Our world is increasingly becoming left brain. I’d like to call it biblical — our Moses era — where the world is parted between left brain chosen and right brain forgotten. Or the right brain movement that is a commuter train to instant access where we must all “Mind the Gap” and leave behind our left brain like luggage if we want to ride the tracks in the ceaseless rush to get somewhere or gain something material.
“The world is too much with us” and not enough in us. In us in the sense of the creative life, the right brain of the dreamy, intuitive, and playful. I like to think of the right brain as ambergris: that pungent perfume that we can use to seduce our imaginative life, just like it once was used to seduce lovers. I mean if a simple lump of ambergris, which is in fact just whale feces, can sell for thousands, then surely we can afford our right brain a little more loose change?
I see the left brain as the sperm oil of old that could light a metropolis but kill a leviathan. Yes we are now vastly more knowledgeable about our world, baptized as we all are in media babble and mobile phones and call centers and e-mails and straight-jacket shopping to buy what we don’t need but what some advertising imp wants us to have.
In Moby Dick Ishmael says, “I know him not, and never will.” The everyman of today can say, “I know everything, but never well.”
There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind being swallowed by a whale for a bit. Get a sense of the organic, the simple digestion of real things like reading, cooking, walking, writing, playing with my daughter. It would be invigorating to pass unseen through the outside world and its inanities, the real leviathan, the real Moby Dick that haunts us until we are obsessed with forms and facts and the analytical blubber. Like Henry Miller wrote, “Everything that has form has invisible substance.”
I imagine Miller was talking about the right brain, our leviathan that we harpoon for a lake of oil and analytical blubber.
It is known that an experienced whaler could tell how big a whale was by how long it stayed under water.
I’d say the longer we stay under the influence of the left brain, the bigger the challenge it will become to recognize the right. It will become like a single sperm swimming beside this giant deception.