Karen
Christopher

lost threads, found threads, dropped threads, threadbare

And I tell myself: I have an idea. But when I think about it the place where I am and everything that has just happened (immediately and in the past) has led to this moment. It's maybe not my idea or not just mine and maybe it's not that I have it, it is possible that it has me.

And then the landscape becomes more than an idea to me, it becomes me as there is no difference between me and idea. Constructs of the mind are only as stable as the mind and only as rigid.

And it is this that leads to the audience coming on stage: dissolving boundaries, the difference between, foreground/background confusion, stability shifts toward something not yet grounded, unmoored but trusting.

And then a condition of my life intervenes in the form of something like a dream--except that it is really happening--but happening with a twilight version of myself only half fueled and being taken care of. And then it really becomes clear that I never do anything alone even if I think I do.

And (in this twightlight condition) I looked to the right where the painted portrait hangs and there was a portrait but not the real portrait, it was the wrong shape and colour. And I looked beyond my feet to where the window should be and there was a window but it was bigger than the usual window, my window, the one I always look to. And I looked to my left where the door would be and it was much too far away. A replica of a room I recognise but I didn’t have a self myself and there was a nice man there who looked at me but I didn’t know him. He said: “don’t worry, after awhile you’ll understand.” I believed him. There was no urgent need to leave this replica of a room. I had no alternate destination in mind. I waited.

Now there's no audience coming onstage but I am there and Sophie and also the idea of not us and no decision and multiple endings and never solid and possibly not knowing our names--or at least me not knowing mine. Nevertheless, we go on.

Tags: duet, neurology, miles & miles, Sophie Grodin

Posted on Friday, 10 June 2016 by Karen Christopher

there is no polaroid of this in my brain

the following are not my words but I didn't wish to summarize
—Karen

Antonio Damasio:  I don’t have a memory.  I’m not going to have a Polaroid picture of you right now talking to me complete with soundtrack.  What I’m going to have is all these bits and pieces of information with which I will be allowed to reconstruct something of this moment, but of course the reconstruction is not going to be entirely accurate, and who knows?  Maybe then in time I may even make a confusion and I could be asked in court to say what you were wearing and I could say that you were wearing a blue...

Siri Hustvedt:  Actually and I think this is quite important, the fact that our brains and our memories are not like recording devices, not like film and that that is how we make sometimes significant errors. And those errors also can be created by an emotion attached to the experience, so that you can even entirely invert a memory, depending on the motivation in some way—and I don’t mean conscious motivation, but a deeply embodied drive or push sometimes that can have an emotional valence that will change memory.

Antonio Damasio:  Right, absolutely and people you know the testimonies in court are very often affected by that and you have all sorts of misattribution errors, inversions of the time sequence and so and that is because we don’t have a filmic medium.  We don’t have celluloid with an optic soundtrack attached to it.  What we have is this incredibly sophisticated mechanism of transforming…  It’s almost like coding.  You have these little bits and pieces that are occurring in time and then you have the possibility of reconstruction or reactivation, which is they are very, very, very intriguing and by the way, it is extremely economic.  You know the brain whenever it can, does things fuzzily and lazily and you know if there is no need to repeat and reinvent the wheel it won’t.

Siri Hustvedt:  Well, and I think this is very important for perception because perception, the way we perceive things has to do with deep learning in the brain and one of my favorite philosophers, who you mentioned a footnote in your most recent book, Maurice Merleau-Ponty talks about perception as something he calls stereotypes and in neuroscience there is a similar idea, which is that the brain also will take in information according to its own expectations.

Antonio Damasio:  Absolutely.  Yeah, because we don’t…  You know it’s not just that we have memory of the things that we have been living through since we were born.  We have past memories that we have inherited through a whole history of evolution before us that in fact have memories of things that our forerunners have been doing and I’m not just talking about the human forerunners, but forerunners that go all the way into reptiles and single cells.  You know things that have been done in a certain way in life forms and that of course been memorized by the biological systems we inherited.

from a conversation with Siri Hustvedt & Antonio Damasio July 2, 2010
accessed online: http://bigthink.com/videos/a-conversation-with-antonio-damasio-and-siri-hustvedt

Tags: photograph, neurology, fragmentary

Posted on Sunday, 10 May 2015 by Karen Christopher

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