Re: MD food for thought

From: Nathan Lund (
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 21:15:35 BST

The topic of irrationality -vs- reason came up, and these are my thoughts.
Recently, I've had a personal epiphany. I once told a friend I often have the problem of understanding many things, but completely lack of the means to express them verbally through language. He said this phenomenon is often associated with brain damage, we laughed, and it was left at that. I've
discoverd that the answer is much simpler than I originally thought: I'm right brained. This is something I've always known, but I've never put two and two together until I read a portion of The Dancing Wu Li Masters; none of it was new information for me, so I'm lead to believe it had to do with
the wording. Anyhow, I'll explain -- and excuse me if I retread any ground which you may already know.

Originally the left-brain/right-brain split was discovered by a medical procedure to "cure" epileptics in which the tissue separating the left and right side of the brain (the corpus callosum) would be split. This person who has undergone the split-brain surgury, quite literally, has two separte
brains (and in a sense, so does everyone). By experimentation on these people, it was discovered that each brain percieves the world in two completely different ways.
The left brain is linear. It organizes information sequentially on a continuum, "as points on a line." Language, a convention of the left brain, is completely linear; it exists as either words in a sentences moving left to right, one after another (existing sequentially in space) ... or it exists
as patterns of wave disturbances, being released from our lungs and throats, one wave, syllable, and word at a time, one after another (sequentially through time, radially--I think--through space). Informatin within the left brain is ordered sequentially. "It is the left brain which creates the
concept of causality, the image that one thing causes another because it always procedes it." (dancing wu li masters, 39)
The right side of the brain (which controls the physical left side of the body), percieves whole patterns. "When each hemisphere is tested separately, it is found that the left brain [linear, 'rational' brain] remembers how to speak and use words, while the right brain [non-linear 'irrational'
brain] generally cannot. However, the right brain remembers the lyrics of songs! The left side of the brain tends to ask certain questions of its sensory input. The right side of our brain tends to accept what is given more freely." (dancing wu li masters, 39).
Ahhh! That's it exactly! I'm right-brained! I can never put my thoughts into words, and am always "mind-blanking" and forgetting even common words and details, because I understands things intuitively, as a whole! My understanding is not inept, but gets complicated in the right-to-left brain
translation from entire-pattern-of-understanding to linear-sequencing-of-language. Take, for example, a digital photograph. When you look at it you see an entire pattern; you see shapes, forms, gradients of color, et cetera. This is the right brain interpratation. The left brain interpratation of
this digital photograph would be linear ... pixel by pixel; one by one, left to right, top to bottom. We live in a culture where the only common ground of communication is that pixel-by-pixel explaination, the english language (or language or dialect specific to nationality or region, all of
which are linear, left-hemispherical functions).
This is why I encounter problems thinking on my toes, in verbal debates. I mind-blank in these debates if I haven't made the translation for myself from right brain to left ... I'm contantly remembering concepts, functions, and relationships, but often forget their corresponding words.
This also gives input into the classic-romantic split (or what my friend Dan called "the library vs. the street." -- not exactly the same thing, but with roots in the same soil). What he's describing isn't just the causic reaction between two personalities, not just underlying form -vs- surface
appeal (a descriptoin which I tought seemed mysteriously and unexplainably flawed), but is really very connected to the split between right and left hemispheres of thinking.
"Physiologically, the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. In view of this it is no coincidence that literature and mythology associate the right hand (left hemisphere) with rational, male, and assertive characteristics
and the left hand (right hemisphere) with mystical, female, and receptive characteristics. The Chinese wrote about this same phenomena thousands of years ago (yin and yang) although they were not known for their split brain surjury. Our entire society reflects a left hemisphere bias (it is
rational, masculine, and assertive). It give very little reinforcement to the right hemisphere (intuitive, femenine, and receptive). The advent of 'science' marks the beginning of the ascent of left hemispheric thinking into the dominant mode of western cognition and the descent of the right
hemispheric thinking into the underground (underpsyche) status from which it did not return (with scientific !
recognition) until Freud's discovery of the 'unconcious' which, of course, he labeled dark, mysterious, and irrational (because that is how the left hemisphere views the right hemisphere)." (dancing wu li masters, by gary zukav, 39-40.)
The condemnation of eastern thought by western thought is not just because of one predominant personality which condemns the other, but because of condemnation and repression of our own brain. A person who is condemning art and mysticism because it is "irrational", and a person who condemns
science because it is ugly and focused on dull specific details is, most literally (though they may not conciously know it), condemning and dismissing an entire half of their own brain.
The following is one of the most beautiful and true statements I have ever read:
"The next time you are awed by something, let the feeling flow freely through you and do not try to 'understand' it. You will find that you do understand, but in a way that you will not be able to put into words. You are percieving intuitively through your right hemisphere. It has not atrophied
from lack of use, but our skill in listening to it has been dulled by three centuries of neglect." (zukav, dwlm, 40)
The preceding quote was followed by an almost nearly as beautiful paragraph:
"Wu Li Masters percieve in both ways, the rational and the irrational, the assertive and receptive, the masculine and the femenine. They reject neither one nor the other. They only dance." (zukav, dwlm, 41).

And that is how I view rationality and irrationality ... a misunderstanding between two ways of thinking.


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