Sunday, January 29, 2006

From Synapse to Sex

My wife's four and half months of being on bed rest ended this past Wednesday with the removal of her cervical cerclage. Needless to say, we were both happy to reach this milestone, so we went out to play during the afternoon. We sprinted to the new Atlantic Station development--the first time V's been able to see it since it opened. IKEA was our first stop. We bought a little mobile for the baby's changing table and a small table to put next to the glider chair where a lot of breastfeeding will supposedly occur. Woody Allen's "Match Point" was next. I had really been looking forward to seeing this, but I ended up feeling mildly disappointed, as the main themes of this film were more fully explored by Woody in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and even "Hannah and Her Sisters." Still, a Woody Allen film is better than most of the movies out there, so we enjoyed it.

V. continued her post-bed rest period on Thursday by going to lunch with a friend in Norcross. I had a long day of teaching. I am especially enjoying teaching my Intro class. The students ask all sorts of interesting questions. Even though we were talking merely about synaptic transmission, they were beginning to raise questions about how all this was related to personality and how we choose our mates. This prompted me to finally open a book that I bought a while back by Joe LeDoux called "The Synaptic Self." LeDoux addresses these very questions by focusing on synapses as the major explanatory mechanism for the self, personality, sex, etc., rather than the organization of the nervous system, which is pretty much the same across all members of the species. I've only made it through a couple of chapters, but I'm really enjoying LeDoux's prose.

On Friday we had another off-of-bed-rest celebration, starting with a trip to a Midtown spa for haircuts and V. getting a thorough leg and bikini wax. We had a terrific lunch at the new restaurant at the High Museum, and then saw another movie at Atlantic Station, "Brokeback Mountain." What an excellent film! I especially enjoyed the performances of the lead actors, as well as Michelle Williams, who portrays the suffering of Ennis's wife so amazingly well. This is a great film for people who get into personality, psychology, and the psychodynamic tensions that surround aggression and sex. Perhaps in a more enlightened setting I would have my students watch the film and have a lengthy discussion about everything it covers. My guess is that some lucky liberal arts professor at a small Northeastern college has already done that.

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