Thursday, April 20, 2017

Those bright, flickering webs

As a hopeless case, I was finally admitted to psychotherapy.

I lay on the couch, as relaxed as I ever get, and listened to the analyst.
"I see that your profession is neuroscientist. Now, I have your file here, but perhaps you could explain the problem to me in your own words?"
I sighed: repetition had become tedious in the extreme.
"In the streets, at work and at home, .. I am surrounded by systems. They're controlled by webs of neural tissue. They spin carefully-crafted, conformist and entirely-deceptive narratives .. purporting to explain to themselves and others just why they do what they do."
The analyst paused a moment to parse these rather abstract reflections,
"And when you see the people around you, your loved ones, what exactly do you see?"

"I see what my MRI scanner sees: heads filled with bright, flickering webs of neural activation. Enhanced glucose metabolism. I see protoplasmic circuitry doing what evolution has honed it to do. ... I see the laws of physics operating."
At this the analyst looked thoroughly alarmed. He stood up and walked across to his desk where he made a hushed and urgent call. I caught the term 'psychopath'.

Returning, he resumed speaking almost before he had sat down.
"You might have what we professionally call a framing issue. The answer is ..."
But I was no longer listening, I was focused instead on the intricate movements of his jaw, tongue and larynx, all controlled by that bright, flickering web I could almost see inside his skull.

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