Here’s a video interview of Iain McGilchrist, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who never mentions the actual thing he’s talking about but gives the most ingenious and satisfying description of how and why a certain modern cultural poison is killing our happiness and annihilating life’s meaning, especially for young people here in the US.
He calls it a crisis of total left-hemisphere dominance, the new reign of Puritanism.
He believes that the only way to reverse the damage it’s doing is to understand it and talk about it calmly.
I agree and hope you will share this video with everyone on your email list, even the one who despises psychiatrists.
After you listen, let’s see if you and I agree on the best single word to describe what he’s talking about.
The interview reminds me of Hemingway’s short story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” where two lovers quarrels over abortion, but the reader must figure that out because the word “abortion” is never mentioned.
Whenever I hear someone talking up true inclusiveness and diversity while pointing out that the root problem is “scientific” materialism, I can’t help but cheer inside. Someone out there gets it!
Quite opposite to the old understanding of how the left and right hemispheres of the brain perceive the world and deal with it, Dr. McGilchrist tells us that as a result of studying people with right hemispheric strokes (which can destroy the right hemisphere, leaving only the left to deal with things), it is the left hemisphere that believes it is right about everything and becomes angry and disgusted if anyone contradicts it. Worldview tolerance is alien to it, denial of reality comes naturally.
As you know, a right hemispheric stroke can paralyze the left side of the body (since the nerve fibers cross over). Well…
McGilchrist tells us about a presumably representative stroke victim with no feeling or movement in the left arm after a severe right-hemispheric stroke. The patient was in total denial of the fact that his left arm belonged to him.
“That’s not my arm.”
This launches an understanding of the nature of wokeness. That’s the word he never said, but only talked around.
Stemming from the divide in the early 1900’s where Physics began rejecting “scientific” materialism while Biology did a mind-meld with it (by assuming that the human body and mind are entirely mechanical and without true consciousness, free will, spirit or soul) woke society is now finally becoming so left-hemisphere dominated that woke individuals resemble McGilchrist’s left-hemisphere-dominated schizophrenic patients who had lost touch with truth and reality.
The left hemisphere, he explains, lives in a somewhat 2-dimentional world and exists for the purpose of focusing narrowly, grasping one small thing at a time (often a physical object, a word or a phrase) and controlling it beneath an inflexible, unquestionable worldview.
He tells us that when he asks a new patient what’s wrong, if the answer is, “nothing, I’m fine,” then there is nothing he can to do help.
So the best “action” available to us un-woke people who would like to bring true diversity of ideas, free speech, and the fullness of human meaning back from the mechanical grip of Wokeism, is to simply talk about it, hopefully in a non-confrontational, non-brittle and charitable way… though sheepishly now I’ve linked to the word “Wokeism” and discovered it’s a pejorative term. Who knew?
Maybe that’s why Dr. McGilchrist never mentioned it. Some people say it’s a mean term invented by FOX “News.”
I don’t listen to Fox (Republican Brainwashing) “News” or to any of the numerous Democrat Brainwashing “News” programs either (both sides owned and controlled by a small group of hyper-wealthy people), so I ignorantly thought “woke” was a neutral term created by its owners for their racist worldview of denial that addicts people like a hypnagogic drug and is now ushering in Orwell’s 1984. <– Here’s the full text in pdf, if you want to re-read it.
“Something kind of sad about the way that things have come to be desensitized to everything. What became of subtlety? How can this mean anything to me if I really don’t feel anything at all? I’ll keep digging ’till I feel something.” – Maynard (James Herbert Keenan) of Tool
Mr. Tool (as I used to call him when trying to make my teenage son laugh at his out-of-touch dad) is one of the most open and honest lyricists ever to breathe, not to mention he’s insightful.
As Tool’s haunting video for this song might be retrospectively interpreted: when the left hemisphere takes full control of a person or of an entire society (like ours in the US), it has no more use for subtly than it has for self-questioning of its deepest assumption, an empty claim and threat that echoes the Puritan culture from the early white colonies of North America:
“I am always right, so keep your mouth shut and obey me.”
I have to believe that most woke people will be able to extract themselves from this gnarly worldview once they understand what spirit it represents. It reminds me of an old story…
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD