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Lecture Notes – Brains of Poets, Updated Feb 8, 2012

This post is the short notes for the lectures on the human brain, and the brains of poets, that I am giving at universities, writing festivals and annual general meetings of writers organizations in 2011 – 2012. Any university or college that wishes me to speak to their students on creativity, especially as it relates to creative writing, please get in touch with me.

POETS: LOOK AT THIS. Here are some suggestions for you to pay attention to regarding your brain. It will make you a far better poet. Look below ‘Brains of Poets: Pay Great Attention to:’

SEE NUMBER 59. INVENT YOUR OWN LANGUAGE GAME. This one will improve any university student’s school work. You will get higher marks. So get a group together and try this one out. And then let me know how it goes.

Brains of Poets: Poets, Pay Great Attention to (Note, this is a first draft and in no particular order. It needs refinement and flesh. Many more suggestions to come.):

1. Smells – this is because all smells go directly to the subconscious brain before we actually sense the smell. No other sense does this. Because we shower everyday and use scented products we no longer have ‘human’ smells. But the brain has been active for a quarter of a billion years in the smell department. For example, dogs and cats smell people and other animals. We are not aware of our own pheremones though we are almost unable to not respond to another person who’s scent we smell. But for poets, the real point is an avenue into the subconscious. We drop as many as 200,000 flakes of skin each day. A hound, a wolf can follow the trail all day long. Think that a predator is onto your smell. Smell everything in your world. A newspaper. An orange. A baby’s head. One day you will write the smell.

2. Subconscious – don’t think too much. Your intuitions are right on. Believe this, and go with what feels most right. Instinctive preferences are associated with positive feelings, rational brains search for reasons. Art is not about 2 plus 2.

3. Right Prefrontal Cortex

4. Anterior singulate and basal ganglia

5. Amygdyla

6. Left hemisphere – Wernicke, Broca

7. Pressure, anger just before a huge creativity burst. Right hemisphere, language centres, superior, temporal gyrus, like a dam breaks. This small part of the right side of your brain is particularly good at generating creative associations that lead to epiphanies. The ‘juice’ from the burst is that pleasure centre dopamine thing, though.

8. Finding your voice – one of the developmental steps in a poet’s career is finding the way you speak in poetry the best. Charles Limb’s jazz research shows that when musicians improvise, the ‘I’ centre – behind the right eyebrow – is switched on. That means a poet does his/her best work when they speak from their innate voice. So, do develop your understanding of what the you in you is trying to say.

9. Pay attention to what your ‘I’ centre is saying. The jazz improvisation experiment means that at your best you are playing your ‘I’ centre, literally, playing yourself. Pay attention to your attention when you do your best work. This is not the same thing as developing your voice. This is about your best work. Music and poetry are very much the same, as all poets know. And poetry is an improvisation with 26 letters; music, our music, with 8 tones.

10. Accept a high level of fear. If you are on the edge making bug time progress, sorry, big, (I couldn’t resist that typo) you will be very afraid, of being able to do the poetry, of being able to be good enough, of being able to get better and not simply repeat yourself. Accept the fear as something good, and use it to scare yourself into being better. This is the prefrontal cortex doing the take over and be a conductor of your mind to go where you want to go. Think of fear as a very very good thing. Get scared as shit and use it.

11. Understand what kind of fear you have. There are kinds of fear that are not useful. Being blocked is fear you can’t do it anymore. Figure out what ritual you need to go through to solve being blocked, for example, if you have been writing a whole lot, a natural result is to be blocked. So walk away. I have another approach: I commit completely to the feeling of fear of never being able to write poetry again. It’s devastating, and I say, yes, this time it’s actually true. I will never ever be able to write again, give me Hemingway’s shotgun. In that terrible feeling comes another, that, the work can be done again. But if I resist giving away my complete identity, there is no new work for me – I have to go through the crater. Find your method.

Another kind of being blocked is to tell yourself that you can only write about X and that you must suppress thoughts of Y, and that the time you have is exceptionally important, and must be used properly. Take boundaries away from your writing process. They block you.

Another kind of fear is choking. This results from thinking too much about what you are doing and then what you write is crud, and this blocks you because you know it’s bad. Instead focus on a ‘holistic cue’. You find this cue by focusing attention during a time when you are writing well and think of a word or phrase that describes the movement of your thought. When you are choking from too much thinking, say your cue. It will help you get back on track.

12. Focus on your feelings. When you are reading poetry and it’s blowing you away, that is what you should feel like when you are writing your best. When you look at when you have written your best, ask your self how you were feeling at that time. Then know, that everytime you look at your own work and you have that feeling that it is spectacular, or that you know it’s right, that’s the feeling you should have. The more you do this, over the years, the more you know when your brain is in the right feeling mode, and when, it wears out and you should walk away from your poetry, so you don’t ruin it.

Please note this is not the same thing as when the fall downshift in light puts you in a depressive mode that fosters rewriting. It is not the same thing, if you go through mania and depressive cycles rapidly, though that can be used for switching from writing new to revising old.

13. Find your silent mentor. Ask yourself who are the most important poets that stimulate you to write. P.K. Page once told me that Yeats did it for her. Sylvia Legris returns to Paul Celan. Patrick Lane helped me at the most important moment for me. Carolyn Force (Angel of History) has helped me immensely. But I pay attention to a lot of new young Canadian poets because they are ultra-current and reflect our info chaos world. Find who means the most to you and who you would most like to write like.

14. Believe what you believe; you will writer better. If you believe that a pet rock makes you write better, or whatever, the right prefrontal cortex makes it so. Put the rock beside you. This is the placebo effect. The rational part of the mind, once it believes something, will make you do better or worse, depending on your belief about the subject. The explanation does not matter, nor whether it is true or not, it is onlythe conscious belief that is. For example, if you believe wearing a tortoise shell bracelet works for you, by gum, you will discover that it does. So do it.

15. Closely aligned with 14., develop rituals that make you write better poetry. This is one of the great understandings of religion. For example, if you believe in and undertake the ritual of oos-im-itch, a preparatory ten day process of the Nhu-chah-nulth First Nations, you will hunt better; if you believe in the covenant developed in Deuteronomy, you will believe in a single God that rewards for your acts toward a better Jewish faith; the swung incense of the Roman Caotholic signifies purification. Each of these rituals has a significance to the person who performs it or believes it. It becomes a central positive influence for you.

16. Rewrite with Juice. Typically, the best time to rewrite is the winter when the depressive phase of creativity takes over and you can focus down without fighting your manic mind. But, after you figure out – by paying close attention – to when you rewrite best, pay attention to the various parts of your mind that affect your decisions. These decisions are vital because we tend to strip words away when rewriting far more commonly than we add and you can ruin things easily (copy and paste the poem to the end of your manuscript before rewriting it) by making the decisions we make.

Three parts of your brain strongly affect your decisions: Prefrontal cortex is the consciousness part that brings your ‘felt’ suggestions forward for a decision. But the nucleus accumbens is a key to the dopamine cascade system that gives you positive rewards while the insula produces negative reactions to the words you are creating and changing during rewriting. Both of these produce felt emotions that you cannot change. Poetry is mysterious and so are emotions that you cannot change. So, with your attention favour the two limbic structures that give you positive and negative feelings about the changes you are making. If you consciously favour your unconscious juice, you will make better rewriting decisions.

