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One of my favorite post-rock bands is from Iceland. Sigur Rós. In some of their tracks, they use non-literal language that forms the unintelligible “lyrics” sung by the band.

It’s called Hopelandic (English translation), a.k.a., Vonlenska. It consists of emotive, non-lexical vocables. In effect, Hopelandic uses the melodic and rhythmic elements of singing without the conceptual content of language.

This type of music has no fixed syntax and differs from constructed languages that can be used for communication. It focuses entirely on the sounds of language, lacking grammar and distinct words.

Milan”, is one of those tunes that can stir my emotions, especially during those peaks of non-lexical passion.

VictoriaNotes 9 Jan 13
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My Fave Sigur Ros song:

My daughter turned the entire family on to them years ago. We flew to Chicago to hear them live.

I have not checked out their more recent stuff. I probably should!

Zster Level 8 Jan 13, 2019

It's a powerful message and was the second one I listened to after discovering them. I was blown away. This was my first, and ultimately my favorite from them.


That's new music to me and very enjoyable. I like art that points me in a certain direction but doesn't spell it out for me. The closest music I've known in this way is by Yes. Although there are words with syntax and grammar, the sentences are very abstract, simply pointing to aspiration and spirituality.

brentan Level 8 Jan 13, 2019

"I like art that points me in a certain direction but doesn't spell it out for me. "

Yes! What a great way to put it. Like my preferred art, I tend to gravitate toward abstract music, especially when it creates visuals and physical sensations from the music, alone (instrumentation). It gives the listener (or viewer) the gift of personal interpretation. Speaking of Yes, this is my fav. The lyrics are eloquently poetic, too.

What's your favorite Yes song?

@VictoriaNotes And You And I is a beautiful song. My absolute favourite Yes song is Soon. Shivers up the spine. To me, it's a prayer sent out to the universe aspiring to understand and become in harmony with it. My head tells me it's nonsense and my heart soars with it.

@brentan It's beautiful. Thanks for sharing. When you wrote: "To me, it's a prayer sent out to the universe aspiring to understand and become in harmony with it.", I was reminded of another all-time favorite of mine. Although I had had this album since the mid-70's, and loved this song, it became very meaningful to me after I deconverted from Christianity 19 years ago.

It was the strangest feeling --- I realized that I had lost me because I spent years "dying to myself." There was a period of longing to reunite with who I once was before conservative indoctrination. I guess, in a way, I was sending out a prayer to myself.

Although I was pretty much raised as a cultural Christian, it wasn’t until after the death of my husband that I really took my faith to another level, unintentionally at first. When people are at their most vulnerable, that's when evangelicals swoop in "for the kill", if you will. Little did I know what that would entail and how much my life would change.

I guess I don't need to tell you how such indoctrination devalues or eliminates all sources of self-affirmation so that there is no hope, or beauty, or meaning, and more importantly, no integrity of the self without Jesus. You're no longer allowed to be you or follow your own dreams and aspirations.

It's difficult to find the words to describe how surreal that time was when once I was so sure of what "truth" was, and to have the rug pulled out from under me by my own doings --- critical assessment. It was a lonely time having lost my social network, and all that I believed before", and there I was, empty, alone --- feeling lost, and a stranger to myself.

But this song spoke to me during that time of "none, no thing, no one." The instrumentals at the end made me feel hopeful that I would find her again, and I did. 🙂

@VictoriaNotes This was an early one as well, for me.

@VictoriaNotes Wow, I can relate to the imperative to live less to yourself and more to Christ. I guess it’s related to Romans 8:13 and Ephesians 4:22-24. I was a Jehovah’s Witness for many years and gave it a good shot. I moved fairly fast to philosophy afterwards and busied myself with that. It was just as well, because old friends were lost and my life experience seemed to make it difficult to connect with new people (I’m a bit of an Aspie anyway). So I enjoyed and related to the Genesis song about ending up alone. I think that cognitive dissonance plays a part too. Where do I fit in anymore? I would recommend John Donne’s poem An Anatomy of the World lines 207-246 as a nicely-worded expression of his feelings about truth being pulled out from under him by science and the new Protestantism in England.

