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OLD-IRISH-L  May 2004

OLD-IRISH-L May 2004

Subject:

Re: Cath Maige Rath 7

From:

Dennis King <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 19 May 2004 10:19:54 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (75 lines)

Charles scríbas:

> What exactly is 'inchind dermait'?

Here's a message on the subject from the archives:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date:         Mon, 18 Nov 2002 12:25:03 -0800
Subject:      Re: Cenn Faelad (semi OT)

Either the head wound itself or the treatment of it had
a famous outcome: "a hinchind dermait du beim a cind
Chindfaelad", so that whatever heard during the day he
could write down verbatim at night.

Jorge Luis Borges gives us an even more extreme example,
albeit (or also?) fictional, in his short story "Funes,
the Memorious":

"For nineteen years, he said, he had lived like a person
in a dream: he looked without seeing, heard without hearing,
forgot everything - almost everything. On falling from the
horse, he lost consciousness; when he recovered it, the
present was almost intolerable it was so rich and bright;
the same was true of the most ancient and most trivial
memories. A little later he realized that he was crippled.
This fact scarcely interested him. He reasoned (or felt)
that immobility was a minimum price to pay. And now, his
perception and his memory were infallible.

"We, in a glance, perceive three wine glasses on the table;
Funes saw all the shoots, clusters, and grapes of the vine.
He remembered the shapes of the clouds in the south at dawn
on the 30th of April of 1882, and he could compare them in
his recollection with the marbled grain in the design of a
leather-bound book which he had seen only once, and with
the lines in the spray which an oar raised in the Rio Negro
on the eve of the battle of the Quebracho. These recollections
were not simple; each visual image was linked to muscular
sensations, thermal sensations, etc. He could reconstruct
all his dreams, all his fancies."

- from http://www.bridgewater.edu/~atrupe/GEC101/Funes.html

The Irish words "inchinn dermait" ("brain of forgetting")
are fascinating, suggesting that forgetting is a legitimate
brain function, and that this was recognized in medieval
Ireland.  Or as Michael Pollan says in the essay "Marijuana"
in _The Botany of Desire_ (Random House, 2001): "[I began]
to appreciate that forgetting is vastly underrated as a
mental operation -- indeed, that it is a mental operation,
rather than, as I'd always assumed, strictly the breakdown
of one."

Or, as the neuroscientist Raphael Mechoulam asked, "Do you
really want to remember all the faces you saw on the New
York subway this morning?"

Pollan again: "Our mental health depends on a mechanism for
editing the moment-by-moment ocean of sensory data flowing
into our consciousness down to a manageable trickle of the
noticed and remembered.  The cannabinoid network appears to
be part of that mechanism, vigilantly sifting the vast chaff
of sense impression from the kernels of perception we need
to remember if we're to get through the day and get done
what needs to be done.  Much depends on forgetting."

So, the "inchinn dermait" is not just poetic fancy.  It is,
or at least involves, the network of receptors in the brain
that are keyed to the endogenous neural transmitter anandamide
(and to THC, it stronger and more persistent botanical cousin).

Dennis

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