Mind is such an odd predicament for matter to get into.

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What does it mean to know something, to want something, to be?

After all, mind is such an odd predicament for matter to get into. I often marvel how something like hydrogen, the simplest atom, forged in some early chaos of the universe, could lead us and the gorgeous forever into consciousness. If a mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself, worry about its soul, do time-and-motion studies, admire the shy hooves of a goat, know that it will die, enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart? What is mind, that one can be out of one’s? How can a neuron feel compassion? What is self? Why did automatic, hand-me-down mammals like our ancestors somehow evolve brains with the ability to consider, imagine, project, compare, abstract, think of the future? If our experience of mind is really just the simmering of an easily alterable chemical stew, then what does it mean to know something, to want something, to be? How do you begin with hydrogen and end up with prom dresses, jealousy, chamber music? What is music that it can satisfy a mind, and even perhaps function as language?

by Diane Ackerman (October 7, 1948 – )
from The Moon by Whale Light, 1991

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