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Short poem

Pier Giorgio Di Cicco (1949-)

Brain Litany: Or, Overlooking the Existential Factor

      *"Can it be that any man has the skill to fabricate himself?" -- St. Augustine

              1The brain is a network of connections of cells
              2It is not a connection of cells
              3It is a connection of information
              4It is a connection of blue vases
              5with red flowers in them
              6It is not a connection of vases
              7It is a connection of living memories

      *" ... and when we think of coconuts and pigs, there are no coconuts or pigs in the brain." -- Gregory Bateson

              8Where are they
              9Where are the coconuts
            10Where are the pigs

            11The brain is a network of behavioral potentialities
            12The Brain is the mind
            13The brain is the central integrative role in human performance

            14Where are the pigs
            15Where are the coconuts

            16The brain is a compendium of holographic mechanisms
            17Help me find the coconuts Help me find the pigs
            18The brain is a neuro-physiological metaphor
            19The brain is an illusionist's exercise in Euclidean geometry
            20The brain is a vibrational amplifier for ambient field quanta
            21Find me the goddamned coconuts the pigs
            22The brain is a cybernetic miracle with a three-ring
            23triune brain circus at its centre

            24The brain is an enchanted loom where millions of flashing
            25shuttles weave a dissolving pattern
            26I know I saw the coconuts
            27I know I saw the pigs

            28The brain is an evolutionary archaeological site
            29Show me those pigs one more time
            30The brain is a dance among three interconnected biological computers
            31I saw the pigs
            32I saw the coconuts

            33The brain is a bicameral structure for playing
            34epistemological handball.
            35I know you have the coconuts

            36The brain is a reality structurer with lacrimal glands
            37The brain is an international casino for quantum indeterminancy
            38The pigs
            39The pigs
            40The pigs

            41When we think of brains, there are no brains in the brain.

            42The coconuts
            43The pigs
            44The brain is a psycho-biological tar pit Give me
            45the bloody coconuts in an emotional jungle you bastard
            46or the brain is a macro-evolutional myth for the maintenance of
            47I'll bash the brain is an omnidirectional time machine
            48clogged with death consciousness

            49I could cry

            50Show me those pigs
            51Show me those coconuts


            53I think, therefore I am.

            54When we think of the "I," there is no one in the brain.

            55Where am I?
            56Where am I? etc.


] "Whence could such a creature come but from thee, O Lord? Is any man skillful enough to have fashioned himself? Or is there any other source from which being and life could flow into us, save this, that thou, O Lord, hast made us -- thou with whom being and life are one, since thou thyself art supreme being and supreme life both together" (Confessions, trans. Albert C. Outler [1955]: Book I, chap. 6. URL:

] Bateson's Mind and Nature (Glasgow: Fontana, 1978).

23] The three-part brain: R-complex (reptilian core, including the thalamus and basal ganglia), limbic system (mammalian), and neocortex (primates).

33] bicameral: the brain has right and left hemispheres, connected by the corpus collosum.

36] lacrimal: tear-making.

53] René Descartes' Discourse on Method (1637) has one certain axiom in a world of doubt: "Cogito; Ergo sum."

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright Pier Giorgio Di Cicco 2001
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Living in Paradise: New and Selected Poems (Toronto: Manfield Press, 2001): 98-99.
First publication date: 1986
Publication date note: Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Virgin Science: Hunting Holistic Paradigms (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1986): 103-05.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/10

Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco