Alternate Facts, Alternate Brains
Yesterday we spoke of those "enigmas which faith imposes upon the believer," but "which he accepts because he accepts God." And accepts God "not out of naivety, but thanks to a certain instinct for the essential and for the supernatural."
In short, there is a kind of direct perception or intuition of God that allows one to take the rest on board, even if some of the rest is enigmatic or impenetrable to mere reason.
For the great majority of history the great majority of men functioned with this "instinct" intact. Did the rise of rationalism (or materialism or scientism or secular leftism) result in an attenuation of the instinct, or did the weakening of the instinct result in a heightened rationalism?
Either way, there is something one-sided -- something intrinsically out of balance -- in a man who seeks truth (as all men must), but only via the left brain. Alternate facts? Of course there are alternate facts. Unless maybe you're had a stroke or head injury or attended graduate school.
And I use "left brain" as a metonym for all the modes of truth and truth-seeking that bypass or transcend mere logic of the everyday kind. Indeed, what about the nighttime logic of which, say, Finnegans Wake is an expression? Clearly, that book was not written by or for the left brain.
Which is its whole reason for being. It was "conceived as obscurity, it was executed as obscurity, it is about obscurity." But not pointless obscurity! Rather, "it's natural that things should not be so clear at night, isn't it now?" (Joyce, in Bishop). In short, it's a book about the logic of the night, written with the logic of the night (i.e., the dream logic of the right brain).
Come to think of it, why was it written at all? No doubt because people hate being caged within rationalism. If they can't escape via religion, then they'll find another way out, whether through drugs, political radicalism, literature, whatever.
There was a time in my life when I would have agreed that in the bad old days people had to settle for God, but that nowadays, thankfully, we have almighty rock music. From the age of nine or so, music was my means of escape (or inscape). In many ways it still is, only not in a way that runs counter to religion, but is confluent with it.
It's been a while since we gave a shout to The Symmetry of God, which may not resolve all of the enigmas faith imposes upon the believer (or right brain on left), but certainly provides a fruitful way to look at them.
Long story short, even back in graduate school I was an extreme seeker, such that I was drawn to more daring and far-reaching psychoanalytic theorists such as W.R. Bion, and in this case, Ignacio Matte Blanco. I devoured his magnum opus, The Unconscious as Infinite Sets, and if I'd thought of it first, perhaps I might have applied his ideas to religion, which is what Bomford has done.
The amazon review of Matte Blanco a little overwrought, but gives a sense of where he was coming from, and why young Bob was excited at the prospect of diving into the strange world of bi-logic with both hemispheres:
The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An essay in Bi-logic by Ignacio Matte Blanco is an endless roller coaster ride into the deepest sources of thought and feeling. Matte Blanco writes from the inside out, from the thermonuclear source of the Sun to the warmth of its rays to the Earth. Words like quarks ricochet off the pages.
Matte Blanco splits the Mind into two realms, two bi-halves, two different logical structures, or his "bi-logic."
The depths and hell of the unbelievable, is the Unconscious, where instinct spews lava into primordial affect. Unconscious logic underlies the language of poetry, dreams, jokes, propaganda, racism, advertisement, religion, and figures of speech. This Alice in Wonderland logic is generated by the Unconscious mind by the mechanisms of condensation, displacement, symbolization, concretization and hallucinations. This logic was conceptualized by Freud as the primary process and by Matte Blanco as symmetrical logic.
The other half, the Conscious, is where instinctual energy is transduced into factually based logic that attempts to keep us from being eaten alive by our fellow carnivores. This Aristotelian logic is generated by our conscious mind; Freud conceptualized this as the secondary process and Matte Blanco as asymmetrical logic....
It goes on in that florid vein, but the point is that the wide-awake asymmetrical logic of Aristotle does not necessarily yield truth, just as the symmetrical logic of the night brain doesn't necessarily result in error and falsehood.
For example, the left brain is of little use in helping us understand the truth of poetry, music, painting, and religion. Or, to be precise, we really need to exercise bi-logic, and not just rely on one or the other. In so doing, a hidden dimension emerges, similar to how our two eyes result in spatial depth, or our two ears in stereo.
So much of religion can only be apprehended via the right brain! But when I say "right brain," what I really mean is that what we call the right brain is already an expression of the deeper reality it discloses.
In other words, we don't perceive reality the way we do just because we perceive it through right or left brains; rather, human beings have these two modes because they are required in order to disclose the fulness of reality.
Think of, say, Mr. Spock, and the dimensions of humanness from which he is excluded due to his half-Vulcanized, hypertrophic left brain.
I'm about to make a wrenching segue, but it reminds me of a critical point Steven Hayward makes in Patriotism is Not Enough: basically, that what we call "statesmanship" can never be reduced to a formula. There are many thinkers and politicians of both left and right who imagine that leadership essentially consists in having the correct theory and pushing the right buttons. Thus, a leftist such as Obama relies on Keynesian theory to push the EXPAND GOVERNMENT button, while conservatives promise to hit the REDUCE TAXES button.
You might say that ideology of any kind is always a simplification of the world into easily manageable left-brained categories. But the heart of statesmanship is the exercise of a prudence that can never be reduced to ideology, and certainly isn't any kind of linear formula.
Churchill, for example -- surely one of the greatest statesmen who ever lived -- was not what you would call a logical man; nor was he illogical. Rather, passionate, visionary, inspiring, resolute, courageous, etc. Indeed, sometimes he was superficially illogical in pursuit of translogical aims. At any rate, there was no ready formula that could tell him, say, whether or not to bomb the French fleet, just as there is no formula that can tell Trump whether or not to drop the mother of all bombs on ISIS.
The point Hayward emphasizes is that just because statesmanship cannot be reduced to a formula doesn't mean it isn't a Thing. It's a Thing alright, just not reducible to left-brain, asymmetrical logic. Like religion, which is also a Thing, but a Thing that simply cannot be cracked by the left brain. As they say, it has not pleased God to save men through logic. But that's just the personification of an ontological fact: that it is the height of illogic to imagine that reality can be contained by mere logic, any more than the day can contain the night.