Monday, May 29, 2017


 DRAWN FROM NEUROSCIENCE, THIS SYNTHESIS 
SEEKS TO TAP ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF 
THE FEMININE PRINCIPLES of CONNECTEDNESS 
 STRENGTHENING THE CASE FOR THE INNATE VALUE OF WOMEN
as well as the many MEN WHO — THANKFULLY — GET IT!

With the current instability of geopolitics, the environment, 
the economy and global inequality 
how different might this world be if our national & global systems 
updated to incorporate the feminine principles of interconnectedness 
in every decision made, everywhere, especially in politics! 

•     In his decades dedicated to researching the Divided Brain (thedividedbrain.com) Dr. Iain McGilchrist stresses while we use the whole of our brains, the world today is paying an increasing price for the ongoing dominance of the brilliant, but blinkered, systematizing, hierarchical proclivities of the brain's left-hemisphere--exemplified by the current status-quo. McGilchrist's lament is the resulting lack of integration of the contextual, flexible, big-picture perspective of our more empathic, lateral, right-hemisphere.

•    Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, author of The Ethical Brain, makes the point that the left-hemisphere “will stick to its belief system no matter what". McGilchrist reiterates in his summation of the rigid left side as “the side that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know!” (Yes, political lefts and rights are the reverse!)

•     Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen’s research described in The Essential Difference and Science of Evil: On Empathy & the Origins of Cruelty differentiates between men and women by tagging "the extreme male brain" to be less empathic and more tending toward autism. According to Gazzaniga, Baron-Cohen’s book “lays the scientific groundwork for a brighter science of understanding of the dark side of the human condition.” 

•    In his book, The Moral Molecule: How Trust Works, Dr. Paul Zak presents his lab's research on the prosocial, bonding, qualities of the neuropeptide oxytocin -- 'the love hormone.' Zak describes oxytocin as inducing empathy which in turn fosters feelings of trust, safety and forgiveness. He applauds the resulting qualities of reciprocity and understanding as what stimulates respect for differences -- gender, race, religion, skin color, tribe, politics, belief, value systems, etc. The Golden Rule at the universal heart of our world's major religions -- now substantiated by science -- bids us 'do unto others what you would have them do to you.'

•  By contrast, Kray & Haselhuhn in Scientific American show in competitive situations (think politics and the corporate culture) men’s more naturally testosterone-driven impulse to win and succeed results in their having lower moral and ethical standards, more inclined to reactionary violence thus making men more inclined than women to sabotage and undermine opponents.

 • Nobel winner Joseph Stiglitz defines economics as America’s #1 religion clearly discouraging competition as he encourages co-operation and collaboration. Recent studies show students of business and economy (more frequently men and characteristically left-hemisphere motivated) to be more inclined to self-interest, competitiveness and sociopathy than those who opt for the fields of Law, the sciences, humanities.

 • Nobel Laureate Professor James Heckman’s work on "the economics of human potential” contextualizes the inherent costs of the 'empathy-deficit' that exists in society's over-valuing of cognitive (left-hemisphere) skills, particularly in the crucial fields of early brain development and education. 

 • Sherry Turkle, in her book Alone Together, adds research on the impact of technology and social media as significantly reducing empathy activation thus diminishing the ability to relate one-on-one. She makes the point that grounded face-to-face reality enables us to better relate to, and understand, each other’s similar and different experience. 

 • The Atlantic magazine's Lisa Mundy in “Why Silicon Valley is so Awful to Women” quotes Joelle Emerson and others describing implicit and explicit gender bias and sexism in the (very left-hemisphere) world of technology -- initiated and led by a handful of men -- that now dominates the globe. Women working in tech today make up between 15% and 30%. 

 • Decades ago, Dr’s Carol Gilligan, Deborah Tannen, and Riane Eisler's and neurosurgeon, Leonard Shlain's best-selling books focused on the inherent gender imbalance evident in our culture and exemplified in language -- a left-hemisphere strength. Today in Washington, the political Right's narrower, more direct and assertive left-hemisphere message proves simpler to convey in sound-bites than the Democratic Party's more all-embracing right-hemisphere platform. Currently in the US House of Representatives, 19% are women -- 78 Democratic and 26 Republican.

