There are a hell of a lot of ways to describe the way our brain functions and then to put some labels on them. Here are some different thoughts on some thoughts about thoughts. First, here’s a description that a lot of us are now familiar with. Left Brain and Right Brain. Here is a quick review.
You see there’s a Right Brain, and there’s a Left Brain. Traditionally, that is, traditionally in the last 3 decades, the two hemispheres of the brain have been neatly assigned as being responsible for two different ways of thinking: the Left side of the brain for very methodical, rational, and analytical thinking; the Right side of the brain for creative, spatial, emotional, and intuitive thinking. You probably know that and you’ve probably heard that. You’ve heard someone who is creative labeled as “a right brainer” and someone who is very logical referred to as “very left brain.” But did you know that it is real? And did you know that it is also a myth? There’s a lot of truth behind that division of the brain’s functions, and a lot of exaggeration, as well. There are so very many accepted truths about the brain, and of course as many “truths” about the brain that are now considered myths. As a result, there are many different ways of describing the brain. For example, instead of right and left, you could say that there’s an old brain and a new brain. The old brain is the reptilian emotional fight or flight brain, and the new brain is the brain of choice and reason and language. You may have heard that, too. In Transactional Analysis there’s the Adult brain and the Child brain. The Adult side is the reasonable side and the Child side is reckless play. Fractal Brain Theory proposes that the structure of the brain can be compared to a Mandelbrot Fractal pattern. There is even a Quantum Theory of the Brain that theorizes quantum mechanical phenomena to explain consciousness.
There are also certain things that you hear about the brain that you may believe to be true but are not:
You use only 10% of your brain.
This myth suggests that most of your brain’s potential is untapped, and the hope is that if you can somehow gain that other 90% of the brain’s power, the possibilities are endless in a super-human kind of way. The truth is that you use all of your brain all of the time. You don’t use just 10% of it. Neurologist Barry Gordon describes the myth as laughably false, adding, “we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time.”
Here’s another myth:
Alcohol kills brain cells.
It doesn’t. Thankfully. It can damage the dendrites, (the ends of neurons), but doesn’t kill the cells. The brain is gray matter. Yes. And black and white and red all over, as well.
You can learn through subliminal messages. You can’t. It is a myth.
But what we’ve come to understand about the left hemisphere, and the right hemisphere, and their functions and the way they process data, is accurate and testable. The left brain is the center of language and the right is the center of spatial constructs and emotion. Also seemingly accurate is the concept of the old brain; the reptilian center for aggression, fear, beginnings of emotions, and survival, and the newer brain; the center for the ability to reason. It seems that the way we process data in our left and right or old and new brain actually affects the way we think and behave. For realzies. (for real).
Regardless of these different ways of labeling the thinking of the brain, one thing is recognizably true to anyone who has ever tried to create. You are either primarily doing something, or you are doing something while thinking about the doing. (You are either truly DOING, or THINKING about the doing. Doing, or meta-doing.)
Now, some meta-madness as I attempt to label the labels that we place on this doing/meta-doing. It would be so packaged and tidy to attribute this phenomena to either Left / Right or Rational/ Irrational or Reptilian /New brain thinking, for these are words that become the labels that allow the brain to feel satisfied and allow us to continue forward having made sense of something. I went through an ironic thesaurus session attempting to find my own tidy word to describe this valid “thinker and talker” in your head along with its counterpart, the “unbridled creator.” I admit to the belief that if I were to come up with a new label to describe this truth about thinking/doing, that the marketability of this book would increase. That is to say, given that human beings latch on to labels of things in order to feel as if they have the latest PRODUCT of understanding, creating the “New!” label for this duality of thinking could make it more accessible, thus more marketable. “Mr. Napier says there is a “safe brain” or “The Limiter,” the one that we hear in our head talking to us while we’re doing, and there is a “reckless brain or “The Initiator” that just does things without thinking.” Well, I couldn’t bring myself to come up with that “one catch-all phrase” to DEFINE this way of thinking, because there wasn’t any one which gave the exact meaning I wanted to convey in every case. . This is the list, just for the hell of it, in what I was brainstorming:
For the thinking while doing side…
Product Brain Reason Thinking Silent Judge Measure Safety Logical Intellectual Frightened Troubled Investigative Safe
Limited Voice The Voice Adult Self
And then there’s the other side, the creation side:
Intuitive Irrational Insane Passionate
I had a harder time placing a label on that side. Yes, that makes sense that it would be harder to make sense of that.
And etcetera. What did I settle on? Well, for now, I’m settling on nothing. I’m settling on different words from the LISTS above to describe different examples, depending on the context. That’s the best way I can “think” of, and the closest way to describing an indescribable phenomena of how our brains think alongside of us in our lives as we strive to do things and think things and create things. Different words for diffferent shades of either truly “being” with something, or “thinking about being with something,” or a little bit of the shades of both. I’m sorry that I cannot bring myself to come up with those definitive labels. I want to continue to catch you off-guard and not let your brain categorize concepts in a “Got it. Next…” kind of way. I want to parse out and revisit and continue to fuck with and create a variety of names and ideas and render these ideas to the brain over time and not list them or have you memorize them.
So here we go with some rational and creative thinking, and those kinds of different words to describe both. First, though, I’d like you to stand and say any random interesting noun right now. Go.
Nobody stood up and said an interesting noun right now (probably). I wouldn’t have. Why?
Your rational brain processed that sentence but you were not incented to do anything, really, because your rational brain is processing this very sentence and attempting to find order and understanding and keep you safe while it is identifying the pros and cons of standing up and saying something out loud at this time. Your intuitive creative side was not incented ENOUGH to stand up and just say a word because your rational side won, just enough. It decided to override the unfettered intuitive side of you. Is it possible that this is actually true?
The Baggy toaster went to communion HISS! I am poodle boy!
The intuitive brain has no such order. The intuitive side is all ABOUT the Not making the Sense. Creativity is governed by the intuitive brain. Measurement, including measurement of creativity, is governed by the rational brain. Rational and Intuitive. Right and Left. And on and on. And on.
Pig snicker muddle do! MuddleDo!
The left brain understands that creativity is governed by the right brain and measurement is governed by the left brain. Is it the right and the left? For now just maybe. What did you call your aunty? Sheriff cocka mock trial?
The right brain could give a fuck about making sense. It creates, unabashedly and unapologetically. It plays. DON’T it?
OK, seriously, I’d like you to stand up and shout an animal and a color, like “green” and “squirrel” right now.
No, you didn’t. Some thought about it. Maybe. Some of you did? Why would you?
The right creative brain fucks. The left adult brain talks about fucking and analyzes it and evaluates how to attain sex and the methods thereof and whether or not it was good or bad or neither-ish. The intuitive right brain is fucking.
The leftish rational brain is a fucking drag. The intuitive brain plays. The left brain talks about play. The visceral, intuitive brain is creation. The thinking, safe brain analyzes creation.
Both of them are extremely necessary in evolution. There isn’t a bad and there isn’t a correct and there isn’t an incorrect side. It is truly human. It exists. It is. It is truly HUMAN. It’s the animalistic, emotional side with CHOICE and REASON added. And all of these ways of being and thinking are absolutely genetically, chromosomologically, hard-wired into us.
The child side, the intuitive side, plays. The creative side has an idea in the shower, the creative side is passion and fervor and enlightenment and love and the confusion about “the definition of porn” and is, “Fuck It” and a quiver in the rain and craziness and BEAUTY. And it’s not spiritual; it’s physiological. It is a vital human trait. The right brain, the intuitive brain, the creative brain, literally processes information differently.
The rational side measures. This safe brain analyzes, calculates, creates hierarchy of priority, examines past events and predicts future outcomes. Measures measures calculates analyzes. And it is also not spiritual. It is also physiological. It is also a vital human trait.
PLEASE STAND UP AND SHOUT YOUR MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME NOW!!
The safe brain protects you. From harm, but also from creation. From fun. In essence, you are either creating without regard to consequence, or measuring ALL THE TIME.