17. Write what you most strongly feel. It makes little sense to write poetry with rational thought – as though a poem’s greatness could be ascertained on an X and Y axis graph. Do rip out that page, as in The Dead Poet’s Society – disengage the rational brain. This would be intuitive to most poets – but I once had an engineer tell me I should rewrite with a pencil so that I could erase the previous words and insert the new better ones – wrong. It’s the soup of words that’s important. But develop your consciousness assessment of both the adverse and positive reactions that your mind is having to what you are doing. Get in touch with how strong your emotions are, and then go with them. It is the consciousness of your emotions that you need to develop.

18. Pay your dues and get better. Surprising as it may seem, the prefrontal cortex responsible for conscious thinking is not the repository of your years of writing poetry. The mind learns only by experience, making mistakes and learning from them, and that is a dopamine cascade thing that the mind uses to learn, and the more time you spend at writing the better you will get, even if you don’t have a lot of talent. Pilots are trained in simulators not because they reason their way through problems, but because they internalize a method of thinking and reacting when in a crisis. Write like you are in a crisis. And trust the huge library of experience you are building the more you write poetry.

19. Cycle your moods rapidly. This one is not for the faint of heart. Once you can easily detect your dopamine circuits and averse feeling circuits, make a habit of making them cycle deep into the one and then the other. Alcohol is the writer’s drug. It both lubricates and deadens. If it’s sex, then have lots of sex, with different partners, carefully, or not. And so on, with an emphasis on figuring out the activities that make you a better poet and then saturating your life with them. The down side on this one is the great personal risk you put yourself and others through trying to get better and have longer periods of high creativity. For example, many poets take lithium based pills or anti-depressants. If you want a high creativity period, stop taking the medication. But, remember, without the pills all creativity will stop as you may shoot out the end to psychosis or become mentally catatonic, not to mention commit suicide. Be extremely careful in pushing your mind around by changing medication/substances/liquids, as it’s very typical for artists to refuse to take pills because the poetry is associated with identity, a very dangerous mix. Go back and eliminate substances/liquids while retaking medications – doing so will not take the poetry away in the long run, even though your mind powerfully tells you that it will. Do distrust your instincts on this one.

20. Will your way into a better poetic brain (This is not the same thing as 17.). As completely unbelievable as it may sound, you can actually become better at poetry by force of will concentrating on becoming better. This is not like putting a gun to your head and telling yourself to get better, but as the transcendentalists say: favour the thoughts naturally arising from your mind that make you more creative. This process can be used for improving at anything you want, but we are poets here and we adapt this for our use. It turns out that simply turning and facing where you poetically want to go and saying yes, you can do this, actually stimulates the growth of new brain cells in your poetic brain.

21. Don’t overlook the obvious. A good OCD can be a grand thing. Do obsessive compulsive things like repeating words that rhyme, repeating words with alliteration, repeating words that link one kind of noun with another kind of noun, or verb or modifying a noun – with an adjective not normally associated with it – commonly known as metaphors. And do it over and over and over. Your focus on words, their connections, their sounds working with the sounds of other words is the essence of poetry: an obsession with words. For rhymes, here is a simple example: take the word ‘give’ and change the first letter starting at the beginning of the alphabet and working right through to the end. Then make combinations of two letters to add to the ‘ive’, working through the alphabet. Then three. and so on This can be an endless preoccupation with the basis of words – something that is very high on the personality list for poets. At the same time this is much the same as, self possession, self-absorption, also an important part of the poetic personality. Self-absorption is all about being in one’s own head, detached from those around you. This is the space that a poet needs, and it is important to personality, the characteristic of finding the rest of life irrelevant – one can tolerate being poor for instance (something that virtually all poets are), if one is very self absorbed. You just don’t notice it.

22. Love those serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, you will be a better poet. There is growing evidence that certain anti-depressants – the ones that make synapses slower to take up neurotransmitters – work on mood by primarily making the brain grow new brain cells (even though they are known to be SRIs). Should you be looking for a pharmacological fix to take you out of lows where you are blocked and can’t work, consider trying a cycle through the SRIs to bring you up into a depressive phase that allows your mind to work quicker in the periods when you reshape and redraft initial poems.

23. Never settle for the obvious.

24. Describe the same thing five different ways. You are highly creative. If you see something, anything, make five images or word clusters to describe it, do it for everything you pass and everything you feel all day long. Describe it as you see it. As a photograph. These five combinations are images, the main building blocks of western poetry. These combinations are the same thing as word riffs where one word spawns the next and this the next and so on. This is a process of self-lubrication, the equivalent of singing scales.

25. Court strong emotions so strong you can hardly stand them. This is like walking in a room of poisonous snakes. You can get killed very quickly, but the heightened emotions you have, which you can’t stay at long, the brain can’t take it, are the basis of work that blows your brain away.

26.A Lay parts of your mind fallow. Let them rejuvenate to give you that artesian flow that sings. Know when you have used a part of you to its absolute extent. And let it go. For now.

26.B Think of your mind as having many centres of creativity, not just one, hence, part of your mind is primed for more work at all times. This helps with being blocked, too.

27. Nmonic Devices. Another method to work better is to associate a ‘thing’ with your best work. Similar to the point in 14, above. If you have, say, a bald eagle’s pinion feather – all dark brown, by the way – that you think will help you write better, always take it into the room or conceive it in your mind when you are working. If you can remember the times where the nmonic device has helped you work better, then you already have something you believe in. It is believing in the device that makes it work, even if it is imaginary, for example, a waterfall that exists only in your mind, or an imaginary animal, say, a unicorn. Looked at from the other direction: when you are working well (and, of course, you need to have listened to yourself for some time to know this), bring your unicorn into your mind. That coats your nmonic device with being successful. So it helps you the next time you call it up while you are working. This point is not the same thing as developing rituals, which you should also do, though they both work by priming the dopamine spindle cells which is the basis of experience.

28. Develop your mind’s segue abilities. So, when you can’t do one type of work, switch instantly to other work of a different category. For example, if you have more than one manuscript on the go at different stages of development, move from one to the other instantly, so you do not waste time, something there is too little of. Add to this that, for example, reading poetry makes you want to write, that it is a segue in itself, and do it immediately, and give yourself permission not to feel guilty (if you do) for your pleasure. Enjoy the change like sex. On the other hand, if your mental rituals include a period of moping around, for instance, as an important part of your method, then you ignore seguing past this part of your process. Of course, the point here is: knowing how you work best, understanding, listening, watching, tasting yourself.

29. Think of writing poetry as sex. This is a self evident truth. Think of poetry as a drug (like heroin or cocaine). This is also a self evident truth. A poet is moved most easily by poetry than most anything else. Given the economics of being a poet – not much – the elevation of poetry very highly is a necessary condition of the poetic mind.

30. Think of poetry as life. Think of poetry as the sun. Think of poetry as:_______ . In other words, make poetry the biggest positive thing you can have in your existence.

31. Keep repeating your memory and feelings when you write your best poetry. The repetition is hugely important. This primes the memory, to make the memory stronger, and because memory changes every time you remember something, the more you put your mind to remembering, the bigger and more memorable the memory becomes. Note that no memories are true, so it is important to imbue your memories with what you want them to be. The dopamine, spindle cell arrangement is where our intuitive memory lies, and it is built by having ‘successes’, this is what is being positively affected by repeating a memory. You make it ‘true’. And, the act of remembering something overlays a new memory on top of what you remember – not an intuition issue.

32. Pay attention to the dreams you have while you are awake. We dream 24 hours a day, but due to the intensity of being conscious, do not ‘see’ our waking dreams. Dreams have attenuated logic because the consciousness centre is turned off in them. This is like synaesthesia, which is the ability to join two different sensory modes, a kind of metaph0r, and a good thing for poets. Dreams also are the undercurrents of what is most important to us emotionally. So, in addition to paying attention to sleeping dreams, be aware of waking dreams. This is a skill that must be developed because consciousness overshadows waking dreams. But the payoff is having a conduit to the most important emotions of your life, a very important constituent in poetry. Anthropomophism is for example a stock in trade for poets, and is also a synaesthetic process, and one that represents what is under neath our beliefs. Beliefs sit on and depend for their existence on our emotions.

33. Make combinations of things that are not usually thought of together. A simple example would be writing down a list of 50 nouns (adjectives, verbs, etc.). Then go through from the beginning and take the first noun and put it together with each of the other 49 one at a time. This is categorization, and the novel combinations are the ones that help develop your creativity. This is a creativity exercise, but it is also the creation of metaphors, and you are lubricating your mind to produce new, different and original combinations, something that is fundamental to poetry. And, the combining part is conscious right prefrontal cortex stuff, but your feeling about the relative goodness of a combination is from the subconscious, where all good poets have to go.

34. Tap into your subconscious when your brain is new. Write down a list of ten different ideas each of which you would like to develop into a poem – on slips of paper. When you first wake, throw the slips and the one that goes the farthest, you write down as a poem in a freefall form, and then move on with the rest of your day, and come back to the poem later. When you first wake, or your attention is low your subconscious feelings are let through with greater freedom. This item is a method to make your mind do something when the gates of creativity are more open. It also gives you greater access into primary processes of thought.

35. Drink booze, write great poetry. This one is so obvious it hardly needs mentioning. Alcohol is the poet’s drug. It loosens inhibitions, grants confidence, enables trying on things that you would normally not connect, it lubricates the mind, it destabilizes the mind. In the long run, though, it kills you.

36. Shifts in mood. When your mood shifts, your underlying mind is doing something different from what you are currently thinking about. Get in the habit that when this happens, that you write something down immediately. All poets know the writing on match books, paper towels even themselves when something hits them. But if you develop your ability to attentionally recognize mood swings, you will far more quickly tap into when you should work based on the cycles of your mind. It is the shift that is important, not what the particular emotion is.

37. Write when you are weeping. Again this one is about tapping into the big emotions you have. Weeping is great emotion, and, just as importantly, about release of emotion. Alternatively while you write, if you are, say, angry, hurt, put your mind into that thought completely so that you begin to weep – the method acting approach. You will write with a weird logic, a prerequisite for great poetry. Just bang on those keys. Hate your oppressor even if it is illusory.

38. Simultaneously consider multiple subjects particularly opposites. Give yourself several subjects, objects, moods, images and think about them all at the same time. This is the nuclear fusion of making atoms combine. You can’t help but come up with novel ideas.

39. Feel what your body feels. What mood is your body in? Find out. Pay attention to moving through the clouds to what is behind them. Your body is hard wired into intuition and what it feels or what you think makes it give you messages of how it feels.

40. Eat foods that affect your moods or dreams. Such foods include, for some: tomato sauce, pizza, spiced meats. Figure out the ones that do this for you, particularly for wilder dreams. They are the undercurrents you are working to connect with, so influence them.

41. Give thanks for the mystery of your best poems. This one is for those who feel they don’t want to understand how to write better poems because it may make them less frequent or not as good. If you think your process is magic, then honour the magic. It is a ritual, and it makes you feel good about the poetry you do write well. Say it out loud, with conviction.

42. Hold in your mind subjects that make you have strong contrary feelings. An obvious example would be a lover who has left you or slept with another. On the one hand you love, on the other you hate. Or belief in religion that you are unsure of. Or a moral view that you have not lived up to. Or a rose because it was offered by a traitor or enemy. It is the disturbance from normality that is useful. It allows for much greater creativity.

43. Create an imaginary being who speaks to you in strange ways, and values you very much. This one is clearly one that goes over the border into psychosis or schizophrenia, so be careful. If you hear voices in your head believe them, though know also that they are not true. If you can yank yourself back from the being, you are creating the powerful currents that make creativity come spontaneously.

44 a. Believe in a god. Much like the last item, this is about creating a supernatural being because so doing accesses the same thinking process that underlies creativity.

44 b. Hold tight to a positive delusion. If you have created a god that sees you as the best thing in the universe, refuse to let it go. While you consciously believe this, your body is not confused. It will send you endless messages of conflict. These are positive because they crash into the positive feelings and thoughts you have. Conflict leads to creativity.

45. Develop a compulsion to understand the entire world. This one strikes me as more related to the work a novelist must do. On the other hand, the compulsion, factor, is again accessing the emotional side of your nature. And being focused on the entire world makes you an intense person, ever striving to understand. Intensity is akin to the manic flights of high creation wherein you believe you are convinced you have deep insights into human beings and the world, coupled with a huge output of poems. In addition, intensity of focus is making the conscious right prefrontal cortex, where conscious creativity arises, aware at a high level, hence the conscious part of creativity, directed creativity, is already on demand to go.

46. Exercise. You want your mind to write great poetry? Then exercise your body. That is because moods are most strongly affected by how your body interprets and influences emotion and thus attention… which is the most important feature in the conscious part of your mind that boosts creativity.

47. Value the close people in your life. Humans are social beings conditioned from almost the word go. If you value the close people in your life, going out of your way to think of them, you are making a connection with your subject matter. You are also preventing loneliness, alienation, depression. This matter subconsciously strokes your conscious creativity by having your body send its positive messages to where you are most attentive.

48. Think of your self as a time lapse of clouds and sun rushing across a landscape. This sense of always being new every second is in fact how consciousness actually works: our self is created in every instant. This is the same as continuously and always blooming. Creativity is artesian. Blowing out of you as fast as it can. Now write poetry.

49. Indulge your fantasies in many different projects. The important part is to have the many different projects going at one time. It is clear from classical brain plasticity experiments that the more different things you do, the greater your creativity. It also means as much, in rats as a 25% volume change in specific areas. It makes many areas of your brain associated with poetry work far better.

50. Play your most favourite music while you write. Some, like me, are so stimulatable ,that I cannot do this. But, you may be able to do this, and what you are doing is stimulating your I centre which is where your best poetry comes from. It also affects your entire brain. Scientists have found that chickens prefer from all the choices, Pink Floyd, to listen to. Their brain proteins, involved with making synapses, as in new connections start changing in as little as two hours.

51. Do what you think will make the most difference to improving your poetry. The odd truth of it is not simply believing in yourself and improving as noted above, but in following your strongest beliefs about writing. For example, I know someone who says that they write their best poetry based on the feelings they have that come from their stomachs. Learn to recognize and do and redo what you discover. Since all feelings are in the brain, the stomach is not where they come from, but who cares. If it works, do it, believe it.

