground up. It is an evanescent reference state, so continuously and consistently reconstructed that the owner never knows it is being remade unless something goes wrong with the remaking. The background feeling now, or the feeling of an emotion now, along with the non-body sensory signals now, happen to the concept of self as instantiated in the coordinated activity of multiple brain regions. But our self, or better even, our metaself, only ‘learns’ about that ‘now’ an instant later.’ Pascal’s statements on past, present, and future, with which I opened chapter 8, capture this essence in lapidary fashion. Present continuously becomes past, and by the time we take stock of it we are in another present, consumed with planning the future, which we do on the stepping-stones of the past. The present is never here. We are hopelessly late for consciousness.

Comment: we think of ourselves as consisting as a unique person with our own past memories and a singular conscious knowledge of that past which we mush into the concept of self. How interesting to know that the way it actually works is the opposite: the self is transitory, being recreated every instant that we live as an aspect of attention. Fascinating.

Brain Quote of the Month – August, 2009

Journal of Consciousness Studies – Tom Pokorny

Consciousness is not objectively observable. All our experiences with consciousness are subjective. For example, it is impossible to establish, as a scientific objective fact, that another is conscious, or is it possible? Is the question about Zombie’s and consciousness relevant to science? Are any of the philosophical questions about scientific practices relevant to scientists? Do all empirical scientists ignore such questions?

If I report to myself that I experience pain when I strike my thumb with a hammer, that is a subjective fact to me, isn’t it? If several people make the same claim, can we make the prediction that it is a fact that when you strike your thumb with a hammer, under ordinary circumstances, you will experience pain.

Is that scientific? Are there scientific subjective facts? Or, is the issue disputed? I mean I don’t know the answer. Is there one?

Are dreams a fact when many individuals report having dreamed, or is a dream only a fact when certain wave patterns are observed in the brain?

The dream scientist says you were dreaming last night. The subject says he wasn’t. Is anyone right? Is there a sense in which both are right?

Can there be a science of consciousness?

Comment: a fair summary of a philosophic point of view on the issue of what is consciousness.

Quote of the Month – July, 2009.

Descartes’ Error – Antonio Damasio

The somatic marker hypothesis postulated … that emotions marked certain aspects of a situation, or certain outcomes of possible actions. Emotion achieved this marking quite overtly, as in a ‘gut feeling’, or coverly, via signals occurring below the radar of our awareness (examples… would be neuromodulator responses, such as those of dopamine or oxytocin, which can change the behaviour of neuron groups that represent a certain choice). As for the knowledge used in reasoning, it too could be fairly explicit or partially hidden, as when we intuit a solution. In other words, emotion had a role to play in intuition, the sort of rapid cognitive process in which we come to a particular conclusion without being aware of all the immediate logical steps. It is not necessarily the case that the knowledge of the intermediate steps is absent, only that emotion delivers the conclusion so directly and rapidly that not much knowledge need come to mind. This is in keeping with the old saying which tells us that ‘intuition favours the prepared mind.’ … the quality of one’s intuition depends on how well we have reasoned in the past; on how well we have classified the events of our past experience in relation to the emotions that preceded and followed them; and also on how well we have reflected on the successes and faiolures of our past intuitions. Intuition is simply rapid cognition with the required knowledge partially swept under the carpet, all courtesy of emotion and much past practice.

Comment: this is pretty clear that emotion works hand in hand with the conscious reasoning part of our mind – right prefrontal cortex – and at times is preferred for some types of decisions.

(Quote of the Month – November, Panskepp, 197)

Quote of the Month – October 2008

What Art Does – Ralph Ellis

The limbic system ‘categories’ that motivate the ‘looking for’ of selective attention are categories of utility, to be understood in terms of emotional affordances whole-organism affective meanings. Art plays with this looking-for, using it to make us engage in different afforded actions that relate to different limbic (emotional) categories. The drawing of children and of the artistically untutored reveal this structure when we fail to ‘draw what we see’, drawing instead what we conceptualize that we ought to be seeing. Art teaches us to get beyond this almost complete dominance of’ habitual categories, and to see things more freshly – both in the perceptual and in the emotive sphere. Rather than reinforcing our preconceptions, it forces us to see how they affect our view of reality.

Comment: whew, lots of big words here, but what Ellis means is fundamental to the way that artists, by my arguments, look at the world, what art they create, and its effects on the viewer. The word ‘limbic’ is part of the subconscious mind that pushes consciousness to pay attention to what it receives from the senses. It does so by the innate and experientially derived patterns it expects us to see. Ellis correctly points out that art plays with our subconscious patterns, the very basis of our minds.

Quote of the Month – September 2008

The Nature of Consciousness – Greg Nixon

It is not that consciousness itself is oscillating but that the imbalance created by action and identity result in consciousness.

Now this is very interesting – and not all that far from the previous beginnings of a definition of consciousness as being related to reportability. McCard seems to suggest here that self-identity, much less in control of one’s actions than it likes to think, must spend a good deal of time accounting for those actions. Cs is more like a public relations officer than the chief executive officer, less rational than rationalizing. The implication izzat most of what we do arises from unconscious motives (which may simply be those of the body), just as psychoanalysis has long indicated, and one of the jobs of ego-consciousness (self-identity) is to make up “just so stories” – cause-and-effect narratives to preserve the illusion of self-agency .

Comment: Taken from the listserve of the Journal of Consciousness Studies (anyone can join and hear where the current academic pursuit of the study is at). This illustrates the point that much of what we humans do is from the subconscious and that consciousness more than a little is about making conscious what the subconscious has already or is actually doing, not the other way around.

Quote of the month – August 2008

Why Poetry – Margaret Atwood

… music, mathematics and poetry seem to be more closely allied than any of them are to ordinary conversational speech, to prose fiction, or to prose in general. Poetry involves pattern recognition – and so do those other forms of word assembly – but the nature of the patterns appears to be different – closer to those of music and math.

Comment: Check out Charles Limb’s MRI work in the bibliography on this site on the nature of where jazz comes from in a musician – from the I centre. I have asked him whether he will will be doing the same MRI work on poets and he said yes, but in a few years. (I will keep an eye on his research to update you, the reader). In other words, poetry comes from the I centre, and, I think that is why poets, artists identify so much with their art that they refuse to give it up in a world that wants them to get a job and raise a family.

Further, from Atwood:

[Our past] oral cultures swam in a sea of language – rich, aromatic, multiplicitous, exfoliating language. We on the other hand – as a culture at large – live on a comparatively dry shore. This is possibly why poets often feel – to themselves – obsolete, archaic, somehow not modern. They’re told that what they do is a remnant of something human beings no longer need – that we live by technologies and numbers now, and that these technologies and numbers represent the real world, as opposed to the dream world that poets live in, along with lunatics and lovers – of imagination all compact, each one of them – the implication being that the creatures of the imagination are not real.

Comment: The religious cult of science in its current paradigmatic form.

More Atwood:

“The arts”… are the heart of the matter, because they are about our hearts, and our technological inventiveness is generated by our emotions, not by our minds… it’s… the human imagination, in all its diversity, that directs what we do with our tools. Poetry is an uttering, or outering, of the human imagination. It lets the shadowy forms of thought and feeling out into the light, where we can take a good look at them and perhaps come to a better understanding of who we are and what we want, and what the limits to those wants may be. Understanding the imagination is not a pastime or even a duty, but a necessity; because increasingly, if we can imagine it, we’ll be able to do it.

Comment: Pay attention to the art and pay attention to the science.

Quote of the Month – July, 2008

Introduction to the Boreal Poetry Garden – Marlene Creates, Newfoundland, Canada – 2008; See:

I want to take you on a walk through the woods to the spots where the poems belong. They’re site-specific poems and, as a rule, I only read them in the particular spot where they arose – I won’t read them in a show-white gallery of a lecture hall. Only here. I hope the spoken words you will hear will enhance your experience and perception of this natural environment.

To some extent, I’m trying to work outside the institutions of the art world. I’m trying to integrate my life and my artwork in these 6 acres of boreal forest, which has resulted in the slightness of my artistic gesture. In responding to the landscape that surrounds me, my work is becoming more and more dematerialized.

All that is needed for the work I’m going to present is our perceiving, sensing bodies and the immediate experiential surroundings – the textures, colours, shadows, shapes and sound of this landscape. Mostly, my body has a silent engagement with these things. But more and more I have come to realize that I do not experience this place without local names sounding in my head. The expressive gesture of speech has texture and rhythm like the material landscape, and is often informed by and tuned to the sounds of the terrain and the beings in it. I find that many Newfoundland vernacular words fulfill a beautiful sonic relationship with this landscape.

Often words are the only means to convey things that my camera cannot capture, like sounds and other fleeting phenomena. My responses to these moments are quite various so I need to warn you that some of the poems are longer but some of them – those which are kind of like haiku – may be over before yo ustart to listen. I’ll tell you when it’s a short one and I’ll leave a space before I read it and a space after it’s over.

The present moment is often thought of as a tiny point between the enormous past and future. I’d like you to gaze around and try to bring all the present into your awareness – so that the present moment swells into a vast expanse while the past and future shrink down. Let the present balloon into something very large that takes in all of us and the circumstances of this place at this time. Take in the material landscape that surrounds us, including the sky above, and try to take it in through all your senses. Let the past and the future dissolve so only the immense present remains. Try to take it in through all your senses. Let the past and the future dissolve so only the immense present remains.

Comment: Two things: first, this kind of exploration has nothing to do with the scientific reductionists eight universal laws of art and beauty as suggested by Ramachandran. Marlene’s work may have beauty in it, but she is not searching for that – and it is an intense search, not to mention that as the forest is always changing, so the poems always change, something not addressed in the current scientific view of art: that art, this art, changes every day and over time, infinitely, and, is also cyclical.

As we were walking through the forest, listening to Marlene, Canadian poet, Don McKay and I were musing on the laws, I saying that the R-view says artists use his laws to make their art to make people like it and buy it, and saying that not only is this not in a gallery, that you have to come here, to NF, Canada, and to the land and also to have Marlene read you the poems, to get the art presented to you. And, as we walked on through the forest, Don pointed out, among many other things, that a frame for a painting in a gallery is simply an artifact of necessity because it’s only useful in a gallery. Of course this is true, but the reductionists don’t notice because their understanding of the nature of art is I am sorry to say, without depth. Why is it that intelligent people who grow deeply into their own specialty, think they know deeply another area that they have spent zero time trying to understand?

Second, note Marlene’s deep search into the nature of time and the suggestion that the past and the future need to be shrunk and then the present swells ‘into a vast expanse’. Not so strangely, I am reminded of Einstein, the Doppler effect, and that active perception deposits consciousness, seemingly as a continuous stream, rather than the other way around..