*****
(To keep the above, very brief, synthesis simple, my take on how this understanding can change the world is obviously sweepingly general! That said, understanding our common physiological differences as well as similarities opens the door to more easily seeing -- though not necessarily agreeing with -- those who think or act differently. Best scenario -- this understanding enables us to better "hold the tension of the opposites" so that an alliance between the left and right -- brain hemispheres and political parties -- might be possible. A middle way? At a time when more women are speaking out, the intention here is to expand and extend the concept of Feminism by adding this science-based criteria extolling the virtues of the right-hemisphere's manifestation of 'Feminine principles'. The 'soft' virtues that neuroscience tells us are not exclusive to women (although they may be more innately resonant with women) but also to the very many men who get it, customarily not corporate or political leaders! With partcular thanks to the work of the men whose neuroscience is referenced here -- as well as the prescient women -- all have  affirmed the blessing of the life-enhancing values of empathy. A level of mutual caring which should be a goal for us all to acknowledge and work toward -- if for no other ethical reason, for future generations. For the sake of all life on Earth, we urgently need to awaken from our easy Western complacency and apply this knowledge to how and where humanity goes from here -- personally and collectively, locally and globally. Lets just hope it will be soon enough.)

We are all in this together....and reminder from Father Thomas Berry:
                                    "The destiny of this planet, is our destiny"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A moment with Lilac

A moment with lilac
and other things
collected
John Betjeman, and Beatrix Potter books
a Crail mug
and tall scissors
from another time
the curtain moves
the blue dark, folded
yellow finch on bird feeder
now a red one
Forsythia branch
still swaying
loved paintings
gather dust
refrigerator working
glad
all else is quiet
but fingers tapping
on an actual keyboard
and hands looking older
because they are 
faithful
been so many places
touched so many things
and people 
how many
over seven decades
in Dusseldorf
and Cologne
Mevagissy
and Taos Pueblo
and Truro here
and Truro there
Pont Alexandre
and Westminster Bridge
the Skye ferry
and Covent Garden
so Drury Lane
and Adelaide 
via Dubai
and Malaga
when oranges were on trees
hands that bake bread
and held reins
that have never been to India
nor Languedoc
but cut Blue Spruce
split kindling
loved violets
and put this lilac
in water

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Talking of blessings.......

Dr Jim Doty's Magic Shop review--Neural Correlates of the Heart

The Neural Correlates of the Heart – Scientific and ...

https://explore.scimednet.org/index.php/2016/07/04/the-neural...

Straddling...lefts and rights

Most of us have had it easy, here in America. Speaking for myself, we boomers have/had it too easy. Uncomfortably hoist now, on our own petards, we’re faced with ourselves and this trumpery we brought about — consequences of our comfort and indolence, freedoms and ease. 


Jung talked about the ‘tension of the opposites’ — of bearing the burden of being pulled betwixt and between, of this way and that, of spirt and matter, hubris and humility, anger and anxiety, love and fear of its lack, or loss-- just think about how many make life what it is.  And here we are in America -- impaled upon a cross, pulled between left and right, Republican and Democrat...and within each of those ...differences, that brought about mind boggling brilliane and creativity -- I mean --- how did those 7 new planets which are millions of light years away, come to be spotted from here! How are there millions of people flying around in the air above us right now? How are we still having to protect our turf like primates as if we didn't now know better -- as if we didn't know we're all in this together and that cooperate would be a better thing to guide us, than corporate....and thankfully, this is just me talking to myself!

But what about all THE OPPOSITES WITHIN WHICH WE EXIST….ours to resolve ...and to consider ..we can’t have one, without the other, there would not be one, without the other...

spirit/matter    father/mother    body/soul   life/death   day/night    inner/outer    male/female    implicit/explicit    introvert/extrovert    anima/animus    conscious/unconscious    either/or    up/down    on/off   in/out   I/thou   right/wrong   left/right — (hands/hemispheres/politics)   dark/light    true/false   truth/lies   future/past  open/closed   heart/soul   young/old   X/Y chromosomes   sleep/awake   black/white    attract/repel   expand/contract   this way/and that   loud/silent    stop/start   self/other
knowing/unknowing   love/hate   courage/fear   high/low   fast/slow   easy/hard   less/more   short/long   north/south    east/west good/bad   fixed/flexible    plus/minus    offense/defense   tight/loose    social/anti-social   rich/poor    push/pull
together/apart    heavy/light   thick/thin    short term/long term   add/subtract    objective/subjective   hope/despair  problem/solution
parent/child   big/small   shallow/deep    measurable/immeasurable   safe/dangerous    absent/present   sun/moon    blunt/pointed
overt/covert   obvious/obscure    happy/sad    win/loose    first/last    few/many   give/take   beautiful/ugly   bright/dull   empty/full
hungry/satiated    asleep/awake   him/her   deny/accept   offer/receive   local/global   circle/square   multiply/divide   add/subtract
sooner/later    back/front   straight/curve   affirm/deny   listen/speak    war/peace    long term/short term   summer/winter
spring/fall    selfish/unselfish   clean/dirty    loose/tight    cooked/raw    abstract/concrete    theory/practice    mountain//valley
sea/shore    wild/tame    similar/different    weak/strong    yours/mine    town/country   apples/oranges   dogs/cats
rural/urban   guns/no guns    drunk/sober    crisis/opportunity    truth/lies    competitive/cooperative   wet/dry   friend/enemy   sweet/sour

.....is there no beginning....is there no end?


