Sunday, April 9, 2017

WHY WE ARE SO POLARIZED; MYTH OF MAIN STREET; DINOSAURS: WHY SO BIG? HOW JESUS BECAME GOD; SEASON OF BIRTH AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Pacific Beach (not to be confused with Ocean Beach) in San Diego, by Nathan Rupert. Yes, people live there, but it's hard to find parking. I keep finding myself at the local Home Depot parking lot instead.

**

The incredible blue with its bird-inviting cloud,
in which there are crumbling towers, banners and domes,

and the sliding Carthage of sunsets, the marble shroud
drawn over associations that are Greece’s and Rome’s

and rarely of Africa. They continue at sixty-seven
to echo in the corridors of the head, perspectives

of a corridor in the Vatican that led, not to heaven,
but to more paintings of heaven, ideas in lifted sieves

drained by satiety because great art can exhaust us,
and even the steadiest faith can be clogged by excess,

the self-assured Christs, the Madonnas’ inflexible postures
without the mess of motherhood. With this blue I bless

emptiness where these hills are barren of tributes
and the repetitions of power, our sky’s naive

ceiling without domes and spires, an earth whose roots
like the thorned acacia’s deepen my belief.

~ Derek Walcott, Becune Point

**

“The sliding Carthage of sunsets” — that phrase made me choose the poem. The city on fire — an image of vanishing, but the blaze so splendid.

After that, it’s easy to zero in on this passage — it carries the greatest richness of thought:

a corridor in the Vatican that led, not to heaven,
but to more paintings of heaven, ideas in lifted sieves

drained by satiety because great art can exhaust us,
and even the steadiest faith can be clogged by excess,

the self-assured Christs, the Madonnas’ inflexible postures
without the mess of motherhood.

~ but the ending about “our sky’s naive / ceiling without domes and spires” is also perfection, and the perfect contrast to the kind of excess of religious art that the Vatican exemplifies.

(Funny how long mental delays can be. It finally, finally hit me that "Derek" is a variant of a common German name, “Dirk.”)



“First Person,” a painting by Derek Walcott

**
Have you ever said Yes to a single joy? O my friends, then you have said Yes too to all woe. All things are entangled, ensnared, enamored. ~ Nietzsche

Bacchus and Ariadne by Guido Reni, 1619-1620. Ariadne certainly knows about woe at this point.

WHY ARE WE SO POLARIZED? (HIERARCHISTS VERSUS EGALITARIANS)

The angry us-against-them nature of our polarization suggests that the issues we’re fighting over are just surrogates for a more primal conflict. Whether we’re fighting about a current issue like abortion, gun control, climate change, or a more historic conflict, like the centuries-old dispute over the appropriate size and rights of government, the battles have become so mean-spirited and hostile, there must be something more profound at stake than just the issues themselves.

Cultural Cognition identifies four basic groups:


Individualists, who prefer a society that maximizes individual freedom and choice and control. (They prefer less government.)

Communitarians, who prefer a ‘we’re all in it together’ society that sacrifices some personal liberty in the name of the greater common good. (They prefer a more active role for government.)

Hierarchists, who prefer a traditional and unchanging society operating by fixed and commonly accepted hierarchies of social and economic class. (They prefer less government butting in and making things fair.)

Egalitarians, who prefer a more flexible society, unconstrained by traditional fixed hierarchies. (They prefer more government, as an engine of social and economic equity.)

Cultural Cognition plays a role in the psychology of risk perception, the way we perceive and respond to potential danger. The more threatened and unsafe we feel, the stronger these instinctive behaviors become.

This would explain the fierce combative nature of our tribal polarized society, if in fact people feel more threatened and worried now than they did 30 or 40 years ago, and a fair case can be made that they do.


Ronald Reagan as the Founding Father of Income Inequality. You’d think that people would learn from this not to elect a heartless, senile, “I work only for the rich” POS ever again. I personally can never forget who threw the mentally ill out into the street to wander about like village idiots.

1. The 60s and 70s were a uniquely liberal period in American history, a time in which society moved sharply toward the kind of world preferred by egalitarian-communitarians and away from the kind of society preferred by individualists and hierarchists. The Supreme Court legalized abortion, expanded civil rights, established rights for accused criminals, and suspended the death penalty. Congress and the Johnson administration gave us The Great Society.

