Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dead neurons

I'm trying to remember my first impression, back in high-school, when I met my first neuron, drew its shape, gave its parts names. They came across as prickly cells, electric cells. Other cells, soft and rounded like pillows, could adapt, divide, propagate. Other cells were bunny-cells, traveling about, cozying up to different parts of the body. But neurons were glass cells—they were sharp, and they broke, fried, exploded. They did not divide to make new cells. They just lay there after they died, like broken bottles on the side of electric highways, as you slowly lost your ability to think clearly.
So, ever since high-school, something about neurons scares me. Lately I think of them differently, I'm actually surprised by this memory of exploding glass. But I'm reminded of this fear that invades various parts of my life, various versions of mortality... in which there is no precise end where everything stops--no, rather a lingering end, where the highway is littered with broken glass and you smell something like alcohol, or spilled milk, or the ocean, but you can't quite place the smell, what it is, what it means.

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