On last week’s Friendship Bench, Eric Zabiegalski led us in a fascinating exploration of what it means to — as is the title of his book — Unthink. During the conversation, Eric mentioned Iain McGilchrist’s notion of betweenness; that is, McGilchrist’s contention that we need to live between the increasingly over-dominant left hemispheres of our brains and the right hemispheres of our brains, which are losing influence as the brain’s natural regulative masters. And, McGilchrist argues, both are necessary for a fully meaningful view of the world.
In his own words:
If one had to encapsulate the principal differences in the experience mediated by the two hemispheres, their two modes of being, one could put it like this. The world of the left hemisphere, dependent on denotative language and abstraction, yields clarity and power to manipulate things that are known, fixed, static, isolated, decontextualized, explicit, disembodied, general in nature, but ultimately lifeless. The right hemisphere, by contrast, yields a world of individual, changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate, living beings within the context of the lived world, but in the nature of things never fully graspable, always imperfectly known – and to this world it exists in a relationship of care.
In McGilchrist’s view, Albert Einstein was correct when he said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society which honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
What if the opposite is true? What if we — if culture, media, technology, politics, government, and life in general — have gotten to a point at which the rational mind has been defeated? Worn out? Beaten into submission?
If that weren’t true, why does the List of Dying Arts comprise:
- Common sense?
- Clear communication?
On everything from COVID to green energy, from decarbonization to energy dependence, from cocaine in the White House to an inculpatory laptop, from influence peddling to money laundering at the highest levels of government, what was supposed to be our government — of us, by us, and for us —we’re not supposed to think rationally about any of it. And we don’t.
Time is All We Have
I get everything anybody might be inclined to tell me about the examined life, self-knowledge, introspection, and all other concepts throughout the history of philosophy. God bless us for having the time and luxury to undertake such (arguably first-world) contemplations. But while we’re contemplating, the clock is ticking. And at the end of any such contemplation, we may be no closer to whatever we sought than we were when we started.
Some years ago — pre-COVID, as we say in the biz — I established a new philosophy. I called it LSA (leave shit alone). In establishing it, I acknowledged its likely failure to catch on:
Since we live in an age in which ideologues, dogmatists, and pedagogues are mistaken for teachers, opinion-mongers are mistaken for journalists, hysterics are mistaken for scientists, community agitators are mistaken for statesmen, celebrities are mistaken for authorities, fiction writers are mistaken for historians — and none of them can leave shit alone — the prospects for the adoption of my philosophy are pretty bleak, indeed.
Nevertheless, were we to try it, even for a little while, we might find our way back to realizing how valuable time is, to recognize time is the most precious thing being stolen from us through distraction and subterfuge. We’d realize the endgame of distraction and subterfuge is power and control. And we’d know without doubt that what the ideologues, the dogmatists, the pedagogues, the opinion-mongers, the hysterics, the community agitators, the celebrities, and the fiction writers posing as historians want to control is our time.
Time doesn’t need examination or manipulation. Making the most of it requires only acceptance and purpose.
Let’s wake up. It’s about time.