the sublime

flower tote

“Beethoven is not only about suffering — it’s about many emotions, true happiness and ecstasy.”

Arrival at Temple after Pilgrimmage

“It’s not true that someone has to have been through extreme emotions to play the music, but you have to be able to sympathize and have empathy with the emotions. If I play a piece of Chopin or Schumann, it’s a one-to-one confession all the time, but with Beethoven, the slow movements are not so much a confession but more a kind of preaching. He has a bigger message about humanity. Earlier, I didn’t really understand and appreciate that expression.”
~Leif Ove Andsnes

Penitence -- Pilgrim in Tibet

“In a case like Schubert, who died at 31, he had enough sorrow for a lifetime. There is something about the subtext of his music — people say you have to suffer a little more.”
~Jeremy Denk

Rose sheet music

“Musicians often state that they should wait until they ‘have something to say’ before tackling pieces like Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ or late Beethoven or Schubert, although for the pianist Richard Goode the phrase ‘having something to say’ suggests ‘an act of will — something extrinsic to a genuine involvement,’ he said.”
~Viven Schweitzer, Adapted from “Wait, You Need to Suffer Some More”

Prayer Flags in Tibet

“Which master managed, as Beethoven did in his late music, to weld together present, past and future, the sublime and the profane?”
~Alfred Brendel

horizon from plane

Portraits of the Natural Brain

Often times, nature imitates itself. A neural structure only micrometers wide mimics shapes of organisms in the wilderness that are perceptible with the naked eye. Conversely, the awe-inspiring mammoth forms found in the wild are evocative of neural patterns a scientist would be interested in studying under a microscope.

The Natural Brain

Center
Neuron – formed from the varied colorings of cracks in ice

Top
Spinal Column – tree trunk
Corpus Callosum – banana leaf’s branching colorations represents fibers emanating from a central midline
Cortical Layers – natural gradient of white sands
Sulci & Gyri – canyon giving way to a river mimics the folding of the cortex

Bottom
Cerebral Aqueduct – waterfall symbolizing cerebrospinal fluid flowing from 3rd ventricle to the spinal cord
Ventricle – geothermal hot springs
Astrocytes – starlike daisies
Dendrite – evergreen overlooking the Continental Divide

[The brain] is not encased in a black box, but a vibrant and active organ whose constituent parts emulate natural forms we see regularly.

zen and now, part ii

“To arrive in the Rocky Mountains by plane would be to see them in one kind of context, as pretty scenery. But to arrive after days of hard travel across the prairies would be to see them another way, as a goal, a promised land.”

road

mountains

~Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

our alternate constructs

“Consciousness does not passively represent the external environment and the body; rather, it actively and continuously constructs and revises a model of the body and the external world.”

“Processing limitations constrain the conditions for the construction of momentary consciousness.”

“The brain samples selectively and self-organizes what it will use to construct an immediate reality. Attention is a part of this process, directing the focus of ongoing construction and governing the rate at which the brain either shifts or fixates the reality it constructs.”

Re: Music and Pain — “The brain can modulate the entry of nociceptive signals from tissue trauma in to consciousness.” Pain and cognitive processing has been shown to share the same resources and neural areas — “Increasing the dimensionality of a competing activity [musical monitoring] will increase the cognitive and emotional resources allocated to that activity relative to those allocated to pain.”

Bradshaw et al., Effects of music engagement on responses to painful stimulation

“Are we all just a big bag of voxels?”… constructing reality to our own ends and means?

endless forms most beautiful

Sometimes, nature imitates itself.

Remind anyone of this graphic?

“One is only micrometers wide. The other is billions of light years across. One shows neurons in a mouse brain. The other is a simulated image of the universe. Together they suggest the surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different natural phenomena.” Reblogged from The New York Times > Science

Similarly, a lone evergreen overlooking Loveland Pass, Colorado…

… Evocative of axons of neurons stripped of boutons (the neural connections each healthy nerve cell should sprout many of.) Not plentiful in underutilized neurons:

Thus, on a broad scale:

Not watering your evergreens ~= not watering your brain

Deforestation ~= Synaptic pruning

Evergreens, ironically, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Something vast to think about…

And not so vast – sometimes man imitates nature as well 🙂

this side of paradise, part iii

Maybe if I post enough pictures of bone-crushingly cold weather it will actually become such. Just kidding. Never really understood why people enjoy hot weather. But then again, paradise is subjective 😉

“Time for the weather report. It’s cold out folks. Bone-crushing cold. The kind of cold which will wrench the spirit out of a young man, or forge it into steel.”

— Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Lost and Found

on the road again

It was an exacting -5 F at 7:29 am. Naturally, it was time to get out of the car, lie in the middle of the highway, and ponder how the visual system gives rise to the perception of texture, convergence, and perspective.

“From the patterns of stimulation on the retina we perceive the world of objects and this is nothing short of a miracle.”
— Richard L. Gregory, Eye and Brain, 1966

“I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown… and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities. . . it is enough that I am surrounded by beauty.”
— Everett Ruess

“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. …The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley