Sunday, January 9, 2011

The problem with talking about the brains

Some things have been written about the two brains, and some, like Betty Edwards' book, have caught on for a short time, but then we tend to put the matter aside.  Why is that?  What could be more important than understanding how our brains work and how they affect and are affected by our lives.

The answer is quite simple: most of our verbal communication and much of our conscious attention is mediated by the left brain, and the left brain doesn't like the conversation because the truth seems threatening to it.  I hope your left brain doesn't take offense at what I write so you can keep reading.  If you keep reading, your left brain will find that I am not attempting to bypass or denigrate the left brain but help it find its place in concert with the right brain.

How can I write about the brains hemispheres honestly?   I'm largely ambidextrous.  I write with my left hand, but use a fork with my right.  I throw left handed, but I bat right-handed.  In other words, I'm a mess, and that may be what it takes to write about this subject.

How do we use our two brains?

I've been interested in left/right brain dynamics ever since I read The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind  in the late 80s.  Then I took a drawing class from Betty Edwards in the late 90s.  Lately I've been reading a number of other books that tell various stories about how the left and right brains interact.  They all tell different aspects of the story, and I believe I can tell a story that ties them together into a consistent narrative.  In the process we will see a fantastic (in the full meaning of the word) story about our origins as a species.  You will have to decide whether something fantastic can also be true.

The books I will try to integrate are:

I am not especially well read, so there may be other books that bear on this subject.  Please let me know about them.  I am not academic, so the presentation may be a bit haphazard.  I am not compulsive, so there may be factual errors. 

Each of the authors of the above books has his/her own point of view, and I urge you to read the books to discover it.  I may mention their points of view in passing, but I will primarily be presenting my own point of view, not theirs.  I have no idea whether any of them will agree with my thesis.