Whilst away at Easter I started to read Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell’s book “Godhead: The Brain’s Big Bang” which was published last year. It is the latest accumulation of Griffin and Tyrell’s ideas on the Human Givens, and the importance of the REM state in sleep and the Universal Relaton Field. Yet to list out the other many ideas in the book is impossible.
What is impressive about the work is that it attempts to bring a set of organising ideas to some of the BIG questions that mankind has asked since the beginning of history such as: “What is consciousness?” and “How was time created?”. It gives some very interesting frameworks for understanding the universe by relating concepts like the big bang theory to the development of the human mind.
By drawing on their previous ideas of caetextia (or context blindness), the authors link the development of the human brain to the two very separate ways that we think: left-brained thinking and right-brained thinking. This is very similar to the System 1 and System 2 in Kahneman’s “Thinking, fast and slow” which I reviewed a few Thursdays ago.
However, Griffin and Tyrell (being psychoanalysts) bring out some very interesting new theories on how the human mind developed to become more conscious – both to become more objective (or left-brained) as well as subjective (right-brained). Each half of the brain (in balance) creates a rounded self-consciousness which connects both sides of the brain for human living. However, too much focus on the path towards objectivity (which they also call the arc of descent) creates a tendency towards scientific genius and autism. Too much focus on subjectivity (or the arc of ascent) creates art and a tendency for certain folk to become schizophrenic. They also suggest that mood swings, depression and bipolar disorder are, perhaps a mixture of both without the ability to create balance between the halves – and yet have also produced many of our most creative geniuses such as Robert Schumann, John Keates, William Blake, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Peter Gabriel and Spike Milligan…..and their list goes on much longer (p.96)!
However, the book is far more than a set of ideas on the development of the physical brain and mental health. In the second and third parts of the book, the authors bring together a set of very powerful organising ideas on how human consciousness connects with the “one-ness” of the Universe through an invisible field of “relatons”. Since only 4% of the Universe is made up of matter that is visible (detectable by radiation), the authors believe that the field of relatons (or subjective matter) is contained somewhere within the remaining 96%. These relatons have some very interesting properties. They are undetectable (like all dark matter). They are also capable of relationships with solitons (objective matter) and are always generating consciousness (or information). And when two solitons are joined as matter, relatons are released!
The struggle that the mind has in balancing between objectivity and subjectivity (and the ability of such thinking to drive us mad in the process) was well narrated in the timeless classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”over 30 years ago – which had a major influence on my thinking at the time. The authors suggest that this balance-of-two-halves-in-time (between the two sides of the mind) appears to echo the same dance that plays out from the largest to the smallest objects in the Universe and that somehow time breathes in and out between objective and subjective states through states of probability.
The book is not just analytical and mind-stretchingly interesting. It intersperses spiritual stories and poems – and one of my favourites is here:
“How often do you sense that there is a profound meaning in a poem but, without an organising idea to consolidate it, you can’t hold on to it and it slips away from consciousness? T.S.Eliot knew this, as we see from other lines of his great “Burnt Norton”, where he reveals his intuitive grasp of the nature of truth but also that he is aware of the failure of words to hold on to what he has grasped:
Words, after speech reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.
Overall, the book presents a fascinating set of ideas and theories which draw on thinking from our latest understanding of the physical brain, quantum mechanics, spirituality, creativity and the development of mental illnesses – and much more besides. Big ideas which the book far better articulates on over 450 pages than I can in this short article.
I remain fascinated on how we can apply some of the ideas to the areas of Information Management and Organisational Design. My previous article on Organisational Caetextia started to explore some of these themes. Expect more to follow – particularly with colonies of bees interwoven in the stories!
I hope that it makes some of you interested enough to buy what I think is one of the best books I have read in the past year.
Picture: (c) iStockphoto not to be reproduced without licence.