04 February 2009


For me, big part of dealing with depression is recurring patterns.

An episode of severe depression is typically characterized by adverse rhythms, by negative feedback loops, by spiraling down.

So much of my cope list consists of rhythmic activities, to break up the adverse rhythms by overlaying new ones.

Even such non-obvious copes as construction toy or cartoon book or jigsaw puzzle are rhythmic, as you place one piece after another, or read one daily comic strip reprint after another.

Now to some degree, this is influenced by Aspergers Syndrome, and may not apply so much to someone without an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I think it is more likely that an ASD just makes the rhythmic aspects more obvious and that most, if not all, humans will respond to some degree.

Why else would music be so important in the human experience?

Beyond time rhythms of recurring or sequential events, there are also spatial rhythms in recurring spatial and visual patterns. Symmetry is a special characteristic of patterns that I find compelling, and seems to me to be closely related to rhythm.

Hence copes such as kaleidoscope and parquetry/pattern (or perler beads or weaving), and also labyrinths. To varying degrees, these also include time rhythms, but to varying degrees, most of the copes include mixtures of various spatial, visual, and time factors.

1 comment:

Zensu said...

Hmmmm. Very interesting. Have always been fascinated by checkerboard = red/black squares and black/white squares and repetitive black & white or very contrasty line drawings or blocky images on colored papers or fabric. See: "Symmetries of Culture -Theory & Practice of Plane Pattern Analysis" by D.K. Washburn & D.W. Crowe. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.

Get periodically depressed and believe it to be a kind of seizure... looong rolling fizz-outs without the 'zzzzz' sounding part. They are full, rounded, mellifluous and rooolllllinnnnng. Sometimes for daze other times for weeks. When it happens I feel like a bug trapped in Amber. The struggle takes all my energy sometimes just to breathe. Some triggers appear to be sunlight and rapid weather changes which occur frequently where I live on an Island in the Sub-Arctic.

Didn't realize it until I read what you said about coping, that one of the things I do when it happens - the 'brown out', is pull out this book on Pattern and Symmetry and stare at the images and think about them, or draw repetitive shapes in black ink on various colors of hand made papers, cut woodblocks in geometrical patterns, or un-string old trade beads and re-string in various symmetries - sometimes the symmetry extends from one line of beads to another thru others. I tend to hang them vertically in windows or against well lit walls.

Didn't know what I was doing until I just read what you wrote about coping...and rhythmic actions.


You mentioned music rhythm... as a child I was expected to learn to play the piano and violin because Mom and Grandmother did. Couldn't understand how to read music. Very painful, confusing and dread-full dreadful experience for 12 miserable years until I broke the bow and rode my bicycle away...

I learned to read when I was 3 - but not music. Nothing I did ever helped. I tried until I felt like my eyes were bleeding. I think I understand now, having recently read Temple Grandin's new book "Animals Make Us Human" about the 4 Core Emotion Systems and by extension, how my life-long frustration coping skills, became stymied by my inability to communicate my pain at not being able to understand music...Also, because of the pain of not being able to understand why I couldn't communicate in a manner that people could understand me. Frustration is mental restraint self imposed or otherwise. Not sure I said that clearly. Let me know.

I was 33 years old when one day while kneading bread - another rhythmic activity like the weaving i also love to do, suddenly I had a kind of explosion occur in my head. It was like a blast of white sunlight and I could suddenly understand music notation!

It's individual sounds!!!.

My confusion? I always saw/heard music as light/sound flowing like a wavy ribbon from lower left to upper right at an angle from infinity to infinity. I was never able to explain that the horizontal music notation I saw on paper wasn't what I saw & heard. Still difficult to explain.

I thought that "music" was the flowing part represented by the long white stretches interrupted by the lines and little black dots with stems and flags and I didn't understand how to manage the dots to keep them from interrupting the flow.

I detested the distractions and interruptions by the little dots.

To this day I prefer orchestral to lyrical music because words tend to clutter up the flow for me... except when they are somehow "right" for the specific music - which isn't all that often...

While writing this I just realized that the trade beads hanging in the sunlight light or on the walls may have some sort of sound flowing thru them arranged in colors.


Thanks for imparting your wisdom.

Regards ~ Zensu