So He Gave Me These Sounds…

A powerful video, music driving an awakening and Oliver Sacks there of course. Part of a new documentary, Alive Inside.

Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era

I was touched by how close to anthropology this video is, a story, an ethnographic vignette, rich with the voices and views of the different actors. I wish more anthropologists would do this sort of work, and that this sort of work would count at least as much as just one more peer-reviewed article.

I encourage neuroanthropologists to think of the important applied dimensions of our work represented in this video – that a simple cultural intervention has such a powerful impact on someone’s brain. And then showing that impact through a video that already has 3,000,000 views on YouTube.

The vignette is also full of theoretical implications, that what anthropologists describe as culture does not intersect equally with our varied brains, young and old, and that matters. That a cultural context of care – this woman doing her work – is powerfully motivating. That music and God and nursing home mean and do things, and we can see and document and show that. And that part of why music and God and care have their impact is how our brains light up, or not, and that process of lighting up is both individual and encultured, the joy and skills and experiences of this man from his youth.

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2 Responses to So He Gave Me These Sounds…

  1. Paul Mason says:

    I agree, Daniel. The footage is touching and deeply meaningful. Australia spends big money on pharmaceutical research for ageing and dementia. I only wish there was a small amount going towards ethnographic research on that topic. Laboratory studies need the human touch of audio-visual ethnography.

    It’s sad that this particular clip is titled “Old Man in Nursing Home”. His name is Henry, and he is Cheri’s papa.

    As you will see, this subject is very close to home for me:

    • daniel.lende says:

      Paul, what a great comment. Henry who is Cheri’s papa – I should have included that. And music reaching your mum, even as her ability to communicate and her motor skills declined – a very touching story. Keep playing piano for her! And for all of us who also like to listen to you.

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