I am back reading The Master and his Emissary again, and trying to reconcile his approach with my own, as I outlined in What Went Wrong - a major breakthrough for me. One thing we agree on: it started with the Industrial Revolution.
He concentrates on how it changed the relationships between the two hemispheres of the brain – a very fruitful approach it seems to me, but no one else seems impressed with. This is something else we share: no one else is interested in our ideas.
My approach is to take Ortega y Gasset’s concept of mass man and run with it. He is not impressed by Ortega at all. I made mass production the center of my approach, and noted that this was the basic technique and mental attitude of Industrialization. I took it even further, and said man has become self-destructive – something I do not believe he says at all, but I have not read all of the book.
He has the advantage of being a well-educated man who is very well informed. I have the advantage of a brute-force approach based on personal paranoia. He is an academic having lived in that protective environment, but I spent time in the trenches of high-tech, dodging the incoming fire – but unlike most, I learned from that. If I think I am only being paranoid (as I often do), I only have to look at my battle-scars – and the scars of many other people down here, who are also on the run without being aware of it – and thank my lucky stars I am still alive.
Ortega’s approach was simple and direct – he simply noted he was surrounded by a strange breed of people that were taking over the world. In other words, he was aware of what was going on in the world – an astonishing achievement that almost no one has taken seriously. And which he didn’t understand too well either, in my opinion. But he did point his finger and say “There they are!” – when at the same time everybody was saying “I don’t see anybody there.” – because he was pointing at them (and all the other people like them).
In the same way, a fish is not aware of water, because it is surrounded by it. Post-modern man is not just surrounded by it – he is it. It not only effects his hemispheres, it affects all of him and defines him.
To be fair to McGilchrist, he does go into this, rather well, in the section Modernism and the Left Hemisphere, beginning on page 392. He pointed me to Eric Fromm, who I had almost forgotten about, and have ordered two of his books. He is extremely useful in pointing to other valuable sources – and as a result reading him takes a very long time.