@brentan Is this the one? I could only find lines 1 - 238

207 The sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit
208 Can well direct him where to look for it.
209 And freely men confess that this world's spent,
210 When in the planets and the firmament
211 They seek so many new; they see that this
212 Is crumbled out again to his atomies.
213 'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone,
214 All just supply, and all relation;
215 Prince, subject, father, son, are things forgot,
216 For every man alone thinks he hath got
217 To be a phoenix, and that then can be
218 None of that kind, of which he is, but he.
219 This is the world's condition now, and now
220 She that should all parts to reunion bow,
221 She that had all magnetic force alone,
222 To draw, and fasten sund'red parts in one;
223 She whom wise nature had invented then
224 When she observ'd that every sort of men
225 Did in their voyage in this world's sea stray,
226 And needed a new compass for their way;
227 She that was best and first original
228 Of all fair copies, and the general
229 Steward to fate; she whose rich eyes and breast
230 Gilt the West Indies, and perfum'd the East;
231 Whose having breath'd in this world, did bestow
232 Spice on those Isles, and bade them still smell so,
233 And that rich India which doth gold inter,
234 Is but as single money, coin'd from her;
235 She to whom this world must it self refer,
236 As suburbs or the microcosm of her,
237 She, she is dead; she's dead: when thou know'st this,
238 Thou know'st how lame a cripple this world is


@VictoriaNotes That's it exactly! I hope you enjoyed it.

@brentan Yes, I did. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. You wrote: " I guess it’s related to Romans 8:13 and Ephesians 4:22-24."

And these as well:

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Luke 9:23 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

1 Peter 4:1-2 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”

Galatians 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Galatians 6:14 “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

You wrote: "It was just as well, because old friends were lost and my life experience seemed to make it difficult to connect with new people "

Exactly --- and still is difficult for me, as I live in the bible belt where one can pay a heavy price for coming out as an atheist, and I have. But I have found a rich community online which has helped greatly. Deconversion was just the beginning of the battle, though. I had to pretty much start from scratch, reinvent myself while working on atrophying (pruning) neural networks created by religious programming.

It a huge feat that was for me. My previous passions and interests didn’t surface for a long time, and some were not able to be revived. I had to deprogram myself, and I did it alone because no one in my life understood what I was going through, and to try to explain it to them seemed to threaten their own faith.

No one in my community, nor any family members had gone through what I’d gone through. A deconversion. No one understood. This was before there were online support communities --- people who had also gone through a deconversion, themselves.

Even after nearly 2 decades, I am still dealing with the repercussions of leaving the faith — but — It’s good to be alive.🙂

Since then, have you been able to find more like-minded people where you live? I have a friend who is an ex-JW, and it was hell for her, especially because she was a woman --- a double whammy you might say. I can relate. It never set right with me that I was required to obey and submit to men. Talk about inhumane.

@VictoriaNotes I started deconverting about 15 years ago. I got very fed up with others insisting that they do my thinking for me. It was a risky business because I was married at the time to a JW woman who had been raised in the faith but surprisingly, she left the faith too, even though not quite as officially (because of her family) as I did. Sadly, it turned out that when we lost the faith, we lost the bond that was keeping us together. There was a web forum for ex-JWs. Many more sprang from that. After a while, members usually squabbled among themselves over petty personal interpretations of scripture. Added to that was the neverending bitterness which was justified but I wanted to move on with my life rather than always listening to the negativity. For some, being an ex-JW is a way of life and they are, to my mind, still having their lives controlled by the Watchtower Society. I tried mainstream Christianity but wasn’t much impressed and gradually became more agnostic. So I got new interests and moved on. I can’t imagine what it is like to live in the Bible Belt. It is decades now since Ireland was like that and these days it is extremely secular. I haven’t found similar spirits to my own but I am an odd fish. I decided a few years ago to read the classics for a bucket list and it has turned out to be a great hobby. I get the feeling you read a lot yourself.

@brentan I'm sorry your marriage didn't work out, and I can relate. I can also understand moving away from the negativity. At this juncture in my journey, I'm more of an advocate for those who need support and understanding. I started blogging in 2010, sometimes sharing my experience, but often about the neuropsychological techniques used to indoctrinate. So many people reached out and could relate. After deconversion and the fog lifting, really wanted to understand how and why I got duped. At first, I was embarrassed (how could I have been so naive, it's so obvious now) until I understood the mechanisms involved, especially from a neurological standpoint --- what wires together fires together.

There are times I feel a bit sad that I wasted so much of my life on a lie, but when I look back, I realize I've gained so much knowledge from years of diligent research. It's by no accident that conservative religions demean and devalue education, calling it "worldly" and of the devil. Yes, I do read a lot.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice --- well, you know the saying. 🙂

Carl Sagan once wrote: "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

I consider us very fortunate. 🙂

@brentan Wow did this post ever evolve. I've really enjoyed our dialog, and I want to thank you again for sharing so personally. It's very nice to meet you.

@VictoriaNotes It's very interesting that you're talking about neuropsychology. The book I'm reading, which also lead to John Donne's poem, deals with how the brain works and how it has affected Western culture. In the book, the author compares extreme religious thinking to schizophrenia. The gist of his opinion is that schizophrenics have a view of the world that doesn't include intuition and strives very hard to cope with a mind separated from the context within which it lives including the sufferer's own body. He claims (the author) that this religious mindset come from a focus on the words of scripture rather than for a feeling for the manifestation of spirit and reckons it came about in the West with the advent of Protestantism and its extremes like Calvinism. For me, I think it might at least explain the contradiction between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. Anyway, it's a fascinating topic that might suit a topic of its own.