52. Think that you write from every place in your brain. Imagine as you are writing that the lights are coming on in your head and as you do it, the lights spread out so that your entire brain becomes lighted inside your skull. This will actually increase the size of the areas of your brain that do do the deed. You don’t need to know them, just the way to make it happen. This is putting brain plasticity into action.

53. Ask yourself how you are responding to every situation you are in. This does two things: it makes you self-absorbed, a very important part of a poet’s personality; and, it makes you think far more and far more quickly, so that you can keep up, to the feelings that are instantly revealing themselves to you, so your creative brain is quicker, and, okay there is a third, it gives you a vastly greater amount of personal experience to draw on when you write.

54. Imbue everything around you with feeling. For example, tell yourself that the rock/tree/insect/ etc. next to you is happy, sad, angry, wistful, droopy, hungry, insatiable, rational, aggressive, psychotic, smart, dumb, young, middle-aged, old, dead, insensitive, a jilting lover, a new parent, etc. etc. etc. This is being anthropomorphizing, an absolutely vital part of the poet’s tool bag. And it facilitates thinking in new ways about everything – creativity.

55a. Focus your attention on poetry. You will write better if when you read someone you really like, you focus your attention and keep it high as you read and reread, as well as figure out how the poetry works and does what it does. Generally, attention focused on what you want to achieve makes it happen. The brain plasticity protein BDNF works in a number of ways to make this true. The process is actually changing your brain to make it more in tune with what you want it to do.

55b. Focus your attention on moving objects with your mind. The purpose is focusing your attention as that improves the system for new learning and a positive feeling about it. And the focus required to think you can move say your coffee cup makes you focus far more than if it were something you could do easily, like move words around in your head. Then turn your turned on brain to your poetry.

56. Take stimulants. A big dose of caffeine will help a person pull an all nighter before an exam. The same chemical can open up the brain’s effortless ability to learn (nucleus basalis), for example, remember long chunks of poetry, and be able to write more poetry. But be very careful with this one because there comes a point with caffeine where you get strung out or crash and all that you have learned/written disappears. The same can be said for more dangerous stimulants like speed, crystal-meth and so on, so be very careful, and I am not suggesting you take them. The same can be done by putting an electrode in the right part of the brain, which of course is not an ethical doctor’s procedure at present. In the long run, though, and a Brave New World subject, specific drugs will come on the market that you can take to open that effortless learning period that allows children to learn so much, so quickly, and apply it to writing far better poetry.

57. Learn a New Language. Or better yet, invent one. Learning a new language turns on our abilities to, well, learn, with a far greater ease and alacrity, like when we were children and after less than a year of rote we began picking up 30 new words a day. Also, a new language has enough differences that it forces you to look at your own language’s conventions in an entirely new way, or take the conventions of that new language and ‘push’ English (if that is your language) to make it say things the same way. We don’t for instance, break nouns into feminine and masculine, or take one word and inflect it five different ways to give different meaning or change the noun instead of changing verbs to handle the complexities of time shift (past, present, and etc). Then try translating another language’s poetry. The process of finding meaning in English comparable with another language is highly creative and very difficult – the perfect kind of exercise to stimulate your own poetry.

58. To boldly go. Project your thought right through your forehead or right between your eyes. Take your time to feel your power. Then close your eyes and hold out your hands. Imagine you are keeping in the air by the emanations of your hands the most crucial truths of mankind and keeping them safe from all the evil in the world. Hold them there and feel yourself doing this. Now realize that the truths are your own poetry. Now write. (nucleus basalis). Do this every time you write. Make it a ritual.

59. Invent your own language game. You and the other participants develop 12 rules of language – anything goes. The Game Master, who is not a participant of the game, but whose decisions must be obeyed, ranks the rules from the simplest to the most complex. The first rule must be observed in the first week; in the second week, the second rule must be obeyed; and so on. The Game Master decides whether the one word you are allowed to add to the growing poem at one time, and the next player the second, and so on, meets the rule to be observed. You cannot disagree with the Game Master, only choose another word until the Master says yes to your choice; then the next player chooses. At the end of the game, the Game Master is changed for the next game. The best way to play is by Blackberry, Email, Youtube, or etc., so that a game can be played 24 hours a day, 24/7, though 9 am to 5 pm, is long enough. Aim to log several dozen by each participant a day. The Game Master saves the ‘poem’ to an email, so you can observe your game’s progress. By the end of ‘term’ (a university term is roughly 12 weeks), you will find your dexterity with words, grammar, diction, past and future tenses, etc. dramatically improved. This is so because your language game makes your brain change, and be able to do far more complex things in your real life poetry. This is a plasticity game of great power.

60. Make poetry an obsession. This one works in a number of ways. If you think about poetry several hours a day, your writing will improve. If you read poetry several hours a day, ditto. If you memorize poetry several hours a day, etc. If you read about your favourite poets and imagine yourself as them, you will write better poetry. The more you do it, the more it will work, and, when you pass over that threshold where you lose the ability to judge whether you are doing it too much you are in that crazy territory where your writing jumps up a quantum leap. Mine this because shortly thereafter you will write crud and need to stop. Try and stay on the edge until you cannot take it anymore. And, again, be careful because slipping too far over that edge is going past creativity into an OCD and then the more useless poles of mental diseases. Think of your brain as malleable and that you are changing its shape constantly.

61. Right poems upside-down or reversed. Write a poem by looking at the computer screen’s image in a mirror, or upside down, if you can so rig mirrors, or can actually write with a pen upside down. The left pre-frontal cortex normally exerts control on the right side, but it is not good at reading things that are backward or upside down. The right side that is normally inhibited or shaped or led by the left is not constrained because the left cannot understand what you have done. You will instantly be able to write poems better. The same principle applies if you are trying to write music, paint, sculpt and so on. For poetry, this is a surprising outcome, because most language skills are on the left side as well. Interestingly enough, rhyming is a right side thing, and conscious creation is also a right prefrontal activity.

62. Find people who like what you do and that you admire. The point of this is that you are at highest creativity when you feel valued, when you think you are right, when you are so confident that you are over-confident. The corollary to this one is to: Run away from people who do not like you. Waste no time with an idol who doesn’t like you. There is no point banging your head against a wall. For, example, if a magazine consistently turns you down, move on, don’t waste your confidence trying to get someone who is not interested in you get interested in your work. It wastes your creativity. Think this way: if you don’t get along with someone, group, magazine, etc., identify it/them and cross them off your list. Move to the light. That is where your creativity lives. This is one of the hardest things that I have had to learn. Isn’t that silly, something that to most comes as easy as opening their eyes.

63. Break with your past. Never be satisfied. If you have sycophants, you must move on. The crack that breaks you open is where the quantum leap comes from. This is also fear. Fear is good. Jump off that cliff into what you do not know. If you are satisfied, you are writing below the level you have in your brain. If you have done your degree, move on. If you have done workshops, move on. If you have done a writing group for over a decade, move on.

64. Learn the rules, then break the rules. This is your right hand brain being freed of the left hand brain. This is the same thing as really being experimental. A poet cannot experiment until he or she can write the rules and conventions. If you can’t do what is normally done, you cannot do anything new. If you can’t do it, understand it, as the second best practice.

65. Pursue your goals until they break you. This is for very goal directed artists, those who need ribbons on the mantelpiece, glowing review, a mountain. Don’t roll the stone up, pick up the mountain and bring it home. It is yours. It is too much for you. When you break, you will write your best poetry. It’s the clash of the opposite emotions, again, and a way to reach them for the writer who has method and their outcome mapped out.

66. Imagine doing anything that you want to do without any constraint. While you are imagining this, for example, jumping off a cliff, which is disturbing, or making love with someone in front of an audience, which is enjoyable, or building a house of cards that will not fall down. It doesn’t matter what the thing is. What matters is that you can do it with the constraints of logic or social convention or whatever. When you are doing this, you are creative. Creativity is about putting together something novel, or new, for you, or coming up with conclusions you would not think of, if, for instance, there was no gravity, then you would not need, a glass to drink water. You would simply pour the water into air and it would hold there as a sphere because water molecules orient to one another and have surface tension. Creativity is about lack of inhibition, your brain telling yourself not to do something. So if you imagine yourself doing something without constraint, you have put your poet’s mind into its creative phase. Imagine you can fly and then you can.

67. Concentrate on your body. Ask yourself how your body feels. Think about your legs, and stomach, your heart, if you could control the beat, your lungs, your brain, your fingers and toes. The reason is that it puts you in touch with your intuition, which is the centre of much poetic luck. Concentrate on trying to feel what emotions your body is in. Spend the time. Remember that your body informs how you feel about things in your conscious mind – and it is also a kind of memory, that is one of the purposes of the dopamine system (appallingly called the pleasure centre, an expression you should eschew). The mind takes stock of what the body tells it and makes decisions based on that. You are making a connection with magic, and if your poetry performs magic, how can you get any better than that?

68. Take good advice, make sure it is good advice, then do it your way. This is a toughy. But take the advice of poets you trust – meaning you admire their poetry – and change it to your own poetry. You may be in university for four years in creative writing, or you may not, but find someone who you trust and follow until your pathway starts on its own. Then be obstinate about changing. Invent cubist poetry. Invent the mainstream. Boldly go any old damn place you want.

69. Know Your Depression. (Flaherty) While depressed you will generally write less (really?) but when you are also agitated (ignore those SSRI uptake meds) i.e., manic, the two acting together make you a much better writer. Again it is the conflict of emotions, resulting from brain chemistry that helps you. Get in touch with your excruciating periods and mine them.

70. Develop habits that lead you into writing. These are not rituals mentioned above in 14-15, but the simple preparatory things that go into your day before or after you write. W. Somerset Maugham began the day in the bath where he also shaved. Then he had breakfast on a tray and the morning paper. He consulted with his cook and then repaired to his den to write with a special fountain pen until precisely 12:45, pm. “My brain is dead after 1 o’clock.” Then he had a one-martini lunch, nap, or tennis or golf, then cocktail hour and after a black tie dinner with champagne. Like that. Find your simple habits, like checking your email, then shutting the volume off. Start with caffeine and consider more. Check your blog and then resist and so on. If it works for you, sharpen every pencil, if you have them and a sharpener. These simple things, routine things, get your mind engaged with the subterranean emotional part of your brain that is where stimulation and metaphors begin.


Coming Soon: The Poets Personality


Brains of Poets: The Main Categories:

1. Some Interesting thoughts about the brain.

2. How we think the brain works and how it really works.

3. The brains of writers/poets and the special abilities they have.

4. How best to use your abilities in your own writing.

5. Writers’ moods and mood disturbances and how to best use them in your writing.

1. Some Interesting Thoughts About The Brain

The brain is a flower on what we do not know.

– D.C. Reid

The Human Brain

1. The brain is deep red, not grey and white as we have always been taught.

2. The brain has 100,000,000,000 cells, each of which has 1,000 to 10,000 connections with other brain cells. (The rest of the body has 100 trillion cells. All develop from one cell in less than nine months in the womb).

3. An element of memory uses about 100 brain cells. Each cell can be part of many elements of memory and with 100 billion brain cells, memory is virtually endless. (A trivial example: each of us knows more than 5,000 pop songs and, with a bit of direction, can sing the tunes and sing the words). If you laid all our brain cells out end to end, they would stretch 700,000 miles.

4. Our conscious brain deliberately forgets or will not deal with more than 90% of what our senses and body tell it.

5. The conscious flower on top of our brain has evolved so much in the past 100,000 years that it has blown the eight bones of our skull apart so that today our skulls are several inches higher, forward, sideward and rearward than they used to be. Had this not happened, our skulls would look much like those of sheep.

6. All of our emotions are sub-conscious, meaning that we have no conscious thought in our emotions, thus they comprise the: what we do not know, and are the most important part of our brains.

7. The most important things about brains are: sensing, vegetative functions, sex, bringing up offspring, eating, physical safety, rage.

8. The most important things about human brains are: I and others, consciousness, language, religion, decision making and ethical discrimination. The human brain, unlike all others, is not fully developed until 20 years of age.

9. Humans have more than 7,000 facial expressions of our emotions. Most animals have one, and the rest seldom more than a half dozen.

10. The scientific tools that have allowed the explosion of knowledge in the past ten years are: MRI, PET, CT scans, TMS, GSR, EP-MRSI.

11. Based on the Pythagorean scale of eight notes, an eight bar melody yields 10 to the 48th power of possible tunes, all of which we can discriminate.

12. In one second the brain produces millions of firing patterns, for example, images.

2. How We Think The Mind Works – A Day in the Life of you or me or Anyone

dreaming about this cute babe (hunk) and just as we’re getting to somewhere interesting, drat, I wake up and it’s all just been nothing as it recedes away from me, and, huh, where was I, oh, and who am I, ah, caffeine, as in, I love my coffee and my coffee loves me, and now I am me, oh, and I have a family, and my body cleans and repairs itself and I’m choosing clothes and nixing this tie with the brown stuff that tastes good but looks bad. Now I am walking down the street looking good and, hey that turkey with the stinking, screeching car almost hit me, grrr, almost gave me a heart attack, and then I see someone and remember him/her, sort of. Then I get to work and I talk, I work, my brain hurts, and thank God, it couldn’t have come soon enough: I get to go home and boy my dinner smells good, I watch TV and all of a sudden the lights go zzz, dreaming about this cute babe (hunk)…

Do note that the way we think the mind works is a whole lot shorter and simpler than the next part: how the mind really works

2. How the Mind Really Works

First: a little history of the brain: fish, frog, reptile, mammal, human.

1. Dreaming

We think we dream from time to time in our sleep and remember some of them. Freud, Jung and other therapists have had a lot to say about our strange and wonderful sleeping dreams. But, in fact, we dream 24 hours a day, as in through the whole time we are awake. The intensity of our consciousness prevents our being aware of our dreams while we are awake, just as, by analogy, the sun obscures the stars in the day with its brightness.

The most important purpose of dreaming – which arise from our subconscious – is to lay down long-term memory. The subconscious part of our brain throws up bits and pieces to our conscious brain to see whether they stick. Note that the conscious part of our brain is turned off in sleep, and not attending to dreaming during waking hours, hence our memories are not in the slightest a ‘trace of what actually happened.’

