The National Institute of Health (NIH) just released the first image of the internal structure of the brain, and it turns out to be wired like a Persian carpet: long strands of perpendicular ribbons. Although the image displayed here came from a monkey brain the NIH crew added: “This grid structure is continuous and consistent at all scales and across humans and other primate species.”
Most of my early life, I had a really bad stuttering problem. When I was excited, it was very hard for me to communicate. I didn’t realize how embarrassing my affliction was to my father until the day I took my first bike ride. My older brother Paul told me it would be easier to learn if I did it on a hill so I could keep my speed up without pedaling. I didn’t know anything about braking, I just took off down the steep hill in front of our house in Arlington, Massachusetts. It was an unpaved, gravel road, unfortunately, quite bumpy, and, right as I neared the bottom I hit a pothole and lost control. After the crash, I ran back to the house in tears. I was really pissed at my brother for encouraging me to go down that hill. When I found my father he asked me what was wrong, and all I could do was stutter. “Come back when you can tell me what happened,” replied my dad coldly.
That was the beginning of my problems with authority. I went back to my room, thought it over rationally and decided my dad was not only not perfect like I had thought, but he had done something very wrong. I didn’t mention the incident to anyone after that, but this revelation turned me against blind authority worship that nationalism and fascism both feed on. Authority would never look the same again.
Later in life, I wondered what had created that stuttering problem and remembered a recurring nightmare I’d had starting in nursery school: I was in the back seat of a car crash in front of our house. That nightmare had stuck with me for years, which is the only reason I still remember it today. Eventually, I linked this to a vicious beating I’d taken from my grandmother for crossing the street. Although my grandmother thought I’d run across on my own, in fact, another parent across the street had signaled me it was ok to cross. My grandmother was just visiting from Kansas and didn’t know about our neighborhood kid-crossing code. I guess my mom witnessed the whole thing and told me about it later. I realized while my grandmother was spanking me (pants down, in front of the neighborhood), she was yelling about a “car accident.” So that trauma incident undoubtedly created the nightmare, and, so I thought, the stuttering problem.
But lately I’ve begun to consider another factor: left-handedness, which runs in the Hager family. I was allowed to be a leftie when it came to writing and drawing, but somewhere along the line, both my brother and I were switched to right-handedness for sports, probably because it was much more difficult to find left-handed gear. I’ve come to consider that forcing people to change their natural handedness can lead to dyslexia and/or stuttering. What you are doing in these cases is fighting upstream against the brain’s natural wiring pattern. It can be done, but for some people, there will be serious complications. There appears to be a strong duality in the wiring pattern.
Sometime in 1967, my dad became the first person to notice a change in me, and, in fact, he’d already formed a theory on it. While we were sitting at dinner one night, he turned to me and said, “You haven’t stuttered since you started smoking marijuana.” Now, my dad went to Harvard at the same time as Timothy Leary, which is why we lived in Arlington in the first place. But he hated Leary with a purple passion, and felt pretty much the same way about the emerging counterculture. Obviously, marijuana was forbidden in our house, but my dad was wise to my developments and directions and secret ceremonies. Did marijuana cure my stuttering? Can’t say for sure, but the stuttering disappeared right around the same time I discovered cannabis.