Random Thoughts 12/04/12
I'm working on a long piece about THE TEMPEST and how Shakespeare anticipated our Next Era, but work and the holiday season have delayed its posting. It’s not there yet. So here’s an evening rambling.
Tonight, I posted on Facebook a line from the Showtime series, HOMELAND. Abu Nazir said "the mind gambles with both ears". He was speaking about the conflict another character was having between two world views. The ears are operated by the opposite sides of the brain. (Left ear/Right brain; Right Ear/Left Brain) The ears can’t help but hear with the world view of the side of the brain that guides them. The two sides of the brain are as different as their opposing world views. The mind must decide which brain’s world view to hear. It must gamble on the “right” one.
It’s interesting that in images of the devil and the angel whispering in someone’s ears, the devil is almost always on the left. While this goes back to an idea of the left being bad/sinister, by having the devil talk in the left ear it(/he, often she) is talking to the right brain. It is saying try something new, go off the straight and narrow course, have a little fun, feel something. The angel is telling the left brain through the right ear to stay the course, don’t question, follow the morals of a patriarchal authority. Different brains: different world views.[i]
I was having lunch with Jan Strnad today. He works with me and is a captivating writer.[ii] We got to talking about why people believe what they believe. He was talking about some friends who are into the mystical paths. He tends to be more skeptical. My parents have their Southern Baptist beliefs; while my views are both more expansive and not trusting of anyone else’s religious system.
I’m becoming convinced that religious beliefs are based as much on the dominant side of the brain a person is using as much as anything else.[iii] The left brain plays into a monotheistic, patriarchal, system based on words and the literal legitimacy of the sacred book. The right brain likes a poly- or pan-theistic view with a strong matriarchal lateralization based on emotion and experience. Right brainers can go with everything. (Very Unitarian until you become too radical about it, then it veers left.) Left brainers are often skeptics. It’s funny that the atheist and the right wing zealot can both be dominant left brainers.
One of my favorite lines in Shakespeare is: Hamlet’s “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
I keep thinking that the goal is to hold the two worldviews of the two sides of the brain to both be true at the same moment; to hold the opposites; to embrace the dream of the impossible while holding onto a sturdy skepticism. That’s way we need to live in this 21st Century.
[i] While he might not have been the first to have the angel and the devil on the shoulder, Shakespeare gives us one of the earliest versions of this in the Launcelot Gobbo speech in Act II, Scene 2 of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Images of the Devil whispering in the Ear from Google
[ii] I felt compelled to give him an adjective, like one reads in reviews. Working in the theatre, we often joked about what adjective we got in the reviews. Jan is so much more than an adjective. Here’s the link to some of Jan’s writings at Amazon. Read his two newest works, the novel THE SUMMER WE LOST ALICE or his graphic novel RAGEMOOR. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jan+strnad
[iii] There’s a lot more information on this in The Teeter Totter of the Brain series I wrote.