The hemispheres of the brain have functional differences. I created a short-form video on YouTube, so it’s less than 60 seconds.
If you see a face in this image (in the accompanying video), you can thank the right hemisphere of your brain. The right hemisphere is about unity and the whole—a Gestalt. It fills in missing pieces to construct a whole. And it’s usually pretty good at it.
Think of the right hemisphere as Zen. It’s about experiencing the world as presented. It experiences the world without judgment, without attachment, without naming. It’s about openness and options. The left hemisphere is about division and parts. Where the right hemisphere wants to open up, the left wants to close down. And it’s about creating maps and symbols, then re-presenting these. Where the left hemisphere of the brain is focused on the trees, the right hemisphere sees the forest or the woods.
The left hemisphere is what creates our sense of self and individuality whilst it would probably not be unfair to characterise the right hemisphere as the Buddhist notion of selflessness and an undivided universe, where ‘self’ is an illusion. The left hemisphere is literal whilst the right is metaphoric. It is also the realm of poetry and empathy.
“Tell me about an accomplishment that made you proud?”
I received this question in a recent interview. This question is an awkward position for a postmodern to respond to.
For someone like me, it’s like asking me what’s my favourite dinosaur. I suppose it’s fine to ask a 7-year-old, but it doesn’t work for me for several reasons.
First, I don’t really react to ‘proud’. I’m a collaborator. Even so, I don’t see why I (or we) would be proud of an accomplishment. And. I’m not much into the notion of attachment. Siddhartha would be proud. (Just kidding. )
For this piece, I looked up the definition of ‘proud’:
feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.
So, it’s not enough to be satisfied that you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. Proud and pride are odd concepts to me. Some people are proud to be part of some nationality or ethnic group—proud American or proud Italian. Obviously, these are not accomplishments. I suppose if one has to pass a citizenship test, then it might count as an accomplishment. I’m not sure it rises to the level of ‘pride’. I’m proud because we won the football match?
But the question posed to me was about work accomplishments. I’m not sure that my response was taken as authentic. And how could it have been? If I respond that the bronotsaurus is my favourite dinosaur, do you think they’ll catch on that I just blurted out the first thing that came into my head?
My first response was that I was proud of the time I spent teaching and giving back. It was a fulfilling experience. Proud feels a bit of an overstatement. There was a project that ended up yielding longtail benefits, but again, what’s there to be proud of? And for the group or team to be proud doesn’t feel any better. ‘Yay! We won the Superbowl. Isn’t the winning enough’? Sour grapes, I guess. Right?
As a think about it, pride is about attachment—specifically ego attachment. Christians have a saying that ‘Pride cometh before a fall’. It’s one of their cardinal sins. I’m not a Christian, but it seems to me that it is not to be encouraged.
As a Buddhist, one might focus on the attachment aspect. Pride is about living in the past instead of the now. It’s not very Zen. I’m not judging.
My biggest problem is that I presume that a person who asks this type of question actually buys into the whole pride thing. That doesn’t help my cause.
“Not to come across as a Marxist, but I’m not really into the ‘Proud’ thing. Here are some stock responses.
I ask myself, is pride related to competition, or can one be proud in a different environment? It seems that there’s a connection. And, of course, there’s ego.
I wasn’t sure whether to share this on my philosophical blog or my business blog. In the end, I opted for philosophics.
‘Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: Leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.’
—Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge & the Discourse on Language
I am going to take liberal liberty with Foucault’s quote. This is another take on Heraclites’ ‘never the same man, never the same river’ quote. It can be taken as a commentary on identity and impermanence. Effectively, he is taking the position that the concept of identity is a silly question, so don’t bother asking about it. Then he defers to people who insist on it anyway.
To be fair, creating a sort of contiguous identity does simplify things and creates categorical conveniences.
Vendor: ‘Wasn’t it you who purchased that from me and promised to pay with future payments?‘
Zen: ‘There is no future. There is only now. And I am not the same person who purchased your car.‘
Perhaps this is where the saying, ‘Possession is 9/10 of the law‘, a nod to temporal presentism.
In any case, some systems are predicated on their being identity, so a person benefiting from that system will insist on the notion of identity.
Clearly, I’m rambling in a stream of consciousness, and it occurs to me that Blockchain offers a solution to identity, at least conceptually. In the case of Blockchain, one can always audit the contents of the past in the moment. And so it carries the past into the now.
If one were able to capture into an archive every possible historical interaction down to the smallest unit of space-time—neutral incident recording, indexing and retrieval challenges notwithstanding—, one could necessarily attribute the record with the person, so long as they are otherwise inseparable. (We’re all well-aware of the science fiction narrative where a person’s history or memory is disassociated, so there is that.)
Anyway, I’ve got other matters to tend to, but now this is a matter of historical record…