Brain and Me

Moon Bo Young

My lover left behind his brain when he left me. I guess I could blend it into a smoothie and drink it. I observe and feel this human brain. I put a blonde wig on it, close its eyes, dunk it in warm water. I poke it firmly with my finger.

The brain doesn’t feel pain, so a patient can receive open-head surgery while listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 or Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor. The patient can have a conversation with the surgeon about the level of blood loss in the brain or the likelihood of failure while the surgery is being performed. The brain allows for very human activities.

The brain relaxes on the leather couch in the living room. It’s the first time the brain has sat on something soft. With its cauliflower-like face, it looks out of the window.


The brain has a tendency to replay its last memory on loop.

The amusement park.
A carousel spins.
People wave to her.
She who is looking at her from the other side of the fence also
waves. Everyone is holding some strange thing.
A cylindrical
clear stick
with a hand attached
to its end,
a toy.
The cylinder is filled with colorful round candies.
Those people who have hands but still
go out of their way to buy hands and
wave them. She also
waves her hand at the woman waving
her hand. Her forehead
that can be seen when her bangs
are swept back by the wind
and the single pointless wrinkle
on that forehead: she
thinks of them.
Is it true that the brain doesn’t feel pain?


The brain’s single flaw is that it remembers more than what it’s seen. As a result, a non-insignificant number of DNA is harmed. How does the brain manufacture memories? This is a very difficult question to answer, but since the etymology of the word for the brain’s nerve cell, neuron, comes from rope, we can surmise that a rope is used in recall.  


The brain is still sitting on the sofa. I open the window and the wind cools off the brain’s heat. Miyashita Yasushi has stuck electrodes on monkeys’ brains. He observes the reactions of their temporal lobes. Outside the window it rains. Someone hangs from the window. The window has a tendency to exaggerate a smile, Miyashita Yasushi sticks an electrode on a monkey’s brain.

(He shows them a circle, a square, and a star)

The monkeys’ reaction: no reaction.

(Shows them a person)

The monkeys’ reaction: a small reaction, then the reaction dies down.

(Shows them a monkey)

The monkeys’ reaction: sustained reaction.

He is studying the disproportionate concentration of attention. Why do monkeys only pay sustained attention to other monkeys? Some people might be disappointed by this fact. The person hanging from the window, why is he grinning even on a rainy day? How did he manage to get up to the twenty-first floor without a rope? Since the etymology of the word neuron comes from rope, if you remember a memory you want to forget, tie it up.


I’m putting thoughts to sleep
the way you spray down a yard with water
during a hot summer,
A person who covers their ears with hair
and a sky covering that person
and the flat cloud
that fails to cover that sky.
The person hangs from the window.
I pinch the end of the hose to increase the pressure.
The water is a watery blue.
The flowers get beat by it.
The person hangs from the window without a rope.
I hold my pencil upside down
and smush the little eraser attached to the end
against the side of my brain. The brain
won’t deflate, the brain
sleeps like an old mushroom head,
it sprays a fine mist of spores like the galaxy
under a tree that’s gone to sleep without cuddling anyone:
soft, but hard.
When I push it
its body
curls in.
Black-red blood pools between the wrinkles.
When I let go
the brain swells.
The blood that welled in between the wrinkles seeps back in.


When I chew a biscuit
the sound of chewing is loud only to me, but you
can barely hear it.
Let’s use the rope.
I’ll throw the rope and you tie it around your wrist.
Then the sound of my chewing will be loud to you too.
Two doors that face each other 
tie a rope around each of their handles. Let the wind go through them.


Sticky green strings, many parts cut off,
the neurons are spread as far as their feet can reach.
It’s like you spilled a green paint tub that didn’t have much paint left.
Kleist tightens his grip on his pencil to draw a map of the cerebral cortex’s functions.
He gets out an electron microscope.
The desire that drives you to see what can’t be seen by blowing it up 5 billion times, that’s a mean desire.

By changing the way the neurons are connected, one more
nearly-snapped rope is created: a memory.


I put on rubber gloves.
I hold up the brain with both hands.
I observe the brain closely, this brain that has pooled out sideways.
I don’t have to chew it to know it’s a tough one.
The brain does not rub its eye or drool.
It doesn’t get cold sweats.
At any direction it’s a side view,
so you can’t lock eyes with it.
Under stress, blood pools in the wrinkles of the brain.
The wrinkles are thick and distinct.


This is a story of a person who hangs from the window, alone.

translated from the Korean by Hedgie Choi