These sweeping government interventions, breaking down traditional rules in the name of egalitarian fairness and equity and ‘we’re all in this together’ communitarianism, hardly made society ‘great’ to conservative hierarchists or individualists, who prefer a world in which there is less of a role for government, not more. Just how threatening can be seen in the way these liberal changes affected voting patterns in the “red’ parts of the country where the population is predominantly more individualist-hierarchist (politically, more conservative and libertarian).

But the liberal 60s and 70s alone did not give us the nasty polarization of today. The conservative backlash against the liberal 60s and 70s helped elect Ronald Reagan and create modern conservatism, but, famously, Reagan and liberal Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill could still ‘have a beer together’ at the end of a hard day of political fighting. From the halls of Congress to the streets of America, political disagreements were intense, but there were nowhere near as angry and hostile and closed-minded as they have become. So what else might have made modern times feel more threatening, and fueled the virulent rancor of today?

2. One possible cause might be something as fundamental as how much and how fast the world has changed in the past few decades. Research into the association between basic personality traits and political affiliation by Jonathan Haidt and others has found that, in their personal lives, conservatives tend to be less open to change and more comfortable with things that are familiar and orderly and done ‘the way they’ve always been done’.

But if anything has been constant in the past 30 years, it is change. Consider how sweeping and rapid the changes have been in our post-industrial techno/information age, in almost every phase of our lives, and how different our world is today than it was in 1980. For people whose personalities and underlying worldviews prefer more stability and less change, this can’t help but be unsettling. A dynamic world is, after all, an inherently unstable and threatening world to someone who is comfortable when things change less, not more.

3. In a related piece of research just published, investigators found that people who by their general nature tend to be more fearful and upset by change also tend to hold more conservative positions. In “Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences,” Rose McDermott, lead author, said “People who are scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don’t know, and things they don’t understand, are more supportive of policies that provide them with a sense of surety and security.” “It’s not that conservative people are more fearful, it’s that fearful people are more conservative.” This finding speaks to the generally more hostile, vituperative closed-minded nature of how hierarchists and individualists express their polarization.

4. But while change may inherently feel threatening to hierarchists, and the liberal government intervention of the 60s and 70s may feel threatening to individualists, another profound trend in the past few decades has contributed to how threatened people feel in all the Cultural Cognition tribes; the growing income inequality gap in the United States, which began to grow in the late 70’s.

The evidence that the inequality gap is making people across the population feel powerless, and threatened, can be seen in the similarity between two seemingly disparate groups, the Tea Party movement and the “Occupy” movement. Both are angry at the loss of control over their lives. Tea Party members - mostly individualists and hierarchists - blame government for imposing limits on individual freedom and butting in with ‘socialist’ (egalitarian) rules and regulations. The Occupy movement, mostly communitarians and egalitarians, blame the rich one percent, the powerful who selfishly benefit by using their wealth to enforce the hierarchical status quo. 


5. The explosion of lobbyists since the 70’s (a $100 million industry in Washington D.C. in 1976 - $2.5 billion in 2006), and countless new interest groups screaming their narrow passions, has made the combat over issues much more high profile and intense, which leaves the winners more pleased, and losers more angry and threatened when issues aren’t decided their way.

6. The cynical ‘appeal to the base’ realities of modern primary elections is more and more being done by promoting fear of the other candidate or party. And firing up ‘the base’ means inflaming the passions of those true believers who are already more motivated by their inherent tribal identities and affiliations, and readier to circle the wagons.

7. The shallower/faster paced modern news media focus more than ever on the tribal conflict of politics rather than the ideas of policy. And within the newly democratized media, a new breed of opinion merchants can reach their tribes and preach their polarized version of the truth as never before, especially those who so angrily play directly to the fears of hierarchists and individualists.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-risky-is-it-really/201302/the-cognitive-and-historic-roots-modern-polarization


 Dali: The Horseman of Death, 1935

Oriana:

I think the egalitarians and communitarians are basically the same group — “we're all in this together.” Individualists (libertarians and those leaning toward libertarianism) and hierarchists may diverge more. An individualist may have some progressive opinions, e.g. legalizing of drugs, or keeping abortion legal. The true and probably unbridgeable divide is between communitarians-egalitarians and hierarchists. Hierarchists are authoritarians.

Though published in 1950, Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality still seems highly relevant. Here is Adorno’s “F Scale”:

~ Rigid adherence to conventional values.

~ Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the in-group.

~ Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded.

~ Tendency to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values.

~ The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate.

~ Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures.

~ Generalized hostility, vilification of the human.

~ The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses.

~ Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings-on.”

**

As for the last item, I was reminded of the saying that Puritans are horrified that “someone, somewhere, is having fun.”

And as for the “vilification of the human,” I can’t help thinking of Rabbi Finley — widely regarded as a liberal thinker — who claimed that people need god because they are so evil. Without religion, they turn into Nazis, he strongly hinted. And I thought that only Christianity made that claim, since it’s a salvationist religion — you need to be rinsed “in the blood of the Lamb” to be saved from eternal damnation.

So true that fear pushes people toward more conservative positions. That’s why those who secretly yearn for a dictatorship are praying for another big terrorist attack, and not by a white supremacist either. 


Men are sometimes surprised that women become less conservative as they grow older. Perhaps one reason is that women become less fearful with age: less afraid of what others will think, less afraid of not looking good enough, less afraid of speaking their mind, less afraid of men, less afraid of poverty, and so on. And life experience makes them even more compassionate — and compassion is a communitarian virtue. 

 

THE MYTH OF MAIN STREET 

~ “It’s worth noting that the idealized Main Street is not a myth in some parts of America today. It exists, but only as a luxury consumer experience. Main Streets of small, independent boutiques and nonfranchised restaurants can be found in affluent college towns, in gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn and San Francisco, in tony suburbs — in any place where people have ample disposable income. Main Street requires shoppers who don’t really care about low prices. The dream of Main Street may be populist, but the reality is elitist. “Keep it local” campaigns are possible only when people are willing and able to pay to do so.

In hard-pressed rural communities and small towns, that isn’t an option. This is why the nostalgia for Main Street is so harmful: It raises false hopes, which when dashed fuel anger and despair.” ~

From the New York Times Opinion Section, 4-9-2017

Hopper: Main Street, 1930


A nasty apocalyptic dream yesterday morning (I’ve been having those since 11-9). The country has been invaded by ISIS — we seem to have great trouble accepting this fact. Someone says, “In the North they are safe, but here in the South we have no chance.” “Here” seems to mean Washington DC, where I spent my first month in the US.

I look out the window and see artillery explosions in the distance. Whole hillsides are blown up. I’m relieved it’s not mushroom clouds. We start preparing for the evacuation, but as if not knowing which items should be a priority. I pick some pretty clothes instead of practical ones, and of course start thinking about which books to take. This is an academic crowd, so piles of books appear on the floor, including a new poetry volume by an unknown poet (even with ISIS advancing, I can’t help lusting after the book). I say, “Let me go get a few more things.” A man replies, “What for? They’ll be at the airport by 7, and that will be the end of
it.”

The battlefield of Verdun 100 years later; the scars of explosions.
 
DINOSAURS: WHY SO BIG?

~ “One reason is that, like modern birds, many dinosaur bones were hollowed out by air sacs extending from their lungs, meaning that a dinosaur would have weighed significantly less than a solid-boned mammal of similar size. It follows that dinosaurs could support a much larger body with their four legs — up to 80 tonnes in the case of the largest plant-eating sauropods (in comparison, today's largest African elephants reach about six tonnes).

Feeding, too, would have been a serious challenge — how did these dinosaurs eat enough to support their size? According to recent research, one secret may have been that they did not need to chew their food as much as mammals today, but rather cropped branches, leaves and twigs, which they then swallowed whole, meaning they could take in a huge amount of food very quickly. And without the need for lots of bulky teeth for chewing, their heads were lighter so their necks could be longer — meaning they could reach a wider range of plants from one feeding spot.

The very largest sauropods evolved in the Cretaceous period, from 145m to 65m years ago. Their size offered two more benefits: a defense mechanism against large predators of the time, and also a means of retaining body heat (owing to their skin's small surface area relative to their enormous body volume — useful among colder blooded creatures; problematic for warm-blooded mammals because of the danger of overheating in warmer temperatures).” ~

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/feb/07/the-size-of-dinosaurs

from another source:

~ “Big animals are especially vulnerable when mass extinctions occur because they adapt and evolve more slowly, as they tend to live longer and reproduce less rapidly than other creatures.

