A fresh bottle of Jack waited on the end table, but for the first time in weeks I didn’t feel the need to pour a nightcap. The music was better.

An illusionist can make himself disappear; a musician can do the same thing: When he plays a piano, after a while we start seeing only the music, not the man!

Planning. Short-term memory. Attention. At first glance, these three frontal lobe functions can seem like diverse activities that just happen to be packed into the same brain region. But on closer inspection it turns out that they are facets of the same basic phenomenon of ‘restraint’. Planning restrains our brains from wandering from a chosen path of activity. Short-term memory retrains sensory cortex from moving on to different imagery. Attention constrains the kind of sensory data admitted to sensory cortex.

I close my eyes and try and shut him out. My fingers don’t want to stay in time. They want to race ahead in fury, plunging into the dense fog of black notes, pulling the music out by its roots, hurling it up out of the piano and into the air.

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