Whole Brain BS: Diary, 11/5 to 11/7/21

Pollyanna Grows Up; movies; Hallmark crap; Taylor’s book, Whole Brain Living; Hemlock Club meeting; the “lump of ignorance”; constipation; Power vs Force book is BS.

Jane Eyre
Samantha Morton as Jane Eyre

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{11/5/21}  Weight 210.4 at 5:45 am.

Finished reading Pollyanna Grows Up.  The first half is essentially a continuation of Pollyanna, in which our heroine changes the life of a relative that she stays with while Polly and her husband visit Germany.  In the second half, Pollyanna goes to Europe with her adoptive parents, returning home six years later, when she has indeed become “a young lady.”  The rest is about her romantic relationships, but also about poverty and crutches.  Recommended only for fans of the original novel.

Watched some movies on cable, including The Possession (2012), which I had seen previously and enjoyed.  I enjoyed it this time, too, though much of it was familiar.  In fact, I had it on DVD and got rid of it, so I guess I didn’t enjoy it all that much.  39% from the critics, 48% from audiences at RT.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom I praised here for The Unholy on 10/8/21, again does good work as the distraught father of his possessed daughter.  It’s been called “The Jewish Exorcist” which pretty much sums it up, though this isn’t breaking any new ground.

Caught a few tens of minutes of Star Trek—The Motion Picture, in particular the Enterprise’s exploration of the invading alien “living machine.”  It’s trippy and I love the music, but the payoff is very disappointing, so I didn’t stick around.  I was jumping from old movie to old movie, with a couple of minutes on the Hallmark channel to tsk-tsk over the ridiculous and disgusting Christmas decorations they always have in their Christmas romance movies.  This always makes me feel superior.

Saw Jill Bolte Taylor on The Aware Show, which I rarely watch because it’s usually New Age crap; but I knew of Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight. She’s a neuroscientist who had a stroke when she was 37 and wrote about it. I was pretty much riveted for the hour (commercial free on LinkTV) and plan to get her new book, Whole Brain Living tomorrow. She talked in a very animated fashion about her stroke and how she reacted to it, as well as explaining the basis for her new book. She says that each of us have four basic personalities (or something) that we switch between mostly unconsciously; awareness of these possibilities can allow us to choose which one we want to inhabit at any particular time. I found this very interesting and possibly very useful, indeed, it already led me to add something to my 100+ Ideas notebook: “128. Self-mastery can be and should be more than discipline. It can also be tricks, techniques, and hacks, like #127.” 127 says: “Learn to play with your writing. Get playful to get ideas.”–I think I wrote that as well while listening to Taylor. So, we’ll see what the book has to offer. I’m getting her earlier book from the library.

{11/6/21}  Weight 211.4 at 5:45 am.

Hemlock Club today.

Watched Pollyanna (1960) on DVD last night, from the library.  86% from critics, 80% from audiences.  Hayley Mills is undeniably charming in the role, but the movie diverges terribly from the book.  In the book, which is hilarious, Pollyanna is an extreme character who bulldozes others with her relentless blindness to the fact that others don’t agree with her being glad about pretty much everything, and always blandly assuming the best possible interpretation of others’ goodwill.  IRL this would be infuriating, and it may be that to do it right (and entertainingly) in a movie would be extremely difficult, like Tom Bombadil.  So I was disappointed by a movie I once—that is, before I read the book—liked very much indeed.  Now, as it happens I watched the PBS version within the past month, but I didn’t write a review (my response was tepid), so all I have to go on is vague feelings that I enjoyed it well enough but kinda wished it were Hayley Mills I was watching.  “Be careful what you wish for.”  I’ll watch the PBS again and compare it with this Disney Disappointment.

To be fair, I rather liked Karl Malden as the minister and Kevin Corcoran as “Jimmy Bean.”  The maid “Angelica” (played by Mary Grace Canfield) was unpleasant but redeemed herself in the end.  Other characters/actors were not much to my taste, because of course they’re generally playing cranky types.

