Swearing + Mantras

In the book “Holy Sh*t – A Brief History of Swearing” I read that most speech originates from the cerebral cortex, which also controls voluntary actions and rational thought, while swearwords are stored in the limbic system, which is responsible for emotion, the fight-or-flight response, and the autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and blood pressure. People who have lost the ability to speak, e.g. due to a stroke, often still have the ability to swear.

The book also states that test subjects were able to withstand pain, in the form of very cold water, longer, if they spoke swearwords rather than other words.

That got me thinking. Swearing is culture-specific and the words themselves frequently change according to society. Training starts very young in families with parents making clear which words are “bad” or forbidden. This training appears to write swearwords to a different section of brain.

Like swearwords mantras are culture-specific and can be learned at a young age. Many cultures use mantras, but India, Tibet and Japan come to mind. The Ninjas of Japan have a variety of mantras that are to help against cold, against pain, or to promote healing etc.

What I am wondering about is whether these mantras are also, like swearwords, “written” to a different part of the brain? It would follow that the embedding of the mantra into a section of brain is akin to writing software and invoking the mantra is akin to running the program.

In other words, for a person outside the mantra culture, e.g. a non-Ninja, it would be impossible to “run the program” because the software was not written into the brain – just as a foreign speaker who hears an American swearword will not grasp its meaning, nor would yelling the word be able to relieve any pain for him/her.

Have mantras been researched with this in mind? Can they be written to a different part of the brain? How long does it take to embed a mantra? Does a mantra in fact evoke a whole program?

Soda Water and an Idea

Went to a local store to buy a soda bottle and cartridges. I like bubbly water from time to time and thought I could make my own. Alas, what I discovered to my dismay was that the cartridges were not refillable. What’s the point, I asked. At least I can recycle bottles.

I remember my mom sending me to the store to return used soda cartridges and to buy fresh ones. If one returned used cartridges one did not have to pay a deposit. Is that still how it is done in Europe or other U.S. states?

Most natural food stores sell bulk, e.g. grains or olive oil, and a few weeks ago I thought it would be nice if somebody sold a stainless steel container that would hold a certain amount of liquid or dry weight. There would be no need to get the container pre-weighed as it would display its empty weight on the container. Stainless steel can be scrubbed and cleaned and does not break. One can always pour the contents into a “display” container at home.

By the way, I clean my steel water bottles and coffee mugs with a little white vinegar. Afterwards I simply rinse and dry and the stale, old coffee smell is gone.

File under Ideas

New slideshow with three elements:
1) still image/photo
2) video (about 10 seconds in duration) without camera movement and with one or more visual elements moving at some point – e.g. view of street with a car moving through the field or a leaf blowing across, or a cloud moving slowly…
3) time lapse photography, e.g. 10 photographs of 1 second duration each

I think combining these elements would create interesting visual rhythms that would run along or counter to the music’s rhythm. Right now, using only still images, the rhythm is more like that of a clock, even and constant.

I will try working with Keynote for several reasons:
– Keynote can mix photography and video
– I know the program quite well already and programming would be easy – unlike Flash, which has a big learning curve
– if I mix still, video and time-lapse elements I might NOT want randomness, because I would not want to see several videos in a row. The randomness could be faked by using the iChing (like John Cage) for example.