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Author Archive: "Jon Steele"

Books Don’t Burn

So this is it. The end of a day of sitting on this bench next to Lake Geneva, thinking about stuff and remembering. And just now, I was thinking about sleep. I don't know about you, but this is how I go to sleep... I lay there, imagining places I've been in my life. If I'm lucky, my dreams pick up and I'm carried back in time.

I forgot to say this at the beginning of these blogs.

Which is strange, as it's the entire point.

I think we're capable of time travel, and I think we do it all the time. Not in the manner of the WAYBAC machine from Rocky and Bullwinkle, or Doctor Who's TARDIS. Memory is the vehicle of travel into the past.

I know, it sounds nuts.

Inner Lizards

There are a lot of memories seeping up through the hidden folds of my neocortex (the most highly evolved part of the human brain where consciousness dwells) and going, "Boo!" or "Howdy!"

I'm obsessed with memories.

Not mine, so much.

It's the concept of memories.

What the hell are they?

We may contemplate memories and analyze them in the neocortex and come up with swell ideas like Cartesian Skepticism or Cheeseburgers, but memories themselves are stored in the limbic system, in the hippocampus region to be precise. They call the limbic system "old mammalian brain." Meaning, it's what humans had for brains 100 million years ago, before evolution kicked in big time. They also called it "emotional brain," because it's where emotions are generated, in the amygdala region. There's other bits in the limbic system, bits that tell your body all's well; but contemplating (up here in the neocortex) that things like spontaneity and creativity dwell side by side with emotions and memories (down there in the limbic system), well... it doth make old mammalians of us all.

But I can't ...

From Whence I Came

More thoughts from the bench...

Sometimes, this one flashes through my eyes so clearly I think I'm there again. It's the first memory I have of my life. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I was three years old. It's funny. Like setting the WAYBAC Machine (from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) to 1953, the furthest point in time my imagination can travel.

I'm standing at the screen door of our house in Spokane, Washington, and I'm watching my older brother playing with his friends in the front yard. My older brother's name was Robert Dallas Price (it still is).

I should explain a couple things...

Foggy Fish

Sometimes you can sit next to the lake and see the strangest things. Actually, it's what you can't see. Sometimes fog swallows the entire lake and the mountains on the far shore and all the sky. There's nothing beyond the shore but a swirling mass of etheral looking stuff where the world used to be. You can still hear the water lapping against the stone jetty. You can still hear the ducks swimming about, quacking as they bump into each other. The world's out there, you just can't see it.

I remember, once, I watched the fog from dawn till late afternoon. This was a couple years after I'd quit TV news and was suffering from PTSD in a bad way. Fog watching was all the excitement I could handle. Even so, I had to take a lunch break. I walked to the centre of Cully, where two doors from l'Auberge de Rasin there's a place called Café de la Poste.

Hello, I Must Be Going

There's a bench in Cully, Switzerland. It's in a little park tucked up against the shore of Lake Geneva. I go there a lot to just sit and think, or not think. I've been doing it for 13 years. I'm sitting on that bench now, writing these words.

First time I came here... Christ, it was a long time ago... spring 2001. I was still a news cameraman for ITN (the Brit independent TV network) and had been working the Intifada for eight months straight. I'd already seen hundreds of people shot dead or blown apart.

I'd already been hit once and nearly killed twice. I'd been targeted by both Israeli and Palestinian snipers. One shot nearly tore off my leg; another shot almost took off my head. A centimeter either way, I'd be dead.

Then there was the night I was having dinner in Jerusalem and the street blew up (Palestinian suicide bomber). Then there was the night in Bethlehem when another street blew up (Israeli missile strike).

Then there was the night a suicide bomber walked into a bar. He had a bomb ...

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