Muguet, Neuroscience, Art, Politics And Old Books

By | May 2, 2017

Muguet, neuroscience, art and old books have nothing in common, except our neurons are essential to taking them in for sure!  Politics perhaps less, lol.

May Day or International Labour Day is Muguet Day(Lily of the valley) everywhere in France.  Every corner and every few feet were vendors selling these tiny white bell looking flowers that have a powerful sweet smell that made walking around Paris heavenly scented for a change.

Spicing things up were the many political inspired marches throughout the country, not only to further workers rights but many to protest Marine Le Pen.

With the final round of voting less than a week away, it seems the whole of France is in suspense around who will be the final victor of the presidential race.

Emmanuel Macron and Ms Le Pen are in a tight race, with Macron having a good margin ahead of her in the polls. French polls were right on mark for the first round of voting, but since the US election has cast doubts on the validity of political polling, who knows?

If you are regular to my blog, you  are aware that I avoid political commentary with good reason! I not am not into creating divisiveness, but much more invested in creating harmony, compassion, empathy and fellowship.

Talking politics is very risky business and better left to those who live and breathe such things with thick skins and vigor.   I have seen it tear up friendships, family and create animosity.

I barely missed registering to vote in the French election, but honestly with my struggling to stay afloat through grief and depression, I have bigger battles to worry about.

Besides, what is most important is how you relate to me and others, offering respect and kindness with a generous spirit.  I am more interested in your heart than your political affiliations!

On to more pleasant topics, however “intriguing” politics can be strewed.  All that I took in this weekend, it was the Forum des Sciences Cognitives conference that gave me the most pleasure and tweaked my own neurons the most with pleasure.

It was held in the ancient former Convent des Cordeliers in the 6th arrondissement, which is now part of the Faculté de Médecine, or Medical School of Paris.

Perhaps it is not surprising that this would hold my interest the most.  I love swimming through neurophysiology theories and certainly find the workings of neurobiology more fascinating than politics anytime.

One of the things I love about being a therapist is that psychotherapy is a combination of art and science.

Just by looking at the crowd, 95% were student age with only a mere sprinkling of us older folks, which I found rather disconcerting, but not totally surprised either.

Unfortunately, in my view, is that many who are in psychological fields here prefer to ignore or discount  the mounting evidence of neuroscience and how the physiology and biology of neurons  contribute to human behavior and the vast array of mental illnesses.

They seem happily intent to stay immersed totally in stagnant pools of Freudian and Lacanian theories, which the rest of the world has left behind, except a few aspects of Freud.

One conference on how hormones affect the neurobiology and emotional aspects of human behavior was too basic for me, but it was fairly comprehensive and well presented.

I did see something though very typically French, that I had never seen before in  scientific conferences, only on sidewalks and the metro.   Two students were glued to caressing and kissing each other non stop rather than listening to the presenter.

The amphitheater was standing room only, except for two seats pass them on the row.  I felt too awkward in interrupting their love fest, till the guy finally left before asking if I might take one.

They were a perfect example of sexual hormones being played out,  ironically being presented during their very animated demonstration, oblivious to the world.

Another interesting conference was  four students who presented their ongoing research; all of which were novel.  One called Hero Sea Quest is currently being tested using an application you can download to participate in the study that can have clinical relevance in early diagnosis of dementia.

I stopped and talked briefly to a few students from the Université d’Aix-Marseille, who called themselves, quite appropriately: the Neuronautes, all very impressive.

As I walked away, I wondered if they picked up on my emotional flatness and sad face, which is hard to hide these days.

The convent is visually pleasant to visit with the old archway halls and  cloister.   There were some shallow pools, filled with students, rather than once held with fish.

The small gardens were tucked in corners and held some pretty flowers .  I loved the  statues, which I found magnificent and very special is such a scholarly setting.

Besides the cloister, the old refectory is preserved, but was closed to visiting.  The walkway alongside of it led to the School of Surgery, that seemed rather out of place.

I admire tremendously how the French have tried to preserve these architectural and historical treasures and given them new life, by incorporating them into facilities of learning or cultural venues.

Few people are aware that this once peaceful convent, full of devoted monks, became the initial hotbed of revolutionaries who spearheaded the French Revolution.

It all happened when the monks foolishly allowed some townspeople to congregate in some of their halls, some who eventually led to their demise around 1790.

It was Danton and Marat who drew into this convent the angry populace, planting the seeds of revolution under the auspices of a “club” called Le Club des Cordeliers.

Before long these bloodthirsty rebel rousers were drawing vast noisy crowds which by that time threw out the monks, killing many priests there and at the Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés nearby.

I found it very sad to think that this lovely place became so contaminated by such macabre and violent spewing individuals.

It was after five, and I felt too tired to venture on to the Salon des Livres et Papiers Anciennes, which I had failed to muster up enough energy to attend the previous day. I felt I had “done” enough to help stimulate my poor neurons on a blink.

As I was headed towards blvd Saint Michel, I happily stumbled upon a box of old books that had been discarded on the corner of Rue Hautefeuille and Saint Germain.  Rummaging through, I found two old cookbooks that I lugged home, despite overflowing bookshelves.

Nothing extraordinary, I nevertheless saw them as a synchronistic event and gift to add to my collection, since old books were on my mind.

Aimée was busy finishing up her first attempt to making La Tarte Tropezienne, a brioche type cake filled with pastry cream, originated by a baker in 1955 where else, but Saint Tropez!

She did an excellent job, and it was a delicious variation flavoured with Yuzu and coconut.

May Day I did finally make it to the contemporary art and old books and papers salon at Bastille. It proved somewhat difficult to get to, because of all the security measures in place.

The metros were not stopping at Bastille, so I got off at Saint Paul and walked towards Bastille on Rue Saint Antoine. Loads of police wagons started to appear as I got closer.

All avenues and entrances to Bastille were blocked to cars and pedestrians, so once again I had to make a detour to finally get to the Port de l’Arsenal where the salon was being held.

Seems like the majority of artists present were the same basically as last year so I did not spend too much time.   I certainly have great admiration of artists and the obvious talent to create their art, a gift few possess.

Same for the old books and papers, neither of which I have the room to store, even if I found one to take home.    I like to gaze though at the titles of old books, especially medical ones and the old posters for sale.

Many are considered a work of art, as artists before they were famous often were engaged to paint them, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

I wondered who might want to take home the paper mache blue pants, seen with a sign saying do not touch.

Outside the makeshift walls of the salon, marchers could be heard chanting their usual rhetoric of workers plights and needs, along with drums and music in the background.

A few peeks through the draping were enough for my eyes seeing them peacefully passing by the Opera Bastille on the way to Nation.

France has many workers syndicates and I wondered how they felt giving up a long weekend at home to  come and march here.

Walking back to catch the metro at Saint Paul, I stopped to buy a tiny bouquet of muguet from an elderly lady and enjoyed sniffing up close the lovely scent now and then.

I was happy that I made it out again, these days being much more of an effort than before.  All these wonderful distractions that Paris is bursting with at any given time is a blessing.

When I returned home, I knew I had to plant some of my seedlings before the moon in Scorpio changed to being unfavorable to transplant or seed.  Yes, I believe in planting by the moon.

Since I will be away next week, it had to be now because they were outgrowing the little seed trays, despite not having the warmth outdoors these little babies need.

I had brought home tomatillos from the states, extracted and planted  some seeds, which came up nicely. Hopefully there is male and female ones, as if not, they will not fruit.

My Budapest hot pepper seedlings went in too, but they are more hardy I suspect. This is the third year I have planted them from offspring from original peppers brought back from Hungary.

So much for my distractions and plantings of the weekend, however mundane they might seem, they are all very therapeutic to me.



2 thoughts on “Muguet, Neuroscience, Art, Politics And Old Books

  1. David Stone

    WOW . . . the interweaving of many diverse issues and subjects which seems to reflect your interests in most aspects of life and society.

