GAY LYNCH

Gay Lynch writes essays, novels, papers, reviews, and short stories on unceded Boonwurrung land and adjunct to Flinders University. Recent works include Unsettled (2019), an Australian historical novel and ‘On Work’ a Covid-inflected essay in Meanjin (Winter 2021).
The Greening of Neuro-Humanities

Bright-coloured scans best signify neural activism during which, oxygenated blood rushes, right and left. The machine clicks and roars, when volunteers puzzle, pun, choose pics – prefer a house or face?  – and optical allusions address right-sided stress. Loud green dye makes intensity lurid or abnormal – a glitch in symmetry’s stitch – a surprise effect.
Brain scans span like wings and lungs.

I visit Piccaninnie Ponds, where nitrogen-rich algae, effloresces in lacy, drifting green ellipses. Grows, like ideas, in karst and coastal fen; resembles spineless brain pics, laid head-to-head. Affect or effect? I see algal mats shaped like lungs. Or water wings. Divers can die in ponds, tensions surfacing, worse than left-right brain fundamentalism.
Indiscernible grief lurks in sinkholes, buries itself in ‘Chasm.’ Lofty ceilings in ‘Cathedral’ uphold human joy.

Corpus Callosa fatten in surges of traffic, ignited by cognition, logic. Keep compact, when thousands of left-brain synapses fire. In brains and algae, green needle strings form and filament, regenerative impulses overlapping.  Simple to compare air, water, blood, cyanobacterial blooms – the kind that sicken mammals – with creative surges. Too simple.

Aquanauts equalise hemispheres of pressure. I watch neo-brained pond divers, their extremities bleached with age, propel their rubber faux bodies, through the vivid Cottees-cordial green algae. Smash, plash, on, in, under, water.  Tension and transition.
Pre-consciousness the loci. Corpus callisum spasms. Left rules right. Right, left.
Feeling/thinking, temporal/transcendent. Ideas slide like liquid, like water, always all ways.

Limestone solutions clear debris, enabling divers to seek clarity in the deepest water, eyes-wide in atavistic terror. Better than panning body cameras, those feelers on their heads, wavering, willing, like heatseeking penises. Same blokes, once swam in utero, glide below now, fired by ancient awe. Data and instinct fuse. Disperse anew.
Calculations, cell-sortings, classifications, intersperse with bubbles of absentminded, and ecstatic play.

Bungandtjigirls dived here, practical, hungry. Wrung eel necks, in bunches of twitching fibres. Slung writhing bodies around their shoulders. Caught creatures evolved to thinktwo-ways and survive in fresh and salt titrations. Storied and sang those girls during skilful kills. Clever all at once, old way. Pickled, and steamed eels. Seared and charcoal-smoked, those white flesh delectations. Koo-ngap-urn-inepond.

Green gives balance, Kandinsky said. Speculation that smaller corpus callosa found in creatives augments the generation of strangely connected ideas, likely provoked my descent into brains and ponds. Marsupial swamp antechinuses lack this organ entirely, but their pond life is simple and shorter.


‘Why is the dye red?’ he says, in bed. Pokes at the exam. ‘Unusual for a CT scan.’ Fingers the right side. Lists encephalon, cerebellum, cervical spine bones, occipital cortex, spinal cord. Labels spill from his right hemisphere. Impatience from his left.

Child-me views chin, eyes, nose, mouth, rosy silhouette. Ruddy-headed puppet or skeleton, wobbling on its sprockety stem. Painted mask, hominoid head, Martian physog pluming red dust within; evidence of mass oxidation. Radiation.

Medico names frontal cortex, oesophagus, sinuses. Seeks simple clarity; my mess interests him less. I see teeth. Stop! Something ruptured? No, no aneurism. No bullet or cranial bleed. I hex him with my fingers. Red signals alarm.

Red amplifies, demands, dominates. In ‘Landscape with Red Spots,’ No. 2, Kandinsky heard red as violin. In ‘Tension in Red’ he sharpens a scalpel. Ratchets up volume in ‘Heavy Red’.

After my pastel childhood flashes by, mercurial red beckons, lights me up. Followed by full-blooded adolescence. Red dress, rags, ribbon, rouge, shoes. Capricious blood contuses beneath my skin, rushes from my cervix, tenses in my gut, Constrains youthful whimsy.

Neurologists speculate via Covid autopsies whether thick blood clots, rather than protect vessels, push hard against them, leak through them, into surrounding brain tissue, violently breech boundaries. Causing oxygen to plummet.

Imagine the process as a gory but beautiful image, the slow seep, the breaching of walls, the rubicund explosion. Neurotransmitters inflame, implode, zap, surge. Scramble chemical-signalling molecules, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin. Red does not behave well.

Brains should fight back, better arm their microglia. Murderous armies always over-reach, Covid hallucinations, toxic shock, death by delirium, one case in eleven. Red roars.

Think rusty, cinnabar reek of menstruation.
Think voluminous vivid blood of birth.
Think vermillion wildfires devouring country.
Think women’s rage; overlooked, unexamined.

Think darkening stains, Leo rising over Mars.
Think paint, hematite, red ochre, pomegranate.
Think, cherry velvet, scarlet, Borgias, their blooded foils.
Think chilli, crimson, rubescent.
Think flush of poppy, opio dreams, demise.

Which lobe lights up for pain and touch? Red words are social. Foot tickle terror, symphony, sadness, grief, orgasm. Art blushes in bed with neuroscience. Red dye, why? Red card it. Let it bleed out.

Red Brains: Red Games

Red manifests in amygdala and Mars. Over slow summers, furious flashpoints, fast fires. Scrubs ignite. Flames rampage right to the sea. One billion Australian animals burnt. Seven hot global seas: ours on record. Rivers rise, houses capsize; hard to measure on an MRI.

Human brains, heavy with clever dread, weigh down newborns until one year hence, set on their feet, they snatch and jerk their own weight, balance on spine, shoulder, toes and perambulate forward for another decade, before inhaling newsbytes.

Amygdala alerts us, beware the bear, Krasny, Russian-red, hot beauty, latent heat and reckoning. Like Red Guards; worker blood, Rus people, Ruthenia. Red October, Romanov red. Soviet, Rubra.

Putin, puttin’ a toe ‘cross a red line, to where nightingales call out sweet, ready to die, despite or because of a red button. On these terms, so-called West ready to let ‘em. Whose book of revelations, foreshadows this fuckening?

Who engorges on the colour red? Military money multiplies? Red-ragged by industrial complexes, red-faced men playing with morte. Raise your hand if you’re in. End game. Exchange your queens.

Boomer-fuel sky high, real-estate through the roof; XYZ, Alpha no stable shelter, just doof. Like Jesus, who survived Herodes Magnus’s census and sword. Unlike people smashed in Mariupol, fleeing beneath a blood moon.

Amygdala, red hot – Covid alarm goes off. Even asymptomatic brains shrink up to 2 %. Bad weather precipitated by Donald, Joe, Scomo, Vlado, these hungry, thieving red foxes. Red-bum monkey allure, not ovulatory, phallocentric fear of power lost.

Do you believe greed pees blood or that lies light up your arse, explode your brain, dilute good red, combust over patriarchal curses, that wrathful horsemen trample all the hope, of getting out of this one?