"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

Phillipe Pinel reported in 1800 the curious case of a man who fell into "a true delirium brought on by the terrors of the revolution. The overturning of his reason is marked by a particular singularity: he believes that he was guillotined, and his head thrown pell-mell onto the pile of the other victims' heads, and that the judges, repenting too late their cruel deed, had ordered the heads to be taken and rejoined to their respective bodies. However, by an error of some sort, they put on his shoulders the head of another unfortunate. This idea that his head has been changed occupies him night and day . . . . 'See my teeth!' he would repeat incessantly, 'they used to be wonderful, and these are rotten! *My* mouth was healthy, and this one's infected! What a difference between this hair and the hair I had before my change of head!'"

[The Penal Gland, or In the Pineal Colony: Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained]

Posted by rp on 05.27.2009

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