Curing the Phantom

One of the first TED talks I ever watched was 3 Clues to Understanding Your Brain, by V.S. Ramachandran. A brilliant presentation in which the neurologist addresses the issue of phantom pain. To the layman, phantom pain – the pain in a limb or organ that is not physically present – seems already an unusual thing. But Ramachandran introduces us to an even more bizarre – yet quite common – affliction: a phantom limb that is paralysed. Patients who suffer from such an invisible but painful misfortune say: ‘If only I could move my arm, the agony could be relieved!’ But how to move an arm that does not exist?

Ramachandran has found a simple and cheap method to ease the pain: a $2 mirror box. The patient looks in the mirror, sees the reflection of his real arm, but for an instant is tricked to believe it is the phantom arm. The visual input makes the patient think the phantom is moving, which allows his brain to heal itself from the painful phantom paralysis.

There is another remarkable American who likes to talk about phantoms. A former professor at the Harvard Business School, he is now a prophet for radical economic change. He spreads the word and practice through the Living Economies Forum, the YES campaign and his book Agenda for a New Economy.

David Korten speaks about Phantom Wealth. Phantom wealth is the so-called ‘value’ created in what he describes as the phantom economy, or the financial economy. According to Korten, the phantom economy was originally a part of a whole, real economy, but has developed in such a way that it is now only slightly related to products and services, nature and people in the real world. The phantom economy creates financial ‘wealth’ by self-feeding and self-fuelling its internal system of financial return on investment. Continue reading

Advertisements

Turning Spring!

All revolutions need a Spring. A season in which all that is alive under the surface finds its way out into the open. A season in which that what is dormantly present finds form and becomes visible, tangible, sensible. A season in which pioneers raise their heads and voices, risking the death of returning frost. A season of birth, flowering, buzz and pollination. All revolutions need a Spring, a season of metamorphosis of potential into material reality.

Two years ago I happened to live in Sweden, a country with a long, dark Winter. For months on end, the bay in front of our cottage had been frozen and covered with a thick layer of snow. The nights seemed never-ending, while the days were grey and passed in the wink of an eye. Our bodies were craving kanel-bulle to keep themselves warm, while our social life had gone into hibernation.

At the end of the dark season, a friend lent me the book Animate Earth in which Stephan Harding explains James Lovelock’s famous Gaia Theory; the planet as a living and self-regulating system. A day after I finished the book the sun was out. Continue reading