Sunday, September 07, 2008

Christchurch Writers Festival Part 4

So, after several more sessions today, none of which was a disappointment, although some were better than others, I finally decided that I wanted to use my book token to buy a copy of Norman Doidge's book, "The Brain that Changes Itself".

I guess quite a few other people had the same idea, because the book store had sold out. However they said they will have more copies in a couple of weeks, so the book token stayed in my bag unused in the meantime.

I almost came down in favour of Robert Fisk. His massive book "The Great War for Civilisation" looked way too weighty to get through in the four weeks that our public library allows. I wondered though if that was my comfortable white middle-class conscience speaking. I do believe that the world needs to know what is going on in such places, but am I personally going to do anything that will make any difference?

Robert Fisk was on a panel today called "The Human Cost" along with two others - Chinese writer Xinran and New Zealand nurse Lisa Blaker who served with Medecins sans Frontieres in Darfur. All amazing people.

However Norman Doidge kept us all fascinated for an hour with his account of neuroplasticity - the idea that the brain can change and adapt a great deal more than used to be thought possible. For instance he described a stroke victim, paralysed on one side of his body, who with a particular type of intensive training for two weeks, was able to regain movement so that he could then play tennis and play the piano again. This despite the fact that it could be proven that he did have cell death in the areas of his brain that previously controlled that side of his body.

The book apparently describes exercises that can keep the brain from deteriorating in old age. With my own old age approaching faster than I care to think, it seemed that this is one book that might be directly personally useful.

Or I could just buy a poetry book. But since I tend to buy the ones I want most as they come out, I already have a fairly good selection of those that were on the book stall.

I missed the panel on blogging in order to listen to Norman Doidge, so I'm hoping that the library blog will give an account of that one. There isn't one up there yet, but maybe they are all as tired as I am. I'll be checking back tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On our blog now - along with all the other festival coverage.

Richard, from the library team.