A poem, How the Body in Motion Affects the Mind

encountered this on a neurolinguistics mailing list. I hope Pattiann Rogers
doesn’t mind this display of her work.


How the Body in Motion Affects the Mind

Consider the mind
As it perceives the hands rising
To grasp the tree branch, each finger
Tightening on the limb and the effort
Of the arms pulling the body upward.
What pattern of interpretation synthesized

From that event
Must establish itself in the neocortex?
We know there are precise configurations
Forced on the brain by the phenomena
Of the hand clenched, by the tucking in
Of the thumb, by the sight of the foot
Flexed on the ground and pushing backward.
How do these configurations influence the study
Of duty or manipulate the definition
Of power? The mind, initiating the motion,
Must be altered itself
By the concepts contained in the accomplishment.

I could almost diagram on this paper
The structure of interactions implanted
In the neuronic fibers by the runner’s
Leap across the dry gully. Who can say for certain
That structure has nothing to do
With the control of grief?
Think how much the mind has no choice
But to accommodate itself to the restrained
Pressure of the fingertips tracing
The lover’s spine. The subtlety
Of that motion must turn back
To modify the source of itself.

We are bound by the theorem of sockets and joints,
Totally united with contraction and release.
The idea of truth cannot be separated

From the action of the hand releasing
The stone at the precise apogee of the arm’s motion
Or from the spine’s flexibility easing
Through the wooden fence. The notion
Of the vast will not ignore the arm swinging
In motion from the shoulder or the fingers
Clasped together in alternation.

And when the infant, for the first time,
Turns his body over completely, think
What an enormous revelation in the brain
Must be forced, at that moment, to right itself.

Pattiann Rogers

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