Whose Brain Is It?
Meanwhile the Great Culprit
shelters behind the wise protection of the forehead.
“Defense of the innocent myocardium”
My family claims for itself that mass of neurons, reinforced with the care lavished on me as a child. The teacher who taught me to read demands credit for the connections that helped to unite thought and language. Every one of my friends also claims their share, their piece of one lobe or the other, for the satisfactions and upsets they have inscribed on its fragile convolutions. Even the boy who crossed in front of my eyes, just for a second, would be entitled to a portion of my cerebral cortex, as his passage recorded a tiny impression in my memory.
All of the books Iâve read, the ice creams Iâve eaten, the kisses given coldly or with passion, the films Iâve seen, the morning coffee and the shouts of the neighbors… to them belongs a share of this grey mass I carry behind my forehead. To the cat that purrs and digs its nails in, to the police who watches and blows his whistle, to the official who adjusts her military uniform and says âno,â to the mediocre professor who misspells âgeographie,â and to the brilliant speaker whose words seem to open doors, throw wide the windows. To them should be given — one by one — my cortical cells, on which they managed to make indelible marks. My axons would be distributed among millions of people, alive and dead, to those I met or simply heard in a musical note or through their verses.
However, according to Legislative Decree 302 which also regulates the foreign travel of professionals, my own brain — like those of the rest of university graduates — does not belong to me. The folds and grooves of this organ are the property — according to the new law — of an educational system that boasts of being free but later charges us through ownership over our intellect. The authorities who regulate the possibility of leaving this Island believe that a qualified citizen is a simple conglomeration of brain matter âformedâ by the State. But claiming the rights to use a human mind is like trying to put gates on the sea… shackles on every neuron.