Forum Replies Created

  • Jeff Verge

    May 12, 2024 at 3:02 am in reply to: New Apple iPad Video Crushing Instruments and Art

    That’s a Freudian slip. The only thing that might have been more perfect is if they’d put a globe full of living beings under that Iron Heel too.

    Think how many layers of bureaucracy this had to go through to get approved. Right up the line, all the way to the top I’m guessing or pretty close, they all went “Yup, it’s good, I like it. Approved for release.”

    This is who they really are. Even Apple, quite possibly a little less nefarious than the rest of them, at least for as long as that distinction remains a profitable brand.

    Thanks for sharing this. I usually avoid ads but this one should be seen by everyone.

  • Jeff Verge

    November 16, 2022 at 7:22 pm in reply to: Personality and Living the Truths of Hemispheric Lateralization

    That’s a fascinating question that could lead to insight into how best to propagate Dr. McGilchrist’s work. My development was highly atypical, so I can’t assume my experience is transferable or relatable, but it would be great if people with a better understanding of personality factors weigh in.

    Regarding the science direct link, this jumped off the page for me:

    “At the moment, the world is awash in “fake news”, citizens are routinely manipulated by politicians who do not mean what they say, and social media platforms incentivize virtue signaling and punish straightforwardness. Although being “yourself” is often extolled in modern society, it comes with social risks. It is these moments of social risk that provide perhaps the most valid test of whether a person is actually being real: a person who is only real when it pays off is not really real at all.”

    If I wanted to explore the question of realness, I would have to spell out some unpleasant developmental details which made mine a long and twisted path, and which I don’t assume anyone wants to hear about. Am I being real? I don’t even know! But it’s a fascinating question.

    Without getting too far into the personal weeds, here is one of my atypical circumstances: I have one parent who is very right brain and one who is extremely left brain. One is right-handed and the other left-handed, and I am ambidextrous. For this and other developmental reasons, such as a capacity for extreme introspection, I suspect a crystalline awareness of attention modes might not be as apparent for some people as it is for me.

    What I can say is that my experience of encountering Dr. McGilchrist’s work was one of instant recognition and intuitive understanding. I think I was already tuned to receive the message. As with most or all of us here, I was already a huge admirer of thinkers like Blake, Nietzsche, Lao-Tzu and so many others, and I’d already cultivated an abiding love of nature and music. Happy is the one who’s learned the causes of things, an old Roman poet once said.

    Also, I know what Dr. McGilchrist says about modernity being left hemisphere dominant is true. I grew up in the 1980’s, thinking the world was a sinister behemoth bent on flattening us out and dumbing us down. Druing 30 odd years of reading and thinking about social criticism I had a very explicit sense I was arming myself against an invisible, undeclared enemy. I see now with utter clarity how my RH parent contorted themselves into a persistent LH attention mode, because that’s what society and everyone around them rewarded them for. They (both parents) were of the so-called Silent Generation, for which the invisible underlay was Behaviourism and Bernaysian conditioning, wrought in the shadow of nuclear terrorism and the trauma of two world wars.

    What do you think Charles? I would imagine that since you brought up such an interesting question you’ve given it some thought?

  • Jeff Verge

    October 16, 2022 at 9:20 pm in reply to: Tool's Lateralus: an Exegesis

    Thank you for sharing Matt. Very thoughtful. I’m not familiar with Tool specifically, but I am aware they enjoy legendary status and a sizeable devoted fan base. In considering your question about the name “Lateralus”, and noting the time frame, could it be that the songwriter does have hemispheres in mind – but that it’s closer to the conventional version of hemisphere differences that Iain made obsolete?

    A snatch of song lyric from 1995 – Monster Magnet: Dopes to Infinity (A recurring theme it seems…) Up until this morning I thought the lyric was:

    You can break the world and be creative now

    You can kiss the right side of your brain

    (Today I learned that it’s not “break”, it’s “rape”, but this is the way I always heard it and as is sometimes the case I like my version better.)

    Lateralus made me think of someone trapped in their left hemisphere cage, but being painfully aware that they’re trapped and desiring to break free.

    I’ll put this song from 2015 up in case you might like it. As you thought to do, I’ll put my take on it below so you can listen first with no preconceptions.


    If Lateralus is the view from the LH, then this I think is the view from the other side. It has no words except what I hear as “Holy holy holy…” and then something unintelligible. To me it sounds like a conjuring. The music conjures a portal for the LH to escape itself into the larger world of imagination and spirit.

    Another song that comes to mind is Dream of Waking Up from 2020. It makes me think of similar themes.

    Half the city was still asleep

    as you slipped inside.

    Every border we’d break down

    Every night get lost

    And they’re jealous of our dreams

  • Jeff Verge

    May 19, 2024 at 1:10 am in reply to: Expanded account of grizzly bear encounter

    Wow thank you again Shannon. That you would read it twice and discuss it with your son is such a huge compliment. I am grateful to hear it.

    When I was eleven I would read anything I could find about shark attacks :). Much of what I know about grizzly bear encounters I only learned recently, but there are a few things I would note for anyone interested: 1: Avoid surprising them. Most encounters that go badly are surprise encounters. If you’re making noise that identifies you as human, most often they will quietly move away and you’ll never even know they had been there. 2. If you do encounter one, surprise or not, do not run. Never run from a grizzly bear. There is a high probability that running will trigger their prey response and they can run much faster than a human. Talk to the bear in a low soothing voice if you can as it will be listening for clues of your intentions. Remember you smell and taste gross to them and they only want to eat you if they’re starving, otherwise they’ll only get angry enough to attack you if they feel threatened. 3. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to encounter a mother and cubs up close, try not to get between them as that’s the most dangerous place to be. In my case Momma let it happen because she’d already investigated me and knew I wasn’t out to hurt anyone, but in most cases she won’t have the opportunity and she won’t take the chance. 4. If you have a dog with you, make it shut up quickly if you can. A yapping, snarling, aggressive dog, who will engage fearlessly with a bear because it loves you deeply and is a pack animal, can take a mellow bear and agitate it very quickly. Something like this (it’s held to be likely) happened to a couple late last year not too far from where I met Momma.

    I expect your son will feel the unity. After all, the unity wants that too :). I feel your friend and guru have it exactly right, I’m sure I thought about this peak experience every day in the almost two years since..

    I won’t go into details here but hearing of your accident, which sure does sound like a hemisphere-based event, gives me occasion to reflect on my own accidental experience which was something quite opposite, a wrenching away from unity to unipole LH detachment. Nature was my healer, long before I met Momma. In my twenties I started to learn about ancient ways of being and learned of one way to cultivate unity: When you meet a deer, or see an eagle circling above, or even with the trees, mountains, water or sky, imagine you are one with them and you can sense and feel from their perspective. What do you sense and feel?

    My partner as it happens is steeped in Hafiz and the Sufi poets. For my part I probably read more about the poetry than the poems themselves, which I will soon rectify by starting with Daniel Ladinsky’s The Gift. I had only casual acquaintance with Indra’s Net before but I am dazzled by Iain’s rendering of the idea and now it’s an image I contemplate often.

    I’ve gone on too long ! A glorious wonder that we are: beautiful way you put it. Thank you again. I hope your son comes back buzzing with wonder and enchantment and longing for more.

  • Jeff Verge

    May 19, 2024 at 12:06 am in reply to: Expanded account of grizzly bear encounter

    Thank you so much Shannon! My concerns about whether or not I would be understood are vanished. Glad I put this up.

    Yes, I think you’re exactly right. It is humbling and healthy to see ourselves through the eyes of other creatures that could kill us and eat us if we’re not mindful of our instincts and surroundings (and even then if we’re unlucky). And yes again, I was struck right away at how quickly and seamlessly the LH lined up in its proper place, listening instead of talking, as soon as a real threat appeared.

    I feel like gazing at a sky full of stars is humbling and healthy in a similar way – some say it makes them feel small and inconsequential, which I understand because I feel that too, but I also feel a huge expansion, becoming as big and as old as the night sky itself, as if we could meet the heavens halfway.

  • Jeff Verge

    April 4, 2023 at 9:54 pm in reply to: Encounter in the Wild from an LH/RH Perspective

    Hello Whit, thanks for the challenging question. Up front, I’ll say I have no answer. I simply don’t know. Your comment is well-timed though. I am near to finishing a longer, fiction-adjacent version which reads in more detail of that afternoon, employing poetic device and metaphor while not once mentioning brains or hemispheres or The Matter With Things. It just so happens this incident and subsequent recounting from last year has been very fresh in my mind lately as I sculpt this more expanded “public language” version. This, I expect, is the reason my response to you is ten times longer than it need be.

