what was happening on may 26, 1973
friday random ten

mind wide open

Being able to peer into your brain and see those microscopic patterns of blood flow and electrical activity, to see yourself thinking on the level of actual neurons — that vision is truly indistinguishable from magic. And there is no conjurer's trick in nature more profound than the human brain's capacity to create a sense of unified selfhood out of dozens of competing neural systems. The more you learn about how the brain actually works, the more magical the apparatus seems. The more you learn about the brain, the more you understand how exquisitely crafted it is to record the unique contours of your own life in those unthinkably interconnected neurons and their firing patterns.
-- Steven Johnson, Mind Wide Open

Not many people would write a non-fiction book about how the human brain works and place their own brain in a starring role. But that's what Steven Johnson has done in Mind Wide Open. He's a layperson who decides to understand the brain by learning about his brain. Actually, I wish I'd thought of this idea ... something deliciously solipsistic about it. As someone who is currently using chemicals to alter the way my brain works, I found this book pretty fascinating. One could imagine aging hippies reading this and rediscovering the joys of meditation, if not the joys of LSD. I wonder if I'm an aging hippie?


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