Monday, February 23, 2009

You have a shape and a trajectory

George Harrison, born February 23rd 1943, would have been 66 years old today. Happy birthday, George, wherever/whatever you are right now.

A direct link to the above video is at

I've talked many times now about Douglas Hofstadter's wonderful book "I am a Strange Loop". Coincidentally, both my book and Hofstadter's put forth the same idea: traditionally, it was believed that each human being has one indivisible soul. While there is indeed something unique about each person's individual experience, it's much more accurate to think of a 'soul' as being created by an interlocking system of patterns, shared across time and space.

What are some of the ramifications of thinking of things this way? In entries like The Big Bang and the Big O we've talked about how sexuality provides connections across the history of life on this planet and perhaps even beyond. Music is also very much part of the same discussion, and we've looked at music as patterns that connect us together in entries like Music and the Dance of Creativity, The Geometry of Music, and Disorders of the Mind.

Music and sex are examples of the kinds of patterns that can connect us together. There are other patterns we can look at that show us how each of us is on our own individual journey within our physical bodies, each with our own unique pattern within the whole. In entries like Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory we've looked at how those patterns can be easily affected by adjusting our physicality, and in Changing Your Genes and Changing Your Genes 2 we've looked at the surprising new science of epigenetics, which shows that changes in lifestyle and attitude can cause "bad" genes to be switched off and "good" genes to be switched on.

For about fifteen years, back in the 70's and 80's, I was the music director of the local professional theatre here in my home town of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I recall a casual conversation I had with a young actress who said she was having trouble identifying with the character she was supposed to be playing. I asked her this question: what kind of music do you think this person would like to listen to? The actress immediately got what I meant: music has a physicality and emotional drive to it that can cause a person to change their body stance, adjust their mental attitude, and this is why certain people like certain kinds of music. If you're trying to "get into somebody else's headspace", so to speak, then imagine yourself liking the same music that they do.

Are you depressed? Put on a song that you associate with happy times and your mood will be elevated. Or, put on a song that resonates with your depression, at least you won't feel all alone. With people walking around with headphones and personal music players all over the place, this might seem very obvious; but physicality, mental attitude, and music are intimately tied together, and people who understand how much music affects them can use music very effectively as a way to enhance their activities throughout the day. This is also why it can be so annoying to be forced to listen to someone else's music if you don't want to: it's like their extra-dimensional "shape" is impinging upon your own.

So. Actors, whether they do this unconsciously or consciously, deal with these shapes and patterns that make each of us unique all the time. Watching an actor "become" someone else is a big part of the magic of that profession. An actor can change their physical stance, their body language, their internal rhythms, even the part of their body or face that their voice is "coming from". In other words, they find a way for what we might think of as their "soul" to adopt a different shape and trajectory, and that is something we as human beings recognize and are fascinated by.

Does this all sound too airy-fairy to you? Here's a link to an article from a few months ago in New Scientist Magazine, it was called "Voice Impersonators Use Brain to 'Become' Characters"

WHEN impersonators mimic an accent, celebrity, or do a voice-over for a cartoon, they may use areas of the brain not normally activated during speech, enabling them to "get under the skin" of their target.

Sophie Scott of University College London and colleagues asked seven people to impersonate 40 celebrity voices and a selection of foreign accents while lying in an fMRI brain scanner. Only regions normally activated during speech lit up.

In contrast, when British voice impressionist Duncan Wisbey did a range of impressions in the scanner, many more brain regions were active. The researchers say that this additional activity may reflect greater skill at impersonation. They presented the findings last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC.

Several of the regions in question are associated with vision and motor control. Scott suspects they light up because Wisbey thinks about what his target looks like and then imposes their features onto his own body to improve the voice.

Interestingly, Wisbey seems to produce the same pattern of brain activity even when the impression doesn't have to involve a specific individual, for example when mimicking accents. "When we asked him to try a Chinese accent, he said he was thinking about a woman who sells herbs near his house," says Scott.

Isn't that interesting? This is something I've seen myself with my son Mark, who has learned to speak English, French, Spanish, and is now learning Serbian. Each language causes people to hold their mouths and place their voices within their "mask" differently - in a sense Mark is becoming a different person as he speaks these languages.

Why are simple visualization techniques so effective in changing people's trajectory, putting them on a better path? Back in "Information Equals Reality" I talked through this as one way for people to move themselves to different trajectories within their fifth-dimensional probability space.
...imagine a warm ball of energy starting at the base of your spine, gradually working its way up your back, making you sit up straighter, creating a radiant glow out through your shoulders and the top of your head that opens your eyes wider and makes you feel more alert. Do you feel it? It really is that simple to change your energy, because it's all just information.
For people trapped in negative loops of self-destructive behavior, the idea that they can change their trajectory and that the way out is "just around the corner" in their own probability space could be what saves their life some day. To close, here's my song about that idea: it's called "Addictive Personality".

A direct link to the above video is at

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Creativity and the Quantum Universe

1 comment:

Apocalypso Facto said...

This is truly astounding. I'm a fully bilingual individual, speaking Spanish as my mother tongue and English as a second language, and I've definitely thought about the fact that my "mindset" changes as I switch languages. Small wonder learning a new language is such a thrilling experience, at least for the ones of us who truly enjoy learning them. And music? Well, I also happen to be a hobbyist musician myself, playing guitar and bass, as well as being a fan of music that makes me think: jazz-fusion, prog-rock, some styles of electronica and other non-mainstream styles, so I can truly relate to the idea of music that "resonates" with oneself.

Awesome blog Rob, keep it up!

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