{11/7/21}  Weight 211.0 at 6:25 am.

David Zent, former “member” of the Hemlock Club, died some time around Halloween.  It’s reported at Bakersfield dot com, dated November 1st, but the date of death is not given.  He had attended meetings regularly for several weeks when he got involved with a woman who became his wife, then he stopped attending without saying anything about it.  Well, it’s too bad, he was a nice guy.  I was dubious about his approach to cancer treatment—basically diet and exercise as I recall.

Took a quick look at the start of the Masterpiece Theater Pollyanna and soon decided that it was more faithful to the book in that Aunt Polly is stiffer and more unwelcoming, and Pollyanna is chattier and more warmly emotional, than in the Hayley Mills version.  The actress, whom I won’t bother to look up, is vastly less charismatic than Ms. Mills.

Much to talk about.  Met with Cynthia Bermudez at Panera with Pablo.  We formed a “critique group,” to meet weekly at Dagny’s.  Once Pablo got a little coffee in him he began talking and drowned us in words, though Cynthia didn’t seem to mind.  I may end up joining Writers of Kern just to get into a group that doesn’t include Pablo—but we’ll see how this goes.  Cynthia and I discussed Steppenwolf briefly; she wanted to say to the eponym, “What are you complaining about?”  This is good.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s new book, Whole Brain Living, is turning out to be a big disappointment after my excitement about the hour I listened to her on The Aware Show on FSTV.  The basic idea seems good, that we have four mental “characters” that is, four areas of the brain that function somewhat differently and that can “take control” of our thinking.  Like multiple personalities, but not dysfunctional.  Well, unfortunately, Taylor is an undisciplined writer who repeats squishy metaphors and vague terms endlessly, boring me beyond endurance.  It’s an open question yet whether this approach will prove of any use to me.

Watched Jane Eyre (1997) starring Samantha Morton and Ciarán Hinds.  Morton looks severely beautiful throughout (until the wedding scene, where her beauty is softer) and seems overall less appealing than any of the Janes of other productions, though her passionate love in a couple of scenes is quite moving, even amazing—without those two bits, this would be almost a complete bore.  Hinds seems the most ferocious of Rochesters, in part because of his Nietzsche-like mustache, and so he’s not that appealing, either.  These quibbles aside, the movie wisely focuses most attention on their relationship and time together; she becomes the governess a mere twelve minutes into the movie, and the tangent of St. John gets equally brief treatment.  Gets one “fresh” rating from critics at RT (in this case, Gene Siskel; the link to his article doesn’t work), and a rather lackluster 67% from audiences.  Just 96 minutes long, which doesn’t help, I suppose.  Resubscribed to RT so I could post this review, but found that there are many pages of reviews from others.

Tough constipation.  I blame the Pepto Bismol dose I took two days ago, though I often have some minor trouble when I don’t stick to my better diet.

The Hemlock Club meeting yesterday was good, in part because I had some things to say when we got on the subject of “God.”  I dismissed Pascal’s wager because Ockham’s razor says, “who needs God?” and/or “this is not how I believe things, by choice.”  Pablo thought that Ockham’s razor was an argument in favor of the existence of God because otherwise “everything is random.”  I asked if gravity was random, but he didn’t engage with that.  I compared belief in God with belief in dark matter and dark energy, saying that nobody understands these things.  DM for me is a lump that I keep on a distant shelf in my world view, and if I believed in God it would also be a lump on a distant shelf.  For believers, that lump is in the middle of their world view, a lump of ignorance, clearly not helpful.  TC said that he was convinced when a friend rhetorically asked, “If there were no God, who would rule over the heavens?”  I replied with, “Who says there needs to be a ruler?” but I think he was underwhelmed.  Undoubtedly there were other things discussed, but these are the only ones I can recall.

I think Nog again praised Power vs Force, a book by David R. Hawkins.  Today I looked at the one-star reviews on Amazon and found that, as I suspected, it’s BS.  There’s more money in bullshit than in science, unfortunately; am I the only one of our crowd who knows the smell?

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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