Thursday, February 25, 2010

the self clearly

"Nico looks at himself"

Hold up a mirror to the face of a bird and the bird will peck back at the mirror. As far as the bird is concerned, the mirror is just another bird pecking back at it. Birds, like most animals, cannot recognize their reflections as their own. In a way, these animals cannot see themselves, at least not in a mirror. To dragonflies, seahorses, llamas and lizards a mirror looks just like a window.

Dolphins, magpies, an elephant named Happy, orangutans, humans and other species of ape see the face in the mirror as a reflection of their own. Provided with a mirror, these animals will instinctively perfect a technique for examining those regions of their bodies that the limits of facial rotation have hidden from the sweep of their vision. For example, the eyes can glimpse the nose or a cheek without a mirror, but both the front and the back of the head are beyond the reach of the eyes. The face, for good reason, stays out of its own way. Then along came mirrors.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the orangeness of oboes

A cardinal is more than the redness of its feathers and the brain pictures more than the color of things. The brain is a camera and also a tape recorder. Even after the cardinal has been buried, the memory of her sweet peeping remains. The tone of the oboe is orange. Like liquid cassette tape, the brain thirsts for the sourness of its piped nectarine notes. The tart ting of orange rind: the brain does its best flesh-impression. I'm imagining the flavor of kumquat marmalade, how did it stick in my memory? The universe is a sculptor sculpting handlessly the brain, pressing its palms electrically into the glowing ball of nerves, chiseling and grooming the organ, molding it as it grows. The brain is a living work of art. The tone of the cello is violet. And the brain does an impression of this violetness.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the orangeness of apricots

Almond Blossoms by Vincent van Gogh

The brain savors more than the orangeness of apricots. It learns the greenness of bananas and the redness of papayas, doing its best flesh-impression of each fruit-color it perceives. There is a blueness without a name in a painting by Vincent van Gogh. Gnarly wanton branches of an almond tree in flower: fields of buttery blue cut against the whiteness of the blossoms setting them aglow. The sky is a cheerful, turquoise blue with an ache of sweetness-sadness, springing with the promise of flower and fruit. The painting sings by crying. The blueness slices into you like an unexpected knife. To stand your brain before it is to drink in the color of joy. And the brain does an impression of this blueness.

the mind is a gymnasium: getting started

Meditation does for the brain what jogging does for the heart, but the best part about meditation is that there is no actual jogging involved. I hate jogging! When you meditate you just sit there. And breathe. And be. How hard is that? Meditation may not be physically demanding, but it is demanding in other ways. We demand many things of our brains, but we rarely ask them to slow down. Our minds tend to race.

Friday, February 19, 2010

the brain is a work of art

A brain regarding an apricot will register the fruit's appearance by recording a yellow-orange fruit-oval in the cinema of its memory. There are two apricots: the apricot itself and the apricot-in-the-brain. A brain cannot swallow an apricot directly of course, it must send out a pair of eyeballs to taste reflections of scattered light. The eyes sip orange and yellow light, tasting the apricot color of the apricot indirectly. Chemicals in the eyes send signals to the brain. The brain translates these signals into a document of that experience and etches an image of the apricot into its structure like a memory metal or a mirror of molten glass, wrapping its tissue to conform to what its antennae have been pressed up against. The brain snaps a photograph and when the apricot has vanished, its image in the mind remains. There are two apricots: the apricot itself and the apricot-in-the-brain.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the mind is a gymnasium

Raise your hand if you'd like to be happier, less anxious and more compassionate, if your memory is in need of sharpening or your thinking could stand to be clearer. If I told you these things are possible at no cost to yourself, require no expensive equipment and present no risk of side effects, are as near to you as your fingertips and as effective as an anti-depressant, would anyone sitting here today refuse to consider this treatment? Who would not like more happiness or memory for free?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

miss gert's house

Catahoula, Louisiana

song fragment

Me singing a fragment of the Phil Elverum song "It wasn't the hunting"

peaceful habit #4 -- savoring tea

Tea is a state of mind best served undivided. To fully savor tea you must devote yourself to it entirely.


You will need a kettle to heat the water, a teapot to brew the tea and a tea towel to handle the hot objects and wipe up any spills. The teacup you will be drinking from today is a sort of hybrid mug/cup. It has a small circular handle near the rim and it tapers toward the bottom: ample like a mug yet dainty like a cup.

the catahoula inn

This is my Aunt Sis reading from the pamphlet for the opening of the Rousseau Catahoula Inn.

Monday, February 1, 2010