[This text uses the metaphors of “left-brained” and “right-brained” to refer to two different ways of thinking, which could be summarised as “the intellect” and “instinct”. In reality there is no clear separation between personality types as we all express both sides to some degree, but more importantly there is no physical left/right brain divide that accounts for these differences –
“The notion of different hemispheric thinking styles is based on an erroneous premise: each brain hemisphere is specialised and therefore each must function independently with a different thinking style. This connection is a bridge too far: it uses scientific findings regarding functional asymmetries for the processing of stimuli to create conceptions about hemispheric differences on a different level, such as a cognitive thinking style. Furthermore, there is no direct scientific evidence supporting the idea that different thinking styles lie within each hemisphere. Indeed, deriving different hemispheric thinking styles from functional asymmetries is quite a bold venture, which oversimplifies and misinterprets scientific findings.“]
As previously discussed, our animal instincts and primal ways have become taboo, and in the process of taming our savage selves we have over-emphasised the rational mind, conscious thought, and well-considered action, as if culturally-speaking we have given the verbal, language-focused side of the brain free reign to dominate and influence our perspectives. In a society such as this the individuals and ideas that are not in compliance with the left-brained regulations are rejected or forcefully made to conform to them. By dominating our instincts and other unholy inherent phenomena we are metaphorically attempting to conquer the animal inside us, by imposing colonialist ideals upon it.
The domestic human values not just control over everything external, but over all internal elements as well. If given the choice he would even dictate his own heartbeat.
And so, just as the animals and the ground they walk on have been stigmatised, so too have the ideas of mindlessness, ignorance and unconsciousness.
In a society that attempts to control and analyse everything that goes on in the mind, the thought of happily, mindlessly going about one’s business conjures images of a drooling village idiot. To lose one’s mind means to go crazy, essentially due to the fact that the mind represents control, and a loss of such control is not only a sign of weakness, but also the sign of a dangerous individual that must be feared. In the nature vs. nurture debate, conscious control often amounts to mollycoddling what should really be left to nature.
Ignorance is perhaps the strongest form of mindlessness, and hints at the idea that somehow we should know better, and have failed to do our duty as humans. Holding an opinion on any particular subject is like proudly waving a little flag that reads: “I did my homework!”, but behind the host of opinions lies an uncomfortable truth, that we know very little as a species, and even less as individuals. Opinion-waving left-brainers are uncomfortable with the weight of all these known unknowns and especially the unknown unknowns whose mere possibility keeps them awake at night in an awkward sweat.
There are two types of people: the happily ignorant, and the unhappily ignorant.
Where some see ignorance as a shamefully empty void, I see not-knowing as a blank canvas, a territory unexplored and a map yet to be drawn. The same people who would point and cry “ignorance!” are the same ones who would dictate what it is we must not be ignorant of.
Unconsciousness or non-awareness is akin to disobedience in the eyes of the left-brained conquistador. “You should have been paying attention!”, he angrily shouts in an attempt to wake you from your mindless reverie. In fact we talk of consciousness using the same type of metaphors and connotations as before: high = good, low = bad. Dismissing the fact that there are good reasons not to be aware of everything and to forcefully guide all our thoughts and actions, while also discounting the fact that many people are naturally right-brained, and that trying to make them operate in left-brained ways can be very counterproductive.
I have not only been a victim of a society that imposes left-brain standards, but I have also unwittingly fallen into the trap of wilfully attempting to conform myself, sometimes based on what I perceive to be more desirable by industry standards. Now I realise that in multiple areas of my life I have actually made things more difficult for myself by trying to get in alignment with external factors that neither know or care about me, instead of concentrating all my efforts on being myself.
I have become too self-conscious, contained and shaped by routine, affected by what other people expect of me; a poor copy of my former self.
What I need to do is lose my mind.