I've very much enjoyed this conversation. It's great to meet you too!

@brentan Sounds like an interesting book. What's the title? In The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences — The Role of Psychiatric Disorders in Religious History Considered it states:

"As many as 60% of those with schizophrenia have religious grandiose delusions consisting of believing they are a saint, God, the devil, a prophet, Jesus, or some other important person.”

When my late husband and I got married, he was agnostic and really had disdain for organized religion, as he witnessed so much hypocrisy. He grew up in a religiously conservative environment. However, after sustaining a traumatic brain injury, gradually his personality started to change. Then he started reading the bible, which I thought was quite odd for reasons I mentioned above. He'd often read all night, and wake me up in the middle of the night sharing "revelations" he'd gotten from scripture.

Next thing I know, he's going to church. I was, for the most part, a diest at the time after having denounced Catholicism and hadn't had much exposure to Protestantism, especially the conservative kind. Then he told me he had a "born again" experience and said he could see demons around people. What he had actually had experienced (caused by the TBI) was a non-convulsive seizure (temporal lobe epilepsy aka complex partial seizures), though there was very little information about that in the medical community at the time. I was very confused about his behavior and personality change. I didn't learn about any of this, regarding some of the major features of certain mental/neurological disorders, until many years later (after my deconversion).

In the Official Journal of the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry" A Complex Presentation of Complex Partial Seizures it states:

“Because of these affective, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms, patients with Complex Partial Seizures (a.k.a. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy) are frequently misdiagnosed.”

This was the case with him. In his book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain David Eagleman states:

“If an epileptic seizure is focused in a particular sweet spot in the temporal lobe, a person won´t have motor seizures, but instead something more subtle. The effect is something like a cognitive seizure, marked by changes of personality, hyperreligiosity (an obsession with religion and feelings of religious certainity), hypergraphia (extensive writing on a subject, usually about religion), the false sense of an external presence, and, often, the hearing voices that are attributed to a god. Some fraction of history´s prophets, martyrs, and leaders appear to have had temporal lobe epilepsy. Our reality depends on what our biology is up to.”

Most Christians are actually Paulinians. The Apostle Paul has been evaluated extensively and neurologists found he had the symptoms of TLE. ( [] ).The same is likely with Ellen G. White, who, as I'm sure you know, was the co-founder (and prophet) of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination, now with over 25 million members, a massive infrastructure, and one of the fastest growing protestant denominations, worldwide. There's an excellent documentary by the BBC titled God on the Brain ( [] ) which focuses on hyperreligious patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, and she is featured in the 2nd segment. As you may also be aware of, she had a traumatic brain injury in childhood, went into a coma, and woke up having "visions" and sensations of god's presence. She had all the features of TLE, as did my late husband.

"Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs." []

Makes me wonder how many extremely religious people (now and throughout history), including clergy, actually had/have an undiagnosed mental/neurological disorder.

My apologies for such a lengthy comment. This subject fascinates me and is one of the reasons why I am an advocate for traumatic brain injury awareness as well as neurological disorders. So many people go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed because these disorders are often disguised due to the religious manifestations, especially if living in fairly religious cultures and communities.

@brentan Time for a song. This band loves astronomy, so the whispering part at the beginning "we were you before you even existed" makes sense in that light of the fact that we're made from the same stuff as stars. In other words, as Carl Sagan once said in his 13-part television series "Cosmos", Episode 1 --- "We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff."

@VictoriaNotes The book is The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist. Its topic is the effect of how our brain has worked on Western culture through the centuries. But first – your story of how brain trauma affected your poor husband is fascinating, although I guess you might choose a different word for it! My long-suffering ex-wife (and children) had to deal with my religious zeal, not in terms of mystical revelations but in terms of living the Word to the letter, a fanaticism that lead to me being unable to function in the ordinary ways a husband might be expected to, bringing home at least some of the bacon and playing my part socially. Oddly enough, I did not even become aware of my behaviour even after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant book about a fanatic American dad who takes his long-suffering family to Africa so that he could preach to the natives. McGilchrist attributes both autism and schizophrenia to over reliance on the left hemisphere of the brain, displaying focus on analysis and objective detachment among other things and too little awareness of intuition, context and environment. He claims that the symptoms of schizophrenia in particular show regularly in people who have suffered trauma to the right hemisphere of the brain.
I didn’t understand this sentence ‘I was, for the most part, a diest at the time after having denounced Catholicism and hadn't had much exposure to protectionism, especially the conservative kind’. Did you mean you were a deist after Catholicism and didn’t have much exposure to Protestantism?
David Eagleman’s comment about ‘the false sense of an external presence, and, often, the hearing voices that are attributed to a god’ harmonises well with McGilchrist’s claim that the problem lies with the two brain hemispheres of the schizophrenic not functioning as they should, the left brain dominating and being utterly unaware that it has another side that it should be working with. When that right side sends messages to the left, the schizophrenic believes the communications are coming from outside of him/her.
I will enjoy looking at the video. I had heard vaguely about the possibility that the apostle Paul was epileptic. To be honest, I know very little about the Seventh Day Adventists even though I probably really should, what with their connection to my old teammates.
The strange thing about so many of us who were behaving in eccentric ways (to say the least) is the congregations just about always placed these people on high (not me, I was too autistically blunt about things). There was a refusal to accept what even the dogs in the street knew about the situation. And I guess, in a way, that’s a kind of madness too!

@brentan "protectionism"

Haha, sorry about that. Yes, I meant Protestantism. Thanks for pointing that out. I am challenged with dyslexia and sometimes my brain doesn't recognize that I used the wrong word. It does a sort of autocorrect when I proof, so I see what I intended to write. 😀

That's very interesting about schizophrenia and the hemispheres. It reminded me of some of the research I've read on split-brain experiments. Thanks for the info, I will check into McGilchrist's research.

How did you overcome your fanaticism? You mentioned that you got fed up with others insisting that they do the thinking for you, but what was the catalyst that moved you away from fanaticism to agnosticism?

@VictoriaNotes I would safely bet you know a lot more about the workings of the brain than I do. I approached the topic from the point of view of culture but McGilchrist gets right into the workings (and the malfunctions that serve to demonstrate so much of the findings) of the brain and spends the first half of the book on the brain itself. When I first watched YouTube videos about his book, he spent a lot of time talking about the corpus callosum to explain the transfer of information between the hemispheres and also the findings from separation of the hemispheres by cutting through it to split the brain.

I didn’t initiate overcoming my fanaticism. It was a reaction to the breakdown of my marriage, which included severe criticism not just from my immediate family but also from the family I was born into and many other people. I had to do a lot of soul-searching, fast. Sadly, it wasn’t fast enough to save my relationship with my two sons. I couldn’t offer much more than acknowledgement of my failures and confirmation of my love for them but it was too little, too late. Much as I understand my ex-wife’s disappointment with me, I was also very disappointed with her behaviour so I thought I had to put that relationship behind me.

I had always suspended a lot of my disbelief to allow me to carry on as a JW. I was fine with the scriptures but dubious about the hierarchy. Later I found many more interpretations to scripture than I had known. But I was really impressed with Christine Hayes’ YouTube lectures about the Old Testament from the University of York, I think. Her confederate in the New Testament was Dale Martin. They radically changed my whole perspective on the Bible. But first I moved from being a JW to a very short spell as a generic Christian to becoming a voracious reader (I can’t help overdoing what I do) of anything to do with religion, myth and psychology. That and my disappointment with religion lead me first to atheism and then settled into agnosticism. I took a lot of notice of Jordon Peterson’s videos on Maps of Meaning and the Psychology of the Bible and those helped me look on the Bible in a new way.

So I’m back in the land of the ignorant and curious and loving all the new things I’m learning. To be blunt, I’m not one bit happy about losing eternal life as I used to understand it but who knows, if the explosions of stars gave way to little conscious beings like me, maybe that means the cosmos itself is conscious and something of me will always be bound up in it. The ideas I have of life after death come from Rupert Sheldrake’s fascinating musings on the nature of consciousness and the brain and morphic resonance.

@brentan Christine Hayes’ lectures are quite informative. I've watched several of her Yale class lectures on YT. I wish that at the time of my deconversion, I would have had access to this and other information. I went out on a limb when I deconverted, only to find out later that I wasn't alone regarding my own conclusions. My deconversion process would have been shortened expeditiously had I been privy to the vast amount of information available now.

Thank you for sharing about your experiences, and I'm sorry about your family circumstances. I loved what you said about being curious and loving all the new things. The thing I look forward to the most is waking up each day and learning something new.


It's very pretty.

Thanks for listening, Lisa.


and this

JeffMesser Level 8 Jan 13, 2019

Thanks for sharing. There's certainly nothing Hopelandic about those songs.😀


interesting. I am digging this right now

JeffMesser Level 8 Jan 13, 2019

Very interesting post...thank you .

Thank you for listing, Marge. 🙂

@VictoriaNotes I like to hear new things,...glad to listen.

@Marionville Same here, and as an aside, I think you have excellent taste in music based on the songs you've shared.

@VictoriaNotes Thank you...that is a lovely compliment.

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