Through the Doors of Perception

I’ve just finished reading the book, My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.   She is a Harvard-trained brain scientist  who had a massive stroke on the left side of her brain when she was 37.  Recovery took 8 years.   Confined by the stroke to her right brain, Dr. Bolte Taylor found it was a kind of  Nirvana.   Past, future and her identity fell away with her left brain – she experienced this as a fantastic relief and realized her identity was a figment of her own imagination.  In her right brain, Bolte Taylor was a fluid being – in her left, a solid being.  She has a lot to say about stroke recovery in the book.   Dr. Bolte Taylor’s excellent video talk on the web is worth hearing.

 ‘Animals in Translation’ by Temple Grandin, is another riveting book on alternative brain experience.   Grandin is a high-functioning autistic pyschologist with a Phd in Animal Science.  Her autistic brain is configured in a way that allows her to experience what animals do.  She shows that language is not necessary for consciousness.   When young,  Grandin built a kind of containment machine for herself that she had seen used on cattle – she found it comforting.   Her insights on animal behavior are quite striking.  You will never look at cows, pigs or dogs the same way again.  Or yourself.

‘The Doors of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley is a good companion to these two books.  I’m sure Huxley would have been fascinated to hear of  both these women’s experiences.  I just learned recently that when Huxley was dying  he asked his wife to inject him with LSD.   She did – and he died while under the influence of the drug.  Talk about blowing your mind…


2 Responses

  1. You may find it interesting to read Buddhism-influenced review of My Stroke of Insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I often think of Jill’s experience – it stays with you. I’ve also read her book.

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