    Your question collapses to an either/or binary, which is one reason it’s difficult to answer. However, since that’s the least intriguing aspect of it I’ll carry on. I have no answer, but I can speak to what I would say are not the answers. The general arc I will follow is this: What I wish to point to is a sense of embodied cognition, prior to either language of thought or of visual thinking. Were I a musician I would perhaps have better tools with which to translate, but alas.

    Do I feel more in my RH or my LH as I recount? Difficult to say. It does occur to me that if someone had a gun to my head right now I might be a lot more able to put my finger on the pulse of each hemisphere, so to speak, as I did when I found myself alone on a hill with two grizzlies. Not being facetious or facile here, I think that’s probably the case. I simply don’t have that same heightened sense of focal bifurcation in a laboratory setting, at home in front of a compter, typing away at a keybard.

    I think it a framing error to reduce my singular experience or its numerous recountings into an either/or of language-of-thought versus visual-thinking. I don’t perceive either as primary, so for me the enduring words vs. pictures debate seems unreal. I have many fragments of visual memory/re-creation from that day last summer, but no intracranial film reel of the event as a whole I can run. More recently I noticed, at an early stage of trying to divine your intent, that fragmentary snippets of possible words and phrases winked in and out of my consciousness, though nothing I could grasp or remember, as in a lucid dream but with words. Going back to this grizzly encounter, only my memory of feeling (or is it my feeling of memory?) during the hours-long unfolding holds any sense of continuity for me. View-from-nowhere theories of cognition, detached from embodiment and emotion, seem entirely beside the point in this real life situation. I’ll circle back to this near the end, because I think it’s important.

    Because I’m crafting a new version of the journey, I’ll refrain from rereading now what I wrote six months ago. (I don’t want to contaminate my memory, however corrupt it may be already.) I do recall addressing the talking bears and the talking RH in the preamble, sufficiently I believe. If memory serves I said, “…crude translations at best.” Here I will extend the observation to include the LH, with a detail I left out of the written version: Prior to the first sighting I had been climbing for hours, everything hurt, and my LH monkey mind was looping nonstop that I didn’t have to kill myself like this, I can stargaze just fine down by the lake, and I should really just turn around and go back down, sparing myself a lot of future pain. I slept little the night before (in my car…) and my monkey mind was having its way with me, clamouring nonstop. I was able to ignore it but I wasn’t able to silence it, if that makes sense. However: at first sighting the LH got real quiet, real fast, and lined up in its proper place, awaiting orders and information and providing analysis. My point here is that not only were there in reality no talking bears and no talking RH, there wasn’t even a talking LH after the spotting.

    Contrasting before versus after of the LH chatter is stark. The before part is comparable to a horsefly buzzing around your head, all day long, never landing. And after: Silence, against the backdrop of the most exquisite silence of the mountains. I cut this part out because the wordy buzzing in my head was just noise that had no impact on the LH/RH version of the story. It’s brought back in the pending “fiction” version. Am I more in my RH or my LH as I recount the differing results of dozens of these kinds of decisions? No way I can know.

    Another example of a detail cut for purpose but being brought back: It was hearing how weak and croaky my voice was the two times I spoke out loud that led me to be silent later on, when the bear first attempted to communicate with sound. I had made the conscious decision earlier, because my normal voice was unavailable at that altitude after 6 or 7 hours of marching uphill, the last few under duress. Am I more in my LH or RH as I conceive and execute this re-recounting? No way for me to say.

    But there’s still much I could say about it. Another aspect of your comment is that I could approach it with any number of ways to answer. And then, whichever approach I choose leads to any number of specific answers, depending on where I am in the creative process, what is the angle, what is the medium, who is the audience … etcetera. As I put in the intro to Beyond Theory, I’ve told this story many times now in person but I only put the LH/RH written-down aspect of it here, because no one outside of McGilchrist readers would understand a word of it. This LH/RH version is a very stripped-down, very thin recounting of the encounter. I cut out everything not directly related to LH/RH, because that was what I was highlighting in this particular version. Was I more in my LH or RH each time I told the story? Was I more in my LH or RH when I was writing the LH/RH version? How about the first draft? The fifth? Again I don’t know but I suspect it’s changing all the time, and that it transcends either/or.

