reading a neurology book called Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio right now. it’s a lot more science-y than I’m capable of grasping, but still enjoying it thoroughly—he’s got an easy and accessible writing style so even though the words are hard, I still feel like I grasp SOME things.
the main gist of the book is to demonstrate how the whole debate about rationality being bracketed off from emotionality is bunk; that the parts of the brain that are about emotions are also vital for decision-making.
the main example he begins with is Phineas Gage (tho Wikipedia tells me that the portrait of Gage is mis-guided and misinterpreted) and goes on to detail other similar cases, and the part i’m reading right now is all the science-y things that talk about just how the brain and body work together for all sorts of neurological functions
it’s really fascinating and I really am appreciating how he’s emphasizing the fact that we are very much tied to how our body functions, our cognition and personhood isn’t some cogito ergo sum willpower nonsense but related to the complex stuff in brains and also a person needs emotions to be rational in any socially functioning sort of way
now my mind’s racing off in two directions: 1) a biography of Phineas Gage in which he seems to have coped fairly decently despite his disability and it’s medical accounts by people who’ve never met him that make him out to be socially-maladjusted after his injury (in which case it’s well worth examining how medical institutions are very much responsible for institutional ablism that disabled people face today; if we didn’t have doctors condemning pwd to some weird “disability is destiny” fate and society didn’t take it up, might disabled people have a much easier time?) and 2) how does this work in terms of mental depression? i mean, we’ve all seen the brain scans of “normal person vs. depressed person” but is there anything out there which examines the neurology of depression the way Damasio does of the neurology of emotion? and if there is, why isn’t it made more easily available?
anyway, the point is, i like this book
edit: also I think i should look into criticisms of this book re: autism because he mentions autistic patients a couple of times and i wonder if he’s representing them properly
OK so the colonial novel’s characters are showing signs of fraying
my favourite white lady is getting depressed because for all her efforts in preserving idk European Civilization in her house it is not working for her and she’s becoming more and more unhappy and her husband works way too hard
it’s a shame, really; i relate to her a lot
but she still has silly white savior tendencies and if there is anything that will ruin a person in a position like hers it is white savior tendencies
the sociopathic white lady is still super-insulated from all her shit because her husband the resident is a dodo. someone has been sending him letters about her indiscretions and now all she’s thinking is which lover to get rid of to minimize damage and stay as ~happy~ for as long as possible
also right now there is a conversation about ghosts and of course the white people are like what and the local lady is like LISTENNNNN
i think when the locals start talking to you about ghosts you ought to pay attention
especially, you know, in SEAsia
what an ill-advised assumption that it’s just wild cats in the tree after you’ve been told what kinds of sounds wild cats make
at this point i’m pretty sure the other colonial literatures will be like, “if you fuck with SEA you will be destroyed” much like how Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was all about white men getting destroyed from too much contact with Africa or something
not that i’ve read much
just somerset maughum’s “The Outstation”
but it was essentially the same message
all right i have stopped reading for the night, but the last chapter I read was about the Resident who suffers from the same kind of cognitive dissonance you see in a ton of white dudes who are like BUT AM A GOOD PERSON OK MAY HAVE DONE SOME BAD THINGS BUT NORMAL AM A GOOD PERSON and doesn’t actually know the people he has affection for… you know, the kind of person who loves a person because they are supposed to, not because they actually care about the human being who is the object of their affections?
really even tho this tale is subtitled “A story of Modern Java” pretty much much of what is coded is not-white is “old fashioned” and it’s all about these bored somewhat sociopathic colonial/creole people who… I guess will inevitably drive themselves towards destruction
oh we now have a family of half-eurasian half-Solo *googles, Solo is the old name for Surakarta* and apparently the husband won the Solo princess’s heart by cooking her some delicious food
so I am reading this colonial novel and about a quarter through it
it’s called The Hidden Force and so far it appears to be a portrait of bored white colonials, both migrants from Holland and “creoles” (white people, essentially, born in Indonesia)
the Resident is in love with a bored indifferent wife who cheats on him, with his son
and his secretary’s wife is also super bored and is the real life of the party
the wives have way more personality than the men
aaaaaaaaaand now the secretary’s wife’s set have in response to her complete fucking boredom suggested they play “gipsy table-turning”
which i think is a form of ouija
of course you bored white women want to fuck with our local spirits when you’re bored
BWAAAAAAAAHHAAHHAHAHAHAHA The paper on Cats: The Musical got an A MUAHAHAHA
there is a line in Macavity: the Mystery Cat in which they list a few things he does. the lines go
“And when the larder’s looted, or jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair—”
and i just
“another Peke’s been stifled”
did they just imply that Macavity suffocated a Pekingnese?
after a brief thing articulating hegel’s dialectic on human/divine law i made up ‘cat law’ so i can talk about the jellicle cats
i am really excited for this paper