Trouble in Paradise: Non-fiction: Mega Brain, or our mind as one of the last frontiers

Friday, June 21, 2019

Non-fiction: Mega Brain, or our mind as one of the last frontiers




Transcript:
Mega Brain, or how we can develop our mind to the fullest extent. Stay tuned to find out why this book matters.
<intro>
Hi, my name is JdH and this video is about the brain, and more specifically the Mega Brain. I read this book just after 2000. I was about 18 and on some level the story stuck. I enrolled in college for a while, but spend most of that year working one shitty job after the other. It was a good life experience and a way to figure out which direction to head in the future. This book was one of the life-lines that sparked my interest in the brain and to some extent in psychology. A few months ago I re-read part of it and I realized what got me hooked back then: the statement that the mind is one of the last frontiers. 
It’s one of those statements that sticks, and for good reason: we only have a rudimentary knowledge of a lot of systems: the brain, both chemical and structural, but also the human body, earth’s ecosystem distribution of wealth, and even things like the nature of happiness and all that.
In the introduction the author spoke how he went off into the wild when he was younger. He would be all by himself for days or weeks on end, and at some point he started having visions when he was without human interaction for extended periods of time. The author talks about how it got him writing the most amazing fiction for days after the kind of fiction is at its strongest when it’s not congested and flows freely. That same state of mind was what he was after in this book. 
There was talk about brain wave inducers and sensory deprivation tanks. At the time there was little scientific evidence as to the effect of those devices. For that reason, some of the ideas were more like their own kind of science-fiction and in all honesty, it was a bit out there.…For that reason I skimmed parts of the book, but there were some ideas that were original and they seemed very plausible… There was this one idea in particular that made a lot of sense: external waves can juggle our brains, after which the brain re-establishes a new equilibrium that’s more coherent and more creative. I’m not sure whether that’s really what happens, but what I do know is that the make-up of brain is such that it usually operates as a unit – there are areas that are active in specific cognitive tasks, but when it comes to the more complex tasks, or memory; it’s not located in one portion of the brain, but it’s spread out over the entirety of the brain. 
The interesting part now is that now, thirty years after this book was written, scientific evidence has become available and these devices are now used to treat some of the modern psychological illnesses: ptsd, depression and anxiety. I read one review where a user reported that the retention period to revert to a previous brain state became longer, the longer he used the device. This means that it changes our brain, but slowly, and who knows, it might be able to do something very effective in the long run. 
It isn’t exactly like living in The Matrix, but maybe it’s the closest thing to date. Towards the end of Mega Brain it’s stated that these machines can be regarded as tools of authenticity, because they help our brains to function at a higher and better state. This implies that depression and anxiety simply aren’t a kind of default mode of the brain. 
It also states something else, and I would almost say that this one is common sense just these machines are not enough though: to develop our mind we need enriched environments. We need to engage intellectually, be it studying formally or informally, picking up an instrument, sports, writing but we also need stories; great fiction. The kind of fiction that gives you a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
So there you have it: Mega Brain. Read it, if you can get your hands on a copy. If not, start with my fiction that you can read online. I try to upload a new story every week. 

Signing off, this is JdH speaking to you from the Caribbean.
<in screen: read my fiction, for free, jelmerdehaan.blogspot.com>

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