Monday, January 14, 2013

Have You Heard the One About the Snake & the Lass?

In our previous post we suggested that, for the right cerebral hemisphere, "understanding music is perceived as similar to knowing a person."

Turns out to be the same vis-à-vis language, which "is an extension of life" (whatever that is). Like most of the factoids emerging from split-brain research, it doesn't really require the research to understand the principle.

For example, McGilchrist quotes Wittgenstein, who said that "to imagine a language is to imagine a form of life" (whatever that is).

Yes, "whatever that is." This is a critical unThought to bear in mind, because "life" and "language" are absolutely coterminous. In other worlds, no pre-linguistic animal "knows" it is alive, or has any way of abstracting the thing we call "life" from the totality of its experience.

Nor is it likely that human beings would have the concept of life in the absence of the experience of its absence. We've discussed this in the past, but it was Hans Jonas who first brought this to our attention.

In his The Phenomenon of Life, Jonas writes that "When man first began to interpret the nature of things -- and this he did when he began to be man -- life was to him everywhere, and being the same as being alive" (emphasis mine).

Thus, "Animism was the widespread expression of this stage.... Soul flooded the whole of existence and encountered itself in all things. Bare matter -- that is, truly inanimate, 'dead' matter, was yet to be discovered -- as indeed its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious."

Now, in the absence of a vascular catastrophe, it is very hard for us to put the developmental truthpaste back into the tube, and revert to a wholly right-brained view of the world.

However, as we shall hear, I think Genesis 3 must have something to do with this epic transition -- arguably the biggest bang in the cosmos -- from the untroubled holism of right-brain living into the dualistic world of the left, i.e., the tree of bifurcated knowledge of good and evil.

While we're on the subject, I should mention another book we've discussed in the past, The Symmetry of God, by Rodney Bomford. I don't have time to review his ideas at the moment, but if you search his name on the blog, you will see that his application of symmetrical logic toward understanding the divine realm is completely compatible with the idea that this realm is mediated via the right brain.

Indeed, Matte Blanco's analysis of symmetrical and asymmetrical logic essentially defines the left and right brain views of the world.

Back to the orthoparadox that Life is prior to nonlife. Clearly, this is a quintessentially right-brained view of the world, which doesn't perceive the sharp outlines and abstractions of the left. It sees holistically, and who's to say its interpretation is wrong?

For example, modern science places a sharp temporal division in the cosmos, and tells us that on one side is dead matter, the other side "life" (whatever that is). Life wasn't present for the first five billion years or so of cosmic evolution, and then it suddenly pops up out of nowhere (BOO!).

But as we suggested in the Bʘʘ!k, who are we to assume this cosmos is fundamentally dead, or that biology isn't just the mature fruit of a sufficiently ripe old cosmic tree?

Speaking of trees, back to Eden. One of the lessons of Genesis 3 is that with the dominance of the left brain, Death is introduced to the cosmos.

D'oh!

But that's just the way it is. Once we enter the dualistic world of the left, "the riddle confronting man is death: it is the contradiction to the one intelligible, self-explaining, 'natural' condition.... To the extent that life is accepted as the primary state of things, death looms as the disturbing mystery" (Jonas).

Just so: the price of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is indeed death, just as God says.

Note that he says we will die if we eat from it, which is to say, assimilate it. Also, when the Torah uses the word "knowledge," it is not in the abstract way we understand the term. It has much more to do with intimate familiarity, as we've discussed in the past (e.g., Adam knew Eve, ooh la la!).

Now, Rabbi Sacks has an interesting take on this subject, in his highly raccoomended The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. Alert to the whole left-right brain tissue, he notices some details in Genesis that had escaped me.

First of all, for prelapsarian man, God "speaks" in an unproblematic manner. In short, he is "heard" intuitively, which is much more of a right brain phenomenon.

But in Genesis 3:6, Eve can't help noticing that the forbidden tree is easy on the eyes, meaning that she has transitioned from ear to eye and right to left. Indeed, immediately thereafter we read that the eyes of both of them were opened. Adam and Eve suddenly see that they are naked, and -- just as in the developing child -- feel shame.

Then it's back to the ear: they once again hear God, only now, for the first time, Adam is frightened of him. Which reminds me of a Buddhist crack to the effect that where there are two, there is fear. (I'm also thinking of "no one sees my face and lives. But hears my voice? No problemo.")

But who is this serpent fellow, this snake in the lass? Hmm, maybe the corpus callosum that links the two hemispheres:

29 Comments:

Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Yikes! Are you telling me there's a snake in my head? Please keep this news from my wife, she's deathly afraid of snakes :)

1/14/2013 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

& if that red snake
'turns around'

1/14/2013 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger son of a preacher man said...

FWIW

Eve was not named until after the Fall. Adam names her in Gen 3:20.

"And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living."

1/14/2013 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, but I'm guessing it's the same lady.

Interesting, because that touches on Sachs' interpretation, that Eve is more of a real person to Adam subsequent to the fall -- she goes from being an anonymous part of Adam to having her own identity.

1/14/2013 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

i.e. from right brain fusion to left brain separation and individuation...

1/14/2013 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Hey, I've been poking around Genesis lately too.

Recent discoveries being that as God says, "...you will die if you eat from it" this appears to be the moment that free will is gifted, and is therefore before the choice/fall takes place. God knows this was ineveeatapple. Careful what you love.

Also, notice how the tree of good and evil is a single tree bifurcated, rather than two separate trees. Visually the branches of the tree perhaps symmetrical (in a perfect or archetypal tree) is like the nervous system separated, "growing up" in to two branches of the one brain. This also suggests that good and evil did co-arise. And that the tree of life "in the other hand" is one tree with no division.

1/14/2013 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, Sachs makes it clear how cautious we must be just by virtue of going from Hebrew, which is a right brain language (for which reason it is read from right to left), to Greek, which is a left brain language. Certain Hebrew ideas are extremely difficult if not impossible to render in Greek.

1/14/2013 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

intuition, innertuition

I'm liking this a lot

I thought "knowledge of good and evil" in Hebrew referred to the legal status of a man able to decide something on behalf of a minor - so eating of it without permission would be to rebel and claim that higher status for one's own, wrongly

but this left/right stuff is really intriguing

1/14/2013 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Since scripture is a quintessentially right brain communication, it is holographic and therefore susceptible to multiple interpretations.

1/14/2013 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's like the left brain is the laser beam that focuses on the right in order to read out a particular stream of info.

1/14/2013 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

yep

here's an interesting description: http://www.torah.org/learning/olas-shabbos/5759/bereishis.html#

1/14/2013 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger son of a preacher man said...

"she goes from being an anonymous part of Adam to having her own identity."

Yes, the Fall has more to do with the seperation of the "hemispheres" and the physical seperation into male and female human forms was more of a by-product or would that be bi-product.

1/14/2013 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Before the Fall and even before Eve, God brings all the animals by and has Adam name them: ...whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

We would consider left-brain language activity, but I don't think Adam is just attaching labels. He is seeing and identifying essence. Like seeing a bee and knowing that it is necessary for pollination.

This is why the narrative then relates that none were suitable companions for Adam (seriously, thank God), so the Lord brings Eve along -- out of Adam rather "out of the ground".

1/14/2013 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Love it: feminism is the new creationism.

1/14/2013 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

For example, modern science places a sharp temporal division in the cosmos, and tells us that on one side is dead matter, the other side "life" (whatever that is). Life wasn't present for the first five billion years or so of cosmic evolution, and then it suddenly pops up out of nowhere (BOO!).

Apropos, see also the last 3 or 4 paragraphs of Mushroom's post today (and my comment, which is really HvB's)...

1/14/2013 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Just so: the price of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is indeed death, just as God says.

Note that he says we will die if we eat from it, which is to say, assimilate it."

There's a nice description of the Tenured ones.

1/14/2013 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Thank you, Julie.

