Monthly Archives: June 2010

No, you probably don’t have Altzheimer’s….!

This post should probably be appearing on my new site

MoreBitsFallOff.com

However, being an uncharacteristic hive of industry today, I have posted something new there already – check it out! What was I saying? Oh yes, NOW I remember…..which brings me to the friend in whose honour I am republishing a book review which appeared here on ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ last year. I spoke to her this morning. She was (once again!) so worried about incipient Altzheimer’s that she wanted to re-borrow the book I had lent her last year which she had found incredibly reassuring. It is called “Where did I leave my Glasses?” and is absolutely wonderful. No-one over the age of fifty should ever leave home without it.

Here is my review:

“Where Did I Leave My Glasses?”

The What, When and Why of Normal Memory Loss

by Martha Weinman Lear

A few weeks ago my husband dashed off to an evening meeting. Shortly afterwards, he rang me, sounding stressed. “Can you please find my glasses for me? A friend is passing by shortly – she can pick them up and bring them along to the meeting.” My irritation with him dissolved into fits of laughter when I eventually found the glasses. Where were they? Yes, sitting right on top of  the book he was then reading, called “Where Did I Leave My Glasses?” by Martha Weinman Lear.

Exhibit A - the glasses!

One of the realisations which don’t dawn until the fifties – I speak for myself here, maybe you are ninety-six and still in denial! – is that it’s all downhill physically from now on. I think writer Richard Holloway is right when he talks in one of his books (surprise, surprise, can’t remember which one….) about the importance of starting to cultivate fortitude once you reach your fifties. Time is going to win, and you, small speck of ephemeral matter, are going to lose – no matter what you do to try and stave off the aging process.

An indestructible sense of humour is a huge asset in facing this truth. So is information which cheers you up rather than depressing you. Everyone over the age of fifty should therefore read this book. It succeeds in being simultaneously very informative and very entertaining on the topic of normal memory loss, a subject which generates intermittent worry for, I would estimate, at least 99 per cent of us who are baby-boomers and older.

Martha Weinman Lear, former articles editor and staff writer with the New York Times Magazine, is well qualified to research and present information and opinion on the topic of memory loss, having written extensively before on social and medicine-related topics.

I infer from the book that she is a person past the first flush of youth. Here she is, inviting us to

“Consider our own memory situations, yours and mine.

Here is mine:

Adjectives elude me. Verbs escape me. Nouns, especially proper nouns, totally defeat me. I may meet you at a party, have a long, lovely conversation with you, be charmed by you, want to know you forever, and a day later not remember your name….”

The book is laugh-aloud entertainment, rooted in real conversations with real people all of whom including herself have funny disclosures to make centering round the five top responses to the question she put to all the lay and expert interviewees in the book, ie ‘What can you most reliably depend upon yourself to forget?’

These five were:

Where did I leave my glasses?

What was I just saying?

What did I come in here for?

What did I ask you to remind me to do?

What’s her(his, its) name?

Lear’s book may be wittily written, but it is also thorough and well-informed in exploring aspects of normal memory and memory loss, including why we are actually wired to forget. She covers a range of topics including sex differences in memory function and deterioration, different types of memory, how to train the aging brain into being more efficient at remembering – and most fascinating of all, the future of memory enhancement in a culture where increasingly we are living longer than biology built our bodies to last.

I found “Where Did I Leave My Glasses?” enormously comforting and reassuring in the face of the spectre that haunts our increasingly long-lived Western populations – Altzheimer’s. Lear’s book’s central message is that most memory lapses beginning in middle age are universal: a normal part of the inevitable process of aging.

In short, don’t worry if you don’t know where you left your glasses. But do worry – and seek help – if you can’t remember what your glasses are for….

Exhibit A - the glasses!

(this is the slightly edited and re-published version of a book review published on this site in 2009)

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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The Astrology Essay: featuring Dawn Bodrogi of The Inner Wheel

Lord Rees, president of the UK’s premier scientific organisation the Royal Society, has just made a provocative public statement in a Sunday Times (UK) interview, featured in an article by Jonathan Leake in that newspaper on 13.06.10. He ‘suggests that the inherent intellectual limitations of humanity mean we may never resolve questions such as the existence of parallel universes, the cause of the big bang, or the nature of our own consciousness.’

Rees, who is also professor of cosmology at Cambridge University, is ‘one of Britain’s most respected astrophysicists’. His warning, reports the article, is ‘partly prompted by the failure of scientists working on the greatest problem of modern physics – to reconcile the forces that govern the behaviour of the cosmos, including the planets and stars, with those that rule the so-called microworld of atoms and particles.’

To read this fascinating  article by Jonathan Leake, which is bound to stimulate heated debate, click ‘D’oh, we may never decode the universe’

I found it heartening: to read about such an eminent scientist exhibiting some humility was most refreshing. It was also timeous from a personal point of view. I have now been running ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ for nearly two years, its mission statement being ….

…. to support, encourage, inspire and entertain open-minded people who, like me, are exhilarated and amazed by the beauty, mystery and complexity of the worlds we human beings inhabit – and for those writers and readers who share my preoccupation with questions of meaning, pattern and purpose….

The Whirlpool Galaxy

It has been wonderful to make contact with so many open-minded folk like myself, who share my great appreciation for contemporary science and cosmology for revealing over the last few centuries the fantastic cosmos we know we inhabit thanks to the truly mind-boggling achievements of science. But we are very aware now of the shadow side of scientific progress which has immeasurably improved the lot of much of humanity but has also – in the hands of we all-too-fallible humans – wreaked havoc and destruction on our beautiful, fragile, tiny planet.

In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has just admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.

We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of The Big Why.

So my Really Big Why is this: WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?

The great and ancient art and science of astrology has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from “The Sleepwalkers”:

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

So I find it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, and concentrate from now on what unites us – rather than what divides us.

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At this point I would like to hand over to my friend and colleague from New York, fine astrologer, Renaissance woman (check her Bio on her site!) and keeper of The Inner Wheel blog Dawn Bodrogi, my latest Guest on “Writing from the Twelfth House”, who has just written a deep, well-informed and eloquent piece on the very theme which has been preoccupying me even more than usual of late! Over to you, Dawn…..

William Blake "Ancient of Days"
William Blake “Ancient of Days”

The Measurers versus The Metaphysicians

Dawn says : ” I don’t often get angry if I meet folks who find astrology incredulous, or even ridiculous.  I find their worship of science and technology as the answer to everything faintly ludicrous, and am happy to agree to disagree about fundamental life views.  I know my method makes sense, they know theirs does, we’re all happy.  Science is a system which proposes to impose meaning on the random and chaotic.  So does astrology. The mandate of astrology is that life has an underlying pattern we are trying to discover. So does science.  Astrology declares that there is an underlying direction that can be discerned by understanding astrology’s laws. So does science, with its laws. Both are based on mathematical principles. Looked at through a slightly skewed mirror, astrology and science have a lot in common…..”   To read the rest of this article, click HERE

Please note: comments on this post are welcome, but abuse and ranting have no place on this site and any such comments will be deleted.

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dawn Bodrogi 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 


Jupiter met Uranus 8.6.10. We’re still here……

…. a fresh Jupiter/Uranus 14-year cycle has just begun…..

AND – a new astrology study is about to commence (the sequel to the one I did in 1997), with a brilliant new group of volunteer researchers joining me to share their experiences over the next year.

But first, let me set a sensible context (astrologers? sensible? It is possible…) by quoting from one of the articles I wrote and published on this site in the run-up to the Great Event of 8.6.10 : (18.5.10: Jupiter meets Uranus, sky falls in: Yes,no….or merely maybe?)

“……It is an ancient human tendency to imagine that the end of the world or civilisation as we know it is just around the corner. Maybe it is – or maybe not. We don’t really KNOW what the upcoming Jupiter/Uranus conjunction and its attendant pattern will bring. It certainly represents a perfect backdrop onto which to project our burgeoning collective anxieties about the deteriorating condition of our culture and of our planet.  But human life has always been turbulent, dangerous and often fatal, regardless of where the planets happen to be. So can we all calm down and just get on with life?

I trust that those few moderating paragraphs will have at least temporarily helped to reduce your blood pressure, and injected a rather needed note of  philosophical detachment into your contemplation of the Summer of 2010……”

We also need to remember that, with any planetary cycle, the first time the two planets meet, as Jupiter and Uranus famously did on Tuesday, is just the beginning.

To read the rest of this article, click HERE

(Please NOTE: this is the last Jupiter/Uranus article to appear on “Writing from the Twelfth House”. There is a new series running, following the ups and downs of the first year of the new 14-year Jupiter/Uranus cycle and the fortunes of a bold band of researchees, on my popular “Jupiter meets Uranus” site. See you there!)

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Jupiter meets Uranus 8.6.10 : oh no, not MORE research….

I have in recent days committed myself (am I mad or what?!!) to doing a follow-up study from the one  I did on the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of February 1997 “Jupiter meets Uranus – from erotic bathing to star gazing. (UK buyers, click HERE ) Have you got your copy yet?

Jupiter meets Uranus - from http://www.cainer.com

Jupiter meets Uranus - from http://www.cainer.com

I am approaching my quota of 20 volunteers who are “plugged-in” to the late mutable/early cardinal energy of  the upcoming Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Aries, and will be sending me their feedback on how it was for them as the observational year (March 2010 – February 2011) unfolds. It is fantastic that they are prepared to do this – and I will be treating their feedback with appropriate care and confidentiality, as I did the 17 participants in the previous 1997 research. So – keep watching this space to see a research study being invented before your eyes!

And there are still a few more places for volunteers with planets/Angles/ Moon’s Nodes in late mutable/early cardinal signs. Just leave a comment and I will contact you.

I have acquired some interesting and lively commentators, most recently Shana – of  http://www.shanatinglipton.com/blog/. In response to a comment of hers, I have written a short piece on some contemporary events for my Jupiter meets Uranus site, which I thought I’d share with the many readers of this site – in the spirit of “here it is – as it happens.”

To read  the rest of that post, click HERE

Jupiter meets Uranus

Jupiter meets Uranus

250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page