Getting Left and Right Brain together

The Alphabet versus the Goddess: The conflict Between Word and Image

The book, by Author and Dr Leonard Shlain surgeon and humanist, discusses his theory that with the development of the alphabet and the rise of literacy, a right–handed, left-brain dominance was created (the hemispheres of the brain control opposite sides of the body) birthing a patriarchal culture that diminished women, goddesses, and sacred images.

The Alphabet versus the Goddess isn’t all ‘alphabet bashing’. With unprecedented advances in image technology, Shlain (himself a right-handed but ambidextrously talented) thinks we are witnessing the dawn of a new language, one that is reintroducing the voice of the right hemisphere.

Where writing has traditionally required the use of the right hand and the left brain, keyboards and screens engage both, like a musical instrument. (Typing was a step toward hemispheric coordination but was predominately engaged by female secretaries). Computer keyboard are tapped by both sexes now.

“Just think of those male hands on the keyboards, stimulating their right brains” enthuses Shlain, who also feels that relationships are reinforced by technologies like email, cell phones and beepers. Shlain’s message about the future is upbeat, besides the merging of the hemispheres (a global metaphor perhaps?)

Shlain points to historical shifts that he likens to Hegel’s philosophical “Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis” model. Just as the Renaissance gave way to the Reformation, which then transformed into the Enlightenment, so the 1960s were completely converted in the 1990s.

“The flood of images in which we now live is restoring a long-lost balance between our linear left-brain hemispheres and the visual ones, bringing an end to a five thousand-year reign of misogyny.”

Extract of an article by Cynthia Logan, she is a freelance writer specializing in interview profiles with leading professionals in the health, scientific, spiritual and art communities.


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