2. Babes and Hunks

Even before birth, female (xx) and male (xy) humans are different from one another – because of genetics. It goes like this: male fetuses secrete testosterone and this influences their own brains and the mother’s metabolism, making her body make changes in return, that also influence male fetuses. Darker, more exuberant hair from her belly button down, is a visible example of an effect brought on by male fetal testosterone.

Gays and lesbians are also determined by birth, as there is a polarity from male to female that results in a spectrum of masculine and feminine brain characteristics.

Later, attraction to types of faces intermingles with the even later attraction to members of the ‘opposite’ sex, that develops at puberty.

As every human being is different from every other human (even though we are all the same) attraction to an individual is specific, in its range, to that individual.

Then, of course, there is sex.

3. Interesting – Sex

The only purpose in any plant or animal being alive is to produce at least one more of its kind. Beyond that, most other purposes support procreation, such as taking care of young, and beyond the staying alive imperatives, like eating and safety, the rest is really the decision of human beings to be a certain way and to believe certain things based on the parameters of our minds.

4. Waking Up

The subconscious mind flicks the switch and our minds swim up into consciousness. The focus, the attention, the seeing out are the important components of our sun of consciousness ‘ as soon as we have caffeine, of course.

5. Nothing – dreams disappearing

Our conscious focus makes it appear that dreams are disappearing.

6. I am Me – the human

The concept of I usually arrives in humans in our second year, along with the corollary concept of Other People. With these, consciousness wakens.

Where are we thinking from and residing in our heads? In our right frontal lobe just above our eyebrow is the centre of consciousness, and I and others.

This development renders the concept of solipsism (there is only one brain in the world: mine) one that moves from a philosopher’s topic to one held only by someone with a mental disability.

7. Family – Sociability

Humans are warm, fuzzy, social animals whose greatest achievement is conversing with one another in a complex way.

8. Body – the 90% we don’t know about

Virtually all of our bodily functions happen without conscious thought, for example, food digestion, getting rid of wastes, heart beat, breathing, walking, standing still, temperature regulation, hunger, all of our brain below the conscious cortex, as in the fish brain, brain stem, reptilian brain and limbic system. See DF Watt’s paper, p 197, JCS, V6, 1999 for an exceptionally good succinct table for the location of subconscious thought.

For example, every second we receive in the subconscious part of our brains more than 6,000,000 nerve impulses from golgi-tendon-apparatus distributed all over our body, to tell us where our body is in three dimensional space.

9. Choosing – subconscious

Without the subconscious part of the brain we are unable to make decisions as simple as which tooth brush to pick up in the morning to brush our teeth, as in, preferences. We would not get out the front door to go to work without the choosing done by the subconscious mind.

Choosing and the beginning of emotion occurred in reptiles, 250 million years ago. Discuss iguana fondling and the odd scientists who are good at it.

The west has a long history of preferring reason and rationality over emotion. The facts are that subconscious emotion controls, or allows the process of reasoning. Without the subconscious, no rational thought is possible. Ain’t that interesting.

Now, think of this one: prior to women’s liberation, males were considered rational and needing to take care of emotional women. All of that has been a mistake. Think of how much of the world’s population still believes this and that women must take a submissive role. Very sad.

10. Taste – electricity

Doesn’t it sound odd to say that all tastes are electric? But all tastes are converted to electricity before they are considered. Oh, and the brown stuff on the tie was gravy, but in parents of young children, it is Cream of Wheat and other kinds of goosh.

11. Looks bad – Representation, active passive

Perhaps the most fundamental issue of consciousness being debated today is: are we passively receiving the world through our senses, or are we actively searching out what we want to find out there.

I side with the active. And this side contains the important understanding that the self is a product of the act of perception, which seems hard to believe, based on what we have always believed which is, I am here so what’s coming my way?

As babies, it takes several months to understand that the beach ball we see from one spot is the same beach ball we see from another angle. This is the process of making a representation which means that our brains are most fundamentally about making metaphors. The issue of abstraction from representation, another step in human thought, also is at its most basic description, a metaphor, too.

12. Walking – with and without thinking

Our reptilian brain is so good at things that it will take us down a street, navigate stop and go signs, while we carry on conversations, even juggle while not even thinking about walking. We can, of course, consciously override this, as in not wanting to walk on cracks, but then our conscious control can fade away.

13. I feel good – neurotransmitters

Feeling good is the result of the correct amount of chemicals between brain cells, and their activating or not activating the next cell. Some of the chemicals are dopamine, serotonin, acetlycholine and, surprisingly, glutamate (as in MSG) and other amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

14. Stinking – smell

Smell is electric too, as are, sight, hearing, taste and touch. But smell is the only sense that goes directly into the subconscious brain, suggesting that there is a powerful reason for doing so, for example, pheromones, kin, prey and location identification. Do note that smell then ascends to the conscious brain, which is why we consciously, for example, smell cinnamon and later can identify the memory of cinnamon (or, say, licorice, onions, garlic, ice-cream, dill, root beer, cheddar cheese) when none is around but we want to think about it.

And this one goes far back evolutionarily speaking because salmon can return from their ten thousand mile ocean journeys to the gravel within 100 yards of where they hatched many years before.

15. Screeching – hearing

Hearing is the only sense that takes place, well, between the ears. Screeching or any other dangerous sound immediately alerts the big emotion centre of the subconscious brain, the amygdala.

And if you were listening to a pop-song, you are simultaneously discriminating speech on your left hemispheric side and discriminating melody on your right, as in thinking in two places at once, without being aware of it.

16. Grrr – the amygdala

Fight, flight, rage, aggression, fear, all the high level emotions are mediated by the subconscious amygdala, the size and shape of an almond. Amazing.

17. Heart Attack

Part of the 90% of our nerve stimulus that the brain does not consciously deal with, is heart beat, and the plaque of our arteries, along with other things. That is why we have to identify in advance, impending heart attack by, heart pressure, pain in the left arm and so on.

18. See – vision

Though we cannot see like an eagle that has part of its retina flipped out in front of the blood vessels supplying it, vision is the most important sense in man and has received the most attention from scientists. Millions of words have been written about sight and hundreds of millions have been spent on research.

Everything we see we do so upside down. Our brains interpret it as right side up. In fact, the visual cortex in the back of our skull has 30 different modules that determine, for instance, angles, colour, shape, movement and so on.

Our eyes move in complex motion at all times, searching out information from our environment. These saccades, which are subconscious, are for the purpose of informing us of what is out there, such as animals that may want to eat us, or are a threat, or the location of food.

19. Remember – memory

Memory, calling memories up, thinking about memories and then acting on them are fundamental to human thought. But the first step, our sensing is not merely a recording like a video tape, but a complex process of selecting, ignoring and reducing the information. And, in a week we forget 65% of what of the small percentage of potential information our brains have chosen to retain. Our brains are structured this way, and if they were not, we would be overwhelmed in short order by the information that we could have paid attention to.

Then, the process that lays down long term memory, takes the subconscious, uncontrolled part of our brains, as much as three years to lay down up into our conscious brain, by throwing bits and pieces up to see whether they stick. What remains is what we want to think, and the following act, of bringing up memory, is mediated by the amygdala. It coats the experience with the emotion that it is dealing with at the time we think it, so that in no way do our memories actually contain what we could have experienced, nor are they static; they change.

