Since my youth up to senility, that keeps me good company in the present moment, at times I felt the urge to write something and several of these essays are posted on this site. In one way or another there has not been a great thematic variation; my interests have always been, apart from technical hobbies, man and his predicament on this beautiful planet and his psychological structure so that the terms ‘mind’, ‘psyche’, ‘intellect’, ‘brain’ and so on appear in almost every context. [q.v. Corrigenda] With the passing of years these terms, among themselves, have never been very consistent with the meaning they try to relate in any given essay; that is not really abnormal since with a rich library which mingles East and West I have absorbed various points of view from these many respectable authors who contributed to enrich my horizons, hence now I should put all these essays in a bottle, distil their essence and write it down in a single book in a consistent way and without conflicting terms. I have tried this task but Lady Senility intervened and did not allow me to proceed as she thinks that my intellective faculties are worn out and not apt to allow me to undertake such a task and, like it or not, I must concur with her point of view. Hence I borrow a statement from Mahatma Gandhi “At times of writing I never think what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth." All I can add is that I have not found any satisfactory “truth” because truth itself is a ladder with an infinity of rungs, to whichever level we climb upwards we will never reach it; besides, truth is always a subjective idea.

The Canvas of the Mind

The title of this collection epitomizes it: mind is the canvas whereon the picture of the present moment, as the summation of past events, appears together with the set of probabilities which might materialize subsequently; the psyche is the translator of the picture which will relay the composes, presumptively to the actuator, the brain, which translates it into action, overtly or covertly to man that, as a whole psychophysical entity, is the actor in the comedy of life.

As it happens, there are some human beings on this beautiful and dangerous spot in the cosmic space that we call Earth; and, perhaps, there are a few more than apparently necessary. Whatever the similarity among them, not two of them are equal because they are endowed with the most complex biological machinery that we know of, that which we call brain; this complexity assuredly is very fortunate and that is the only reason why these inhabitants of the Earth are not stereotyped robots. The complexity of this biological machinery, however, makes it so that its inescapable sickness is life itself and hence it has a fixed time, depending on how it fares during the course of its own undetermined existence within its bony shrine and the environments which it has to confront. Let there be no misunderstandings before we go into some details: the brain’s natural destiny, once it is no more thriving with life, and in obedience to nature's economy's laws, most probably will be to give life to maggots and worms which will gladly feed on it and its own appendages below the neck.

Obviously, that which in healthy life depends for its manifestation primarily on the brain and its extremely complex structure is the human mind; it may be visualized as an intangible causality - a process - engineering the brain’s activity and, unless we can prove otherwise, does not have a different destiny since it will vanish with the brain’s demise; in other words, the actuator switched off there will be no more canvas nor pictures to display.

What is here termed "canvas", however, is not to be imagined as a painter's frame covered with a strip of white cloth whereon his brushes depict the contents of his fantasies. The mind's canvas has no edges, nor any conceivable depth; it can exist as an unbounded unimaginable entity only within the bounds of time, of our time, that brought about by the clockwork within our bony shrine. Every single instant of our life will be recorded within this nameless infinity but our shadows of life will screen them in somewhat inaccessible recesses within a mysterious intangible universe of knowledge.

The psyche, a strange mental creature indeed which has the paramount task of reacting in accordance with its own perception of the mind’s images continually changing on the canvas, is what keeps us getting along our road in this world. Its experience, critical gusto, the environment and circumstances where it is to take over its task all contribute to give it a unique personal character; each one of us is a world unto himself. Clearly, the painter and the images gone there will be no more reason to exist also for the psyche and its projections.

All in all the lines above say just one thing: with the demise of that extremely complicated biological organ which is the brain all that which subserves it will vanish as well. And yes, some very utile implements of the mind, real like the intellective faculties, useful like the spiritual insights, and imaginary like the soul and the plethora of gods which infest the human mind will get inexorably lost with all their entourage of images seeking a niche in the psyche. Clearly all this may let you think that, if the above holds, there is no purpose in life since everything gets lost, annihilated and extinct, as a mere chance byproduct of chaos. Then, what use to be in this world, seeking our origins, striving to discover the source of the microcosm and the macrocosm, trying to unveil the genetic code’s mysteries, unremittingly looking for the truths behind existence if, with a little luck, all that remains will be a few bones unearthed by some paleontologist very far in the future should humanity, the intelligent Homo sapiens, not be extinct thanks to its own stupidity within a few generations or even so much earlier that we may witness it in dismay?

Nope! It is unthinkable that all this will manifestly vanish, it cannot be that there is no purpose in physical life and in the vastness of the universe and here it is where the intellect comes to our rescue giving life to all sort of fables, bound to be fanciful toys of the psyche, so as to ward off the atrocious thought of that which man fears most: extinction! Hence on our canvas we have elaborately painted something like a creator, a Supreme God who patiently awaits our souls in a wonderful paradise only and very likely just to judge us and send us to hell's delights, but for a few exceptions and this fits very well the myths of mankind. From archaeological and anthropological records we know that man gladly sacrificed even its own kits and kin to please this image of the mind; we do have evidence, yes, even contemporary and unerring evidence of races and societies of how we wipe off with the wildest cruelty good parts of humanity merely because they have a false god or, else, just ideas which do not fit within our frame of mind; we do not hesitate to wear a explosive belt and blast it off in the midst of women and children not because we do not like them but to please a hoary being high above in the sky who will punctually and properly reward us for these delightful actions, with beautiful damsels under evergreen palm trees along the pure waters of the rivers of paradise.

Yet, perhaps not all hopes are lost: the brain generates an electrical field which, at the same time is its own feedback for some sort of activities which it has not yet disclosed to us. But there is more to it: an electrical field is not something static but its emanation - or radiant energy - is some sort of wavelength which does not stay within or just around the cranium but, like any irradiated energy - however weak - it travels away from the emitting source into the cosmic spaces. But this is something very complex to think about: wavelength, field strength, atmospheric damping and all sort of variables involved, not to mention quantum physics which complicate inextricably this picture; that is too much for my worn canvas to depict. Notwithstanding, for some mysterious reason, from birth up to the last moments in life something strictly personal - uniquely identifying like a fingerprint - gets lost in the cosmic spaces and will survive us for eons: for what purpose?

There is no doubt that the painter, the images, and the critically involved observer – the actors in the essays of this site - all have their share in this state of things. Not improperly, unless we are keen just on life's amenities, all this gives us something to think about. Personally all the way along a long path I collected mental images from that huge mosaic which is the repository of human knowledge and which is the pedestal of my mental images; since I am an experience of Life rather than the other way around, mentally constricted by strange imageries and on the way to utter delusion, a taste of this imagery of mine is posted on this site. Now either a despicable, or utterly senseless, or a pleasurable mosaic, the judgment rests with the reader, I offer it to him. Some may profit from it, some may condemn my idiocy and trash it right away, while others may get some colors to add to their own canvas.

As a closing remark, it may be added that the material in these essays, all in all, consists mainly of old ideas in new settings. That a few original thoughts of mine might be of some value or utterly worthless, that is not for me to judge. There is no aim of indoctrination but yes, there is an intended purpose: to give something to think to the hordes of gullible attached to strange, fantastic and grotesque doctrines or beliefs. As well, some of the material published may be of therapeutic value for the psychological insecure or, simply, be an incitement for research.

Franco Dell'Oro - Maekelay Ketema Street 173-1 No. 3 - Asmara - Eritrea