From the category archives:



February 11, 2009

in Storytelling,Thinking,Volition

Ken Walters explains how a stroke led to a life as an artist:

When I was taken into hospital in 2005 and told I’d had a stroke, it felt like yet another wretched episode in the disaster that was my life. I was bedridden once more, paralysed down one side, with only a pad and pen to communicate. But on my first day, after writing a note to the nurse, I found my right hand wandering across the page. I’ve never been a doodler. The closest I’d come was copying a cartoon as a child, and I hadn’t drawn since. That’s why it was so strange. The act was unconscious; only when a nurse asked me what I was doing did I look down to see patterns all over the paper.

From then on I was waking every night at 2am and drawing until dawn. I asked the doctor what was going on and told him that it didn’t feel normal – that I’d never drawn before in my life but suddenly couldn’t stop. He explained that very occasionally, following a stroke, a person’s brain rewires itself to avoid the damaged area. Sometimes this can expose a new ability in a patient: in my case, drawing.

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From a 2006 interview:

Renee Montagne: “I’m going to quote you something that you’ve said, that I hope is an accurate quote. Here we go: ‘I think of dancing as being movement, any kind of movement. And that it is as accurate and impermanent as breathing.’”

Merce Cunningham: “Yes, I think it is.”

Montagne: “So does that mean you will be dancing, in effect, right to that last breath?”

Cunningham: “Well, probably.”

Montagne: “As long as you live, you’ll be dancing?”

Cunningham: “Yes — or I can call it dancing. Even if nobody else does.”