Home again to Singapore after 5 days in Ubud, not for too long, Japan again in two weeks and then I’m thinking Australia. The drive to the airport from Ubud was great, it gave me a better look at Bali which I like all over, even the roadside villages. The people seem most artistic, there are many sculpture places and fine art studios that you can buy from. It seems creativity is a way of life for the Balinese. I also observed substantial intellect from the locals, I can’t remember now what made me think that but indeed Indonesia is an expansive country with hundreds of islands.
We went to see a Balinese dance last night, “the Mahabarata”, an old Hindi story I was once interested in. Balinese dance is renowned and focuses on other things compared to western dance, eye and finger movement. Many of these movements should be looked for in the performance, eyes are difficult from beyond row 10, we were in the first row. Watching it I couldn’t perceive a story from the dance, just movement. Dances can be emotionally expressive but this was not as far as I could tell. I was happy for dinner when the ballet finished. When the dancers held swords it was a little easier to understand.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. We’ve been here before, I like it. Ubud is quite different to the Bali beach holiday popular in Australia, it has old world charm with temples. Still overrun with tourists you must use your imagination to try and depart the western world. But it has cues to make such an escape easier, temples, old buildings, and the monkeys here in monkey forrest are also trying to escape. I should mention we went to a Sufi gathering here where I tried to whirl again thinking it might help my balance but couldn’t do it. I used to whirl at a Sufi gathering in Melbourne years ago.
It’s been around 6 years since my coma, we should remember that recovery is extremely slow and you must encourage it through repetition. This is what I learnt during my recovery. I have tried walking without a stick on and off since coming back to Singapore 5 years ago. By this repetition my walking has only slightly improved, my toes still point to the heavens. Many would suggest my walking has not changed at all but I think it has become a little better. The most interesting thing about coma is that it’s encouraged a curiosity in life for me, but I think we all question existence. Science is progressing leaps and bounds discovering much more about reality, among other things describing entanglement theory.
‘Ghosts in the Shell’ is a film about the human brain transplanted into a robot. They are doing similar things today in medicine, amputees brains controlling artificial limbs. Things like manufactured arms and hands being controlled by the amputees nervous system. As the films subject suggests perhaps one day we will be able to transplant the human brain into a robot, in this way we will achieve immortality. Maybe soon I’ll even be able to replace my bad leg, but then again it’s my brain that’s the problem. How about a brain transplant? Then I’d also be able to move past this identity. Then again compared to immortality death might be a good thing.
We went to see another film “The Shape of Water” which prompted me to update this post. Perhaps one of the best Hollywood films I’ve seen. It celebrated cinema make believe in its storyline. The make believe helped it arrive at themes of love and hope. It also more fully developed its characters. I’ve always said my favorite mainstream film was Kubrick’s ‘2001 Space Odyssey’ or the likes of Igmar Bergman’s ‘Franny and Alexander’ but this film is getting closer because it was aware of cinema make believe. A fantastic exploration of wonderment, difference doesn’t matter in love.
Dear fellow coma victims, the American Superbowl provoked media about concussion. Something other codes of sport like Australian Rules Football and Rugby Union are also taking seriously. A star American footballer said not to play the game to avoid the brain damage caused. The doctor who treated that player said brain damage caused by concussion was permanent, that cognition was impaired. Hearing all this I reflected upon my own condition and the damage of three month coma which is kind of similar.
For concussion these people spoke of memory loss, I often can’t recall, at least I remember that something was on my mind. I can only guess at the mental functions I lost because of coma. I certainly don’t speak as well as l did before my accident. Just after coma I occasionally slurred and my speech is staggered but it has improved. And with word choice I often consider the next word to use. It’s a little slower but very close to normal. I often test myself with the meaning of words.
I worry all the time about my cognition and perception, and sometimes wonder if I can still feel things like empathy, joy or sorrow. So there you go, my little problems are quite common, indeed the brain is a very sensitive organ. It seems through improvements in technology and medicine we are understanding such organs much better nowadays. Memory is very important.
You must be a famous person to be president of the United States these days. CNN now reports Oprah Winfrey might be next, she would come after reality TV star Donald Trump, before him movie star Ronald Reagan. Probably the right thing for a country so focussed on the individual and during the time of the “me too” movement. I’m sure Oprah is a fine person, better than the incumbent. Actually I’m viewing these developments in US politics as the possibility of a more fundamental changes.
Clearly we still need to overcome sexism, or powerism as an actor called it discussing Harvey Weinstein’s sex abuse. The use of power for non-consensual sex. I think at some point while growing up we objectify woman. I too began passing judgement, thoughts like “nice tits… nice arse… great legs”. A global phenomena, perhaps the result of animal instinct, we are evolved animals after all. It will require childhood education to stop such judgements and the objectification of women. Just now there has been disturbing reports of rape and murder of a child in Pakistan, such crimes occur globally. Indeed we need to evolve and start to live in our intellect rather than our bodies.
Maybe one day humanity might overcome money too. Through blockchain we might be able to exchange ideas and effort, intellect, rather than cash. As I’ve said here before the human species might go beyond the Industrial Age. If we do evolve we will survive the destruction of this planet because of global warming. We will need to act quickly to slow down the increase of weather events around the world. Ironically the recent freezing weather in the US was caused by global warming. Hoping for the development of nuclear fusion, not fission, as an eternal power supply. Amazing to be able to create the sun’s energy on Earth by atomic interactions. To replicate the sun’s surface energy in the Large Hadron Collider, apart from black holes.
Dear fellow coma victims, at a favorite restaurant in Thailand I had a regular dish, mussels in a white wine sauce with lots of garlic and considered the taste. I was eating large chunks of garlic but couldn’t discern the flavor. The texture yes as it’s one of my favorite things about food. The garlic texture is like onion, I remembered garlic having a strong flavor but never really got it. So a discussion about senses ensued, how all humans interface with the world… Indeed taste is of a different order to language, what does beetroot really taste like? Difficult to transpose to language without food comparison. Our basic words to describe taste might include sweet, bitter, salty, savoury, crunchy, spicy, hot, chewy et al. My observations were that coma had effected a very subtle human ability, to discern between food stuff and taste.
Sight In the documentary coma some people’s sight was effected, I have had problems looking through my right eye, nothing too bad and it’s pretty much normal now but at times I felt it was effected too.
Sound In the documentary coma a person lost his hearing after coma, fortunately I haven’t noticed anything.
Taste I was an apprentice chef at one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne, Miettas, and taste was extremely important to me but now I can’t even taste garlic, a favorite seasoning before coma. And I previously had at leatst 5 chillies with Som Tum salad but can’t take 1 in any dish nowadays.
Touch I’ve become left handed since coma. In early days there was always pins and needles in the right, the entire right side misbehaves and the sense of touch in it is diminished.
Smell It has been said by people that I have lost my sense of smell. I cannot smell disgusting things anymore I’m told. If there are pervasive bad smells I can’t.
Dear fellow coma victims, as I’ve said before I suspect travel is very good for us. What I really mean is to do the things like we did before coma, stay active. Travel also presents the unusual which can be challenging, we need to be challenged. I’m in AoNang Thailand for another Christmas, at least 4 in a row now. Not a white Christmas, quite the opposite, a beach Christmas. Frohe Weinachten.