Biology for the layman

images1.jpegA decade ago, I remember writing an essay on biological processes that made up the body, this “quintessence of dust”, in some awkward way to come to terms to the wounds of JC life. (Really, what needless angst!)

I remember writing a lot about clots of blood and the miraculous powers of healing and haemoglobin. A decade later, I dread to think what a horrible Science essay that was. I’m contented to let prose speak for life and healing now. Here is Diane Ackerman, writing poetically, sans medical jargon about guts and evolution:

“I often marvel how something like hyrdogen, the simplest atom, forged in some early chaos of the universe, could lead us and the gorgeous fever we call consciousness. If the mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself, worry about its soul, do time and motion studies, admire the shy hooves of a goat, know that it will die, enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart?”

“How can a neuron feel compassion? Why did automatic hand-me-down animals like our ancestors somehow evolve brains with the ability to consider, imagine, project, compare, abstract, think of the future? If our experience of mind is really just the simmering of an easily alterable chemical stew, then what does it mean to know something, to want something to be.”

What riotous riddles … Take that, Descartes and Darwin! 🙂

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