the brain: magician or hostage-taker?

Hmm, tough question. On rare occasions, I lean wholeheartedly toward magician, but, no, I’m a full-time resident in the thief camp — more or less.  

Guess what word broke out of captivity this afternoon, for no particular reason whatsoever. Fanlight. Its arrival stopped me dead in my tracks. Where in the world did it come from and why was it skulking around up there? Those questions made me wonder: what else is my brain hiding and why is it holding out on me? We’re supposed to be a team. 

Let’s think about this a minute. I can’t be the only one who’s experiencing these neurological shenanigans, so I did some checking — 

Turns out, the average brain comprises only 2% ( + / – ) of a person’s body mass, yet hogs 20% of its oxygen and calories. So here we are, hauling it around wherever we go, day and night, night and day, filling it with information and entertainment, and what do we get for our trouble? Secrecy and subterfuge. 

Another revealing factoid claims the brain has more than 100,000 miles of neurons and generates a ballpark figure of 70,000 thoughts a day. Well, I did the math. That works out to less than one thought per mile. Is that the best it can do? One measly thought per mile? 

Such a lop-sided ratio would be acceptable, I suppose, if those thoughts were world-changers and spectacular. Mine are not. They’re less Einstein, more Yogi Bear. Or Evel Knievel. Or Monk. Nothing to write home about, anyway. But, once, maybe twice, a decade I’ll get a thought that leaves me utterly dazzled and speechless. I remember them clearly; I remember where I was and how tingly it felt when the light blinked on. I live for those moments, the ones when I leap joyously into the magician camp with both feet.

The brain and its operations are, in fact, a near total mystery, so let’s just classify it as that: a fascinating, unknowable mystery. However, science has gathered some intriguing information about the old bean, take a look: 

And now, mine is tired. Thank you for spending valuable bandwidth on my rambling. Have a lovely week, all!

copyright © 2021 the whirly girl

8 responses to “the brain: magician or hostage-taker?”

  1. Some mind-boggling stats here! I mean, 2% of me hogging 20% of my resources … I’m going to ask Mr Mind to start pulling his weight around here, the lazy good-for-nothing! My favourite strip cartoon as a kid was The Numskulls – basically a dramatisation of what happens inside your head – Pixar later made a film of the idea called ‘Inside Out’ …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! Selfish little bugger, right? I’m just sorry I read about the brain having the texture and consistency of tofu. Now it’s stuck in my head and I can’t stop thinking about it 🤢 urp

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  2. I’m afraid my brain is one off the irregulars table. I’ve had/have chemo brain, I’ve had/have concussion brain also it is surround by too much fat which I am told is also a problem. So the attention span of a goldfish seems like a high bar.

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    1. Human attention spans have fallen from 20 minutes to 12 minutes over the last 10 years — at least I think I read that somew — oh, ew, I need to polish my nails —

      Liked by 1 person

    2. see? that happens to me a lot, so we’re in the same boat. the upside is, everything seems new and surprising when it pops back in 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] the brain: magician or hostage-taker? […]


  4. With me it’s usually a name that picks the lock and breaks free from the subconscious prison. A made up name. One I’d use in a novel – if I was writing one. But sometimes it’s the answer to the crossword clue that has been eluding me for days or a new insight into how the world works. That little man in the backroom must have been working hard on my behalf. And he never asks for anything in return – not even a thank you. So let’s put that right.

    Thank you, subconscious brain, you’re doing a wonderful job. Here’s a medal. 🏅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Years ago, I read about a study of poker players. The ones who let their subconscious do the thinking won more money and more games than the ones who tried to count cards or read faces. Personally, I’m always better off when I can get out of my way and let my little voice take the wheel. When I start thinking? Uh-oh 🤦🏻‍♀️


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