    More generally, in the longer version to follow I hint at more of the <sacred> under cover of fiction. I bring in metaphor and poetic device in a way not relevant to the narrow LH/RH recounting. Between you, me and Channel McGilchrist, all the parts that will seem most fantastical are straight-up veridical translations, and only the trivial bits are made up. I assign even more words to the bear that didn’t talk, in order to translate something of my embodied cognition in that moment after she and I connected, intensely, at around ten yards. Then for the critical decision point when she got interested in my sandwiches, I retain the translation I originally assigned to her body language, because I found no better words to express my impression of what I felt percolating in her, as she began zeroing in on my food. Do I feel more in my LH or my RH when I’m doing these particular recountings? I have no idea. However, I will say that this will be my first ever attempt to write for a general public, and I disagree that it’s facile to write about “talking bears and the like.” It’s actually really hard. I challenge you to write a compelling story about “talking bears and the like”. Perhaps it’s easy for some but not for me – my first attempt at fiction is hardly fiction at all.

    Here I’ll summarize two more aspects of background returning to the next version, which altered how the experience presenced itself to me. 1: At first sighting, I had a moment I can only describe as feeling like two ziplines going in opposite directions. Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Vertigo shot – he didn’t just “make that up”, I now know it’s a translation of a lived experience. Apart from the close encounter, my most vivid memory of the day was of zooming in, intently and intensely, as it dawned on me what I was looking at; that I had just been there not that long ago; and that there were two times before they could have easily surprised me, when I was resting hidden from the glaring sun. In that same moment I felt my RH wrench wide open, striving to know everything knowable about the situation suddenly at hand, heightened alert status activated. One early thought was (I’m translating here … ), “Amazing! I can feel, right now, both types of attention in a heightened state of awareness. I have a rare opportunity to observe the divided brain in the wild.” And so I did. I paid attention and noticed how my two minds were oscillating between narrow and open focus, reverberatively. 2: From the start, I committed myself to remembering and retaining as much of the experience as I possibly could. This was unlike a spoken word recording or a film reel visual capture, it was more like the etching of a subsonic, seismic phonograph. I experienced much of the event as a body sense, and while I have fragments of visual memory and fragments of sound (“almost wordless” – my few words out loud and the bear’s few sounds) I perceive it to be my embodied cognition that anchors all the other, more fleeting, memories. Some of my visual memories (i.e. visual re-creations) have been flat out mistaken. I wrote that I first saw them in a berry patch, but later I was looking through the few photos I got to take and that wasn’t quite right. They were beside the patch when I took the photo. But I trust more implicitly, and submit without proof, that the memory etched into my embodied cognition is more resonant of what I actually experienced.

    A digressive reflection: Another thing about my experience is that I’d been preparing for it all my life. This was not some everyday bear sighting, which are marvelous in themselves and of which I’ve known a few. This was a long duration, then very close and intense, encounter between two apex predators who were well-fed, relaxed, mutually wary, and mutually curious. (For contrast, I’ll reveal now that on the descent I encountered a massive male black bear, maybe 30 yards away, bigger than the grizzly even, but it took off in fright when it heard me coming, tap-tap-tapping my ski poles as I walked through an area with limited visibility. These types of encounter are common and hardly worth recounting. This is left out of the next version.) I’ve been immersing myself in forest to uncover my true nature for over forty years. For over thirty years I carry a deep appreciation for the unwritten ways of what Toynbee calls our pre-civilizational ancestors, and for at least that much time I deeply feel there is what the Greeks called the world spirit. All this went into my openness, to the idea, that I might be able to get inside her head to monitor and influence her emotional state, just as tens of thousands of years of shamans have done before. Lo and behold, I know what I experienced, and no form of reductionism will convince me I’m deluded or that it’s all just a mentalized re-creation after the fact. The word shaman did not cross my mind until long after it was over (thank you Professor Vervaeke…) but it’s the right word, because I know of no better word to describe it. It strikes me that the world is full of people who would have met that bear and experienced none of the awe and wonder and echo aspects, because their modern mind would simply not have conceived or been open to it. Others might have drowned in their own internally-generated fear instead of reaching out empathically to feel what she was feeling. A seasoned park ranger might have shrugged off the incident, missing out on the awe for yet another reason. Me? I went to the mountain to renew my sacred absorption with nature, and the mountain did more than oblige.

