On the Power of Music… and Chomsky

“Monday Musings” for Monday August 24, 2015

Volume V. No. 36/244


Aristotle’s Take on the Power of Music,

Observation on Mortality and Celebration of Life,

On Polymath Noam Chomsky

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, ScD (Hon), DFLAPA*

Aristotle knew the power of music could heal the sick. In an article published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Dr. Assad Meymandi writes:

“Since ancient times, music has been recognized for its therapeutic value. Greek physicians used flutes, lyres, and zithers to heal their patients. They used vibration to aid in digestion, treat mental disturbance, and induce sleep. Aristotle (373–323 BCE), in his famous book De Anima, wrote that flute music could arouse strong emotions and purify the soul. Ancient Egyptians describe musical incantations for healing the sick. The Bible is replete with references to the power of music, such as Zephaniah 3:17 – “He will rejoice over you with joyful songs!”


Polymath Noam Chomsky

In a recent opinion piece, Neom Chomsky, MIT Professor of Psycholinguistics since 1955 writes, “Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”  WE urge our readers to go online and read the article. In response to the piece received from another source I wrote below:

Noam Chomsky, the psycholinguist par excellence, is one of my role models. I have corresponded and argued/disagreed with him about some of his theories of learning languages, syntactic adaptation, and regional accents in various languages including Farsi, my native tongue, French and Arabic. My siblings and I were exposed to a dozen of language including Aramaic, Latin and Paleo Hebrew. I learned English when I came to US in 1955. Thank you for sending me his piece. I was born and raised in Iran and on the issue of nuclear agreement I agree with Professor Chomsky.

In the end, I wish we were more civil and loving. No nation has the right to will the eradication of another nation, especially a neighbor, from the face of the earth, as Iran wishes to do to Israel. We are all descendants of Abram (before he became Abraham—Genesis 17–), Ishmael and Isaac, blood related cousins. We must love one another as the Lord loves us as His children. Thank you for sharing. If ever in NC please let me know.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA


Death of a sister-in-law

Dearest Brother, Mentor and loving friend:

With deep regret, because of Emily’s health issues, she and I will miss being at the memorial service of your late beloved wife. We will not be there in flesh. But we will be there in spirit, and will observe the occasion with prayer and silence. We know that she and you were married for nearly 60 years and her loss is painful. Our heartfelt condolences.

As an aside, you told me on the phone that you were reading Surah Ar Rahman (the beneficent), 55th Surah in Quor’an. Just a brief reminder that the content of this holy Surah is very much similar to Psalm 23, a powerful promising pledge from God that the departed is ensconced in the empyrean seat of the ether of eternity. It also reminded me of the songs of Bhavad Gita (in my edition page154) with words similar to the beauty and loveliness of reincarnation promising redemption and evolution. Another source it triggered in my mind is Yasna the Avestan language of Zoroastrianism’s and its principal act of worship, as well as the name of the primary liturgical collection of Avesta texts which are recited during the Yasna ceremony. And I was also reminded of the lyrical 14 line poem of Rumi regarding life, death, evolution and promise of “transcending the angels”. “Az Jamadi Mordam-o-Nami shodam”…It makes the occasion holy and joyful. Joyful mourning, a Nietzschian oxymoron touched by the tenderness of providence…

Love, Joy, and Blessings


*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association; Life Member, American Medical Association; Life Member, Southern Medical Association; and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012).



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