Two Minds, One Brain

A writer’s life and pondering…

The brain has two hemispheres: a left and right brain. The connection between the two is the corpus callosum. It allows information to be shared from one side to the other. When this connection is lost, either through trauma or surgical intervention [it can be severed purposefully in the treatment of some types of epilepsy], the two hemispheres act independently of one another. This can produce some rather bizarre phenomena and raises some metaphysical questions.

The separated hemispheres will have separate perceptions, concepts and impulses to act. One side of the brain can countermand the actions of the other. For example, while trying to dress himself, one split brain patient buttoned his shirt with one hand while the other hand [controlled by the other hemisphere] immediately undid all the buttons. The same happened when trying to put on trousers.

Not only does this make getting out the door to your job extremely difficult, it raises this question: if the two hemispheres are expressing different wants and needs, are they then two separate minds? And in fact, are all of us two separate individuals dwelling in the same body? I don’t know the answer to that question and I’ll leave it up to the neuroscientists and philosophers to figure it out. Nonetheless, this phenomenon made me think of the terms we [as writers and artists] use to describe the creative inspiration: the muse, the voice, etc. Is it possible we are simply talking to the other ‘mind’?

Some writers go so far as to attribute their inspiration to the supernatural. The poet WB Yeats was convinced that there was a collective consciousness that could be accessed and the revelations could be passed on through the written word. His wife, George Hyde-Lee, claimed to have access to the spirit realm via a messenger from whom the secrets of the other side would be revealed. The method of delivery, termed ‘automatic writing’ produced some 4000 pages of text which the poet poured over in search of answers. Of course, much of this writing is open to interpretation and would probably make little or no sense to most of us. Yeats however, formulated theories about life, history, love… and it greatly influenced his own writing forever after.

Ok, so then my question is this: is it possible that this ‘automatic writing’ was Georgie girl simply accessing the other ‘mind’ in her brain? I guess that takes the magic out of the story if that is what happened. Still, it’s a really amazing concept to visualize another person existing within you, prompting your actions, influencing your decisions, inspiring your art. Is that what happens? I don’t have the answers and so far neither do the metaphysicians, but it sure is an interesting question to ponder.

The Year Of Drawing Adventurously – Week 52: My Choice

Following the chart to 52 drawings this year.

My how the year has flown by. I hope you have enjoyed my drawing adventure. I attempted this challenge in order to stretch my drawing skills and force myself to practice each week. The benefits have been that I drew some subject matter that I probably wouldn’t have attempted if it weren’t for the prompt each week. On the other hand, I feel like I rushed through some of these drawings instead of taking my time and really “seeing” the subject of my piece. That is not a good method for improving. Going forward I think I will attempt fewer drawings but spend more time on each one. For my final drawing, my choice is to share with you the piece I am most proud of. Though I didn’t draw it this year, it is my best work. I say goodbye to 2018 with a portrait of my favorite poet: W.B. Yeats.

In Love With a Dead Man

Photograph, WB Yeats, by Alice Boughton

William Butler Yeats, my current obsession. He’s been gone for nearly 80 years. I’m working diligently at reproducing this handsome portrait. Results will be posted upon completion. In the meantime, read the words he wrote as part of his introduction to Lady Philippa Gregory’s Book of Irish Mythology and see if you don’t fall in love with him, too.

“We do not know who at the foundation of the world made the banquet for the first time, or who put the pack of cards into rough hands; but we do know that, unless those that have made many inventions are about to change the nature of poetry, we may go where Homer went if we are to sing a new song. Is it because all that is under the moon thirsts to escape out of bounds, to lose itself in some unbounded tidal stream, that the songs of the folk are mournful … and …whenever queens lament their for lovers, reminds us of songs that are still sung in country places?”

“When we have drunk of the cold cup of the moon’s intoxication, we thirst for something beyond ourselves, and the mind flows outward to a natural immensity; but if we have drunk from the hot cup of the sun, our own fullness awakens, we desire little, for wherever one goes one’s heart goes too; and if any ask what music is the sweetest, we can but answer… ‘what happens’

This makes me want to write fairy tales, stories about love, with heroes and queens, gods and monsters… And it makes me wish I had lived in a different time, a time when poets were published and people knew their names.