    It is amazing to me that people are so reticent to discuss politics and/or religion, yet, these are the two two issues that impact society the most. To me, the saying that “Evil or wrong doing persist because good people do nothing to oppose it . . .” is the primary reasons for our social and economic problems. People should be able to rationally and calmly discuss issues; but that seems that isn’t the nature of people; and special interests certainly disparage anyone who say anything that isn’t in alignment with their objectives or philosophies. So we wind up with somewhat fanatical, polarized groups in our society and controlling the politics of the moment. If the majority of people made the efforts to express their opinions and to vote, we might have a vastly different situation throughout the world. Marine Le Pen apparently is of the same ilk as Donald Trump.

    While I agree with some of Trumps objectives, I disapprove of many, if not most, of his “ways and means” and his apparent character flaws (as noted by a group of psychiatrists). He operates the way that he ran his private corporation behind closed doors, and with the ways that he produced and hosted reality TV shows.. His most ardent supporters seem to overlook his blatant lies and fabricated baseless claims and accusations also. Yet, Trump seems to be injecting some major differences in American politics and our national policies . . ..some good, some perhaps not so good, depending on one’s perspectives. Fortunately, with our Constitutional “balance of powers”, Trump has discovered that his powers are substantially limited by the exclusive powers of legislation and the “power of the purse strings” . It will certainly be a pivotal change for the USA.

    Now France appears to be in a similar situation with potentially dramatic changes in their politics and society.

    Personally, I hold George Bush to be substantially responsible for what has occurred in the Middle East and in Europe. The unwarranted invasion and decimation of Iraq gave rise to the terrorists groups with the resulting domino effect in the Middle Eastern countries, and with the flow of refuges throughout Europe. One can only wonder what impact Trump’s presidency will have on both the USA and the rest of the world. Will the extremist rightist movements in France spread to other countries? The world will surely never be the same. Will the majority of people just sit back and wait to see what the special interest, radical groups will do?

    While, as you stated, you are “more vested in creating harmony, compassion, empathy, and fellowship’, politics is the obvious underlying force that has the greatest impact on our lives in shaping the society, the social environment, and economics that we live in. We tend to take politics for granted; but we cannot escape the impact of politics on the basic aspects of our lives.

    I consider myself to be somewhat of a moderately liberal CONSERVATIVE; and while I’ve been a registered Republican, I take strong exceptions with a lot of the Party’s policies and agenda; but I also disagree with a lot of the Democratic Party’s platforms and agenda too. Regrettably, I voted for George Bush, and subsequently thought he should be impeached for the irresponsible, unwarranted invasion and decimation of Iraq. It was his Administrations push of the phony financial “boom” that lead to the economic crash of 2008. People don’t have to be political activists; but they do need to express their opinions and vote . . . Of course if the political parties are controlled by the 1%’ers, then the people’s choices of which candidate to vote for is somewhat manipulated and controlled. by the parties selection and support of candidates.

    As much as we may dislike or disdain politics, it has the greatest overall impact on our lives, directly and indirectly; we simply cannot afford to ignore it. Just think what the Middle East and Europe would be like if the American people had demanded the truth and the invasion and decimation of Iraq had not occurred? Literally, Trillions of dollars have been spent (wasted) because of these political actions; and that is impacting EVERYONE’s life, and quality of life.

    Hope you will forgive my diatribe abut politics; but I consider political and religious fanaticism to be the two biggest “evils” in our world. I think that people need to rationally discuss politics and religion to moderate the extreme fanaticism. I don’t mind anyone having different opinions from mine; but we should be able to calmly and rationally discuss it all to reach an acceptable consensus for the true good of all to live in relative peace and harmony.

    1. Cherry Post author

      David, I appreciate your views and the courage you have to express them with such comprehensive knowledge of societal implications. You are indeed right about the impact made and with that thought in mind, I have held my tongue not because I do not have convictions, but because of the lack of reciprocal tolerance. Political philosophies are influenced by multiple factors, such as familial upbringing, level of education, cultural diversity, travel and direct implications of political changes associated with whoever is running.
      The US election was a blatant example of the verbal violence unleashed by many on social media that alienated me and certainly many others, making it a vulgar mud slinging affair.
      I will continue to voice what I know best in my professional scope of knowledge, and let others, who are more involved and articulate tackle the political scene. Not everyone is so open to rational calm discussion like you, an attribute sorely needed. Hugs

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