In Twosome Twiminds: News from the Stroke Club – “Who Are We?”

During our stroke, we picked up the Takemine to test our left hand, self-diagnosing our condition. We noticed our left hand with interest; it formed the shape of the chord we had asked for, but not on the frets and strings we wanted. The result was discord, the guitar sounding badly out of tune. We moved to the Telecaster. The sound was distorted, the guitar either badly out of tune, the amplifier’s speaker blown, or our hand forming some new nonsense chord. Yet, “It sounds fine,” Susan said. “It sounds like it always does.”

In Finnegans Wake, Joyce recreates the experience of a stroke: “…and now, forsooth, you have become of twosome twiminds…” (188).

From 12-1-09 Open Culture: “Jill Bolte Taylor’s ‘Stroke of Insight’ talk reaches the top of many lists. What happens when a neuroanatomist experiences a massive stroke and feels all the brain functions she has studied (speech, movement, understanding, etc) suddenly start to slip away? And how do these losses fundamentally change who we are? You’ll find out in a crisp (and at times emotional) 18 minutes and 40 seconds. You can also read her book that elaborates on her life-altering experience. See My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.”

Join the Stoke Club by finding a quiet 20 minutes to watch Taylor’s talk on  video.


  1. sensit says:

    You may find it interesting to read Buddhism-influenced review of My Stroke of Insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, very interesting review, the idea that through meditation one can approximate the effects of a stroke but in a controlled way. The 90 second discussion seems useful too in that regard. I agree she’s trying to explain the unexplainable, that any amount of conciousness is still only a thin slice of total consciousness; i.e. even when we are totally awake, hitting on all five senses, brain “fully” functioning, our conciousness is still limited. This is what Huxley tried to explain in his book the Doors of Perception. The five senses don’t let in the world; they limit the world. Perhaps the problem is with language – that which we think is unexplainable is only so if we limit the explanation to language, which is always inadequate, but it’s all we have – but we have music and other art forms that like meditation can give us a glimpse into a pre-language view of life. In any case, thank you for the comment and the thought provoking review of Taylor’s book.


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