Oliver Sacks From Beyond the Grave

I’m so insanely behind in my reading that I don’t dare get this yet — but it is on the must list.

A book I ran across when all I had to do at night in Cambridge was drink or read was Sacks’s Awakenings and I didn’t put it down for a moment after I got home from work until I was finished and went back and re-read the most intense accounts. A report from a world I had only encountered in glimpses. Few years later he tripled down with The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and I was a fan for good. Search “Oliver Sacks” in this blog and you’ll see he comes up more than I might think.

 

R.I.P.: Michel Jouvet

I knew only bits about his remarkable career. My mother was fascinated by dreams and astrology (thought they were related in some way I could never quite understand — dreams predict the future, maybe). But for her (born 1910) and my father (born 1890) dreams were utterly mysterious, unexplained in any way. (The one item I most wish I could find in my mother’s possessions is her paperback The Dictionary of Dreams — it’s a kind of lost fantasy compendium.) Neither had read Freud, but he’s gone more into the wastebin than I imagined way back when. So Jouvet’s work is very profound.

But why do dolphins and whales not dream?

Aztec and Eclipse

I cannot resist the notion that the first across-the-USA total eclipse was a sign of evil times. But the happier chips of me left take comfort in one of the huge benefits of science, in this case astronomy, in making a reasonably predictable universe. Otherwise, the sun going out could be the beginning of freakin’ anything, including that it would not come back.

The Aztecs had a particularly creepy mythology associated with eclipses: the sun was under attack from the stars you could see around it when it turned black. These are the female deities/demons Tzitzimime, quite the monsters.

Some images:

TZI 1

TZI 2

TZI 3

TZI 4

TZI 5

TZI 6

The Queen.

Couple Things That Really Improved in My Lifetime

If only to counter general shadows and doubts …

Store-bought food for dogs and cats — dogs especially — now amounts to something they actually enjoy eating and is better for their health (though we have not had pets for decades). Ranch-raised dogs in my youth looked tortured as they fought off starvation by snarfing meat-flavored grains. And I remember vets repeatedly telling us how many cats came in with digestive disaster because they weren’t fed properly. One unfortunate side effect was that our dogs were all terrible dinner-table beggars — amusing on occasion, annoying more of the time.

As a kid in bed, all I had to fight off the most extreme cold of winter was enormous feather quilts. I felt smothered and couldn’t move properly. Then came the miracle of the electric blanket. Wasn’t as heavy, for sure, but felt as natural as sleeping on a hot frying pan. With modern materials, you can enjoy a couple light layers extra that keep you snug as you want. Whew.

Charles M. Blow Has No More F*cks To Give

So he’s laying it right out there, since too many missed it the first four thousand times.

Bill Clinton had a number of cowardly moments, but one that really stuck in my craw was the whole “didn’t inhale” garbage. The first POTUS to admit he was going to let the powerless rot in jail for ages because of a harmless “crime” he had committed himself. That’s a new level of hypocrisy and indifference to the weak.

Not as evil as the original establishment of the “War on Drugs” of course, which I brought up in my second point back here.

I fell short when I forgot that there was a confessed tyrannical agenda behind these irrational “wars.” And I see how it worked. Operating in total ignorance, my parents thought maryjuana was Satan incarnated in a plant.