Camera obscura part III - Living on the brain's left side

Ok, now here’s where it gets interesting. According to the latest updates in split-brain physiology, your brain is divided into two halves. Your left half handles logic, language, reason and calculation. This is the conscious, rational everyday basis for our personalities, for our reality.

The right side of your brain is the center of your intuition, emotion, pattern recognition skills, insight. Your subconscious.  

Your left brain is the scientist and your right brain is your artist.               

Most people live out of their left sides. It’s only in extreme pain, crisis, upset, trauma, injury, sickness, that their subconscious can slip into their conscious. When everything normal goes to hell, even sometimes for an instant, the right brain can take over for a flash, just for another instant, and give them access to divine inspiration.               

We truth is that we all dream 24 hours a day, night dreams, daydreams, your subconscious is always going, never stops, an endless stream, a river of color, music, images. But it’s kept in check by the bullying left side, the cold rationale that runs most of the ship. Only at night when you let go, when you let your tired normal, boring left brain get some sleep, does the right brain get to come out to play.  

Sometimes that dream state finds other chinks in the armor. Hey, it’s through the cracks where the light comes through. Maybe some of us discover ways to help let the rational, safe, ordinary barriers come down, even for a time, and let the dreams play. For a flash of insight; a moment of enlightenment. A French psychologist Pierre Janet called this condition “the lowering of the mental threshold.”               

Most of the time we are left to our own devices to claw our way into that special world that lives so close but yet so far away. Others are lucky enough to find someone to assist them in the journey, like the love-hate relationship between Michelangelo and Pope Julius II during the painting of the Sistine Chapel, so vividly shown in the novel, “The Agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone.               

Most people believe that the ceiling was an artistic commission between artist and Pope. I believe it was selling his soul. Or the old fable from the 1930s about Robert Johnson, one of the best, if not the greatest Blues guitarists, waiting at the crossroads at midnight to make the ultimate deal with the devil; to trade  his soul for his musical genius. Michelangelo, when first approached to paint the chapel insisted that he was a sculptor, not a painter. Pope Julius understood better that Michel-angelo wasn’t a painter or a sculptor, he was an artist. The Pope tormented him, bullied him, starved him, refused to pay him, and broke a stick over his back. When Michel-angelo finally collapsed in exhaustion that almost killed him, the Pope, perhaps knowing a bit himself about the coexistence between the demons and the muses, came to his sick bed and belittled him till he dragged himself out of bed and back up on that scaffold. I personally believe, against all others, that Michelangelo, almost killed by the stress of the Pope’s regard, loved him for it; and hated him. The painting took four years to complete. No one knows how many years it took off his life.               

When we’re dead tired, depressed, scared out of our wits, hungry or in pain, the natural state of things changes. All bets are off, and anything can happen. According to the German philosopher Carl Jung, this lets us connect to a universal body of knowledge. The wisdom of all people over all time; the wisdom of the ages. “The collective consciousness of the human race,” as Jung once phrased it.               

Mozart once wrote about another of his journeys to that incredible, yet mind-exploding place, where when he was hooked up to it, he could write entire operas without needing one edit, without one single mistake. Art theorists today still are stunned by his work, entire operas and symphonies without a single mistake. The only explanation from even hardened scientists was that he “must have been taking dictation from God.”

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