An Angry President Cannot Be The President

Anger is an emotion that arises when our left-brain determines that it has lost control of the situation. Iain McGilchrist, in The Master and His Emissary, offers evidence that anger, somewhat unique among emotions, is associated only with this hemisphere. In his divided-brain model, control and manipulation are the primary functions of this hemisphere. The left-brain is also the seat of power, both in the sense of dominating others and empowering success in consensual acts. Because anger and control or power-seeking are linked, the way that anger shows up signals what is happening in the brain, or, alternatively, to the… Read More

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Another Poem

I am finding poetry much better at depicting the craziness of these times. I would love your comments. Bang Bang You’re Dead There’s a gaping hole in America’s heart. The bullets of racism have torn it apart. Shots from aimless guns—a profanity— Are blindly killing dreams and humanity. Anger and intolerance expose the lies Of our mythic exceptionalism. Better cries That we are all too human—selfish, corrupt. Our President is at center stage, acting out Our nation’s unwritten play, telling us who We really are. It’s not me, I say, I care, But if I really cared and lived it,… Read More

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A Yom Kippur Takeaway

The Torah portion on the Yom Kippur is Leviticus 19, K’doshim, the call to holiness. It expands on a few of the Ten Commandments, but is largely devoted to relationships among people, rather than with God. It is more of a mundane, moral code than a set of rules about how one should act before God. As the English translation was being read following the chanting of the Hebrew, I was struck by the timeliness of its prohibitions and prescriptions. If one brackets the references to God, this Torah portion offers a set of rules that I would relate to… Read More

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Law and Order

The most important law and order situation that can arise in the United States is the presidential transition. Nothing else comes close as a matter of public interest. Without that, our democracy may falter. It is much more consequential than unruly and riotous gatherings. Much more than keeping the streets safe. . . Our most important set of laws, The US Constitution, cannot be flaunted without threatening the rule of law that keeps our country unique among nations. Trump’s failure to commit to such an orderly change absolutely disqualifies any claims to being its defender. On this alone, he should… Read More

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Read This Aloud

I know I am in the same boat with many of you. It helped me to find expression in poetry. You can fill the word in ****. Pissing in the Wind John Ehrenfeld That is how I feel today; The angst just won’t go away. This political season Defies all rhyme or reason. Can the country’s center hold Against a party so bold And completely corrupted, When a death interrupted A most fraught situation, That threatens our dear Nation And shows the venality And crooked mentality Of the Senate majority Serving a minority Of the whole population? It has led… Read More

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Lying, the Left-brain, and the President

As many others and I have written, the real world always wins, in the sense that no matter how much we think we are in control, outcomes result from whatever forces are at work out there. Objects will always fall down, not up, when we drop them. People will behave the way their brains tell them to, no matter how we think they should respond to our commands. Even proven scientific theories don’t work when the circumstances depart from those from which the theory was deduced. Newtonian mechanics do predict the path of a cannonball, but not how electrons in… Read More

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Half-brain-dead Politics

David Brooks had an interesting oped in the NYTimes on August 7 about the state of the Republican party. The sub-headline read: “The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches.” For me, this wording is quite intriguing because I have been re-reading, The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist’s book about the divided brain. His arguments about the different functions of the two brain hemispheres seem to fit the way that the Republican party and especially, Donald Trump, look out at the world and respond to it. Using McGilchrist’s model, I would say that the right-hemisphere of both Trump… Read More

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The Persistence of Memory

I have been looking at a few of my unpublished work going back to the 90’s The task is complicated because many of the files cannot be opened in the original format, but I can recover the text and try to reconstruct the papers. Today’s post is an extract from a working paper written in 1992. It is taken out of context of the whole piece, which was about design and human action, but seems to be pretty self-contained. I can see, even back then, where the impetus for my books and other work since then arose. The main difference… Read More

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More Synchronicity

From time to time, I have posted entries that superpose McGilchrist’s divided brain model on dichotomies that appear in others works. I have pointed to Thomas Kuhn’s two modes of science on several occasions. Today, my focus is on some writing from Humberto Maturana, whose work has been very influential on my thinking. Maturana, a Chilean biologist, with his co-worker, Francisco Varela, developed a theory of cognition (the Santiago theory) that claims to have overcome the Cartesian duality of mind/matter. The theory is too complicated and challenging to be elaborated here, but here is a brief summary from Wikipedia The… Read More

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A Flickering Candle

Poetry seems more appropriate than prose these days. A Flickering Candle Politics has replaced reality; Politicians live in another world. Their talk is the height of banality; The proud banner of truth tightly furled. There is something rotten in the Senate Because its leader demands obeisance. His lackeys need to be given the gate Or, even better, charged with malfeasance. What’s the point of demanding such power When their false promises never come true And all their vile schemes can naught but turn sour. There has to be something that we can do. The people, said the Founders, have the… Read More

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