    I couldn’t choose between language of thought or visual thinking. To the former, there was how unusually silent the whole afternoon was, with little or no word-thinking as I held my attention to sustained lookout while marching. As recounted above, the LH monkey mind shut right up when things got serious and the RH took over. To the latter, my retained sense is of how non-visual the peak experience was. Twilight was falling, and she appeared to my sight as a hulking, monochrome shadow against a background of grey rock, also in shadow. After one glance at 20 yards I held her in close peripheral vision, because I felt sure that to look at her directly would break the spell, disrupting the flow of information we were each onboarding about the other. I’m certain I “saw” more of her precisely because I kept her in sidelight, trusting my more embodied, holistic sense. Anima Mundi – That’s how I knew her. Is that LH or RH out front as I recount this part of the story? How could I choose? I do bring out more of the mystical/sacred/timeless aspect in the fiction-adjacent version, which some will recognize as real and others will dismiss as insufficiently scientistic, according to their lights.

    Thanks for prompting me to explore this experience further and sharpen my understanding, just as I am revisiting that day and expanding a written story version. As I recount variations in different forms, fitted to different purposes, it all takes on a sense of becoming again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment yet it continues to reverberate. RH->LH->RH->

  • Jeff Verge

    January 12, 2023 at 2:52 am in reply to: Encounter in the Wild from an LH/RH Perspective

    Yes wholeheartedly agree, this is clarifying. I am learning new things about my experience, new connections and so on. You touch on a lot of thoughts, I’ll try to hit a few.

    I expect you’re right about synthesis. It’s coming on 5 months since my encounter, and ever since I started telling the story, and especially putting this RH/LH version here, I find I have to work to reacquire my sense memory of it. The told version struggles to replace the memory, and to become the memory, even though the told version leaves out quite a lot. But there was so much more going on, it’s as if I have to access my body’s sense memories rather than my mind’s reconstructions to even glimpse any part of the totality. I have no science to back it up, but I’d suggest that bodily aspects of memory reveal themselves as closer to the original experience than do mental reconstructions of that same experience.

    One thing I left out of my story, I was conscious of wanting to remember everything, by being as fully in the moment as I could be. I didn’t want to film it, I wanted it burned-in to my memory. And I was surprised by how much of a body experience it was, which I still use as a check against my more mental representations and pictorial memories. Not sure if that helps, just putting it out there.

    I’m a huge admirer of Indigenous ways of knowing, so I thought about how I would put it to your friend of Lakota medicine. I think I had the opportunity to practice respect and communication. I had so much respect for her, as if she was more than just a bear, she was an emissary of the entire forest, which I’d just spent the whole day soaking in. I passed on her first attempt to communicate with sound, but she wasn’t having it and switched to body language, with which I was able to communicate with her. Feeling that connection with her and earning her respect was amazing. I hope I always remember, inasmuch as that’s ever possible.

    Something else I left out of the story. When I first got to the place where we’d meet, I thanked the bears out loud for forcing me up the mountain. This was my third and last ever attempt to get to the top, and they made it easier by cutting off my retreat. Then after they passed I thanked her silently for that intimate moment of respectful connection, and a memory with shamanist echoes in deep time to carry on my ascent to a clear night of stargazing. So to round it out I’ll call it all virtues of gratitude, respect and communication.

    I think about my sandwiches too, from the bear’s perspective. They could be the most amazing smell she ever knew. They were seriously delicious, and even more so after defending them.

  • Jeff Verge

    January 10, 2023 at 5:35 pm in reply to: Encounter in the Wild from an LH/RH Perspective

    I’ll end here agreeing with you mostly but not quite about memory and story.

    Completely agree that memory is always a distorted reconstruction, but it’s a representation of something real, something at least partially stored in the body. I have to make a conscious effort to remember the totality of my experience, because if I didn’t the story has a way of replacing the memory over time. I’m with you on that and that the level of experience will change how it presences, but where I disagree is thinking it’s the only thing.

