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PROLOGUE

Shadows

As a psychiatrist, I am fortunate to have a lot of time to ponder how the brain works. And this greatest of all mysteries is beginning to yield up some secrets.  This blog is an attempt to tie what I am learning about the brain with some of my major interests: photography, music, and our experience of consciousness.

Click thumbnail to go to larger photo and visit my Gallery

Photography captures what we see in the world. But it captures something about ourselves. Sometimes it illuminates something beneath the surface of what we can see. When we photograph we cannot escape creating art. And art enevitably changes us. Photography captures an instant in time. An instant which what we thought to have been lost has been frozen forever. And in this way we believe we can stop time.

But we are fooled. Each time we view the image its meaning changes before our very eyes. “I never noticed that before.” “It has become more beautiful.” “Finally I understand”. Experience in the past and experience in the present cannot be separated.

In truth, I do not think that time really exists at all. I believe that our experience of the passage of time is an inevitable artifact of the workings of the human brain. And so we come full circle. A photograph captures our perceptions, our feelings, and our imagination. And what are these but processes in our brains. But our brains can only function in time. The timelessness of the image is trapped in the movements of our thoughts in the irresistible current of our lifetimes.

Wayne Phillips Boulder, Colorado

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14 Comments

    • Ken Suslak
    • Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:20 pm
    • Permalink

    Wayne,
    I really enjoyed the photos. Your thoughts about time reminded me of reading Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Passed in college and how he saw time as a perception. Also,of course,Einstein who saw time changing as we approach the speed of light.
    Ken

    • chaotos
    • Posted November 22, 2008 at 6:45 am
    • Permalink

    I’m glad you enjoye the photos. I never read Proust but “Remembrance of Things Past” or, as it was to be originally titled, “In Search of Lost Time” needs to go on my list.

    Einstein ultimately saw time of one dimension of space-time It is the way in which objects shift in relation to the variable time (the workings of a clock) which seem to shift to a stationary observer as another approaches the speed of light.

    Or so I understand it. I hope someone can explain this better if I am wrong.

    • Hubert
    • Posted August 18, 2009 at 4:15 am
    • Permalink

    Hi chaotos,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. In you r discussions you combine arts and the human mind in an extremely interesting way. It seems that you haven’t been updating for a while, though. I don’t want to disturb you in any way but was just anxious to know whether you have not abandoned your great blog with such fantastic insights!

    Please, keep up the great work!

    Best regards,
    HubertGK

  1. Thanks for the very nice compliment, HubertGK. I’m glad you found my ideas interesting.

    I haven’t given up on the blog but I kind of got stuck on the next post, and well, things come up. I wanted to discuss Steven Pinker’s book “The Language Instinct” and its implications for the evolution of brain modularity. A bit much to take on. Now I am thinking of moving in the direction of something more personal. Please do check back.

    Wayne

  2. Hi, Hubert.

    I suppose you got a copy of my reply on the blog but I wanted to make sure I thanked you for your encouragement.

    I find myself wanting to take on bigger and more complicated topics, but then I get bogged down. I need to remember that this is a blog format, not a book! I think I will try a more personal post, perhaps about a raft trip I took with my daughter, or perhaps something about my first meditation workshop which is coming up this weekend.

    Wayne

    • Hubert
    • Posted August 27, 2009 at 2:19 am
    • Permalink

    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for letting me know. It’s great to know that you are about to continue blogging. Whatever your next topic and the scope of your take on it, all the best with your writing!

    Best regards,

    Hubert

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