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Your Brain - Ch 4 part 2 of 2

Your Brain - Ch 4 part 2 of 2 - Photograph by Philippe...

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Unformatted text preview: Photograph by Philippe Halsman, 1947. © Yvonne Halsman, 1989. This is the full photograph shown upside-down on the previ- ous page. We are indebted to Yvonne Halsman for allowing this unorthodox presentation of Phi- lippe Halsman‘s famous image of Einstein. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Fig. 4—9. Pablo Picasso (1881—1973), Portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Paris, May 21, 1920 (dated). Privately owned. UPSIDE-DOWN DRAWING We shall use this gap in the abilities of the left hemisphere to allow the R—mode to have a chance to take over for a while. Figure 4-9 is a reproduction of a line drawing by Picasso of the composer Igor Stravinsky. The image is upside down. You will be copying the upside-down image. Your drawing, therefore, will be done also upside down. In other words, you will copy the Picasso drawing just as you see it. 52 Experiencing the Shift From Left to Right Btfore you begin: Read all of the following instructions. :5 i 1. Find a quiet place to draw where no one will interrupt you. Play music if you like. As you Shift into R-mode, you may find i that the music fades out. Finish the drawing in one sitting, allow- ing,yourself about thirty to forty minutes —- more if possible. Set an alarm clock or a timer, if you wish, so that you can forget about keeping time (an L—mode function). And more impor- ;:~ tantiy: do not turn tbe drawing rig/1t side up until you buve finished. Turning the drawing would cause a shift back to L—mode, which i— we want to avoid while you are learning to experience the :- R-mode. i; 2. Look at the upside-down drawing (Figure 4-9) for a minute. iileegard the angles and shapes and lines. You can see that the lines f: all fit together. Where one line ends another starts. The lines lie pat certain angles in relation to each other and in relation to the edges of the paper. Curved lines fit into certain spaces. The i" lines, in fact, form the edges of spaces, and you can look at the Fig. 4-10. Inverted drawing. Forcing _ Shapes of the spaces within the lines. the cognitive Shift from the dominant 3. When you start your drawing, begin at the top (as in Figure 12:12:?1515232 ,m‘ilde to ‘2: SUbd‘m“ 3 4-10) and copy each line, moving from line to adjacent line, g - lsp erem 6' i, putting, it all together just like a jigsaw puzzle. Don’t concern yourself with naming the parts; it’s not necessary. In fact, if you . come to parts that perhaps you could name, such as the h-a-n-d—s ; or the f-a-c-e (remember, we are not naming things!), just con- tinue to think to yourself, “Well, this line curves that way; this line crosses over, making that little shape there; this line is at that angle, compared to the edge of the paper,” and so on. Again, try 1301 to think about what the forms are and avoid any attempt to I I“_3C0gnize or name the various parts. f 4- Begin your upside-down drawing now, working your way it through the drawing by moving from line to line, part to adja- : cent part. " {:5- Once you’ve started drawing, you’ll find yourself becom- ; mg Very interested in how the lines go together. By the time you ’ 'f‘rfi Well into the drawing, your L—mode will have turned off (this i , ‘5 Tim the kind of task the left hemisphere readily takes to: it’s-too ,_,,Slow and it’s too hard to recognize anything), and your R—mode a”lull have turned on. ’7.R_emember that everything you need to know in order to draw , e Image is rig/at in front of your eyes. All of the information is .131“ there, making it easy for you. Don’t make it Complicated. It tally is as simple as that. 53 Look at the drawings on the right-hand side of Figure 4-11. Stu- dents 1 and 2 copied Picasso’s draw- ing right side up. As you can see, their drawings did not improve, and they used the same stereotypic, symbolic forms in their copies of the Picasso Stravinsky as they used in their Draw-a-Person drawings. In the drawings done by Student 2, you can see the confusion caused by the foreshortened chair and Stravinsky’s crossed legs. In contrast, the second two stu- dents, starting out at about the same level of skill, copied the Picasso upside down, just as you did. The Student 3 and Student 4 drawings show the re- sults. Surprisingly, the draWings done upside down reflect much greater accuracy of perception and appear to be much more skillfully drawn. How can we explain this? The re- sults run counter to common sense. You simply would not expect that a figure observed and drawn upside down could possiblybe easier to draw, with superior results-,than one viewed and drawn in the normal right-side-up way. The lines, after all, are the same lines. Turning the Picasso drawing upside down doesn’t in any way rearrrange the lines or make them easier to draw. And the students did not suddenly acquire “talent." Student 1. Drawn right side up. Student 2. Drawn right side up. Student 3. Drawn upside down. Student 4. Drawn upside down. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Fig. 4-1 1. Draw-a-Person S travimky Experiencing the Shift From Left to Right After you fim'sb: Once you’ve finished and turned your drawing 'ight side up, you’ll probably be quite surprised at how well the drawing came out. In Figure 4-11, look at some examples of Vimilar‘drawings from a controlled experiment with randomly elected college students. The drawings on the left show the tudents’ level of skill prior to the experiment. (They were sim- ply asked to draw a person from memory.) As you see, all of the 'tudents were drawing at about the ten- to twelve-year-old level, which is typical of adults in our culture who have not studied rawing. Logical Box for the Left Brain This puzzle puts the logical left brain into a logical box: how to :ccount for this sudden ability to draw well, When it (the know- __t-all left hemisphere) has been eased out of the task. .The left brain, which admires a job well done, must now consider the ' ssibility that the disdained right brain is good at drawing. More seriously speaking, a plausible explanation of the illogi- al result is that the left brain refused the task of processing. the Upside-down image. Presumably, the left hemisphere, confused End blocked by the unfamiliar image and unable to name or §ymbolize as usual, turned off, and the job passed over to the 'igh‘t hemisphere. Perfect! The right brain is tbe bemispbere appro- , ldtefor tbe task of drawing. Because it is specialized for the task, be right brain finds drawing easy and enjoyable. 