Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Disorders of the Mind

In blog entries like The Geometry of Music, Information Equals Reality, and Music and the Dance of Creativity we have talked about creativity as patterns of information that are shared across time and space. The above painting, by Canadian artist Anne Adams, is a visual interpretation of Ravel's Bolero. It's called "Unravelling Bolero". Here's some excerpts from the surprising information about this painting revealed in a recent article in New Scientist magazine:

Boléro: 'Beautiful symptom of a terrible disease'
by Peter Aldhous

Some paintings are meant to be appreciated in silence – but not this one. It is called Unravelling Boléro, by Canadian artist Anne Adams, and is a bar-by-bar representation of the popular classical piece Boléro by Maurice Ravel. The painting also provides a scientific window into the creative mind.

When Adams completed Unravelling Boléro in 1994, her brain was starting to be affected by a neurodegenerative condition called primary progressive aphasia. It later robbed Adams of speech, and eventually took her life.

In its early stages, however, the condition seemed to unleash a flowering of neural development in a brain area that integrated information from different senses. In part, Unravelling Boléro may be a beautiful symptom of a terrible disease.

Repetitive patterns
This is the view of a group of neurologists led by William Seeley and Bruce Miller of the University of California, San Francisco.

And here's the jaw-dropper: Ravel is thought to have suffered from the same condition, which may have drawn him towards repetitive patterns such as the themes that cycle through Boléro. Adams was unaware of this, and of her own condition, while working on her painting.

Music in the detail
In Unravelling Boléro, each of the vertical figures represents a bar of music, with its height corresponding to volume, and the colour representing the pitch of Adams' favourite note within the bar.

Like the music, the theme repeats and builds until a change of colour to orange and pink, representing the key change that precedes Boléro's dramatic conclusion. "Every last detail has some meaning," says Seeley.
With Imagining the Tenth Dimension, one of the questions I've asked is whether other "unusual" brain states, induced by music, trance, hallucinogens or other disruptions to what we think of as "normal" function might be giving us glimpses into the behind-the-scenes processing that our brains could be doing as we navigate through our fifth-dimensional probability space, unaware of the gyrations and connections that are happening from the dimensions above while we travel down what feels like a straight "line of time". Blog entries like Flatlanders On a Line and Time is a Direction are related to this.

Lately I've been reading a book by David Jay Brown called "Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse", a collection of interviews with deep thinkers and big dreamers like Ray Kurzweil, Bruce Sterling, Deepak Chopra, Rupert Sheldrake, Edgar Mitchell, Robert Anton Wilson, and many more. I'm sure I'll be continuing to quote from this book other times in upcoming entries. Since so many of these experts in their fields are promoting ideas that can so easily be integrated into my way of visualizing how our reality is constructed from the background state of the omniverse, I believe David Jay Brown's book works as a great companion piece to my own project .

Dr. Clifford Pickover, for instance, has some interesting comments in Conversations about DMT and a brain condition known as "temporal lobe epilepsy":
Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) can produce profound religious experiences. Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that the mystical religious experiences of many of the great prophets were induced by TLE. This is not to demean religious experiences, because all experiences are mediated by our brain states. Perhaps TLE is a doorway to valid dimensions of reality. In my books Strange Brains and Genius and The Paradox of God, I discuss several nuns with TLE who "apprehended" God in TLE seizures and who described the experiences in glowing words.

More recently at my weblog, I published an article going much further... My controversial premise is that DMT in the pineal glands of biblical prophets gave God to humanity and let ordinary humans perceive parallel universes. As we discussed, the molecule DMT is a psychoactive chemical that causes intense visions and can induce its users to quickly enter a completely different "environment" that some have likened to an alien or parallel universe. DMT is also naturally produced in small quantities in the pineal gland in the human brain.
In my song, "From the Corner of My Eye", I explored some of these same themes. The second verse and chorus tie in nicely to what we're talking about here:
In a corner of my mind, I questioned
How could there be more than this world of ours
Just a trick of vision
Disorder of the mind?
A pattern of tiny twirling stars
At the corner of my eye

From the corner of my eye
I saw the dance and spin
Of other worlds within
Such a mystery
From the corner of my eye
Hidden in the folds
Those other worlds untold
How can it be
Here, to close this entry then, is a video of Ron Scott singing that song.

A direct link to the above video can be found at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Update: here's a youtube video of a TedTalks presentation by Vilayanur Ramachandran about situations of damage to the brain which might be showing us how things are connected together within our minds. I was introduced to this by a bookmark created by Ishan Shapiro.

Next: Time in Either Direction

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hello, thanks for the credit for the twine! you might be interested in another community I am involved with -

if you're interested I'll send you an invite. and if you'd like to check out my own blog go to

- Ishan

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist