Daily Archives: July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson’s Brain Is Missing

The world just witnessed the memorial concert to Michael Jackson at the Staples Centre. I am sorry to say it, but I know some of you were thinking, “Was the golden coffin shaped like an office stapler?” Ok sick jokes aside, we all know that the man (not “Man-Child’ purleeease….)  was one of the most talented, innovative and frankly amazing performers of his generation. 

But would the congregation have been so reverential to the corpse in the golden coffin if they had known that the casket had all the last remains of Michael Jackson minus his brain. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but then of course I am by even raising the issue, but we have some strange notions when it comes to talent, brains and soul.

The pathology investigation is incomplete and the scientists need to find out what killed the superstar. So Michael will be buried minus his brain (for the moment). I don’t know how many times I have heard that someone  is a musical/sporting/ political (delete as appropriate) genius because of their brain. As far as neuroscientists are considered, we are our brain. You can almost transplant any other part of your your body and remain almost the same individual but without your brain, then you do not exist. 

Does that mean there may be another memorial for the burial of Micheal’s more important organ or will it be tossed in the incinerator? Having a second memorial would challenge people’s intuitions about the mind, the body and of course, identity. Where is Michael?

Of course, we could just plastinate the brain and visit it in awe for the amazing entertainment it once produced. I would prefer this last option as a reminder to the consummate truth that we are only meat machines (regards to Marvin Minsky).

But if you really need to believe that Michael has not left then take comfort that he has decided to spend his time in a tree stump in Stockton, CA (though some neighbors thinks it looks like Jesus).

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Thanks to Laurie Santos for the lead.

UPDATE: Well, I never thought the Mirror would stoop to such humor but after a lengthy discussion of why brains are removed and how they are processed in these sorts of cases, the article ends with the following factoid about MJ

“- MICHAEL Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the 1978 musical version of  The Wizard of Oz – playing the character without a brain opposite Diana Ross as Dorothy.”

Way to go Mirror!

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