When children play, it is mostly THE INTUITIVE brain. They don’t consider all of the positive and negative associations and perceptions and possible outcomes thereof, of “Barbie’s dream vacation with Ken” or “Playing House” or “Batman and/or Robin” or Hopscotch. They just play.
Just Fun. Did you maroon the purpose on moon time banana tree? Now I lie just a tad about those children. PLEASE! PUT your hand (up) and SAY “donkey!!”
I lie because children begin to use their left brains in play. They play without regard; then they begin to measure the experience. “Next time, let’s be looking for treasure again and you hold the Parrot! Yeah, my name’s going to be Peg-leg!” They begin to measure what they created. The summarizing rational brain begins to analyze the play. “Jumprope is more fun if you use two ropes and play at Sue’s house. Hmmm.”
“Aha,” the left-brain says! “This “play,” this “creation” of my twin the right-brain, this abandon of rational thought, this disregard for reason, is measurable. And I have words on my side. I can analyze this. I can apply metrics to it.” And the brain begins to do so. And it keeps you safe and it worries about a school test, (another form of measurement), and it figures out ways to get girls and boys, and it considers college, and it is the voice, your voice, and it is good and it is you and it sucks and it is you and it is inescapable and it is good. It is judgment, self and otherwise. It talks to you ALL THE TIME. It is your left analytical rational investigative thinking voice partner for life, brain.
Please act like your favorite animal and do it now. Make the sound of your favorite animal right now. Go. No? Yes?
Most people actually know that there is a time for play, and a time for measuring. There is a time for fucking around and a time for work. They are often mutually exclusive. The REASON is that you can’t be truly doing either if the other is in any way active. You can’t truly be in play if you are thinking in any way about being in play. And you can’t truly be analyzing if you are fucking around in a crazy, carefree dick-around creative mode. That you are thinking about it affects whether you are really, actually, doing it.
SALUTE AND SAY “TAXES ARE A FANCY HAT!” No?
Now sometimes people can’t let go of their analytical brain, when all those around have decided to do so. Some people have immersed themselves so deeply into the realm of protection-through-thinking that they actually analyze the process while they are in it. Those people can be a, how do you say… fucking drag.
You are at an amusement park and the person you are with keeps talking about how much fun you are having all day long. “This is fun!” “Isn’t this fun?” “I’m having a good time, are you?” “This is great, I’m glad we came, I’m having fun, are you?” “This is really fun.” “I think I’m beginning to have a good time…” “Are you having fun? I am.”
People that measure fun while it is going on destroy fun while it is going on. People that measure creativity while it is going on destroy creativity while it is going on. Because it is no longer about creativity. It is about quantifying creativity. Which isn’t fun.
People that talk about the effectiveness of a sexual experience while they are having it are a drag. Sex is a playful, nearly literally creative experience. The most human creative experience that combines every visceral emotion imaginable. It’s often euphoric, unless someone is insecure and measuring the process as they are doing it.
“Am I doing all right? Are you OK? This is fun, isn’t it? Should we leave the light on? I’m not sure. I’m not fat am I? You look pretty good? Do you..?” A drag. The left brain is wanting to analyze the creative playful process as it is unfolding. It isn’t playful. It isn’t fun.
Now, the intellectual brain often wins. RIGHT now the LEFT is probably winning. It’s the part that is processing what I am writing and what you are reading. It feels OK about gaining more knowledge about the other side, about the playing. It is winning. It maintains decorum and feels safe and is fairly dominant, currently. It is gaining information about the concept of “playing without measurement” and using the information to process the very concept. Since it is understood and processed, then “playing with abandon” and “not considering or caring about thinking” is filed away as understood, therefore that is good and it is affirmed and your brain says, “next thing please…” and moves on. That’s what that part of your brain, your intellectual voice, does.
In innovation, we must know and preserve the time to create, to use our intuitive brain, and protect that creative experience as sacred. And we must know the time to measure the creation; well after a substantial amount of creation has taken place.
BARK! Thank you for barking.