1/14/2013 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

"Interesting, because that touches on Sachs' interpretation, that Eve is more of a real person to Adam subsequent to the fall -- she goes from being an anonymous part of Adam to having her own identity."

Maybe God looked into the celestial mirror and said to himself, "Wow! that Maya is smokin' hot!"

Or Logos saw Sophia.

Or Adam saw Eve. And we *know* that they had a falling out. Or at least a fall.

And anyhow, when you create something you create it's opposite.

The left brain is the *opposite* of the right brain. But you can't *have* a left brain without a right brain. Huh?

This is where the entire "Twin Soul" concepts resides, mathematically.

Hey, if there's a "me" and you can't create a "me" without a "not-me". Uh.

You see this in physics with the matter-antimatter issue.

"Hey, where did all the anti-matter go?"

1/14/2013 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Inside my skull is not a 2-hemisphered moist mass of squishy grey-white sausage...but a polished mirror shaped like the Sun set pearl-like in a gyroid bed of skyblue pure space
humming at the speed of light

1/14/2013 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Nicely done, ge.

1/14/2013 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

But in Genesis 3:6, Eve can't help noticing that the forbidden tree is easy on the eyes, meaning that she has transitioned from ear to eye and right to left. Indeed, immediately thereafter we read that the eyes of both of them were opened. Adam and Eve suddenly see that they are naked, and -- just as in the developing child -- feel shame."

So Eve and then Adam foresook the Newtritious ear candy for the empty calorie eye candy (one could say parasitic since the eye candy feeds on ones very soul, I reckon).

Or, in modern vernacular, they chose the kosmic zero bar which the left brain zeroes in on.

Excellent posts Bob. They make my left brain hurt, though. :^)

1/14/2013 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Humming at the speed of light...I like it, ge.
Unlike jest the left brain which has only warped speed.

1/14/2013 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of eyes and ears, I'm still way back in the Guissani, and this little bit came to light tonight:

The world is a parable. "I speak in parables so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear."

1/14/2013 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

This kind of goes along with what we're talking about. Especially the way they are investigating it. They seem to be saying that you can't have free will because you are making decisions before you are aware of it.

That doesn't surprise me at all, and it seems extremely unconvincing as evidence. Your conscious mind is always playing catch-up. Nice of science to drop by the real world now and then.

But I guess those researchers just can't help themselves.

1/14/2013 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

From Mushroom's article:

"And indeed, this is starting to happen. As the early results of scientific brain experiments are showing, our minds appear to be making decisions before we're actually aware of them — and at times by a significant degree. It's a disturbing observation that has led some neuroscientists to conclude that we're less in control of our choices than we think — at least as far as some basic movements and tasks are concerned."

Well, yeah.

I agree with this.

In fact, I call it "autopilot".

I just let the mental autosystems do whatever they want to do because I'm bored, disengaged, interested in thinking about something else.

Free will is about making decisions that matter, not about standard-issue brain body stuff.

99% of what I do all day doesn't require much in the way of free will, except that I'm choosing to go to work and do work.

I *could* choose to stay home.

They're Missing the Point.

Which is to be expected.

1/14/2013 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Development or skill can pretty much be defined by rendering unconscious what was once conscious.

1/14/2013 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

recalls this:

THE MOUNTAINEER

Consciousness is a symptom of disease.
All that moves well moves without will.
All skillfulness, all strain, all intention is contrary to
ease.
Practise a thousand times, and it becomes difficult;
a thousand thousand, and it becomes easy; a
thousand thousand times a thousand thousand,
and it is no longer Thou that doeth it, but It that
doeth itself through thee. Not until then is that
which is done well done.
Thus spoke FRATER PERDURABO as he leapt
from rock to rock of the moraine without ever
casting his eyes upon the ground.

-BOOK OF LIES OF 666

1/14/2013 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bob --

Are you wandering into Julian Jaynes territory?

Cliff

1/15/2013 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not really, although there's some inevitable overlap.

1/15/2013 07:23:00 AM  

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