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"Trigeminal: linked stories from Alexander M. Morrison"




Morrison, Alexander M., author
Altschul, Andrew, advisor
Levy, E. J., committee member
Pedrós-Gascón, Antonio F., committee member

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The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve, and it is responsible for sensations and motor functions in the face. Trigeminal literally means "thrice-twinned," as the trigeminal nerve has three major branches processed through the central nervous system. I imagine these eight stories to be, in their own sense, thrice-twinned, grouped within one of three designations: Audi, Vide, or Tace. These terms come from the following Masonic saying: "Audi, vide, tace, si vis vivere in pace," which from Latin translates to, "Hear, see, be silent, if you wish to live in peace." Few of my characters, if any, manage peace, although all bear witness. In their own groupings, these stories are linked through, among other things, recurrent characters, shared conflicts, and similar settings. Together, as a group of eight, they are also linked through theme: class distinctions, relationship to place, broken and whole families, and what it means to navigate a changing world, both on a personal and a larger level. Jean Rhys once said that "all of writing is a huge lake." There is water here, in each of the eight—sometimes a glass on a bedside table, sometimes a shallow stream, sometimes a mountain lake, sometimes the Pacific Ocean. It is my hope that this piece feeds that "huge lake" of which Rhys speaks.


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