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    Copyright © 2015 unruly

    I thinked it up with my brainybrain

    If you read here fairly regularly, you may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a consciousness kick lately, posting about dream and nightmare, acid and ‘shroom. It’s a subject that’s still very much on my mind and, in my mullings, I have thought mightily about trepanation, not for the first time in my life. Good old trepanation is, as Wiktionary has it, “The practice of drilling a hole in the skull as a physical, mental, or spiritual treatment” and it’s an activity that first crossed my radar close to 30 years ago, when I read the book Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions by John Michell. In that book there is a whole chapter, “The People With Holes in Their Heads”, devoted to the subject. Now I’m not suggesting I’ll be taking the old drill to my own head (or anyone else’s, for that matter) any time soon, or even any time not-soon, but for all it’s absolute crazy, awful grossness, I’m deeply, weirdly compelled by it. I love Cynthia Girard’s poem “There is an insect” because I swear to god it’s about trepanation.

    But I want to be clear, okay?: I don’t believe for a moment that trepanation is a good idea. I don’t. But I really really understand the compulsion towards altered consciousness. The older I get the more I find I’m madly attracted to otherness and dream state and that Paul Éluard thing about the other world that’s in this world that I’m always on about. I’m not a church-going woman — am indeed quite cold-hearted towards organised religion in general — but I do crave the solace and comfort that believers appear to experience and the epiphanic revelations that are given to the few. Very hotly indeed do I crave those things.

    Attaining a state of tranquillity is high on my list of priorities, probably because I am a ridiculously roiled-up woman at the best of times. My natural default setting is “Grrrrrrrrr”. And the very notion of revelation makes me weak at the knees, so ardently do I wish for understanding and vision. I would like to find tranquillity and revelation without practising risky behaviours and am very much driven to search. Running can get me to a place of altered consciousness, for sure, because runner’s high is for real, yes it is. If you don’t believe me, go run a 10 — miles or kilometres, your choice — and see what I mean. Certain music can give me a beautiful case of visiony dreamhead too, things like Brian Eno’s Apollo and also the Surf Champlers, who I am loving on immoderately these days because they let me have that floaty fuguey feeling I like so much and help me glimpse a strange and beautiful landscape sometimes.

    I won’t be boring a hole in my skull today or any other day, I promise. But I’ll always want to read about it and to think about it and to seek out some of what the trepanners are seeking out, albeit in a less bloody and infection-courting way.

    There is an insect
    There is an insect
    On a branch
    The branch is in my head
    Yes it is in my head
    I drilled a hole
    In my skull and I inserted the branch
    A beetle came and walked through my skull
    On the branch
    The beetle is sad and crying and
    Her tears fill a pond in my brain
    In the grey jelly of my brain there is now
    A pond with goldfishes and waterlilies
    They swim
    The water is salty
    They swim through the beetle’s tears
    The goldfishes are my dreams
    — From the poem “There is an insect” by Cynthia Girard

    Dans ma tête
    sur une branche
    dans ma tête
    il y a un insecte
    Oui dans ma tête
    j’ai percé un trou et j’y ai inséré une branche
    un scarabée (s’y est déposé et est entré dans mon crâne)
    sur la branche
    le scarabée est triste et il pleure
    ses larmes forment un étang dans ma tête
    dans la gelée grise de mon cerveau il y a maintenant
    un étang avec des poissons rouges et des nénuphars
    Ils nagent
    l’eau est salée
    ils nagent dans les larmes du scarabée
    les poissons rouges sont mes rêves
    — Extrait traduit du poème “There is an insect” de Cynthia Girard

    by Lucy Snyder

    The first migraine-plagued caveman
    who countered his aching cranium
    with crudely pounded flint (and lived)
    surely shared his medical breakthrough.

    Headcutting is old as woodcutting.
    Aztec shaman or Greek physician,
    a good doctor knew the value
    of airing out a fevered brain.

    In dark ages before Lister and Pasteur,
    chirurgeons didn’t know a virus
    from a curse, but they needed a name
    for the rusty saw they used to open
    a blow-swelled skull: the trepane
    saved careless courtiers from coma.

    Modern surgeons’ steel is clean, but treat
    tyro trepanation with trepidation. Teen
    mystics sing high of tuning third eyes
    and praise their cordless doorknob drills
    for opening new windows of perception
    even as they lie blinded, bacterial feasts.

    Fan video set to “Deep Blue Day” from Brian Eno’s Apollo:

    CD cover Roots Manuva, Slime and Reason, via creativereview.co.uk
    CD cover for Roots Manuva's Slime & Reason.
    Design: Oscar & Ewan. Photography: Pelle Crepin.Via Creative Review Blog
    Uzumaki via pwbeat.publishersweekly
    Uzumaki image via The Beat
    Sleazy Slice by Jim Ruggs, via meathaus
    Sleazy Slice #3, edited by Robin Bougie, cover by Jim Rugg
    Via High-Low
    The operation of Trepan, via neurophilosophy.wordpress
    The operation of Trepan, from Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery: Trepan, Hernia, Amputation, Aneurism and Lithotomy, by Charles Bell, 1815
    Via Neurophilosophy
    Trepanation model, via jima's photostream
    Trepanation model
    Via jima's photostream on flickr
    Moby Dick illustration by Tom Neely, via but does it float
    Moby Dick illustration by Tom Neely
    Via but does it float?
    trepanation_game via scienceblogs
    Trepanation game
    Via Scienceblogs.com
    Sinus pain sends me to a very dark place via zippythesimshead
    Sinus pain ... sends me to a very dark place
    Via zippythesimshead photostream on flickr
    Whale cupcakes via epicute.files.wordpress
    Whale cupcakes, via Of the riches in the world
    Drill press will make you speak via bongo_goes' photostream
    Drill press will make you speakVia bongo_goes' photostream on flickr

    I suspect that what google found for me when I asked it “champler meaning” –
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=8AcYAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA467&lpg=PA467&dq=champler+meaning&source=bl&ots=lCOUqQ9JcN&sig=l8VfWO6dg81KnNSFPFaA-KnIw1Q&hl=en&ei=gPYmS4yZIYWKlAfG7bGaDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CA0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=champler meaning&f=false — will tickle your fancy.

    I love Eno’s Appollo music too, and will now need to find some Surf Champlers.

    Sean Richardson added these words on Dec 14 09 at 10:41 pm

    I remember this very weird movie I saw when I was a kid, and it impacted me in a major, major way – this young girl, possibly a princess, I think disobeyed her evil tyrant father, and as a punishment, she had these worms put on her head or something that would tunnel through her skin and skull and live in her brain or do something creepy. So long ago, I can’t remember, but I’ve always shuddered to think of brain worms. Then one day I heard it on the news – brain worms exist and they found one in this woman’s brain when operating on what they thought was a tumor!!!

    feather added these words on Dec 23 09 at 1:04 am