Now : Time

The following is a post from September 2009, slightly edited:

Time has changed, or should I say our perception of time and especially our use of time has evolved. A long time ago we used to say “I’ll see you in Spring,” then we might have said “I’ll see you at the beginning of the third moon,” which became “I’ll wait for you during the second week of the seventh month,” until we arrived here: “I’ll meet you at 6:15, and don’t be late – I’ll only wait 10 minutes.”

The grid has narrowed, from a year to a nanosecond, and the hatch-marks are so close now that we can barely distinguish them. if your watch slows just a little bit you miss your appointment – unless you are a doctor: they are ALWAYS late for your appointment.

Is time an eternal and infinite and mysterious NOW or is it this finely hatched grid we have superimposed?

Of course it is both. The present moment versus measured time is also poetry versus data, which is also beauty versus information, or being versus having…

The moment, that now is poetry. The grid we superimpose is data. And isn’t that we seem to do to everything? Aren’t we choking all beauty with our grids, our data? Music and books have lost their magical beauty and have been reduced to data files and streams. Is it a teeter-totter that swings back and forth? Now towards poetry, now towards data? After these decades of reduction, will decades of expansion follow?

And that thought brings me to this: what do we need to change, what can we change?

Perhaps we can sometimes choose walking and biking over driving, like choosing to vacation in an area we can discover on foot or bicycle, as opposed to doing ten cities in two weeks. Perhaps we can discover ways to counteract the tightening noose of time that we are ourselves superimposing on our world. If we can insert a little space into our time, little balloons of NOW, those spaces will act like airbags in cars that save us from a collision… they will create little bubbles within the tightening net of measured time.

Swearing : Mantra

About five years ago I posted some thoughts about swearing and mantras… Today I remembered the post and looked it up. Here it is again:

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?

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?