Hypergraphia for Poetry in an Epileptic Patient

I got this link from somewhere – Bookslut, maybe? – but anyway, it’s a letter to The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

An epileptic patient “complained of being driven to write poetry. For 5 years, he experienced words as ‘continuously rhyming in his head’ and felt the need to write them down and show his writings to others. He did not talk in rhyme, write excessively in nonrhyme, or read poetry. The patient had not had a preoccupation with poetry until age 53 when he had the subacute onset of behavioral changes with irritability and anger.”

The brain really is peculiar. The fact that someone with brain damage would experience words rhyming in his head is remarkable but, given the extensive brain area devoted to language recognition and formation, makes some sense. The need to write it down and show it to people is what strikes me as most interesting. It suggests that the brain isn’t just exhibiting some kind of linguistic tic, but that the stimulus is somehow acting on his whole concept of poetry, including the associated ideas that you write it down and show it people.

Burns Night

I’m convinced that Burns Night is Scotland’s practical joke on the world. If you were writing a list of three ways to spoil a perfectly good dinner party, it would be hard to beat:

1) serve haggis and swedes
2) recite incomprehensible poetry
3) have bagpipe music

No wonder people drink whisky with it – it’s the only thing strong enough to dull the pain.