An Episode (Possibly Clinical) of Too Many Thoughts at Once

Despite its formidable processing powers, the human brain can be easily overburdened. Take a job, add a dissertation, add another job, then throw the death of a very close person into the mix and shake well to blend the grief and the sorrow and the paralysis with everything else – then just sit down and observe. How long would it take, do you think, for that brain to get stuck in a vicious loop?

These days, my brain jitters a lot, throws up various distortions (both analogue and digital), and has to cycle through ugly loops at least several times a day. I’m still not on top of things, but those very same things are moving, relentlessly, and I’ve got no choice but to somehow move with them.

What I did last week around this time was finish a re-read (or was it a third read? really no idea) of Greg Egan’s Teranesia. Had to do that as part of one job, but the book was as gripping as the first time I read it. One of the main topics in the story has to do with scientists gagged by financing agreements. I couldn’t help but wander off in my thoughts, wondering how many people are, as we speak and write, working on diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, AIDS and so many others – and how many of those people will produce work which will not see the light of day any time soon because of the silencing clauses in their research funding contracts. My usual conclusion applies here: what a clinically insane world we have built for ourselves.

In the meantime, really awful things happened around the world. In the USA, a barely grown-up kid with psychological issues went, automatic firearm in hands, and killed twenty small kids and several adults who tried to protect them. Who gave that person access to those weapons? Why is there such an enormous number of automatic weapons in private possession in the USA? Why is there no real, hard control over such weapons? Tough questions all, and all related to the extremely difficult US history of slavery and racism and xenophobia. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time for you to see Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. But before that, you must read this article by Adam Cadre: precise, thoughtful, informed, and scary. Those of you who live in the US should already be really scared by organizations such as the National Rifle Association of America which constantly foil efforts towards tough regulation and control of guns. Nonetheless, fear can in this case be a very useful reaction, especially if it leads to real change.

There were also other evil people doing evil things, like the knife attack in a school in China, or the brutal rape of a woman on a public bus in Delhi, India. Too many struggles to overcome suffering and grief, too many frightful thoughts to be had. At least having the thoughts probably means I’m not completely cut off from reality, even if I cannot do much about any of this.

There were beautiful things in the past days as well, I’ll mention only one though: Cassini giving us here on Earth an image of Saturn that makes me smile every day.

And now I shall be going back to work. I’ve started work on something so insane I should not have even thought about it, but then that’s the way the world turns sometimes. A brain like mine needs a project large enough to concentrate on, and a way to channel the pain of loss into something creative. There will be more info on that when I have material to actually show. For now, there’s movement. And movement still means life, however jaded.

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