Eidetic memory (photographic memory) also fall into the same class, as this very good memory is only a small percentage of what there was for us to direct our senses to experience.

Then there are specific molecules of memory.

20. Talk – language – universal grammar

Colourless green ideas sleep furiously. The famous dictum by linguist, Noam Chomsky, has been used, among other things, to show that all human languages have the same, universal (vertical) grammar and that the ability – meaning a brain structure – to understand language came before actually being able to speak – also another brain structure.

In comparison, there are no other animals that have a language with syntax, even ones who are able to identify a vocabulary of words, like dogs, primates, whales and so on.

Language is for the purpose of communicating between different minds, and it is inextricably bound with our being social, even the hermits among us.

21. Work – mental

The conceptualizing, blocks of memory shifting, analyzing, considering, our aching backs and arms and legs and so on that comprises work, our conscious thought, even when we sit back and ponder, are what the flower on what we do not know is for.

22. My brain hurts – migraines, the I centre

The most common place for migraines to occur is in the frontal lobes where consciousness – the I centre – resides – little wonder – and in the temporal lobes at the back where the visual centres are located.

23. God – religion

Among the most pervasive aspects of humanity are our beliefs in religion, its morals, laws, guiding history and its rituals. The major religions from west to east are: Christianity/Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Zen and Confuciusism. And there are hundreds of other religions. We believe. And we believe in higher beings that we cannot perceive in any way.

Mike Persinger, a Canadian researcher, has found a very precise spot in the right frontal hemisphere that when stimulated by an electric probe gives you an instant experience of godhead. Cool.

Conscious dying may give an individual the perception of gliding toward a light, and peace because as the body’s systems shut down, mental noise declines.

24. Watch – vision

Television watching can be pretty passive, unless you are an unredeemable channel surfer with ADD, like me.

25. ZZZ – sleep

As in, this lecture is putting me to sleep. But before I sleep, I must remember one thing: the brain is a flower on what we do not know.

Brains of Poets – Lecture Notes Repeat after me: The brain/is a flower/on what/we do not know

The Brain

1. Explosion of research – MRI/CT/PET
– qualia abstract

2. Splitting of bones
– put your fingers under your nose – sheep
– up is conscious – down is subconscious
– preferences, iguanas

3. I centre
– take your finger and point it at where you are in your head – Zen
– I and others – 2 years

4. Perception is active vs passive
– saccades
– consciousness is deposited in the process of perception
– Mona Lisa – face recognition -limitation of brain behind perception

5. Language centres
– purpose – social animal
– left hemisphere
– Broca

6. Thinking
– representation, abstraction
– baby
– two levels
-basis of thought is metaphor

7. Dreams
– 24 hours a day – Jung
– connection with memory
– lack of conscious control – weirdness – effect on memory

8. Memory

– subconscious
– no conscious thought in subconscious brain
– memory construct
– amygdala

9. Brain intentionally forgets 90% of what comes at it
– tendon apparatus – six million
– saccades – only perceive 10% of what is out there
– we forget 65% in one week

10. Sex – imperative to leave one behind

The Brains of Writers

1 Colourless green ideas sleep furiously – Noam Chomsky
– universal grammar – vertical – speaking before language
– regular people/prose writers
– poets

2. Language centres
– Broca
– Wernicke
– conscious centres
– speaking in tongues
– writing different

3. Metaphor
– categories of thought
– a rose is a grenade
– pruning
-synaesthesia – 50% at 5
– Arthur Rimbaud

4. Bricks and mortar versus ‘magic’
– novel is drawn out metaphor
– Margaret Atwood quote
– point of view, time scheme, plot, characters, narrative

5. Poets – right brain dominance – tension clearing

6. Creativity
– right frontal cortex – refusal to accept subconscious
– synonymous with artists
– left handedness
– automatic
– I create the art
– I am a medium
– I reveal the shape already in the stone
– play

7. CT scan of non-poet and poet on reading a poem, viewing a metaphor

8. Anthropomorphism

The Brains of Other Artists

1. Musicians

2. Visual Artists

Using Your Writing Talents

1. Intuition

2. Subconscious

3. Dreams
– from subconscious
– no interference by right frontal

4. Writer’s personality – Ludwig
– obsessive compulsive need
– writers’ block – fear
– identity of I and art – Edvard Munch

5. When to write and rewrite
– winter – depressive
– summer – mania
– spring and fall – change in light –
– chaos, deep personal stress

6. Finding your voice

7. Finding when you write best
– different genres
– during emotional stress, upheaval, change, death, loss of child, marriage
– first drafts, don’t stop self, want unfettered thought with their subconscious emotional attributes
– mental games – words Lane, syllables, hub caps

Writers Moods And Mood Disturbances

– I Drink Therefore I Am

1. Ludwig – 87% of well-known poets, 1 in 5 suicide
– 1 in 20
– 1 in 3
– 1 in 2

2. Alcoholism, depression, manic-depression (bi-polar), psychosis, schizophrenia (dopamine disorder, Jonah Lehrer, p42)

3. Manic-depression and creativity
– cycling of mood – Simonton, Ludwig

4. The molecules of mood
– proteins, APP
– neurotransmitters
– ingested substances – alcohol, drugs

3. The Brains of Writers/Poets and the Special Abilities They Have

Dead Poets Society – ripping out the page of the graph that charts a poem’s greatness.

One Word: The brain responds differently to a single word according to whether it is heard, seen, written down, spoken or considered among other words it could be related to. Not to mention the fine discriminations of memory and the consideration of each letter, whether capitalized or small, or from a language of symbols, not letters.

1. Synaesthesia – seven times more common in artists, poets and writers

2. Blind sight

3. Right hemispheric dominance for poets.

4. Wernicke’s area – language recognition

5. Broca’s area – production of speech

6. Metaphor, pruning in youth, representation, abstraction, cross bridging of cells for different purposes, how common it is: loud tie, association of -ifferent categories of thought. how to test for it: An MRI test – present poetry and a metaphor: rose is a grenade to a poet and non-poet and note how differently they light up.

7. The issue of creativity – prefrontal cortex versus subconscious. Obsessive compulsive need to write. Humour of the literature equating art with creativity. Identity of I and art. Ludwig: 87% of well-known poets suffer mental disorders, and 1 in 5 will commit suicide.

8. The issue of what is art and what is an artist

9. Intuition

10. Dreaming (David Kahn)

11. Memory

12. Poetry and Prose are not opposite ends of a pole, rather they are different in kind, so…bricks and mortar (characters, time scheme, structure, point of view) versus artesian wells. Poets interest in possibilities of words.

13. Colourless green ideas sleep furiously. Poet’s, prose writer’s, and non writer’s reactions

14. Upside down Mona Lisa

15. Boobie, kiki

16. PET scans of an artist’ and non-artist’s brain while making art.

17. MRIs of a poet and non-poet when a metaphor is presented

18. Abstraction from representations

19. Facility with different categories of thought.

20. The poet and the writer personalities. Writer’s block is fear, and is so debilitating because of association of identity with the art. Anthropomorphising.

21. All speech is a fiction because it is a summary.

22. Literature is a way for a writer to search for a solution to the problems of existence, to develop, to try to persuade others, to change the way we think. Writing for the non-writer is often therapy, a way to slow down the mind and examine, say, a trauma, to work out a problem, while seldom being good literature.

