Thursday, 11 September 2008

variability and consistency

How inconstant is the human brain? Actually, I am not sure it is. Just
over a litre in capacity, it contains a complex and mysterious
cocktail of hormones, neurotransmitters, electrolytes and lipids, all
bound up in, well, basically as far as I can tell, something akin to
lard. (actually, my memories of my great-granny feeding me brawn on
toast seem to reinforce this, nasty, pasty goo that it was).

So, given that the concentrations of these very active compounds can vary depending upon died, depletion, exercise, how amazing it is that we even manage to remain recognizably the same personality from day to day let alone can expect a reasonably uniform performance from it.
The morning after a major alcohol binge, where lungs release fragrantly the ethanol excesses from the bloodstream to the air, the chemistry of the brain must be in chaos, surely.

Ok, I must confess I am no neurochemist, but reading the figures for the miniscule changes in concentration of testosterone needed to turn me from the sexual equivalent of a docile herbivore to a ravening lustful maniac when the right stimulus appears, I realise the profound effect that a small chemical change can have upon behaviour and perception. Indeed, I have observed during a monthly cycle the prodound effects of a change in concentration of a chemical which results in the sweetest and most demure of ladies turning into absolute demons for no discernable reason.
I do wonder then that soaking my neurons in alcohol doesn't turn me into some kind of stupor-encased zombie, all process deadened with the resulting functionality degraded commensurately.

So, the vagaries of "mood" aside, which I confess, I find difficult to rationalise as it seems to be both chemical and situational, it seems we are far more consistent in mental weather than our inconsistent chemistry would cause us to believe.

And yet.. Writing this is arguably more difficult than other episodes of writing. Over the last month, certain privations in my experiential landscape, that is the absence of certain characters who provide unusual perspectives and unexpected stimuli, results in what feels like a dumbing down of my faculties.
Oddly, the lack of these inputs has resulted in a much dimmer me and several more astute aquaintances have commented that my "spark"appears to be missing. I concur because its feels so on the inside also words are harder to find, vocabulary is elusive or even absent.
The cascade of concepts which usually results from a single thought given free range to roam and ricochet off others just doesn't seem to be happening.
So how does this happen? Is this too chemical somehow? Or organisational?
How can a brain or rather, its function, atrophy so just from the want of particular exercise? I suppose we are used to the idea of this happening with muscles. But the brain is not a muscle so we can draw no logical inference of there being an equivalent process of atrophy for it.
So where is my brain? What can I use to jump-start the processes of spurious chaotic thought that I so enjoy?
Interestingly, although it took me ironically ten minutes of (enforced due to the "fasten seatbelt" Sign illuminating for landing) contemplation to locate the word "elusive", I have found the very act of writing this to have awoken areas of my brain which I had not consciously missed until now. Perhaps this is the key: if one just uses it, the rusty wheels, feared forever immobile, might creak into motion and before long, greased by the lubricants of musing and whimsy, run free on bearings of curiosity, wonder and humour.
And so spinning with frictionless ease, the machinery of the mind turns out nonsense by the page.

So, given the amazing electrical and chemical complexity of the machine that is the human brain, i continue to marvel at the reliability, misplced car keys aside, of this incredible machanism.

And now, i am going to see if I can affect it with a pot of tea.

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