0 important points of progress emerge from the upside-down rcise. The first is your conscious recall of how you felt after made the L->R cognitive shift. The quality of the R-mode tgm. consciousness is different from the L-mode. One can tect those differences and begin to recognize when the cogni- hift has occurred. Oddly, the moment of shifting between Fate of consciousness always remains out of awareness. For P16, one can be aware of being alert and then of being in a team, but the moment of shifting between the two states {as elusive. Similarly, the moment of the cognitive shift L‘R remains out of awareness, but once you have made hifi. the difference in the two states is accessible to knowing. 55 “l have supposed a Human Being to be capable of various physical states, and varying degrees of consciousness, as follows: “(a) the ordinary state, with no consciousness of the presence of Fairies; “(b) the ‘eerie’ state, in which, while conscious of actual surrround- ings, he is also conscious of the pres- ence of Fairies; “(c) a form of trance, in which, while unconscious of actual surround- ing, and apparently asleep, he (i.e., his immaterial essence) migrates to other scenes, in the actual world, or in Fairyland, and'is conscious of the presence of Fairies.” —Lewis Carroll Preface to Sylvie and Bruno Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Lewis Carroll This knowing will help to bring the shift under conscious control —— a main goal of these lessons. The second insight gained from the exercise is your awareness that shifting to the R-mode enables you to see in the way a trained artist sees, and therefore to draw what you perceive. Now, it’s obvious that we can’t always be turning things up- side down. Your models are not going to stand on their heads for you, nor is the landscape going to turn itself upside down or inside out. Our goal, then, is to teach you how to make the 56 ‘_____________.___.. experiencmg the 5hlit From Left to Right NE“ cognitive shift when perceiving things in their normal right- side-up positions. You will learn the artist’s mode of seeing: the key is to direct your attention toward visual information that the left brain cannot or will not process. In other words, you will always try to present your brain with a task the left brain will refuse, thus allowing your right brain to use its capability for drawing. Exercises in the coming chapters will show you some ways to do this. A REVIEW OF THE R—MODE It might be helpful to review what the R-mode feels like. Think back. You have made the shift several times now — while doing the Vase—Faces drawings, and just now while drawing the “Stravinsky.” In the R-mode state, did you notice that you were somewhat unaware of the passage of time — that the time you spent draw- ing may have been long or short, but you couldn’t have known until you checked it afterward? If there were people near, did ., you notice that you couldn’t listen to what they said — in fact, that you didn’t want to hear? You may have heard sounds, but r you probably didn’t care about figuring out the meaning of what _ 7 was being said. And were you aware of feeling alert, but relaxed i‘ j ~ confident, interested, absorbed in the drawing and clear in your mind? ‘ Most of my students have characterized the R-mode state of Consciousness in these terms, and the terms coincide with my .OWn experience and accounts related to me of artists’ expe- rfences. One artist told me, “When I’m really working well, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I feel at one with the Work: the painter, the painting, it’s all one. I feel excited, but ,Fillm ~ exhilarated, but in full control. It’s not exactly happi- ‘ness; it’s more like bliss. I think it’s what keeps me coming back and back to painting and drawing.” The R—mode is indeed pleasurable, and in that mode you can [draw well. But there is an additional advantage: shifting to B‘WOdC releases you for a time from the verbal, symbolic domi- nation of the L-mode, and that’s a welcome relief. The pleasure fay .Come from resting the left hemisphere, stopping its chatter, 7 eerg it quiet for a change. This yearning to quiet the L—mode may partially exPlain centuries-old practices such as meditation :and SBIf—induced altered states of consciousness achieved through 57 “I know perfectly well that only in happy instants am I lucky enough to lose myself in my work. The painter-poet feels that his true immutable essence comes from that invisible realm that offers him an image of eternal reality. . . . I feel that I do not exist in time, but that time exists in me. I can also realize that it is not given to me to solve the mystery of art in an absolute fashion. Nonetheless, I am almost brought to believe that I am about to get my hands on the divine.” —Carlo Carra “The Quadrant of the Spirit" Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Fig. 4-12. A Court Dwarf (c. 1535). Courtesy of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Mr. E. Schroeder and Coburn Fund. fasting, drugs, chanting, and alcohol. Drawing in R-mode in- , duces a changed state of consciousness that can last for hours, “To empty one’s mind of all thought bringing significant satisfaction. and ”films V0101 mm ’1 SPImd h Before you read further, do at least two more drawings upside ngatel t an (mm '5 to em?" I 6 down. Use either the reproduction in Figure 4-12, or find other mind into a realm not acceSSible by . . . . line drawmgs to copy. Each time you draw, try c0nsc10usly to conventional processes of reason.” . , . . - —Edward Hill experience the R—mode shift, so that you become familiar With The Language of Drawing how it feels to be in that mode. ...
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