Friday, August 06, 2010


When I was in Dearborn at the hands/maker conference, there was some discussion about how we learn, what we don't learn, and some disdain expressed about the public oversimplification of the left-right brain phenomenon. And so, I want to continue on the subject, knowing that I am indulging in oversimplification for a purpose. I strongly suspect that the left-brain/right-brain explanation entered the domain of popular oversimplification, because from a metaphorical perspective, it works. I did this drawing this morning, as a result of wrestling with concepts as I faded in and out of sleep. It may be self-explanatory. I think that many of us come closest to understanding when we step away from the dominance of the left brain. Just as Archimedes discovered the concept of displacement as he lowered himself into the bath, we become grounded in left/right through a variety of means. For Archimedes, what worked was being immersed in water. For some running or walking works. For many of us, the lucid dreaming state brings things to greater clarity. And often a drawing can serve where explanation cannot.

Keat's idea of negative capability is related to his metaphor, as follows:
I compare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe...
Feel free to comment if any of this makes sense to you.

1 comment:

oldpoetsoul said...

You're right, the lingo "left/right brained" falls short of what is actually meant, but it's a good shorthand until someone comes up with something more apt. I prefer to think of it as "eyes wide open" vs. "filtered." The filtered process (left brain) works best for decision-making, but "eyes wide open" (right brain) aids in creative discovery, scientific or otherwise, because anomalies are allowed to exist, and comparisons between disjunctive concepts lead to illuminating metaphors. Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran ponders some of these ideas in his book, "A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness."