Archive for August, 2007

On Fire with Poetry

I just finished reading one of the most remarkable, stunning, moving, powerful books of poetry that I’ve ever read. It’s called Concerning the Book That Is the Body Of the Beloved by Gregory Orr, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There was at least one poem that I thought was appropriate to my concept of energonomics:

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but…

If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

This is the kind of “life” that I try to live, that I have created the concept of energonomics to capture, especially when applied to psychology (i.e. “psychoenergonomics”). I believe it is possible to channel, to manage the energy flowing through my brain once it arrives from its source in the sun and through all of dumb matter. This poem captures the sense that we should be living joyfully (“If we’re not supposed to dance,/Why all this music?”). Orr speaks of the “spark,” the fire, the energy that burns brightly in one who is filled with a “life-wish” (rather than a death-wish). I recently learned of the demons that Orr has had to wrestle as a result of accidentally killing his brother when he was very young (see his entry in Allison and Gediman’s book This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women), so I know that he has had to struggle with the death-wish in the same way that I have. In This I Believe, he speaks of poetry helping him through these dark times (“I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive…”). And he talks about how poetry that moves him helps him be more fully alive:

Whenever I read a poem that moves me, I know I’m not alone in the world. I feel a connection to the person who wrote it, knowing that he or she has gone through something similar to what I’ve experienced, or felt something like I have felt. And their poem gives me hope and courage, because I know that they survived, that their life force was strong enough to turn experience into words and shape it into meaning and then bring it toward me to share. The gift of their poem enters deeply into me and helps me live and believe in living. (This I Believe p. 177)

Wow! He describes exactly why I read poetry, why I memorize the poems that I have memorized (only a handful: Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day,” Rod Taylor’s “Just Like Apollo,” Brendan Kenneally’s “There Are Times When the Light,” Sylvia Plath’s “Black Rook in Rainy Weather”), and why I publish poetry (Albatross, now in its 22nd year). As he writes in the form of poetry:

Loss behind. The unknown
Ahead. Lifting up
The light of the poem
Like a lantern. Stepping out
Bravely into the dark.

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27 August 2007 at 8:19 pm 11 comments

Imaging Thought

I have finished the essay that I’ve been working on since the 2007 Invent-L Conference on Imaging Place.  It is now available on the conference’s publication page.  The essay is called “Imaging Place as Imaging Thought:  Deleuze, Electracy, and Second Life.”  I introduce the essay more extensively on my other blog.  It includes a kind of allegorical quest/act of thought that I carry out within Second Life. 

20 August 2007 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

Channeling the Energy in Our Brains

I have written about this topic before, and I perhaps need to start a new category–“psychoenergonomics”? Sounds like a new field of study…. The latest on this comes in a book called The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety is Changing How We Live, Work, and Love by Richard Restak, M.D. In the chapter on “The Power of the Frontal Lobes,” he writes about how “thinking makes it so,” and he summarizes findings that suggest we have the ability to control where the blood flows in our brain–that is, the energy flow:

“With the maturing of the prefrontal cortex, we humans have the capacity to consciously and voluntarily modulate the electrical and chemical functioning of our brains by voluntarily changing the nature of our mind processes” (Restak, quoting Mario Beauregard, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal, p. 124).

This reminds me of my post on the Dalai Lama, about the book Daniel Goleman writes called Destructive Emotions. I think there are powerful implications to this new work that’s being done and now being presented to the public (I have a different book in the pile here titled Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley, another book about the 2004 conference with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. From the bookflap:

These breakthroughs show that it is possible to reset our happiness meter . . . [and] train the mind to break cycles of depression and OCD. . . .”

19 August 2007 at 2:34 pm 2 comments


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