Continuing with Iain McGilchrist’s predictions about current cultural trends that we began last time:
“The world as a whole would become more virtualized, and our experience of it would be increasingly through meta-representations of one kind or another; fewer people would find themselves doing work involving contact with the real, “lived” world, rather than with plans, strategies, paperwork, management and bureaucratic procedures. In fact, more and more work would come to be overtaken by the meta-process of documenting or justifying what one was doing or supposed to be doing — at the expense of the real job in the living world.
“Technology would flourish…, but it would be accompanied by a vast expansion of bureaucracy, systems of abstraction and control.
“[C]onsiderations of quantity might come actually to replace considerations of quality altogether, and without the majority of people being aware that anything had happened.
“[C]onsciousness changes its nature in work geared to technological production… which means the development of a system that permits things to be reproduced endlessly, and enforces submergence of the individual in a large organization or production line; “measurability,” in other words the insistence on quantification not qualification; “componentiality,” that is to say reality reduced to self-contained units, so that everything is analyzable into constituent components, and everything can be taken apart and put together again in terms of these components….
“The impersonal would come to replace the personal. There would be a focus on material things at the expense of the living.
“[I]individualities would be ironed out and identification would be by categories: socioeconomic groups, races, sexes, and so on, which would also feel themselves to be implicitly or explicitly in competition with, and resentful of, on another. Paranoia and lack of trust would come to be the pervading stance within society both between individuals and such groups, and would be the stance of government towards its people.
“Panoptical control would become an end in itself, and constant CCTV monitoring, interception of private information and communication, the norm.
“Measures such as a DNA database would be introduced.
“[P]eople of all kinds would attach an unusual importance to being in control. Accidents and illnesses, since they are beyond our control, would therefore be particularly threatening and would, where possible, be blamed on others.
“According to the left hemisphere view, death is the ultimate challenge to its sense of control, and, on the contrary robs life of meaning. It would therefore have to become a taboo, while, at the same time sex, the power of which the right hemisphere realizes is based on the implicit, would become explicit and omnipresent.
“There would be a preoccupation, which might even reach to be an obsession, with certainty and security.
“There would be a complete failure of common sense, since it is intuitive and relies on both [brain] hemispheres working together.
“Anger and aggressive behavior would become more evident in our social interactions.
“One would expect a loss of insight, coupled with an unwillingness to take responsibility, and this would reinforce the left hemisphere’s tendency to a perhaps dangerously unwarranted optimism..
“We could expect a rise in the determination to carry out procedures by rote, and perhaps an increasing efficiency at doing so, without this necessarily being accompanied by an understanding of what they mean.”
More next time, plus commentary and wrap-up.