Monday, November 15, 2010

Message from Belle to J, 23 July 2008
I too am ready for kisses anytime, anywhere.

Just finished the thrilling chilling conclusion of your article, googled "Kurzweil singularity near," and skimmed a Wiki article on "technological singularity." Hunh.

You know, I have some pretty wacky thoughts that relate to that subject, though not exactly. They're so half-baked that I can't even write them down, let alone to you. It's more the kind of thing to speculate about over a glass of wine, and then you'd set me straight, and then we'd kiss everywhere.

Okay, I'll go for it. I figure I have some credit with you. (At least I won't see your Giant Sarcastic Eyeroll.) I sometimes wonder if there's more than one species of human. I mean some people really seem so machinelike, wired so differently from what I understand to be human (people like Cheney, my old boss, and my next door neighbor) that I just wonder. That malignant narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) isn't the result of narcissistic injury in early childhood that leads to the killing of the soul. Well, maybe sometimes it is. But rather, that people with what I would characterize as NPD are actually the next step in human evolution - all intellect, no soul. Bent on destroying the earth and its resources. Mining it. Not viewing it in Gaia terms, in terms of love at all. Sometimes I wonder if that's what the New Testament is about, ultimately. "From such turn away."
From 2 Timothy: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Something like that! Crazy, I know.

Oh just kiss me already!
A couple of years ago I was sensing and trying to express something that Iain McGilchrist lays out systematically and persuasively in The Master and the Emissary, about the history and nature of the divided hemispheres of the human brain. I am feeling quite validated reading it. It is a most intriguing lens by which to view historical trends in Western civilization, such as the humanistic, expansive Renaissance followed hard by the repressive, power-hungry, literal Reformation. (I am not doing McGilchrist justice in my off-the-cuff synopsis. His writing is extremely clarid.)

But I just respond to it on a personal level, it's such a useful metaphor, right brain versus left brain. It makes me think of, in an inchoate way, little memories of growing up, wondering if seeds of much family turmoil didn't have some origin in essential hemispheric differences among family members. I'll jot down a few things that come to mind. My mother was ambidextrous, could write as well with her left hand as with her right, very unusual. I remember her repeating a truism about how cruel it is to try to convert a naturally left-handed person to be right-handed. My father, brothers, and I are righthanded. My sister's lefthanded.

That doesn't prove anything, of course. What else? McGilchrist offers a brief discussion of the nature of Protestantism as distinct from Catholicism, and I found myself responding to it with musings, remembrances that came up unbidden. I grew up in a nominally Catholic nuclear family, but my mother was at war with it and seemed to identify with (or was drawn to the thought of) grandparents of hers who were Lutheran, in Slovakia.

I liked going to church, for the sensation of it, the feeling of being immersed in a church filled with people. I was allowed to wear my tiny emerald ring to church, and I'd while away many an incomprehensible sermon by Father Frog-in-the-Throat by peering at the stained glass windows through glinted facets of the emerald. My parents never (or rarely) attended church, yet we had all been baptized, I went through communion though not confirmation, as time went on it simply wasn't compelling.

Within my family, in family lore, I've been viewed as needy. Because the others are extremely self-sufficient, powerful, strong...

To make a long story short I wonder if, in fact, I'm more right-brain dominant (perhaps literally, and in terms of my sense of self, and world view) than the others in my family. Survival of the fittest. They embraced competitiveness, getting ahead and self-reliance completely. In the early eighties my younger brother attended the London School of Economics, around the time the "Reagan Revolution" took hold; politics aside (Republicans and ostensible Democrats alike), that sea-change gave validation and huge thrust to the left-brain dominant.

My dears, this post is not making much sense, even to me. I feel tired and achy on this gray overcast day. Now it's dark. It's just that reading the McGilchrist it all feels so clear, and I respond to it - in a mirror darkly, perhaps.

My mother was a devotee of High Culture, and I fell in love with art history and struggled with classics of literature before I was ready for them. She seemed to believe in Art - as long as it was Great. I attended (only briefly as I recall) a pre-nursery-school group. All I remember of it is being in a back garden with other small children, fingerpainting I think, or crayoning. I drew some sort of scene, and had outlined the sun with black crayon - which my mother criticized. Does the sun have a black ring around - well does it? She was an artist herself, dabbled in oils and years later when she had more time, concentration, and focus, found success with watercolor. But I remember feeling confusedly crushed by her instant criticism. I really didn't know at that age (under five) how to depict the sun, I'd done the best I could. After that, I all but abandoned drawing, painting and crayoning. I was deemed (or willed) to be verbal, and also musical; the province of making visual art was that of my mother and, later on, much younger sister.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think I was actually much more artistic than I was ever given credit for being. It wasn't encouraged within my family, as much as a lot of lip-service was paid to trips to art museums and piano lessons. I Was To Be a Concert Pianist - otherwise my mother considered the lessons to be a waste of hard-earned, scarce money. Yeah, no pressure.

Anyway, here I am, blogging - i.e., writing - every day, up in the aerie. I try not to slap just anything up - but at the same time, I try to allow myself the roominess of daily efforts. (It is absolutely lethal to art, in my experience, to strive for Greatness - no, just try to set it down, do the best I can...)

This post is incomplete, but maybe it's just to put out a few strands that I'll mess around with better, with a little more focus later. It's a lot of stuff to take in, if you're the right-brain one, in a family of left-brain dominants. My first love, too, was someone who (as I see it now) is left-brain dominant - a fatal attraction of opposites, I suppose.

McGilchrist, p. 329:
As the Renaissance progresses, there becomes evident, however, a gradual shift of emphasis from the right hemisphere way of being towards the vision of the left hemisphere, in which a more atomistic individuality characterised by ambition and competition becomes more salient; and originality comes to mean not creative possibility but the right to 'free thinking,' the way to throw off the shackles of the past and its traditions, which are no longer seen as an inexhaustible source of wisdom, but as tyrannical, superstitious and irrational - and therefore wrong. This becomes the basis of the hubristic movement which came to be known as the Enlightenment.

Oh just kiss me already!

Very many kisses back.

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