Sometimes, I amble through the inside of my skull, to take a look at the vast, odd corners of my mind. It astounds me to consider that all of us peculiar talking anthrodpoids have such infinite dimensions teeming within our heads. What I'm getting at is, for me, something not quite biological or philosophical. The best word I can come up with is "mystical." That word is usually a place-holder for “what is unknown.” I happen to think that mind is a mystical chamber echoing with fractal abysses. Not only unknown, but unknowable. It pleases me to pronounce that something is unknowable. It makes me feel sort of profound, in a way that typically profound people would never understand. At Oxford, important folks are going on and on about the nature of consciousness – whether it is a “hard problem” or whether it is something that neuroscience will eventually light up. Or maybe a Darwinian effusion of adaptive and cultural dynamics. Blah, blah, blah. I prefer to think of consciousness (what a riddle – “to think of consciousness”) as the inside texturing of the Great Dark-Purple Pumpkin.
My brother lives and works in Nashville. He always eats lunch on the institutional premises. The other day, unusually, he joined a friend for a walk during lunch break. (Keep in mind that this never happens.) They walked through the pleasant autumn day, the air temperate to coolish, the trees beginning to change into subdued colors of clothing. A day vibrating with expectation and ineffable impressions. They began strolling across the picturesque river bridge, when my brother noticed an odd creature on the opposite side, walking in the opposite direction.
This person stuck out like a surreal apparition in the pristine noontime, like a sore thumb or a weathered, quixotic chimpanzee holding a lit stick of dynamite. He catches the attention, shall will say? He wore sunglasses.
Of all things!....he began crossing to my brother's side of the bridge, angling straight toward him. “What?!” thinks my brother, “This is going to be an unwarranted and probably unpleasant encounter.”
This tallish, pony-tailed, graying, side-burned human structure walked right up to my brother. They both removed sunglasses and looked at one another. It was Professor Unusual! (name changed for privacy).
This fellow had not been seen my by brother for a few years. This fellow lives in another city, where he teaches geology. He was visiting Nashville and was strolling across the bridge, out for a spontaneous lark. Strolling to where he and my brother became swept up into a Jungian vortex of synchronicity.
Back in El Dorado days (south Arkansas, where we and Professor Unusual had grown up), this fellow was one of my brother's best friends. We lived on the east side (odd, insular, proletariat). “Unusual” lived on the north side (eccentric, extra-spatial, “aristocratic”). He and his brother were (are) not typical human beings. Both their IQ ratings would probably be unmeasurable (on the plus side). I'll not bore you with my vague remembrances of those strange earlier days. I'll just note that everything back then was a chronic mystery and that El Dorado was an incubator of the subtly outlandish.
So...what does my thinking about my head and consciousness have to do with Professor Unusual's eruption into improbable circumstance? Nothing, really.
I think I'm merely struck by the fact that I have become a rather dumbfounded recluse – some guy who spends too much time thinking about stuff. Whereas, Professor Unusual was out for a preposterous stroll, soaking up even more extra-spatial, other-dimensional influences. In other words, he represents a contrast. A tallish, pony-tailed, graying, side-burned, and geological entity. A sort of action figure moving through the matrices of the inexplicable. Through a ritual of autumn-suffused contract with reality.