Riffing on Books and Life – Arts & Sciences Literary Blog by interactive new media author & artist Terry Bailey

23Jul/11

More Mind Watching and “The Self” – (continued from the previous post)

Bailey_Lehrer_Kurzban_Woolf_Whitman

 

Writer Virginia Woolf watched her own mind. She had plenty of time to do so as she was sent to bed by doctors who, in the 19th century, prescribed the reverse cure to depression that is more often ordered today: get up and out! be with friends! keep yourself occupied! Woolf, fortunately spent her depression bed rest time following the flight of her thoughts while she lay immobilized in her dark moods. The outcome of those times for her was a superior understanding of how the mind works, and a stream of consciousness modern form of writing for which she is credited in literary history. She also came to know a great deal of the mind - and self - from this experiential personal research of hers that was not looked at by science until much later. Woolf's self as story.

As Woolf watched the chaotic shifting of her mind, she concluded that there was nothing fixed about her self. She linked "self" with "mind."

"...now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now in a daffodil in the sun." (Lehrer 169)

Walt Whitman, as I have talked about in previous posts, also reflected on himself - body and "soul"/mind - and discovered things about the self that were only beginning to be looked at by psychologists and scientists in his day. Where Whitman found contradictions and paradoxes in his self, Kurzban finds

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10Jul/11

Listening to my unconscious: a riff inspired by authors R. Kurzban and J. Lehrer and V. Woolf

Terry and Salomé Take a Trip to Monterey on the coast of California

In the previous post I gave an example of listening to my unconscious - or what I might call my "key tracking mind app" in that particular case, if I am to draw upon Robert Kurzban's multiple minds theory (Why Everyone [Else] is a Hypocrite).

Another interesting incident of unconscious watching occurred last December.

I arrived home one evening and pulled pork chops out of the freezer, defrosted them in the microwave, located a casserole dish, filled it with milk and sliced yellow onions, placed the pork chops on top, sprinkled all with black pepper, baked it, heated peas, opened a can of apple sauce, and sat down a bit later at my kitchen table to eat the meal of scalloped pork chops and green peas.

What was so unusual about this? For one thing, I am pretty much a vegetarian; I can’t remember the last time I cooked pork chops or even had them in my house. For another thing, I seldom make a complete meal when I am by myself, and especially not on a week night when I arrive home exhausted from my job at the college. I am more likely to eat a peanut butter sandwich, or a plateful of fruits and vegetables. And scalloped pork chops are an unusual meal for me.

It was not until I took my first bite of pork and potato that the truth struck me: it was my sister’s birthday. Until that moment, I had not been consciously aware of the date at all. That was relevant because scalloped pork chops was her favorite meal when we were kids.

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