Friday 12 April 2024

A. J. Lees, "Neurological Birdsong"


Andrew Lees was born on Merseyside and is a Professor of Neurology at The National Hospital, Queen Square and University College London. He is in the top three most highly cited Parkinson’s disease researchers in the world and included in Thomson Reuters 2015 List of the Worlds Most Scientific Minds. He has written the authorised biography of the Arsenal and Liverpool football player Ray Kennedy who developed Parkinson’s disease in his early thirties (Ray of Hope, Penguin 1994) and which was made into a television documentary, Liverpool the Hurricane Port (Random House 2011) a book about his home city, Alzheimer's: The Silent Plague (2012 Penguin) and William Richard Gowers (1845-1915) Exploring the Victorian Brain, a biography of William Gowers. His book, Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment (Notting Hill Editions) published in 2016, explains his unlikely association with the author of Naked Lunch and his curiosity to find neurological cures. Brazil That Never Was, an investigation of saudade, was published by New York Review of Books in the USA. Lees's quest for a new viewpoint in the Amazon led to an unlikely linkage with Ciro Guerra’s film Embrace of the Serpent and a joint presentation with him at the premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. His previous book, entitled Brainspotting: Adventures in Neurology, was published by New York Review of Books in April 2022 and was a plea for a return to soulful compassionate medicine. Lees has also written essays published in Dublin Review of Books, Literary Review, Empty Mirror, Tears in the Fence, The New York Review of Books, The Polyphony, and the Scottish Review of BooksHe is a free thinker who has dedicated his recent years to reminding the scientific community that medicine is an art and that literary and science fiction can inform understanding.

About Neurological Birdsong
In Neurological Birdsong, Dr Andrew Lees documents a career’s worth of insights into neurological practice by reformulating his most profound tweets into poetic form. The aphorisms collected here touch on a host of related topics, from the right approach to diagnosis to the importance of a "soulful neurology" in the art of healing. They will interest everyone: the suffering patient, the young doctor or nurse, the medical administrator. Neurological Birdsong is the beautiful expression of one doctor’s wisdom.

You can see more information about Neurological Birdsong here. Below, you can read a few sample aphorisms. 

From Neurological Birdsong, by A. J. Lees

Favourite Twoosh's and Twaikus
You cannot reduce the clinical picture
to a series of scales and tick boxes,
administered by health care professionals
who have not been taught clinical skills during their training.

The medical history is part of the romance.
We must keep a patient’s life close to our souls.
Science underpins modern medicine but healing is an art.

The daily practice of neurology strengthens the mind 
But it is by attending,
and in the art of healing,
that it becomes soulful,
as well as stimulating.

Question everything,
and if necessary fight back.
No blind obedience.
No e-patients.
No life-threatening rules.
Do what you know is right.

Last week in the Vega
I understood that Lorca had seen,
in his torn-up garden,
the same green winds and roses of blood,
that Cajal had described,
deep in the human brain.

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