Monday, April 21, 2003

Battling Senility

I’m starting to forget things. Just yesterday, while walking to the mall, I made a wrong turn and consequently felt ashamed. I had believed the path to the mall to be semi-permanently etched in some accessible corner of my brain. But yesterday’s wrong turn proved otherwise.

That incident wasn’t the only time I had forgotten something I had perceived to be automatic. Maybe it’s the age thing.

While perusing through rows upon rows of books at National last week, one particular item piqued my interest enough for me to buy it. It was about neurobics. Supposedly based on years of neurological research, the book suggests that while brain connections diminish with age, such connections can be regenerated and new connections can be created, thereby keeping the brain ‘in shape,’ the way conventional aerobics keeps the body fit.

This book continues to provide over 80 exercises that, if done regularly and in different combinations, the brain would be compelled to go against its preprogrammed grain and begin to create fresh connections. The exercises given are simple and can be done without seriously altering the normal flow of the day-to-day, so simple that I wondered if the book was really worth the purchase.

In a nutshell, the key is to do things differently. ‘Differently’ is defined by allowing the other senses to take active part in a task. Most of the things we do are visual in nature, so a lot of our brain activity is hinged on visual stimulus. This explains why blind people have been able to augment and improve their brain activity, the lack of sight forcing them to make use of their other senses to get by.

Here are suggested exercises for some of the friends:

1) To Jason: Cook a full course meal.
2) To Gig: Write your next story while listening to Salbakuta.
3) To Cams: Text with your eyes closed.
4) To Marco: Buy a month’s worth of your personal groceries in a new store.
5) To Dean: Give Sage a bath.
6) To Vinnie: Eat champoy while writing Twilight Empires.
7) To Arnold: Hold your pencil in a radically different way when drawing.
8) To Cynthia: In using your fave lay-out software, work the mouse with your other hand.
9) To Dino: Switch soap brands. (try Heno de Pravia or some funky herbal soap)

Have fun!

Upcoming Talent

Through Dean, I was able to read the Ateneo Comic Collective’s Grafic comics mini-zine, containing alternative material that seeks to prove that comics is a medium that can graduate from its pop image. The zine features the winner of the Collective’s comics creation contest, an eerie reflective piece by chinky-eyed high schooler Andrew Drilon. (I believe he’s graduating.)

I had met Andrew a few months back when I participated in a comics talk at the Ateneo High School. The talk had just finished when Andrew approached me and gave me a free copy of his opus entitled Subwhere, which I had assumed was in response to my passing mention of Jeff Noon during the talk. Apparently, Andrew loved Noon’s work which served as inspiration for Subwhere. (Jeff Noon also served as my inspiration for a comics piece in Ab Ovo.)

I can’t say much beyond about the piece since I’m not one to be well-versed in the intricacies of prose critique. The only thing I could say about Andrew’s work is this: for a high school student, the guy’s writing ability has an uncannily strong foundation. If intellectual maturity determines a mastery of language, Andrew is way advanced for his age. I quote the first few sentences from Subwhere’s introduction:

“Mixing a mix in a single fix, Ramamund flopped down like a floppy disk and sicced his dog on the levitating lavender lounge. Dog made of plexi-something, artifical organs, superficial skin. Tearing through polyester carpet, nudging fibers of the material, digesting the light purple like pop tarts. Ramamund smiles, it will be a long, long day ahead, but for now, he wants to sleep for a minute.”

It’s not perfect, but there’s a gem in there. It’ll be interesting to find out where this guy’s gonna take his talent. Good luck, Andrew!

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