Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So to speak

How wonderful to think rats might be finding a safe place, so to speak. 

Near-death experiences are 'electrical surge in dying brain' This is a headline in the BBC write-up of the widely reported research wherein a surge of electricity has been identified in dying rodent brains. 

Jan Cox spoke of such experiences, in people of course, as something we did not NEED to wait for death, to experience. 

The interesting thing about the reports though, are that the scientists are treating this as some kind of explanatory refutation of the reports so common in the literature, of NDE experiences. 

Quoting the article, [Scientists] measured a sharp increase in high-frequency brainwaves called gamma oscillations.

These pulses are one of the neuronal features that are thought to underpin consciousness in humans, especially when they help to "link" information from different parts of the brain. In the rats, these electrical pulses were found at even higher levels just after the cardiac arrest than when animals were awake and well.

The curator of this link wrote:

Guess there's no tunnel then? 

Your whole life is this electrical activity. There's no tunnel the way there is no mental constructs beyond the physical in human life in general. These findings in no way diminish the cognitive content of such electrical brain activity. Whatever that cognitive content may be, and I do not know how that works. 

But it is lovely to think that other animals have something akin. Unless we follow the path laid out by a real teacher,  or somehow accept the challenge to explore such possibilities on our own, -- and I am not sure how realistic that is, not having a teacher -- our own options will be --- ordinary.  

The decline of the illuminated manuscript

Should we not confront the fact that the foliate flourishes associated with the medieval illuminated manuscript are not some embellishment of the page. They are not a decorative diversion from the text, as if the job of hand copying of books were not already a strenuous and time-consuming enough undertaking. How could this be? How could this not be?

Surely the ubiquity and beauty of the medieval sentence is one whole, and this means the illumination of the manuscript is a crucial dimension of the message. 

What then was the cognitive burden of the illuminated page? What then was the "progress" of the printed book? 

To be continued....