I’ve been reading some fascinating books recently.
The first was Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary published by Yale University Press.
This book is all about the brain and believe me, it’s not for the faint hearted. I know a bit about medicine and the discipline of neurology, but the author of this book is in a league of his own. Here’s what Prof A C Grayling said in his review: “It embraces a prodigious range of enquiry, from neurology to psychology, from philosophy to primatologist, from myth to history to literature..”
I’m a night time reader and I found that after just reading two or three pages of this book, my brain could take no more and I’d fall asleep like a child. Not out of boredom, but because of the sheer density of fact and erudition that I’d just absorbed. I suspect that it took me several hours of sleep to allow my subconscious to sort out what I’d just read. Several weeks later I completed the book and let out a small cheer which temporarily distracted my wife from her Kindle. Nevertheless, I feel so much wiser for having completed such an Herculean task.
The second book which I am currently reading is called How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan and published by Penguin Press. It’s about Magic Mushrooms and other associated psychedelic drugs. But before you think I’m trying to relive the ‘Sixties (I wouldn’t remember it anyway) this is a well researched book and picks up on recent scientific publications which are showing some remarkable results when using these medications IN MEDICALLY CONTROLLED SITUATIONS, in cases of Depression, Addiction and End of life anxiety issues. The results are truly dramatic. The book poses the question of what is consciousness and how do we perceive it.
I know that when I write my books I am mildly surprised to discover all these characters and situations that have been “living in my head” for so many years without my knowledge of them. The more we study the brain the more intriguing and amazing we find it to be.
Inside each of our heads is a unique and parallel universe which we so often limit by constantly aping other peoples imaginations and other people’s ideas. We each have our own unique gifts, insights and talents which can be augmented and stimulated by reading, music, nature, other cultures, religion, meditation - the list is a long one. When we look at an infant in a cot and watch the sheer wonder in their face as they watch the sunlight through the leaves on a tree, that’s the sort of wonder that each of us still have within our own minds - it’s just that it’s been caked with layer after layer of other peoples expectations and fear of our own failure.
Reading such books, difficult as they sometimes are, helps expand our understanding of who and why we ‘are’.
Finally, earlier this week, I held in my hand the third book in my Renaissance Brothers series. It was such a good feeling. You should try it!
I’m here on the east coast of Australia working in a great Medical Center in the suburb of Mosman, in Sydney NSW. This is my fourth ‘tour of duty’ in this Practice and one that I’m truly enjoying as the team I work with are great people. Mind you, because some of the Docs are on holiday, it’s been pretty busy so I value my recovery time taking a swim down at the beach or going for long walks.
On one of those trips I was able to help out at a motor vehicle accident when a gentleman lost control of his car and skidded into a hedge. Luckily, the trees lost more bark than he did! But it was great to be able to help out and everyone at the scene did their bit really well - take a bow Nurse Alright!
The following night a storm hit the city after one of the hottest days in decades. The lightning strikes were spectacular, but by morning it was all a distant memory. Even the friendly, local Sulphur Crested Cockatoo was more interested in getting ‘his ‘daily bread’ than in the previous night’s tempest!
I’ve also delighted in reading one of the best books to have inhabited my bedside table in years - A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Townes - a beautiful book and well worth a read.
All this activity has led me to neglect the marketing of The Missing - my second Renaissance Brothers book. Still, Ihave little doubt that Mr Towles took many years to reach the summit, and indeed, I’m in no great rush but am thoroughly enjoying the process and the gentle literary ascent.
Despite the fact that the next couple of weeks are looking to be just as demanding, I’ve an inkling of an idea of how to increase my literary profile. Email me if you can guess how.