I’m diving into a number of places where the term “mimetic” and “mimesis” keep coming up. I will have to talk about that more later, but for the time being, you must read this article. It is about mirror neurons, which apparently are highly adaptable cells that allow your brain to actually imitate the actions of what you see. For example, when you watch football on television, if you had wires connected to your brain, it would scan as if you are playing football. (WHAT?!?!)
These kinds of studies both delight me and send me into existential crises. (I feel much better however now that I have a neurological excuse for why I get so unbelievably bothered by movies, and why I could not sleep for DAYS after watching Hotel Rwanda.) Angst aside, I’m passing this along to you today because it’s Lent, and I thought those of us who are trying to do something differently with our lives could all use a big pat on the back that it’s really worthwhile. You giving up the TV is good stuff, because every time you watch CSI you are apparently killing people somewhere in the recesses of your brain, and it does actually make you prone to be more violent in real life. (Does this mean we should all get streaming video of monks chanting prayers or people doing social work?) (Also, I’ve never actually watched CSI, but it sounds like a show where people would be killing people…crime scenes, right? But perhaps, also being trained as top-rated detectives?)
What we spend our days doing actually does matter. It affects us, even when we believe we are somehow “above” it. So let’s get responsible and start watching the people and things we actually want to imitate. (I will be taking the red-eye to Germany to have tea with the Moltmanns.)
So thank you, Mom. We called you lame nicknames behind your back when you sang us that song about being careful with our little ears and eyes, but apparently you were way ahead of the neurological researchers who have now proven your point.