One idea struck me some years ago, when I was walking down the street on an autumn afternoon. It was simple and clear. It felt new to me. The idea that suddenly captured my mind with a surprising power and hypnotic magnetism was that all human organizations were a projection of ourselves, of our own conflicts and duality, of our brain...
...that the mind is such a powerful unconscious force, that all the structures and order we create are a recreation of it, an emergent result of our most basic interactions piling up.
Mind, marriage/partnerships, left and right politics, west and east civilization, have the same architecture, the same structure, at different level of complexity.
One of the interesting aspects about this idea was that it frees (me) from blunt judgement, from the need of defining wrong or right in matters that are a mere reflection of this structure, this duality. I am as fond of the left side of my brain as I am of the right one. I love my cerebellum and my frontal cortex. My mind does not work without all its parts, even if my personality would be more prone to use one side over the other for certain aspects of the thinking process or my hippocampus is not as good as the taxi drivers'. In the same way that a father and a mother role complement each other (or at least, should!), it is more about working together than taking sides or judging for right and wrong. Thinking of sides in this way, everyone would be "entitled" to understand some capitalism principles without disagreeing with socialist challenges and the other way around.
Jaco Van Der Vaart
I'm not a philosopher, or a politician, or a sociologist, or a psychologist, or a biologist. I don't belong to any political party. I'm one of the many, one of the public, one of those in the middle, a woman, a mother, a professional, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a foreigner, listening and observing.
So this idea that simply appeared into my mind some years ago, is resonating stronger and stronger every day. Just by seeing what's going on, listening to what people say, reading the news about how China is changing, the crisis of capitalism, civil wars popping out everywhere, the European crisis, US internal challenges, Russia, how people are being "re-politicised", science and religion, how the role of women in business and in power is being discussed, gay marriage, light being drawn to child abuse etc. All these changes are happening simultaneously and suddenly I cannot help but think that they are somehow linked together. This idea offers (to me at least!) a perspective to what's going on, almost at every level of our lives, and potentially gives me a new frame to interpret it without going mad.
But of course, it also opens some questions, so many questions in fact, that I have set myself up on a small project.
Identity, polarity, rhythm, asymmetry, hierarchy, power, governability, culture, national identity, the role of women, the role of science, the role of religion, fear, instinct, survival tactics, ultimately self-knowledge as a key to unlock world understanding...
So I'm undusting some books, buying some new ones, following some TED and RSA talks and doing a lot of thinking, during what it would otherwise be an uninspiring daily commute to work, trying to put things together and maybe even trying to write some sense out of it.
AB – Originally posted Feb 2013 – re-edited 2014
Note: recent studies have shown that there is no correlation of people being analytical and using more the left side of the brain nor vice-versa. I still refer to the polarities, patterns of behaviour and thought beyond the physiological.
RSA animate - Ian McGilchrist: The Divided brain
TED talks - James B. Glattfelder: Who controls the world?
RSA animate - David Harvey: The crisis of capitalism
University of Oxford - Richard Dawkins, Rowan Williams, Anthony Kenny: "Human Beings & Ultimate Origin" Debate
Huffington Post interview to Reza Aslan