Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 R-Tyme “Illusion (M. I. Mix)”
 The Scientist “My First Memory”
 Rhythim Is Rhythim “Strings of Life”
 The Orb “Little Fluffy Clouds”
Of all the great unexplained mysteries of the world, none are anywhere near as perplexing a puzzle as the human mind. This highly advanced piece of kit is responsible for every single function we have from perception, to thought, judgement, memory, and consciousness itself. Without it we wouldn’t get very far as it happens to be wired into every last synapse and hosts more neurons than there are stars in our galaxy. Mankind is forever trying to fathom its many conundrums and, while neuroscience is undoubtedly making headway, so much of it still occupies that grey area. I’m no expert in the field and neither do I have any great understanding of cognitive function either. But it does fascinate me tremendously and I just can’t resist digging a little deeper. I may be about to open Pandora’s box here as few subjects are as ripe for discussion and the likeliness is that we’ll be left with far more questions than answers. But I always did like me a challenge.
Okay so let’s take a look at a few of the functions it facilitates. Reasoning, imagination, recognition, appreciation, emotion, attitude and actions. How’s that for starters? It truly is a mind field and I will never understand how it manages to juggle so many balls without collapsing from sheer exhaustion. From the very moment we wake up in the morning, it’s all fired up, and sending spikes of voltage to every last nerve ending in a bid to shake things up. Some of these are binary and solve the real burgeoning issues such as: What do I see? Do I need to empty my bladder? How do I make it from upstairs to down in one piece sporting the balance of a newborn fawn? Meanwhile, other seemingly less compulsory nodes graft tirelessly behind the scenes to keep things ticking and they are no less crucial to the process. Right now mine are working overdrive informing every last word that I type (with a little help from my soul of course), and I wish I could offer them a day off for services rendered. Alas, unless I come down with some debilitating 24-hour virus, I’m kind of banking on the little fellas to put in a shift. You see, I’m not growing any younger.
Have you ever wondered why we age? I know it seems pretty obvious as we are born with a robust set of tools at our disposal that gradually depreciate over time. It’s no great surprise that our body’s repair mechanisms become a touch shabby over time and this just shows what the mind is up against as it matures in a far different manner. That said, in many ways, the two really aren’t all that far away. Like our bodies, much depends on the fuel we choose to nourish it with, and failure to do so correctly will invariably lead to problems in later life. I’ve taken far too many Class A’s in my lifetime to be able to boast a clean bill of mental health and have long since accepted the downsides to elevating my mind to another plane entirely. I was already wired by then, of course, but LSD rewired my thoughts in a manner so complex that I had little choice but to let them get on with it. Ignorance is bliss right? It is when you close your eyes and play the kaleidoscope game behind your lids.
I know it opened up sectors of my brain which had previously remained strictly off-limits and they fused the best that they could as my inexperienced mind underwent some rather significant alteration. But it didn’t make me any more intelligent. It’s a common misconception that narcotics make us smarter, when really they just feed a different part of our brain and leave another undernourished. Remember all those neurons mincing about in search of a jump-start. Some of them find accommodation while others aren’t so fortunate. If you almost drown as a child, then the trauma will have wired you in a certain way. You may be terrified of water or, in far more fascinating cases, be strangely drawn to it but that near-death experience will have drastic effects on how you process such data. Children are especially susceptible as their tiny minds wire at a far brisker rate than at any other time in their lifespans. This is groundwork stuff, laying the tracks for the forseeable, and shaping said mind dependent on a number of key factors.
Should your mother have played you Joni Mitchell while you gestated in your birth-sac then, chances are, you’ll have a pretty strong opinion about her music, one way or another. Grow up in a house that plays by the rules of rock and you may well own a Harley by the time you reach twenty-five. Switch that to gangsta rap and you can change that to a lowrider. I have absolutely no concept of where my love of horror actually stemmed from and can only clutch at the straws provided me by the likes of Hammer and Amicus. I know it started at a decidedly young age but, other than that, it’s all a little sketchy. You see, my two earliest memories are reasonably unremarkable. Actually, the first one’s kind of cool as it entails me crawling around my living room on my belly for potentially the first ever time. I recall everything being big, real big. I also remember finding the whole movement thing novel. Perhaps a horror movie was playing on the television? Who knows? All I know is that it’s steeped in a vagueness of which I could never dream of receiving clarity.
The second, and more prominent, memory is of my baptism at the age of five. Strangely enough, I’ve got nothing between the whole crawling enlightenment and having my forehead doused in holy water years later. There are so many blanks and a mass of grey matter that will remain forever untraversed. Whatever happened during the interim, I resurfaced with a love for the macabre and decided to start at the very offset of evolution. Dinosaurs walked the earth way before mankind ever gate-crashed the party and they sure didn’t appear particularly civil. Granted, you had your docile herbivores draining vegetation left, right and center but, for the most part, they made for an intimidating bunch. Being a fan of the underdog, I always rooted for the Triceratops over the more crowd-friendly T-Rex, although I liked the menacing stature that being a carnivore bought you. With the dino crisis now in full swing, I was ready for the next stage of my own evolution.
My mother took me to see Snow White & The Seven Dwarves on the big screen at the age of five and I have nothing but fond recollections of the experience. However, for as dark as this particular fairytale may have been, it didn’t feature a thirty foot great white shark. Two years later, pops got in on the act and whisked me away to the Jaws/Jaws II Double-Header Matinee. This was pretty much game over as far as I was concerned and my mother’s hopes of me headlining the church choir were promptly dashed. Jaws was effectively a dinosaur, only far more urgent a concern than its fossilized forefathers. The idyllic coastal resort of Amity was under attack and only three men on a dilapidated vessel could snuff out this foul threat. Spielberg’s blockbuster made it all current, reminded me that danger was potentially at every conceivable turn, and that swimming was a distinct no-no from now on. It’s funny how a single cinematic moment can wire your circuitry but this is precisely what occurred with Jaws.
When I was around eight, I suffered my first significant emotional trauma, as my father was diagnosed with a muscle wasting disease that would change everything I had come to know pretty much overnight. Our minds have a cunning way of playing tricks with us and I genuinely believed that this ruined my childhood for many years afterwards. The circuitry was already in place and I felt comfortable enough in the knowledge that these were desperately unhappy times for me. That is until my breakdown. For a number of years I had been satisfied with coasting and eventually this all came to a head. Some call it a midlife crisis, others consider it the male equivalent of menopause but, whatever it may be, it’s like some kind of reawakening, albeit a decidedly rude one. Triggered by work-related stress, this went on for some time undiagnosed, until ultimately the only place left for me was therapy. That’s right, one flew into the cuckoo’s nest and was introduced to one of the most fascinating creatures I have ever had the quirky privilege of meeting.
Her name was Audrey and she bore an uncanny resemblance to a dead person. I shit you not, this old-timer likely had no pulse, and neither had she had one for years prior. Hell, for all I knew, she was one of them. Her gaunt, sunken features lent her the appearance of a porcelain doll and she was just as mystifying and creepy. Needless to say, we hit it off famously, as I’m all about the kooks and Audrey was positively over-brimming with kookiness. However, while her frail shell had betrayed her over the years, the cogs were turning behind the eyes and, what’s more, they got mine gyrating too. We only ever shared six sessions together but, during that precious little time, she assisted me in unpicking an entire childhood of wiring and revealed to me the tool set I would need at my disposal from this point onward. This may have been beneficial but it’s also like prodding a beehive, and even more perilous when your spotter suddenly does a runner. Abruptly our time together came to a close and, at first, I could have wrung her scrawny little neck until she went still in my hands.
How dare this woman open so many cans of worms then simply hop on her broomstick and leave me to do all further legwork solo. I felt as though she should have had her license revoked for tampering with such intricate wiring and leaving it wanting. It wasn’t until later that I started to see the method to her madness as she effectively tooled me up for the closest I would ever come to an epiphany. It turned out that my childhood wasn’t a somber affair as my own mind had led me to believe and was actually filled with an abundance of cherished memories. All this time my own mind had been lying to me, pulling the wool over my eyes, and only getting away with it too! Audrey empowered me to undertake this particular voyage and I was only too willing to endorse each discovery. The way I figured it, there was little left to lose other than my mind itself, and that was questionably misplaced the first time I dropped acid. Talk about needle in a haystack.
Let me tell you something about rewiring. It’s fucking laborious. You know when your mom keeps on at you to clean your room and you swear blind you’re up for the challenge? Doesn’t seem any great hardship at the time, little more than a fifteen minute freshen up, and you have the very best of intentions to satisfy this meager request. However, before you realize, a day becomes a week and that soon turns into a month. All this time said room is becoming increasingly unsanitary, once insignificant piles of refuse are steadily metamorphosing into burly mounds of the unthinkable, and that fifteen minute task is now an all-day expedition. Stretch that over pretty much your entire lifespan and you should have some idea of the undertaking. Perhaps this best explains my considerable output over the past few years as I’ve been endeavoring to tidy up the almighty mess I’d left myself back at childhood. Every time I suss something out, you lot are the first to know, and I try my darndest to put a playful spin on it wherever possible. Suddenly I have some kind of workable system in place and can see the woods through the trees. Granted, I may need a fair few plug-in fresheners to keep things to meadow standards, but I can finally say I’ve risen to the challenge. What’s more, I’ve learned all manner of new shit about myself in the process.
Now I’m not suggesting for a second that I will be everyone’s cup of tea. Some may consider me as little more than a mass of hot air and are more than entitled to their opinion. But any smiling assassins banking on a slip-up will have a long wait as I grant myself immunity from their slander simply by writing with full integrity every last time. That’s my best and only defence against any detractors and, when you scribe from the soul as I do, there will invariably be critics. Being self-effacing by nature comes in handy here as any attempts to make you look stupid are doomed to fail when you’re clearly wearing those clown shoes. It’s all too easy to form judgement with only limited intelligence at your disposal and, should I be labelled as a cunt, then I have two options at my disposal: either I lay awake at night fretting as all I really want is to be loved or I slap on a happy sticker and accept that some things are simply out of my control. I’d rather provoke a response than being deathly dull and uninspired even if that entails having unjust assumptions made about my character.
Those people who really know me have as much as a grasp on how my mind works as I can claim myself. It’s a complex piece of equipment for sure but also far more simplistic than you would think. Should any agenda be hidden, then I sure as shit can’t find it. Ask me a question and I shall provide an answer without calculating my next move or paying any attention to the one previous. No great mystery or science, just a little blind faith in my cognitive function to see me good. Admittedly it may appear as though the old hinges are slackening from time to time but I actually kind of like it that way. Keeps me on my toes. If sane equates to mundane then I’m more than happy for you to tighten my straps a little. Just give me a padded cell to bounce about in and I’ll be as happy as a Catholic priest at midnight mass, just around the time that the Rohypnol kicks in. Fuck it, shock therapy doesn’t sound that terrible, fire up the voltage and please dab my maw when I start to gurn.
Have we learned anything whatsoever about the human mind today? Oodles actually, although I’ve forgotten most of it already. What’s more important to me is that we’ve had fun shooting the shit. Granted, my aim may be a little off right now as I just pulled an all-nighter, but I’m nothing if not happy behind the trigger, even if it’s twanging against my own tonsil trail as I cock it. Ultimately it’s all something of a giant puzzle and, each time I share, another piece is revealed. Be that large or small, it’s been dipped in the neurons prior to placement, and is therefore up to the taste test. Should the unthinkable occur and my mind eventually misplace itself, then I plan to be arming the Crimson Quill right through the transaction. As a self-confessed journeyman, I shall scatter a few breadcrumbs as I dance merrily on and hope the crows aren’t feeling peckish. Think how cool that would be. A steady decline into madness documented step-by-step like flat-packed furniture, only with inclines. I’m telling you, it’s a lucky dip in there. Right now I’m considering the sign-off and it’s all become a little “you hang up, no you hang up”. Tell you what, I’ll hang up. Hope to see you back in the mind fields soon. Drop me a line beforehand and I shall lay on a full buffet next time. Toodle pip.