After a large-scale devastation it can take millions of years for giant animals to reappear—it took 15 million for the giant mammals to crop up after the dinosaurs died. The last major extinction event took place roughly 12,000 years ago, not nearly long enough ago for new species of truly massive animals to have materialized by now. The biggest creatures on Earth today—the American bison, elephants, rhinos—aren't new species but survivors of that catastrophe. Theoretically, there's no reason we couldn't see dinosaur-sized animals again in the future. After all, we already share our planet with the biggest mammal ever recorded—the blue whale.

Why did some prehistoric animals get so big in the first place? No one knows for sure, but there are lots of theories. Being larger can provide many evolutionary advantages—bigger animals are less vulnerable to predators and can compete more assertively for resources. The existence of bigger herbivores also means that carnivorous animals have to grow in order to be effective hunters. A species' size may also shift in response to environmental factors. In cold climates, a bulky frame can be an asset to warm-blooded animals—the bigger they are, the better they retain heat. The opposite is true for cold-blooded animals—in a warm climate, a bigger mass can help insulate an animal and keep it from overheating. One paleontologist suggested that some plant-eating dinosaurs might have gotten so big because the foliage in that era was extremely tough and woody: A larger body frame meant a longer digestive tract and more time for bacteria to do its work, allowing the dinosaur to extract as much nutritional value as possible from each bite.

Finally, there are some ecological characteristics that, while not necessarily stimulating to growth, may help support it. Cockroaches in the Paleozoic Era, for example, might have been able to get as big as house cats in part because there was more oxygen in the atmosphere.” ~

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2009/02/a_snake_the_size_of_a_plane.html




HOW COME WE DON'T EAT WHALE MEAT?
 
Since the largest animal that has ever lived is the blue whale, I started pondering the fact that whale meat is generally not eaten — with Japan being the main exception (and only certain cuts of whale meat are eaten there). How come?

It turns out that whale meat was indeed eaten in Europe in the Middle Ages. Here is Wikipedia:

~ “In Europe, whale could be hunted locally throughout the Middle Ages for their meat and oil. Under Catholicism, aquatic creatures were generally considered “fish”; therefore whale was deemed suitable for eating during Lent and other “lean periods”. An alternative explanation is that the Church considered “hot meat” to raise the libido, making it unfit for holy days. Parts submerged in water, such as whale or beaver tails, were considered “cold meat.” ~
Britain tried to introduce whale meat as a source of protein, but it turned out to be unpopular:

~ “During the post-World War II period in the United Kingdom, corned whale meat was available as an unrationed alternative to other meats. Sold under the name "whacon", the meat was described as “corned whalemeat with its fishy flavor removed”, and was almost identical to corned beef, except “brownish instead of red”. The Food Ministry emphasized its “high food value”. It was not popular because of the smell whilst cooking was deemed 'unpleasant', and the taste was considered 'bland' even when spiced.” ~

Aside from the concerns about the survival of various whale species, there are also concerns about the toxicity of whale meat, especially in terms of mercury and pesticides. 


 

HOW JESUS BECAME GOD

New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman: ~ “During his lifetime, Jesus himself didn't call himself God and didn't consider himself God, and ... none of his disciples had any inkling at all that he was God.

You do find Jesus calling himself God in the Gospel of John, or the last Gospel. Jesus says things like, "Before Abraham was, I am." And, "I and the Father are one," and, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." These are all statements you find only in the Gospel of John, and that's striking because we have earlier gospels and we have the writings of Paul, and in none of them is there any indication that Jesus said such things. ...

I think it's completely implausible that Matthew, Mark and Luke would not mention that Jesus called himself God if that's what he was declaring about himself. That would be a rather important point to make. This is not an unusual view amongst scholars; it's simply the view that the Gospel of John is providing a theological understanding of Jesus that is not what was historically accurate.

Right at the same time that Christians were calling Jesus "God" is exactly when Romans started calling their emperors "God." So these Christians were not doing this in a vacuum; they were actually doing it in a context. I don't think this could be an accident that this is a point at which the emperors are being called "God." So by calling Jesus "God," in fact, it was a competition between your God, the emperor, and our God, Jesus.

When Constantine, the emperor, then converted to Christianity, it changed everything because now rather than the emperor being God, the emperor was the worshipper of the God, Jesus. That was quite a forceful change, and one could argue that it changed the understanding of religion and politics for all time.

 
Christians had a dilemma as soon as they declared that Christ was God. If Christ is God and God the Father is God, doesn't that make two gods? And when you throw the Holy Spirit into the mix, doesn't that make three gods? So aren't Christians polytheists? Christians wanted to insist, no, they're monotheists. Well, if they're monotheists, how can all three be God?

