If you speak Mandarin, your brain works differently. That’s according to a recent study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. The report is the first to conclude that those who speak tonal languages like Mandarin exhibit a very different flow of information during speech comprehension, using both hemispheres of the brain rather than just the left, which has long been seen as the primary neurological region for processing language.
After analyzing brain imaging data from Mandarin and English speakers listening their respective languages, researchers from Peking University and other universities found that native Mandarin speakers and native English speakers both showed evidence of activity in the brain’s left hemisphere. But Mandarin speakers also saw activation in the right hemisphere, specifically in a region important for processing music, via pitch and tone, that has long been seen as largely unrelated to language comprehension.
Since at least the 1950s, researchers in the field of neurolinguistics have been questioning how languages influence perception, and physiological behavior. This latest study supports one emerging theory, connectionism, that maintains that some languages require interactions across the entire brain. The findings are important for better protecting language-related regions during brain surgery as well as understanding the “constitution of knowledge of language, as well as how it is acquired,” according to the study.
University of Oxford papyrologist convinced poems preserved on ancient papyrus are by seventh-century lyricist of Lesbos
The Guardian, By Charlotte Higgins, January 29
Sappho is one of the most elusive and mysterious – as well as best-loved – of ancient Greek poets. Only one of her poems, out of a reputed total of nine volumes’ worth, survives absolutely intact. Otherwise, she is known by fragments and shards of lines – and still adored for her delicate outpourings of love, longing and desire.
But now, two hitherto unknown works by the seventh-century lyricist of Lesbos have been discovered. One is a substantially complete work about her brothers; another, an extremely fragmentary piece apparently about unrequited love.
That’s not a philosophic question – it’s the raison d’ etre for The Agonist.
John Adams’s answer:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
Six months ago, I put up a post about poetry, commenting on why I think it matters and the state of poetry today. I asked, “What poets/poems enrich your life?”, which didn’t seem to strike much of a chord among our readership – not really surprising, actually. Read More
It’s my turn in the Other Horizons roster this week, the new weekly feature in which Agonist writers take an opportunity to post on subjects outside the usual diet of politics and foreign policy. I’d been wondering what to write about before Friday, when events forcibly took over and dictated for me what I’d be thinking about and writing about for days, a set of issues that because of experiences I feel very strongly about indeed.
Then last night it came to me that I could write something personal, because it is something I rarely do. That would be a “new horizon” for me. Maybe about some poetry or about my own faith – two other things that have had huge influences on my life and which I never write about because I’m always so busy with politics or foreign affairs. Poetry was my first writing love, my first reading love – if I’m driven to write on a blog daily nowadays its a redirection of that passion to get thoughts to cohere in an economy of the written word. My faith drives my entire life, but its something I rarely talk about in writing except in passing – it is my faith and I don’t expect you to share it, convert to it or even be all that respectful of it. (It seems to me that someone who says they have faith and then gets all booty hurt because others don’t share it, even if they laugh, isn’t showing the kind of faith they say they have.)
New York – The NFL and the referees’ union reached a tentative contract agreement at midnight Thursday, ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.
“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said after a day of marathon negotiations.
With Goodell at the table, the sides concluded two days of talks with the announcement of a tentative eight-year deal, which must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday.
“Welcome back REFS,” Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller tweeted.
Welcome to Tuesday Muse, the successor to A Poem for Tuesday. Think of it as “A (Poem + Painting + Spoken Word + Music + Performance Art + Sculpture + Noise + Mash + Animation + Story + Photography + Public Art + Multimedia + Theater Performance + Anything Art) for Tuesday.” Today: Playing for Change, whose muse builds a song by having a crew travel the world to record one stellar musician after another, sometimes in remote outdoor locations, in such a way that each musician can hear and play to what the others have done while adding his or her own piece. It’s like building a choir a person at a time while leapfrogging assumed barriers of geography, genre, and culture. It’s also grown to be about more than songs: PFC is now building music schools in impoverished locales and is sponsoring social-change concerts. Founder Mark Johnson explains here how PFC’s recording process works. And here is their version of Gimme Shelter:
Funny: even before Sean Paul Kelley announced that he needed to do something new, I felt I needed to do something different with A Poem for Tuesday. It’s been working at me for a while now, and I’m happy to say that next Tuesday I’ll do it. A Poem for Tuesday will expand to become Tuesday Muse: a space where I’ll feature any and all creativity: visual arts, music, poetry, dance, performance, film, stories, animation, noise, you name it. No limits. If it’s art, it will be here. (Feel free to send suggestions my way.) It’s a big world. Let’s celebrate more of it. To christen the change, here is something by one of the few poets who I’ve repeated in this space: the late, great Lucille Clifton.
In the year in 2000, the Elders of the Hopi Nation were asked for a prophecy, or advice, to mark the beginning of the new millenium.
This prophecy seems like it could be a good contemplation for the people in the Occupy Wall Street movement. And it also seems like a suitable way to mark the passing of the torch by SPK.
There are some slightly different versions of this prophecy on the internet. The version that follows is from the book ”œPerseverance”, by Margaret Wheatley.
ORAIBI, ARIZONA JUNE 8, 2000
TO MY FELLOW SWIMMERS:
From the Elders of the Hopi Nation ORAIBI, ARIZONA JUNE 8, 2000
TO MY FELLOW SWIMMERS:
Here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those
who will be afraid, who will try
to hold on to the shore.
They are being torn apart
and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore.
Push off into the middle of the river,
and keep our heads above water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally,
least of all ourselves,
for the moment we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude
All that we do now must be done
in a sacred manner and in celebration.
For we are the ones we have been waiting for.
The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron has commented on this prophecy and related the concept of “letting go of the shore” to letting go of habitual tendencies.
STRONTIUM: It sits in your bones, it sits in my bones/and it will still be there long after we are gone, strontium/I wonder whose idea it was/Was it the government? Was it the Christian Scientists? Sometimes I wonder about them, strontium/Don’t worry on getting drafted, don’t worry on world war three/Everything that you’re afraid of/is inside you already.
Because she’s stuck with stiff and stupid legs,
and decomposing skin, but perseveres;
because she sees without eyeballs, she hears
with oozing ears; because her organs, like eggs
dropped from their carton, hit the path with splats,
but still she trudges on; because her need
is clear, uncomplicated: she must feed;
because she barely notices the rats
that gnaw her ankles; because she doesn’t stop,
even after the hatchet hacks clean through
her reaching arm; because she will pursue
her prey till they have nothing left to chop.
Because when she lies in piles, inside out,
she will not know regret, or shame, or doubt.
Here is one by Sarah Browning, written years before the fall of Tiger Woods, the Great Recession, and the alleged end of the Iraq War.
Falling for Tiger Woods in a St. Louis Airport Bar
Down we went, into flat America
like the golf ball on TV. Not much
hope, coming in, but now I’ve met
the wet promise of gin in an airport bar.
The white men around me
are talking Cardinals, golf, ketchup
that’s clopping the bottle top.
Two guys down from me, Troy is talking
hip replacement, Walter Reed, Iraq,
15 years of service, heading to D.C.
for the hip, the Nationals, maybe
Amtrak to Fenway Park.
Tiger Woods loves me, I decide,
the gin settling in for the second flight.
Still, Tiger misses the shot, Troy leans
on his crutches, calls our flight time
to Tiger, calls to him to satisfy us,
our airport needs, all the America
we’ll be leaving behind ”“ the gin,
the white men, my love, Iraq,
Troy’s hip, the ball that sits hovering
on the green and will not fall.