Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ask Alice

The brain is elastic. Or is it plastic? This much we know. Or don’t. The mind is a force of nature. Or so we think. Or not. Now where to draw the line? Exactly. What part of the brain makes up the mind?

That’s it, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Writing a narrative for an exhibit on mental illness -- puzzling its content, searching for clinical answers to questions I don’t even know to ask, working along the lines of so many arguments dictating which direction to fall (besides down into a deep depression), feeling vulnerable, stressed, and strangely close to madness, myself. Inevitably. And variably. I will go wonderfully mad with this project.

Tough subject. Tougher audience. Aren’t we all touched in our own way, spinning through the universe, in our own weather system? What an assignment! Brainy, but not too. Simple. But complex.

Did you know? In utero, in the first trimester, the human brain is lizard brain, a stem, a vestige of what we once were at the dawn of human time, when first crawled out of the water. The fetus is not unthinking, however. It catches on quickly to mom’s pace, voice, even preference for music. In infancy, the brain is all mouth to feed, survival instinct, a sponge suckling experience, counting, multiplying and dividing the world: taste, touch, sight, smell, surface, experiment, evidence, learning, memory. Childhood: we all know those wonder years. Precious few. Then comes adolescent brain- heading for turbulence, hormonally charged storms of activity, like a switching station at a train terminal, too many tracks, more grey matter than white matter, more action than judgment. It’s a biological fact that the brain doesn’t come to full maturity until age 25, which explains a lot of things about our lost youth. Now the adult brain we live with seems to go on for infinity, until we notice: tangles, confusion, dimming lights, slowing down, the natural pace of aging. To wit, use it. Or lose it.

Noting tonight that we “break the fast” and delight as we read for pleasure, watch a movie, follow the Olympics. A good week, a good time was had, by all?

1 comment:

  1. Viv! You are the very poster child for posting! Thanks for sharing your process as you think about the new exhibit. And Yes! We have come to the end of Reading Deprivation! What have we learned? One and all? More will become clear in the the coming week.