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Left, Right, or Center?

Left, Right, or Center?
The day after the election, flying back across the Atlantic — Edinburgh to Newark, Europe to the USA, headlines of British and Irish newspapers were full of it —“from this moment on, its going to be America First” , “Trump Offers A Fearful Vision”, “Trump’s New World Order Begins” A clenched fisted “America First”, “Trump is Hired YOU’RE FIRED”, “In God We Trust”, and in The (Glasgow) Herald —“The World Holds its Breath”
It was — is — good to be home here in the Hudson Valley after what was an intrepid January trip — over the sea to Skye — one of the most dramatic and darkly beautiful islands in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. We’d journeyed there to visit psychiatrist and literary scholar, Dr. Iain McGilchrist, and to chew over questions about our off-kilter world, about how human-nature is tinkering with the chemistry of the planet and thus with its — and our — future. 
Unpacking some of McGilchrist’s evolutionary answers from his decades of research into The Divided Brain is a prod for us to take a hard look at where we are, and why, and how, and to figure out what it would take to alter course — not least, because of the current destabilizing bluster and bungled state of American affairs. 
For those of us whipsawed, daily, by the increasingly divisive assault on democracy, perhaps it is a prudent time to remember what John Muir said a hundred years ago: —“that when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe”. McGilchrist’s expansive work on The Divided Brain — soon to be premiered in a mind-altering” Canadian documentary — reflects Muir’s prescient perspective, so lost in our global shuffle. Thanks to neuroscience, we now have the benefit of a ground-breaking thesis to tackle the unhitched thinking that dominates the workings of the Western World!
As the Washington/Wall Street cabal takes over the country we’d be wise to heed McGilchrist’s warnings, distilled as they are from his extraordinarily wide fields of research in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, history, literature, myth, art and music. His critical point::- without recognition of longer-term, big-picture thinking we’re leaving ourselves, our children, and all life-on-earth increasingly vulnerable to irreversible environmental, economic, social and political instability.
With more neural connections in our heads than the 100,000 galaxies in the universe — not exactly hard to compute that brains are a tad more complex than the old ‘emotion on the right, reason on the left’. In his momentous and much acclaimed volume from 2009 The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - McGilchrist defines the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between our brain’s separate lateral halves — left and right hemispheres. The left side now seen to be more fixed, analytic, mechanistic, systematizing, and detached, while the proclivities of the right, less verbal, more visual, flexible, synthesizing, and most crucially — contextual.
Paradoxically, the polarizing political Left and Right are the reverse of our brains! The short-sighted, authoritarian, silo’d metrics of the left-hemisphere pretty much tag the Republican Right, while the inclusive, less rigid, broader-based, unquantifiables of the right-hemisphere, closer to the Democratic Left. Worth noting that the less concise and more holistic Democratic platform is harder to sum-up and convey in succinct soundbites compared to the GOP’s sharp, hierarchical, proclamations.  
We are duly cautioned then, that by leaving the left-brain — which, by the way, “is the side that does not know what it does not know”! — to its customary power-hungry devices, it will keep compounding our increasingly fractious political and financial systems and their far-reaching consequences. That said, while McGilchrist credits the left-brain’s staggering scientific brilliance and stratospheric technological merits, he emphasizes our hemispheres naturally coexist and function together. Now, more than ever it is ours to differentiate and acknowledge each hemispheres’ fundamentally opposite sets of values and qualities to better judge where and how we go from here — while we still have time.
In the interest of stepping into fewer mine-fields and maintaining a focus on his invaluable and densely researched thesis on the right/left divide (one that’s controversial for some with left-brained leanings!) McGilchrist deliberately avoids touching on any parallel with gender opposites. He leaves it to us —  women, and thankfully also many men — who resonate with his unequivocal left-hemispheric affirmation and honoring of the right-hemisphere, to speak out for the ‘feminine’ principles of relatedness and intuition — ashamedly discounted for millennia.
When what unquestionably governs our world is a masculinized concept of priorities, McGilchrist’s neurologically (and physiologically) grounded position is a welcome ‘objective’ and credible argument adding muscle to the activism so many of us are engaged in. The very visible protests and marches — primarily and necessarily led by women — are a timely and wholly appropriate reaction to the deeply engrained and ancient levels of misogyny that remain all too painfully prevalent and disempowering today.
This new explanation of the personal and planetary price paid for society’s innate tendency to disregard the all-encompassing right-side of our brain calls on us to deepen our understanding of the complexities — and the consequences — of the human condition. 
The question then is, while the world holds its breath — whether we be woman or man — can we integrate enough of this knowledge to help ourselves and each other be at peace with the richness of our differences?  Can we act fairly enough — as individuals and collectively — to build a ‘center’ able to ‘hold the tension of the opposites’? Can we meet the challenge, together, to cultivate a more balanced and humane understanding — Left with Right? Can we do it before it’s too late…..for ourselves, and our forsaken Mother Earth?  

