Archive for August, 2015

from my KIndle book, Parameters:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parameters-Michael-Murray-ebook/dp/B07893LB8Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513428648&sr=1-1&keywords=parameters

Reposted from 2011

Some say the New Music began with Debussy.

It is the opening flute piece of his Prelude a L’apres midi d’un faune of 1894: “It gently shakes loose from roots in diatonic (major-minor) tonality.” (Paul Griffiths, Modern Music: A Concise History).

One of the main contributions to this loosening is the deliberate avoidance of key signatures: “the first two bars of the flute melody… fill in the space between C sharp and G…The third bar indicates an arrival in the key of B major. But diatonic harmony is now only one possibility among many…” (ibid).

This must be set against the contemporary background of Romantic music, particularly Wagner’s epic cycles. Many looked on these as a new flowering of Romantic music; but it may be Debussy better caught the tone of the times: Wagner was “… a beautiful sunset which was taken for a dawn.” (ibid).

Alban Berg was born in 1885, in Vienna. He initially made his living as a bookkeeper. He also took part time classes in composition from the age of twenty, with Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg at this time was a leader of the current avant-garde. In 1909 Schoenberg produced his Three Pieces for Piano, which was the first wholly atonal music.

Atonal music dispenses with tonal keys and signatures, traditional harmonies and, instead, assigns an equal importance to all notes in the chromatic scale: there are no major or minor keys, and therefore no traditional melody.

Chromatic awareness slowly developed throughout the previous century: “you only need to try humming along to Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue to realize that chromaticism had come a long way since Mozart.” (Joe Staines and Duncan Clark).

In some ways it was Wagner himself who brought this about, by taking tonality to breaking point “with music in which there are so many and such extreme modulations” (ibid).

One characteristic of atonal music was the belief that the music must flow directly from the unconscious.

Schoenberg, Berg and Webern became known as chief amongst the Second Viennese School (the First being Beethoven, Haydn etc.). The setting is important: Vienna, home of Freudian psychoanalysis, and the concept of the unconscious.

Berg’s tutelage finished when he was twenty-five, the year of his first fully achieved piece, the String Quartet Opus 3. The audience reception was bemusement. Schoenberg, however, was enthusiastic.

Berg was now to live solely by music. Coupled with this though, was the problem of finding players capable and willing to take on the new music.

Berg stands out in the development of the new music, because of his janus-like stance: constantly referring to tonality but also developing atonality further and further. This is what gives him his richness, accessibility. Mahler’s 6th and 9th Symphonies become as much reference points as Schoenberg’s experiments with 12-tone structure. Berg was present at Mahler’s funeral.

 

This was part of a lingering Romanticism, and fertile ground for development of belief in the idea of the Freudian unconscious. The wonderful sonority of the Quartet, Berg owes to a shared aesthetic with post-Romantic harmonics, and his appreciation of classical harmonics.

The Lyric Suite of 1925, Berg’s next major piece, followed the development of atonal music through into serialism. The development was in the concentration on “small groups of notes which are rearranged and transposed in a multitude of ways… elaborate new arrangements and extensive cross-referencing between… movements.” (Griffiths); in this instance around a poem by Baudelaire. The main expressive impulse was unfulfilled desire: deep in the structure is a musical acrostic of a love affair: “The pitches… are often arranged so that the letters of their notes refer to the names A-lban B-erg (B flat) and H-annah (B) F-uchs and going on to obtain independent status.”

Griffiths notes, “The system governing the duration of the various chords consists of a numerical series binding for the whole passage: 5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5. “ This row is submitted to a process of intensification where two tones each are “exchanged in all 12 tones… as well as the intervals in the chromatic scale.”(ibid).

Berg’s exasperated wife responded: ‘he can only work once he has completely complicated matters’.

Does serialism point up the failure of reliance on the unconscious, of the previous works? Perhaps the complication was in order to throw the reason into disarray, to distract it by embroiling it in detail, allowing the unconscious expression.

As serialism flowered into its hay-day in the 1950s in America, it became notorious for a certain aridity of emotional content.

Parallel with the development of atonal music and serialism, were Stravinsky’s innovations in rhythmical organisation. His later work Agon proved a bridge between the two, thought to be, antithetical styles of composition.

As for Berg, with two operas behind him, Wozzeck, and Lulu (unfinished), his never very strong constitution gave way, and he succumbed to blood poisoning at the age of 50.

His legacy is a wonderful richness; and an emotive centre, expressed with a cool, careful and rigorous tenacity.

 

PS
This is a piece I wrote following the research

 

MUSIC OF LANGUAGE

Alban Berg, his quiet words to Alma Mahler,
a soft Austrian German, private in funeral air;

and the voice used alone with his wife, the early years,
toned by the constant put-downs, rare successes:

the undercurrents to be read there. Did she read also
of his affair before he knew himself? Harmonics

discovering for themselves inner lives: ‘Alban
always needs frustrated ambitions.’ Her own voice twists.

The demands of a new language teasing known tones
to different possibilities.

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from my Kindle book, Parameters:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parameters-Michael-Murray-ebook/dp/B07893LB8Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513428648&sr=1-1&keywords=parameters

Reposted from 2011

The Swedish novelist Kerstin Ekman, hit world status in 1994, with her European blockbuster Blackwater.

A writer of wide and wonderful facility; she is essentially a fabulist: stories, anecdotes, myths tumble from her in abundance.

Blackwater has all her best novelistic traits, and also her failings.

One detail from Blackwater – a local policeman, at the end of a long day’s stint talking to a senior school, tells a class the real story of a failed robbery. The robbers, two city types, made off with their swag in a stolen car, heading up north. Holed up in an empty house, they were found next day, frozen to death. The simple flaw in their plan: being city types they did not have the basic knowledge for living in the north: how to light the wood stove.

Taken as it is, it is just another, authentic-sounding, statistic. But the time was the early 1970s, the Cold War, and fears of nuclear attack, which seemed immanent. The children insisted the teacher made two school curricula: one standard, and one covering everything they could ever need to know to survive: how to bake bread: which grain to use, how plough to prepare it, how to harvest it, how to make sickles, plough-shares etc. The children were avid for more; then a parent found out, and the teacher, one of the book’s main characters, was sacked ‘for frightening the children’.

The writer ably picks up here on the aftermath of fear of that period as echoed in the recent Soviet Union nuclear disaster at Chernobyl; the cloud of radioactive dust swept across Sweden, Scandinavia, as indeed it did northern England.

All of her books are rich in a wide variety of technical expertise. To be fully paid-up responsible adults, these are things, the book suggests on one level, we must question and be able to respond to. To be responsible to our children, another of the book’s main themes; what it is to be a child, and how being a parent is a part of that: from the bottom up. Blackwater makes us question all those things we take for granted.

The irony, also, is an Ekman hallmark.

Kerstin Ekman was born in mid Sweden in 1933. Like many other writers of her generation she moved north: north means, beyond the Arctic Circle. This was their authentic experience of the real Sweden.KE3

This is the setting of one of her earlier books, Under the Snow, written in 1966, translated for the first into English in 1997. It is a thriller based in a tiny village in the Swedish arctic; settled by nomadic Sami, for whom Swedes helped set up a local school.

Thorsson, local policeman, receives a call about a death. It is subzero still, the last of the long winter. A wonderful vignette: the super-fit younger colleague, all the right clothes, turns an ankle in the first few yards. Also, in the summer, a language academic excitedly scribbles the ferryman’s curses.

Someone says ‘killed’, another ‘accident’; everything suggests suicide. In arctic communities it is a matter of honour that everyone looks out for each other. This is the clue: honour plumbs the meaning of the death. It is essentially a clash of cultures, Sami and Swedish. It is played out against a backdrop of the long endless night of the winter months, and the neverending days of summer, when the sun scarcely sets.

In the 1970s she put herself through a strict discipline. This was the tetrology of books Witches Rings, Spring, Angel House, City of Light, available from the Norvik Press.

KE1                                                                  KE2

They follow the growth of an end-of-the-tracks village where the railway ended, into a prosperous city; but followed through from inside, that is, through the lives of its women. A wholly successful enterprise; this gained her wide recognition.

Rich and full of authentic detail. At best the books tread a careful line between character-led organic development, and explorations of history. Angel House, set in WWII explores the cost of Sweden’s neutrality: local militia guard rail stops as retreating German troops pass through from Norway; and then the sealed train that stopped briefly in the out-of-the-way station. Some said ‘German collaborators’, but the truth was ‘the last of Norway’s Jews’. The sudden jolt of implication is ours, for historically those realities were not then known. The fallibility of our humanity is the main thrust of the book.
This ‘conscience’ .

This consciousness of the consequences of the Swedish neutrality in the War informs Swedish writing to the present day: we can see it in Mankel Henning’s Wallander series of books, where the books examine the role of the military in peacetime, in its role in international peace-keeping, and in the writer’s African concerns. It is also reflected in the Kerstin Ekman’s resigning from the Swedish Academy due to their refusal to condemn the fatwah on Salman Rushdie in 1989

After the success of Blackwater readers wanted another, similar book; what they got was The Book of Hours. Published before Blackwater in Sweden, translation and English publishing demands have skewed chronology.

The Book of Hours takes on the long sweep of Swedish history, again from the inside, but this time explored through the exploits of a strange, sinister character: long lived, non-human but passing as human; a troll. And the magic realism of the book disconcerted some readers.

Where Blackwater explored contemporary concerns about nuclear war, sexual relations, social structures, and the a wonderful section unravelling the mythologies around the hunter in a modern setting; The Book of Hours was full of the culture of forestry, medieval alchemy, the histories of religion, medicine, and commerce; of the Hundred Year’s War, and the Lutheran revolution.

I mentioned her failings as a writer; this centres on the problem that plotlines do not always come together. If, like me, however, you become so engrossed in the storytelling, then it ceases to be an issue but a wry quirk, a humourous signature.

Kerstin Ekman

KE

Reblogged from 2011

To view a Howard Hodgkin painting is like being in on some event, but with the sound turned off. Everything is happening at once, but there’s this gap.

His paintings are visual ‘events’; you feel the churn of intensities.

It works by being so tightly contained. Most of his paintings are comparatively small: 37×38 cm (Still Life), 26x30cm (Venice Sunset). It’s only in later works he takes on size: 196x269cm (When Did We Go To Morocco?); but these are the exception.

The fierce overpainting objectifies emotional responses. The technically assured range of brushstrokes persuades us into seeing the harmonics of the piece.

So what soundtrack would we put here, then?

Harrison Birtwistle (Sir), for his layered textures and sense of theatre? Because Hodgkin is dramatic, his “emotional responses” (ie his paintings) lift and shape, throw into relief, subjective experience onto an objective plane.

But also for both their idiosyncratic Englishness. Unmistakable. Hodgkin’s focus is mostly domestic, the interior: we, the public, look either into frames into the picture, or out of an interior. Our sense of perspective is jeapordised to such an extent whichever way we look, that Hodgkin’s intensity becomes ours.

The unmistakable overpainting of the frame, and the painted frame within the painting (see Snapshot) is to “protect from the world” the at times fleeting emotion of the painting.
SNAPSHOT, 1984-93

snap

His paintings are deeply figurative; witness the quantity of portraits. At their heart (the canvas level, or, as he uses mostly board, the wood level) is generally a figurative leitmotif, before arpeggios of response, a polyphony of tonal qualities, describe their way out.

Ok, joke over, but you get the idea.

Painting for Hodgkin is about creating “illusionistic spaces” through the use of a specific vocabulary: colour is to create depth, the richly textured surfaces that allow underpainting to show through create counterpoint; patternings and obliquities help suggest space, while other techniques defeat space, keeping our eyes on the surface of the painting.

He has learned, surprisingly, from Sickert: “one way to make a painting exciting is the intimation of a human drama through psychological and sexual innuendo”. He does this through his tightly controlled focus, an almost keyhole perspective. Hodgkin himself writes: “I paint representational pictures of emotional situations”, that is, not emotions themselves. He also writes: “Pictures result from the accretion of many decisions, some are worked on for years, to find the exact thickness of a feeling.” (to Susan Sontag).

But is the Sickert so surprising? Hodgkin studied at Camberwell School of Art 1949 to 1954. Camberwell at that time was very influenced by the Euston Road School, in reaction to avant-garde’s pure abstractionism, and Surrealism. The Euston Road School (William Coldstream, Graham Bell, Victor Pasmore) was all about disciplined realism, observation, everyday life. And deeply influenced by Sickert and the Camden Town Group.

You also need to consider early Vuillard for the mood and interior scenes. Later, of course Hodgkin’s peers, Matisse, Derain, and who were to become fellow travellers: the neo expressionists.

His focus has always been intimacy, the understated; his figuration cubist, similar to de Kooning. Hodgkin’s observation is very much a consideration of remembered moments, his disciplined realism the veracity of the self.

Of It Can’t Be True (1987-90)

Itcantb

Michael Auping writes, it is “echo-like in its composition. It is composed of tilting frames jostling each other for position within the whole.” So, a constant tension set up by structural elements: the bright yellow frame in the centre is stopped short by a series of abrupt brush strokes that “violate its containment”.

And the title: what can’t be true? I question the need to know. The painting stands, for us; it emerges out of the personal life of the painter. As with all creative works there are always the unknowable elements: the subjective self’s containment is challenged, maybe compromised, but never wholly claimed. The titles are at times oblique because they are commentaries, jokes even, on the self, the legislated life, the legislators of life.

Auping comments, on Snapshot (1984-93), “We are given an inside view…  how the artist allows the marks to show through other marks, how he half buries and obliterates, leaving only what is necessary to re-engage his memory of the subject, though that memory and its relation to the title remains mysterious.”

As with all things, we have to learn to read paintings, their vocabularies, their aesthetics. Those who praise Old Masters for their perspicacity only see, in fact, a fraction of what they look at.

And so we begin to hear the soundtrack to these paintings (and it is not Birtwistle) in the dramatic tensions of the canvases, the emotional sweeps and uncoverings of colour, the personal chiaroscuro.

What has not yet been addressed is Hodgkin’s purpose in using the technique of the overpainted frames. It is a constant feature in his work, this bleeding out from the canvas onto walls, into the room’s light, but most importantly, into the viewer’s own existence.

There is something Derridean in this, how Derrida interrogates Kant and his logic of the parergon: “those things attached to the work of art but not part of its intrinsic form or meaning” eg the frame of the painting, the colonnades of a palace, drapery of statues…. The strict demarcation between one thing and another.

Derrida’s ‘indeterminacy’ informs Hodgkins’ sense of self; sexual orientation, and a sense of community are all implied here; hence a democracy of being, of being in the world. Hence, also, the personal quality, the familiarity, of some of his titles, implying a relationship with the viewer. Like all relationships it has to be worked at, constantly renewed, updated, changed.

HH

ME/CFS

Posted: August 14, 2015 in Chat
Tags: , , , ,

What follows is part of a personal testimony. The original was accepted and used as resource material on the region’s Work Psychology database.

Why, people might ask, is there all this fuss about it?
There is all this fuss because it is
a) unrecognised by medical authorities
b) devastating to live with
c) has no apparent cure. And we are so keyed-into our cures for nearly everything.

1
I would climb out of bed, wash, dress… and by the time got down stairs was so exhausted all I could so was sleep in a chair for about an hour. Then drink, eat, and again too exhausted for anything else. Days, weeks, months went by like this. Eighteen months, before this pattern eased off.

It was just post-operative trauma, I thought, it would pass off if left alone. Things do. It didn’t exhibit itself as an emotional or mental disturbance. It was purely physical.
I’d had a routine operation – only I found my body rejected the stitiches, and the wound became infected. On check-up several months later I was really unwell. The infection was successfully treated (will not go into that, it was not pleasant).
But I just did not seem to be picking up again. We are used to the quick re-establishment of normal health after a successful treatment.

I could not get my energy back. In fact I was losing more and more; a slippy slide to nowhere.
To read a newspaper was exhausting; the degrees of concentration needed just to sit upright, holding the paper, manipulating fingers to turn pages, of holding the arms out; the mental concentration of scanning pages, trying to make sense of articles, of following-through a story-line, and then to remember the background to the story.
All this used up tremendous amounts of energy.

After a while it became impossible to get much from a newspaper, nothing connected or made much sense, paragraphs wouldn’t hold together. Even getting through a sentence of anything other than simple syntax became a struggle.
All these were actions demanding energy. And there didn’t seem to be much of it about.

It was impossible to get an overview of one’s condition.

To walk two hundred yards to the local v

Vets to pick up pet medicine I would arrive panting for breath, utterly drained, covered in cold sweat; and then to sit for a good ten minutes or more before feeling capable of even attempting to tackle the simple interaction of a discussion with the assistant.
Every day was like that – apart from the Vet visit, I hasten to add. There is little to remember of that period, that lasted roughly two years. To vacuum just one room was a major feat; totally exhausting.

