Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012 6:46:04 PM
I always had a deep paranoia of science. Whether the fear was inspired by a subconscious need to separate my identity from that of my two electrical engineering parents or the practicality of calculating velocity in the real world, people stirred me instead. Furthermore, I found no better avenue than English to capture the wonder of human relationships. Writers celebrated the electricity of people with flowing phrases and diction that reminded me the gentle hum of a dynamic river. In comparison, science was the antichrist that reduced the magic of life to static. Neuroscientist David Levitin writes, “I love music and I love science—why would I want to mix the two?” (1). Science and the arts were so divergent that I could never imagine them merging together into anything other than a muddy, ugly gray.
The summer before I entered high school, I encountered the book This is Your Brain on Music by Levitin. Although I purchased it in guise as a gift for my brother, I never gave it to him. I poured over the pages, curious as to how music—passion, warmth, and creativity—could coexist with clinical and cold science. I was entranced. Neither the mystery of music nor people were stifled by science, but rather enlightened. Levitin’s descriptions of neurons and musical shifts did not suffocate life’s charm, but only encouraged greater appreciation, greater mystery, and greater respect.
Levitin observes that “for the scientist, the goal of a theory is to convey ‘truth for now’” (5). Likewise, writers write to convey their own daily truth. Every word written, fiction and non-fiction, seeks to illuminate some thesis or some theme to capture the truth of human experience. I wrote to understand people; scientists explored for the same purpose.
A few days later, I decided to do further research on neuroscience. I embraced the functions of the brain and the physiological mechanisms of the brain. However, what I found most fascinating was the concept of neurons. Each long, spindly nerve connected to another, forming a whole cobweb of connections and associations. Each time we saw or thought or felt, an electrical spark carried down those chains of neurons, like a line of dominoes. Everything, just like science, English, and people, was interconnected.
I smiled, glad to discover just another piece of the large fabric upon which I existed.
Levitin, Daniel J. This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York: Plume, 2007. Print.