We’re all in the same boat, after all — and it is hitched to everything else in the Universe!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Masculinized Conception....

Thanks to the wild and wonderful Candace Pert -- who was the Scarlet Woman of the NIH back when I knew her in 1997 -- after a lunch we had together when an editor at Healthy Living magzine, scribbled in my 'uncorrected proof' of her Molecules of Emotion is what she was up against -- "what is tolerated by our culture is a masculinized conception of knowledge, values, and priorities -- our modus operandi?

A reminder that 20 years ago this was central to my take on the state of the world, and is still, more than ever now, 5 years on from my last post. Now through the lens of Iain McGilchrist's Divided Brain -- under another guise it is more present than ever -- and manifested by, among other things The Million Women march -- and...hallelujah, in so many others around the world in reaction to the extreme example of something close to the worst of masculinity being set by Trump. Alas, whose mother was an immigrant from the Isle of Lewis.

And, thank you Leonard Cohen -- there is a crack in everything, in everything, that's how the light gets in.........

the birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
To be continued.......?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A response to a great blog by Claudia Gold. MD

http://claudiamgoldmd.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-our-society-prejudiced-against.html


Dr Gold, picking up on your "aim to call attention to the way we as a society approach problems involving children and families", I come back to a Jungian point of view and his (non-gender) Feminine principle, i.e., what boils down to relatedness. What stokes our current moral vacuum is the extent to which those qualities of empathy, caring, affection, attention, attachment -- what boils down to love -- doesn't count because it cannot be quantified. All that soft stuff that just happens to shape our brains that in turn shape this off-kilter culture of ours. By extension, it's worth considering the extent to which the nature of mothering impacts Mother Nature and thus the future of humanity on planet Earth.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Climate Dots Connected -- thanks to Bill McKibben

http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/a-link-between-tornadoes-and-climate-change-never?utm_source=wkly20110610&utm_medium=yesemail&utm_campaign=titleThomsonMcKibben

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World


And one giant step back for wilderness protection:


In a memo to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today confirmed that, pursuant to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, the BLM will not designate any lands as "Wild Lands." - US Department of the Interior Press Release, June 1, 2011


http://wilderness.org/


http://www.wildnesswithin.com/2001/01-12/inwildness.html

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

REPUBLICANS VOTE THERE'S NO GLOBAL WARMING


from Scientific American: 
Congress has finally acted on global warming—by denying it exists. It’s in the grand lawmaking tradition of the Indiana state legislature’s 1897 attempt to redefine the value of pi. 

The Republican-led House of Representatives is currently working on the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions to mitigate climate change.

In the House Energy and Commerce Committee, California Democrat Henry Waxman had proposed an amendment calling on Congress to at least acknowledge that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” just as abundant scientific evidence confirms.

But on Tuesday, March 15, all the committee’s Republicans voted down that amendment, as well as two others acknowledging the threat of climate change to public well-being. Rep. Ed Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts, had this to say:

“I rise in opposition to a bill that repeals the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet. However, I won’t rise physically, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating.”
—John Rennie


http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=house-repubs-vote-that-earth-is-not-11-03-16


THE DARK SIDE OF THE UNIVERSE....


  • From the World Science Festival, 2011: For all we understand about the universe, 96% of what’s out there still has scientists in the dark. Astronomical observations have established that familiar matter—atoms—accounts for only 4% of the weight of the cosmos. The rest—dark matter and dark energy—is invisible to our telescopes. But what really is this dark stuff? How do we know it’s there? And what does it do? From the formation of galaxies to the farthest reaches of space, it appears that darkness rules. Without dark matter and dark energy, the universe today and in the far future would be a completely different place. Join us in a discussion with leading researchers who smash together particles, dive into underground mines, and explore the edges of the known universe in search of clues to nature’s dark side....."



http://worldsciencefestival.com/events/the_dark_side_of_the_universe 


And some Jungians might muse -- dark and matter = the Feminine, as in: 
Lilith-The First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine 
Siegmund Hurwitz   

The Chestnut Tree at Schumacher College, in Devon


pastedGraphic.pdf
schumachercollege.org.uk