Sleeping was difficult: I’d collapse into bed, then wake every hour or so throughout the night; restless when I did sleep. My temperature was all over the place.
To go to the bathroom in the night was to continually walk into things; the furniture, the wall, the door; was to lose one’s way, to literally walk around in circles.

It was like living in a half-world, a half life. The days were blurry, groggy; they consisted of dragging oneself around the house; pottering; doing what one could manage; keeping oneself going; doing things.
I’d go into another room only to stand there, stumped: why did I come in here? Only once or twice I experienced this, I’d go into another room, to turn around, and not even recognise it: where am I? To go into the hall, say, was to forget how to get out again.

I continually stumbled into furniture as my sense of balance teetered; there were, and still are, frequent dizzy spells; nausea, then gluten, and a yeast intolerance. There is also an enhanced sensitivity to noise, light, temperature, sudden movement.

I have an utter loss of sense of direction; and widely varying temperature fluctuations both day and night. Not all the time, but spells of it, and recurring at intervals. And then the pattern would change, different aspects would be affected, and the previous ones less so.

And to ache in every part one’s body, places one did not know could ache. Continual. A general bodily restlessness; to be unable to sit for long; unable to lie for long; to drag oneself around because one could not do anything else.

And to completely lose one’s sense of time, distance, quantity. Even now I quickly lose sense of distance, size, speed; when I remember something seen its size seems all over the place: was it big, that big, or small? How far away was it? When was this?
And the answers are always: I don’t know.

To not be able to articulate a simple thought, to put a sentence together; the words simply disappeared from one’s mind in the process.

To speak to more than one person in a day, was to exhaust oneself for days afterwards.

To be capable of little emotional response to a celebration, an upset, a meeting of friends. The sheer exhaustion of energy-reserves produced by daily life left nothing for a sudden or unexpected demand, or drama.

Indifference to most of the niggles and gnawings of our everyday life comes as a bit of a relief, but leaves the weight of concerns on one’s partner.
– I have been extremely lucky, my wife has been very understanding and supportive. She has also the skills and expertise to earn us both a living as I am going through all this. Her patience and stamina leave me awed.

Over time you become quite an expert economist, in terms of energy-use. The most demanding user of scant energy resources is the brain. And so, to cover vital functions adequately, the thinking and mental functions take the hit, they are the most expendable to the organism. That says a lot.

Some credited person commented recently, that ME scrambles one’s metabolism. Yes, it feels like that, everything feels scrambled, no pattern, no rhythm.

2
After about six years I was able to come up with this image (I was able to expand on the basic idea over about twelve months: levels of concentration and general energy fluctuate so enormously):
on a computer the Windows program is the effect produced by many other programs working concurrently.
On a low-memory system a message would flash up sometimes: You have not sufficient memory to run this, or some such. Shut down other programs… or whatever.

Take Windows for our normal, everyday awareness, I said, and change ‘sufficient memory’ for ‘sufficient energy’ – and you get an idea of the ME effect.
Not that it’s a case of continually running on half power, or a compromised main program where only a few base programs run, but more a case of all the base programs running low at different rates. And those rates continually fluctuating, so there is little or no follow through of information.
And what are those base programs?

They are body-map ones; the body awareness ones: limb position, limb position in relation to the body and at any given time or point or posture; limb position in relation to the environment etc. There is the control of digestion, transit and excretory functions.
The body-conscious programs: the regulation of organs, glands etc. How’s the liver
doing? How are the kidneys?
There is the body clock and its tick through every organ and gland and muscle of the body.

I mentioned the everyday, normal muscle control, needed in such a simple task as reading a newspaper. Compare that with the far more complex operations we continually put ourselves through.
Why is travelling so exhausting? It is because of the millions of little but continual, and compound, muscular and balance adjustments that are required when riding over surfaces.
All these are regulated by the cerebellum and brain-stem sites.
There are also the specialist processors: the hippocampus, hypothalamus, pineal, thyroidal etc.

And then there are the also the mental programmes. Awareness, it seems in the current thinking, is a complex web of interacting mental processes: the Windows analogy, earlier.
There is thinking, and thought-awareness; the abstract thought, and the basic thought processes.
Memory, in some form or other, comes into virtually every one of these processes, both bodily and mental.
And so does the power source: energy.

When the power source is compromised, so is everything else, from probably, basic cell  functions, to the ability to dream.

But let us not get too tied down with the computer analogy.
Like all analogies, lexical and philosophical, they are leaky, and only of varying, approximate, and limited use.

Our normal, everyday also consists of numerous other thought processes that are more or less constantly running; what are termed the ‘higher functions’ of the brain. Those little things we are keeping in mind: to phone home, check on the kids, parents etc. There are also the deeper things we are slowly working our way through: working out the tax return, or some unusually intractable problem at work. There are also the constant attention-grabbers, whether at work, on the street, or some family negotiating etc.

With ME in its earlier stages it appears almost impossible to run even one of these: one exists in a constant fog of semi-awareness; decisions, even simple problem-solving is impossible; nothing makes sense, the thread of memory that ties all the thought-process together cannot be sustained. Luckily, one is not aware of one’s state at the time.

Six years on, and I had managed to get a part time job. The duties were to be there early, and on hand throughout the day, just in case.
I was very, very lucky getting this job. There are not many openings for people whose concentration is fitful, limited, and who tire at the least physical activity.
I had come to some degree of understanding of the state I was in. I had the usual medical tests: 5 vials of blood taken. But it all depends on what it is tested for: the ‘usual’ tests came back with nothing, of course.
At last I felt capable of undertaking the task of applying for a Disability Allowance.

I worked two and half days per week. At a push I could do three. Any more sent me rocketing back to square one, or two.

But I was not eligible for Disability Allowance: I worked over the statutory six hours maximum required.
When I would have been eligible, was when I was least capable of applying for it.

3
It has been postulated that ME has been known over time under many different names, whether as ‘the soldier’s disease’ of the American Civil War; or as ‘atypical poliomyelitis’; as a muscular rheumatism….

In 1681 Thomas Sydenham described an illness with a pattern very similar to our modern illness. It is suspected that Florence Nightingale was a sufferer on her return from the Crimea: all those years housebound, unable to receive visitors….

Various books suggest ME may be – a form of polio, without the muscle wastage
– the after-effects of viral infections: glandular fever etc
– the effects of an, as yet unidentified, stomach virus
– the build up of toxicity in the brain and spine etc
All these are highly plausible, all have many merits, and all are based on sound clinical thinking.

The theories I do have trouble with are the psychological-cause ones.
In the case I have described above in this article I can detect no psychological causes whatsoever. There are plenty of underlying psychological factors which maybe add to the already established energy drain, but the effects of the condition have exhibited themselves in an entirely physical way.

Ok, there are depressions, swinging moods, feelings of hopelessness…. There have been times on the street when I have felt so desperate that ‘not being’, to flick an off-switch for a period, would have been very tempting.
I cannot help but think it would be terribly strange if there were not psychological aspects to this, after all it is such a fundamentally frustrating illness, and the time periods involved in its exhibiting its many and varied effects is more prolonged than some illnesses.

One cannot but wonder whether the prolonged disruption of normal behavioural functioning, of habits, patterns of thought etc, that ME effects, can have prolonged lasting effect on the personality. We know that prolonged hospitalisation, (ruling out MRSA etc) does take a psychological toll on the patient. Whether we will see equivalent behavioural change among the more severely affected ME people still remains to be seen.

Factors in this include the home-background of acceptance, understanding, and the overall attitudinal experience, as well as support care, early recognition and appropriate rest treatment.

There are energy supplements out there, and ones that attempt to target one’s mitochondrial ‘power plants’. I tried those: the first week was great, it felt like normality. Then the second week dropped me two floors down, and I could  not tolerate them. The same old pattern.

What has become apparent through this, and over time, is that there does not seem to be any part of the awareness or one’s faculties unaffected by ME.
I can only conclude from this that we are, alas, only physical beings. That we have no metaphysical element, no ‘spirit’ above these things.
But maybe, just maybe, it is my means of investigation that is at fault; my assessment is probably based on incomplete or corrupted data.
Maybe I cannot yet summon the degree energy for abstract thought, or range of awareness, to allow a proper overall assessment.

What is also apparent is that if we can grasp, visualise, understand, the workings of the physical body, and of the brain, then we are missing most of it. We are mostly self-regulating organic systems that have developed and refined their processes over millennia.

I am tempted to venture that we have hardly begun to understand the complexity of the human body.

I have lost sixteen years to this – that’s what it feels like: lost, irretrievable. It is still going on.
So now I do what I can to rescue what I can of those years, and of the years to come.