So there are various ways of trying to explain this, and one of the most popular ways ... was called modalism. It's called modalism because it insisted that God existed in three modes — just as I myself at the same time am a son, and a brother and a father, but there's only one of me — well these theologians said: That's what God is like. He's manifest in three persons, but there's only one of him, so he's at the same time father, son and spirit. So he's in three modes of existence, so there's only one of him.

If Jesus had not been declared God by his followers, his followers would've remained a sect within Judaism — a small Jewish sect, and if that was the case it would not have attracted a large number of gentiles. . . . If Christianity had not become a sizable minority in the empire, the Roman emperor Constantine almost certainly would not have converted, but then there wouldn't have been the masses of conversions after Constantine, and Christianity would not have become the state religion of Rome. If that hadn't happened, it would never have become the dominant religious, cultural, political, social, economic force that it became so that we wouldn't have even had the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation or modernity as we know it. ... It all hinges on this claim the early Christians had that Jesus was God.” ~

http://www.npr.org/2014/04/07/300246095/if-jesus-never-called-himself-god-how-did-he-become-one



Oriana:

Fascinating . . . not something I was taught by the nuns and priests. I guess, among the hundreds different Christian denominations at this point, only Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not regard Jesus as god.

The competition between Caesar as god and Jesus as god is an interesting new perspective for me. Then Constantine’s conversion is indeed a radical game changer.

The historical Jesus, if he existed, was closest to a Jehovah’s Witness: an apocalyptic preacher, a believer that the End was imminent, to be followed by the reign of Yahweh on earth, with all kings and emperors coming to Jerusalem to pay tribute. The insistence on resurrection in the body also points to the ancient Judaic belief that there is no soul independent of the body, but Yahweh can resurrect a person (“soul” and “breath” were intertwined: life began with the first breath and ended with the last breath)

**

By the way, Bart Ehrman has this interesting video about his personal beliefs. He states that he is an agnostic AND an atheist. I’ll say no more — it’s always fun to listen to someone brilliant state his case.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeFdhyuVyzI

Nightingale, c. 1st Century CE. Roman garden wall fresco, (detail) House of the Golden Bracelet Garden room, Pompeii

THOMAS PAINE: PEOPLE CAN’T BE DIVIDED INTO SHEEP AND GOATS

~ “The book called the New Testament, which I hold to be fabulous and have shown to be false, gives an account in the 25th chapter of Matthew, of what is there called the last day, or the day of judgment. The whole world, according to that account, is divided into two parts, the righteous and the unrighteous, figuratively called the sheep and the goats. They are then to receive their sentence. To the one, figuratively called the sheep, it says, 'Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' To the other, figuratively called the goats, it says, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'

Now the case is, the world cannot be thus divided — the moral world, like the physical world, is composed of numerous degrees of character, running imperceptibly one into the other, in such a manner that no fixed point of division can be found in either. That point is no where, or is every where. The whole world might be divided into two parts numerically, but not as to moral character; and, therefore, the metaphor of dividing them, as sheep and goats can be divided, whose difference is marked by their external figure, is absurd. All sheep are still sheep; all goats are still goats; it is their physical nature to be so. But one part of the world are not all good alike, nor the other part all wicked alike. There are some exceedingly good; others exceedingly wicked. There is another description of men who cannot be ranked with either the one or the other — they belong neither to the sheep nor the goats.” ~

Oriana:

Actually sheep and goats are closely related and can interbreed — that’s one of the ironies here. And both sheep and goats are valuable livestock. In terms of religious ritual, the lamb was a favorite “sin sacrifice,” but a goat might be chosen to be the “scapegoat,” on which the transgressions of the community were “loaded”; the poor animal was then driven out into the desert.

But let’s grant Paine his main point: it’s easy to tell goats and sheet apart at a glance. But a person is rarely (if ever) all good or all bad. Hitler was said to have beautiful manners with women; Stalin’s courage and endurance earned him the name of the “man of steel.” On the other hand, once you read the biographies of “saints” like Gandhi, you learn of their many flaws. And we are talking about the extremes here. The average person is a complex mix of the good and bad. The only attitude that makes sense is understanding and compassion.



