This is Your Brain On Awesome Thoughts on the world from a student of the mind


What’s it like to slowly lose the ability to speak? A first-person account.

This is an absolutely amazing piece of writing by Tom Lubbock, a long-time journalist and author.  It begins just as he has received some terrible news: he's got a brain tumor, and only has a year or two to live.  Moreover, the tumor is located near a region of his brain that is dedicated to speech production and comprehension (my guess is either Broca's Area or Wernicke's Area ).

True to his nature, Tom decides to keep a journal detailing his experiences during this troubling time.  He touches on thoughts about his own mortality, his relationship with the people around him, and how these relationships change as he slowly loses the ability to communicate.

I'm blown away by how much humanity comes through in this short piece of writing, and I urge you all to check it out.  Maybe we can all take a more appreciative look at our own mental faculties after having seen this man's experience.

via The Guardian


Some words on life (and death) from a great man

So I know it ain't science, per say, but then again what could be a more essential part of learning about the world and yourself than learning about death?

Sounds morose, I know, but it's something that we all have to deal with at one time or another, and while many fight it tooth an nail, one man seems to take a much more measured and analytical approach.

Christopher Hitchens (one of my all-time favorite writers) is in the process of releasing a memoir that details his life as a journalist, visionary, and slightly crazy person.  Almost in justification of such a decision, he recently wrote this piece on his recent diagnosis and life with cancer.

Hitchens is a man that has a lot to say about the world, and it is a wonder that he expresses the same poignant insight into his own world.  I don't have much to say about the article, except that seeing someone who can express their feelings about their own terminal illness with such eloquence is both deserving of my respect and attention.  I suggest you check it out.

Here's a brief excerpt:

Ihave more than once in my time woken up feeling like death. But nothing prepared me for the early morning last June when I came to consciousness feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse. The whole cave of my chest and thorax seemed to have been hollowed out and then refilled with slow-drying cement. I could faintly hear myself breathe but could not manage to inflate my lungs. My heart was beating either much too much or much too little. Any movement, however slight, required forethought and planning. It took strenuous effort for me to cross the room of my New York hotel and summon the emergency services. They arrived with great dispatch and behaved with immense courtesy and professionalism. I had the time to wonder why they needed so many boots and helmets and so much heavy backup equipment, but now that I view the scene in retrospect I see it as a very gentle and firm deportation, taking me from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady. Within a few hours, having had to do quite a lot of emergency work on my heart and my lungs, the physicians at this sad border post had shown me a few other postcards from the interior and told me that my immediate next stop would have to be with an oncologist. Some kind of shadow was throwing itself across the negatives.

from Vanity Fair