    One can always reduce – memory isn’t real, stories don’t matter – but that’s the old dead hand of the left hemisphere. If I had been trained for bear encounters I may have had a different experience, perhaps more grizzled and less intense, but I’d still have a story.

  • Jeff Verge

    January 9, 2023 at 9:10 pm in reply to: Encounter in the Wild from an LH/RH Perspective

    Yes about memory of experience and its inherent distortions, and then narrowing things down even more into words. As well, it’s a convincing argument that we have to trust in experience as it presences to us, the view from somewhere.

    I thought of a way to explain what I’m thinking of and wondering if others experience too, when I speak of a sense of zooming-in, as RH cedes control in order to zoom in on something. In film it’s called the contra zoom. I had a vague sense it was a Hitchcock innovation so I looked it up and yes it’s also called the Vertigo shot. The lens zooms in while the camera pulls back. I’ve known it other times in different circumstances, but it’s what I experienced most vividly when I first spotted the bears – it was dawning on me that I’d just been where they were not that long ago, and furthermore there were two times earlier I was resting somewhat hidden, and a close-up surprise encounter could have easily happened.

    What I remember most is how intensely analog the experience was, stretching a second or two at most into a beginning state, transition, and altered state, like going down a zipline in my mind, as the threat assessment processes ramped up. That it’s a common movie technique makes me think others know exactly how that feels – to zoom in and pull out at the same time.

    For your story, it could have begun in the moment between sensing that something happened, and it dawning on you that it’s a bullet that could have killed you? Just thinking out loud. Curious how common an awareness of this transition state is. One possibility is that I had the luxury of time to coolly assess my situation, whereas in both your cases everything is happening immediately.

  • Jeff Verge

    January 4, 2023 at 9:14 pm in reply to: Personality and Living the Truths of Hemispheric Lateralization

    Same here. I only discovered Dr. McGilchrist in the past year, but it went click with literally everything I ever learned about everything, including some woo stuff that’s close to my heart and which I’ve never spoken about. The fact that Iain has scientific proof for the value of intuition and imagination gives me hope that people otherwise inclined to bright focus and grasping will open their minds, by appealing to their reason.

    I gave your question some more thought, and there’s something else I can say about why Iain’s theory was immediately accessible to me. I can say I know how it feels to live ~entirely in my left brain versus ~entirely in my right brain. From talking to people who say the theory is interesting but they’re not convinced they have two distinct processes running, I surmise that the swing from one to the other hemisphere is less apparent because they’re more anchored in the middle (if that’s a sufficient way to phrase it).

    Going back to your original question, do you have any thoughts about how to get through to people using personality as a guide? Could it be a one size fits all approach, or would it be possible to create a few broad strategy outlines for different personality types?

  • Jeff Verge

    January 4, 2023 at 7:51 pm in reply to: Encounter in the Wild from an LH/RH Perspective

    That’s really interesting. I expect part of the baby raccoon response was surprise, whereas for the bullet you were reacting to something that had already happened? There’s something primal about a frightened, hissing animal. I was lucky my bear was relaxed with a contented belly, otherwise who knows?

    I”m curious if you had any sense of hemisphere shifting, especially when you confronted the gun owner. When it happens to me I’m quite aware of it (and now that Iain has shed some light I understand it better). For example, when I first spotted the bears I was very conscious of sliding from RH mode into LH mode, and narrowing focus as I tried to figure out what I was looking at. Did you have an intense awareness of zooming in hard, and the rest of the world falling away?

  • Jeff Verge

    January 4, 2023 at 7:31 pm in reply to: Awe Without Understanding It

    I read that one too, and wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. While it doesn’t talk about brains, it does say a lot of the right things. I noted near the end a bit about the issue of narrow focus, which was one thing that’s rarer to see these days. I wondered if the article was being implicit, since even if NYT was going to take on the divided brain theory this wouldn’t be the best place to do it.

    Overall though, whenever I see a somewhat scientific foray into the benefits of Awe and Wonder, I want to congratulate them for discovering what was once an everyday common understanding. Upon finishing the article my response was mostly a shrug.

    I want to see Iain’s work anchored in a science framework, otherwise I think it’ll be dismissed by many as Woo-adjacent.

    That’s my take…