*


Freud [in a letter to his future wife:] "Do you know what Breuer said to me one evening? ... He said that he had found out that there was concealed in me under the shroud of shyness an immeasurably bold and fearless human being. I have always believed this myself and never dared to tell anybody. ... But I could not give expression to my ardent passions ... so I have always suppressed myself, and that, I think, must show. Such stupid confession I make to you, sweet treasure, really for no good reason, unless it is the cocaine that makes me talk.”

Freud in 1886 (30 years old)

**


~ “According to family tradition, when Sargent arrived at the Iselin home for the sitting, Mrs. Iselin entered the drawing room followed by a maid carrying an armful of ball gowns and asked him which one he wanted her to wear. To her dismay, Sargent insisted on painting her exactly as she stood without even removing her hand from the table. Some art historians have suggested that this interaction explains the sitter's somewhat severe expression. When late in life Sargent was asked if he remembered Mrs. Iselin, he diplomatically replied, Of course! I cannot forget that dominating little finger.” ~ website, National Gallery of Art


John Singer Sargent: Eleonora O'Donnell Iselin, 1888. Look at that ferocious pinkie!
 
SEASON OF BIRTH AND PREVALENCE OF CERTAIN MENTAL DISORDERS

The season of your birth, it turns out, appears to have a strong influence on your future. Depending on whether you were born in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, you could have a higher or lower risk for: schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, Type 1 diabetes, bipolar disorder, and allergies, among others. The season of your birth also seems to affect how long you live. 

Many contemporary scientists are loath to admit to anything resembling astrology. “It seems absurd that the month you are born/conceived can affect your future life chances,” write neuroscientists Russell G. Foster and Till Roenneberg in a 2008 study. They then go on to then point out no fewer than 24 different health disorders connected to season of birth, and ultimately admit “despite human isolation from season changes in temperature, food, and photoperiod in the industrialized nations, the seasons still appear to have a small, but significant impact upon when individuals are born and many aspects of health.”

The problem may be that there’s no clear underlying mechanism for the observed phenomena. Theories range from levels of maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy to seasonal viral and bacterial exposure.

Over the years, many studies have shown some correlation between various diseases and disorders and seasons of birth, but one grouping stands out. This particular correlation was found as early as 1929, and more than 200 studies have confirmed the results, including a large meta-study in 2003 accounting for more than 86 million births from 27 different parts of the world. The bottom line: If you were born in the winter [especially December or January in the Northern Hemisphere; our “summer months” if born in the Southern Hemisphere], you’re at a higher risk for schizophrenia than those born in the sunnier months.

[Bipolar disorder is more frequent in those who were born in winter and in early spring (March and April).]

“Disorders like depression, schizophrenia, or autism—developmental disorders—are linked to the circadian clock,” Ciarleglio says. “The clock is hard-wired to other important areas of the brain that play major roles in how those disorders manifest.”

Light enters the eyes, and a signal is sent to the suprachiasmatic nucleus—the brain’s master clock—which, in turn, then sends signals down raphe nuclei in the brain stem. The main function of the raphe nuclei is to release serotonin to the rest of the brain. Serotonin, of course, helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep, and an imbalance in the neurotransmitter is the basis of depression. Your biological functions all depend on light.

Traditional astrology was wrong: the moon does not cause insanity. But at the same time, astrology was right: those born in the winter season, when the moon has its longest reign in the skies, are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Modern science is catching up, and clarifying: Based on Ciarleglio’s and other researchers’ work, we now understand that the lack of sunlight in those months seems to contribute to long-term changes in how genes are expressed. In other words, we are inextricably tied to the specifics of our developmental environments.

“There is this fundamental biological paradigm,” Ciarleglio explains, “where developing in a certain season seems to imprint your circadian clock, and your circadian clock has control over mood and other neurological conditions.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/your-zodiac-sign-your-health/281358



Oriana: 

By the way, spring is also the peak season for suicide.

Of course the vast majority of people end up without neurological disorders regardless of the season of birth. 


Photo: Rick Gervais
 

ending on beauty:
 
When you love a person you always want him
to disappear so your mind can work on him.
The imagination is a storm-cloud of rapture . . .

 
~ Edward Hirsch, in the volume "On Love"

I wouldn’t insist on “always,” but most of the time. For me being able to relive the experience, to meditate on it, has been as important as the experience itself — sometimes more so. In youth I couldn’t really live without being in love — because of the bliss of the fantasies it created. 


The Storm Spirits by Evelyn de Morgan, 1900 — in honor of our winter storms. Sometimes bad art is best. It rarely fails to lift my spirit.

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