23. Autism

24. Left handedness

25. Plasticity

26. Art extends through time – music, reading

27. Dreams

28. Memory overlap

29. Intelligence – most great writers are intelligent but not geniuses. This means an IQ of at least 120, rather than 170. Creativity is also related to IQ up to 120, but then the two attributes diverge.

30. Mental games to maintain sharpness

31. And so on…

6. Collateral Issues

1. The mind is so different from the way we think it is and we can now change so much of it that there are big changes coming for society: ethics, medicine and law.

2. Issue of different definitions of words used in different disciplines, for example, metaphor, symbol and taking the role of the other.

3. The humour in the academic conversation about art and artists, but not wanting artists to be involved in the conversation because, apparently, they have nothing to offer.

4. I am translating science speak into real people speak. Hand out Qualia abstract.

A New Case for Free Will

The Human Genome Project of the early 1990s deciphered human genetic material – all 26 chromosomes – completely. One of the surprise observations is that while we need about 90 million base pairs for the 100,000 proteins in our bodies, the popbeads on the chain, if you will, we actually have about 3 billion or more than 3000% more than we need. And it turns out that more than 95% of our genetic material is simply junk that has no real purpose. Furthermore this material is in a constant state of being added to or snipped off or jumping chromosomes, not to mention floats around in our cells unbound when not connected with the rest of us. in addition, most of the pairs can result in different products in our bodies.

This means that at any given moment, we are not the same person at any other moment. It also means that our sameness is the same as a river of water or time. We look at the river and it changes completely as it flows past us, yet it is the same river at all times. More tomorrow.


(1). The Beatles – 500, Rolling Stones – 50, John Denver – 100, Paul McCartney/John Lennon – 50, Eagles – 50, America – 25, Michael Jackson (and family) -50, U2 – 50, Gershwin – 25, Gwen Stefani – 25, Phil Collins – 25, Super Tramp/Peter Frampton – 25, Fleetwood Mac – 50 (1025), Police – 25, Sting – 20, Brian Adams – 30, Leonard Cohen – 25, Doo Wop songs – 50, Frank Sinatra – 25, Tony Bennett – 25, Elton John – 50, The Who – 25, Kenny Rogers – 25, Celine Dion – ?, Elvis Presley – 50, Santana – 25, Madonna – 25, Doors – 25, Jimi Hendrix – 25, Led Zeppelin – 25, James Taylor – 25, Hall and Oates – 25, Duran Duran – 25, Bee Gees – 100, Disco songs – 75, Johny Cash – 20, Neil Diamond – 50, Roy Orbison – 30, Willi Nelson – 25, Paul Simon – 75, Joni Mitchell – 20, Queen – 25, Rod Stewart – 20, Tom Cochrane – 20 (1010), Bob Dylan – 50, Neil Young – 50, Crosby/Stills/Nash/& Young – 25, Dire Straits – 30, Bruce Springstein – 30, Eric Clapton – 30, Dixie Chicks – 25, Shania Twang – 25, Beach Boys – 30, Eurythmics – 20, Prince – 20, Sarah McGlaughlan – 20, David Bowie – 30, Whitney Houston – 25, Pete Seeger – 100, Bob Marley – 20, Dolly Parton – 25 (555), Cher – 25, Britney Spears – 25, George Michael – 20, Wham – 20, Woodie Guthrie – 20, Cheryl Crowe – 20, REM – 30, Pink Floyd – 25, heart – 20, Johny Cash – 20, Bruce Springstein – 40??, Led Zeppelin – ??, Cyndi Lauper – 15, Jann Arden – 15, Rod Stewart – 30, Tom Cochrane – 20, Billy Joel – 25, Enya – 25, Dire Straits – 20, Phil Collins – 20, Beach Boys – 30, George Harrison – 15, Doors – 20, Jimi Hendrix – 20, Cat Stevens – 25, Van Morrison – 20, Barry Manilow – 20, Stevie Wonder – 25, Barry White – 20, George Winston – 20, Bon Jovi – 20, Los Lobos – 15, Tom Waits – 20, Olivia Newton John – 25, Linda Ronstadt – 20, (750) Boy George – 15, Sade – 15, Depeche Mode – 20, Oasis – 15, Def Leopard – 20, Dido – 15 (100)

10 song bands: Cowboy Junkies, AC-DC, Kiss, Van Halen, Guns ‘N Roses, Crash Test Dummies, Lionel Ritchie, Britney Spears, Kurt Cobain, Bon Jovi, Culture Club, Huey Lewis and the News, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Darren, Counting Crows, Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Blondie, Christina Aguilara, Sinead O’connor, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Over Drive, Lenny Kravitz, 230 Pat Benetar, Tina Turner, Kylie Minoghe, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, janet Jackson, Chakira, Jennifer Lopez. Mamas and Pappas, Ian and Sylvia, Indigo Girls, Maroon 5, Arlo Guthrie, The Osmonds, Sonny and Cher, Tom Jones, Moody Blues, Carpenters, Nazarath, The Band, Credence Clearwater Revival, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Boston, The Monkeys, Carole King, Chris de Burgh, Procal Harem, Joe Cocker, (320), Joan Baez, Joan Collins, Peter Paul and Mary, Bruce Cockburn, 10 CC, The Cars, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Don McLean, Black Sabbath, The Motley Crue, Van Halen, Kid Rock, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Oasis, Sid Vicious, Kurt Kobain, KD Lang, Jennifer Warnes, Sinead O’connor, Tom Petty, Janis Joplin, Alanis Morissette, Counting Crows, Prince, (250), The Cure, Annie Lennox on her own, Flock of Seagulls, Coldplay, Smashing Pumpkins, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Peter and Gordon, The Everly Brothers, The Rascals, The Searchers, The Zombies, Marvin Gaye, Chad and Jeremy, Dusty Springfield, Eric Burden and the Animals, (160)

5 song bands, Roberta Flack, Tears for Fears, Seagulls, Hootie and the Blowfish, It’s a Beautiful Day, Donna Summers, The Kinks, Deep Purple, Kim Mitchell, Pussy Cat Dolls, Long John Baldry, Doug and the Slugs, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Lulu, Christal Gale, Otis Reading, Herman’s Hermits, James Brown, 90, Kingston Trio, Yardbirds, Loving Spoonful, Buffalo Springfield,, Lost City Ramblers, Natking Cole, Great Big Shiny Sea, Platinum Blonde, Sha Na Na, (45) My Morning Jacket, Cranberries, Petula Clark, Bobby Darren, The Association, Manfred Man, Marianne Faithful, Lulu, Small Faces, Tremelos, Spencer Davis Group, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Hollies, The Byrds?, Jeremy and the Pacemakers, Jackied de Shannon, Wilson Picket, The Temptations, Los Bravos (100)

1 song bands: Mungo Gerry, Twisted Sister, Men Without Hats, 99 Red Balloons

1010 + 1025 + 555 + 130 + 230 + 310 + 90 + 3350 July 31, 4275 + 100 + 160 + 100

Jazz: Blue Moon

Classical: In the Hall of the Mountain King, Charge of the Valkries, Flight of the Bumblebee, The William Tell Overture, The 1812 Overture,

Other: Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Mario Lanza, Nana Mouskourie,

Marching Bands: