Thursday 19 January 2012

Left brain life...


Life in a modern bureaucracy proceeds by the maxim that if it does not leave an audit trail it is evil...

If it is not 'recorded' then it is not real, it didn't really happen.

Indeed if it did happen but was not recorded then it probably should not have happened - since it was a waste of time and likely sinister in content.

And if it does leave a record, then whatever that record says is reality.


So we are left with the Left hemisphere world - a vast, entropic pile of life-shards, heaped into a shape crudely-imitative of reality.


Yet the worst aspect of it all is that people seem superficially to be pleased at the process, excited, zealous!

Even, or especially women - who are more naturally Right brain creatures. Stunned at the (supposed) novelty of life as a panopticon of good intentions and niceness.

They really seem to believe, and certainly would not publicly doubt, that this time it will work.

While all the time their souls must be screaming in silent torment, their eyes seem to shine with ecstatic joy - in worship of the wondrous vistas just ahead.



Anonymous said...

The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, "Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing," and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, "Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.

- reported comment by Dmitri Shostakovich on the finale of his 5th symphony

Wurmbrand said...

"Life in a modern bureaucracy proceeds by the maxim that if it does not leave an audit trail it is evil..."

If not "evil," then to be deplored and traced from now one, because what can't be articulated in order to be measured is of little or no value to an organization.

McGilchrist has some good comments in passing about education in his "Things Are Not What They Seem" talk.

If human beings are, as he says, "amphibious," material and spiritual, then problems are inevitable when the left hemisphere is dominant, with its proclivity for the measurable and its attachment to maximization of "utility."

So a lot of the best things going on in education are in spite of, and in a fugitive relationship to, the bureaucrats who would monitor teachers and students.

Catherine said...

Maybe being naturally more Right-brained makes it more bearable - softens the edges somewhat. Maternity especially would seem to have some sort of overall life-structuring effect on women, as well as grounding them more to the physical.

As for the less maternal women (who also on average seem to be more intelligent), they're usually the ones leading the stampede into anything non-Western: Eastern religions, meditation, yoga, etc. (A step below that is just numbing yourself with some drug or another.) Can you blame them?

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the most absurd of these popular misconceptions is that the left hemisphere, hard-nosed and logical, is somehow male, and the right hemisphere, dreamy and sensitive, is somehow female. If there is any evidence that could begin to associate each sex with a single cerebral hemisphere in this way, it tends to indicate, if anything, the reverse- but that is another story and one that I will not attempt to deal with in this book."

Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary, p. 2


Bruce Charlton said...

@redbud - thanks for the correction - McG pointed out the same point in an e-mail.

I'm not sure whether I agree with him, however. For example, autism/ Asperger's are mostly male, and McG uses them as examples of Left brain dominance. Perhaps he is referring to the results of brain imaging studies (which I do not trust)?

But at least I need to be more exact about what I *do* mean - so the point is well worth making.

Wurmbrand said...

Sorry -- in my previous comment, "from now one" should be "from now on."

I'm about 65 pages into McGilchrist's valuable Master and His Emissary. I hope it will be widely read.

It seems to me an outstanding entry in an emerging field of relatively Faith-friendly books from impressively-credentialed and articulate people -- scientists, philosophers, artists, etc.

We may now be well into a new era of pre-evangelism.

However, "pre-evangelism" isn't the Evangel. The Evangel is "the old coarse Gospel" (in John Wesley's phrase). Not that the Evangel should be /presented/ in a coarse manner. But the Evangel is the good news of the Savior who died for us. Of Him, the Old Testament testifies: in prophecy, in sacrificial ritual, and in event. The New Testament Gospels have been described as Passions with prologues.* Remembering these things will help us to keep clear the distinction between pre-evangelism and Evangel.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Charlton,

I tend more toward the view that it is women who are the driving force behind phenomena such as the bureaucratization of everyday life which you rightly deplore. When women first began to enter the workforce in large numbers, but before the 1970s triumph of feminism, what were the typical "pink-collar" careers? Elementary school teacher, secretary, telephone operator, and librarian (nurse, too, but that was probably a holdover from the days when nurses were nuns). In other words, there was a consensus that women seemed especially well suited to occupations which dealt with easily systematized, decontextualized bits of information. As women moved into other professions, including the government, they have brought these systematizing, "checklisting" traits with them.

I admit that I'm puzzled by the connection between autism and the male brain. I wonder whether Dr. McGilchrist might offer an explanation, since he is in contact with you.


Wurmbrand said...

And in my second comment I forgot to write the note to accompany the asterisk. I wanted to acknowledge that I am not sure the remark about the New Testament Gospels as Passion narratives with prologues was said of all or just some of them.

In either case, the point should be clear.

I'm reminded of the (I believe) working-class woman in one of Charles Williams's novels. In the swirl of high mystical rumors or the like, she asks the blunt question, "Where's the Precious Blood?" Pre-evangelism is necessary and often fascinating, but her question shouldn't be forgotten!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Rosebud - yes you are right.

But there is a very different quality about the way men and women 'do bureaucracy'.

A typical male b. is a gang or the military, with individual based hierarchy based on authority and responsibility - 'meetings' tend to be brief, decisive, even aggressive - ruled by an alliance of men.

The female bureacracy is committee and consensus based - meetings tend to be longer, larger, sociable, mutually complimentary, inclusive etc - decisions should emerge - everybody should leave the meeting bonded, happy and encouraged.


Male meetings tend to become corrupted into dominance displays, female meetings are corrupted into social bonding.


My guess is that modern bureaucracy is characteristically devised by men and implemented by women. More men are at home in and enjoy the left hemisphere world systematic abstractions than women; women 'use' the men's abstract worlds as a way of reducing aggression, competition, domination, functionalism etc - a kind of 'equalizer' perhaps.

Interesting topic...