Severing the Russian Hemisphere as Problematic Global Lobotomy?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 7 Mar 2022
Engendering a Transformative Dynamic through the Potential of Meta-Discourse
7 Mar 2022 – The current global campaign of sanctions against Russia curiously recalls the psychosurgical procedure of lobotomy — much favoured in the USA and the UK subsequent to World War II during the Cold War period. In the case of the individual, lobotomy is a neurosurgical treatment of mental disorders by severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The originator of the procedure, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine of 1949, such was the esteem in which the procedure was held
In a period in which much is made of a global knowledge-based civilization, and the implied emergence of an AI-enhanced global brain, the relevance of lobotomy as a means of “severing connections” in the global brain merits exploration. This is especially the case when there is no lack of commentary on the “mental disorders” from which civilization currently functions (Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society: speculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures, 2008; Comprehensive Pattern of Psychosocial Diseases and the Eases they Imply, 2015).
The surgical procedure in the case of the individual focuses on severance of connections, via the corpus callosum, through which the right and left hemisphere of the brain are linked. It was promoted as a means of “reducing the complexity of psychic life” characteristic of mental disorders. Following the operation, spontaneity, responsiveness, self-awareness, and self-control were reduced. The activity was replaced by inertia, and people were mostly left emotionally blunted and restricted in their intellectual range. The transformation was controversial, and is now widely considered to be inhumane, but the risks were held to outweigh the disadvantages in the period in which the practice was in favour. Arguably the promotion of sanctions against Russia can be recognized as a desire to reduce it to that condition — if only in pursuit of a punitive agenda.
On a global scale is the past enthusiasm of health experts for lobotomy to be considered of relevance — given the current incidence of psychosocial disorders? The questions is of particular relevance given the extent to which many national and international leaders are variously diagnosed as suffering from neurological disorders — even by specialists in the matter. This has been the case with respect to Donald Trump and is now the case with respect to Vladimir Putin. More controversial however is the question of the neurological health of the populations sustaining both in power for a lengthy period in time — and may continue to do so.
Reference to a global brain recalls the extent to which emphasis is placed in geopolitics on the hemispheres of Earth — particularly those of West and East. Geopolitics has long exhibited a tendency of the West to marginalize and undermine that of the East. The two can readily be seen in overt, if not covert, competition, especially with the emerging role of China. A corresponding hemispheric organization is recognized between North and South — also exhibiting competitive dynamics in the aftermath of colonialism. Other “hemispheres” of potential relevance to global organization include those of class, gender, race and colour. The framework could be extended to include the collectively memorable as a hemisphere — in contrast to the widespread erosion of collective memory and to complacency in that regard.
Framed in this way it may then be asked whether a “corpus callosum” of the global brain might be recognized as the nexus of hemispheric connectivity (Corpus Callosum of the Global Brain? Locating the integrative function within the world wide web, 2014). Given the questionable degrees of integration between the hemispheres identified, it could then be asked whether global civilization has already subjected itself — unknowingly — to a form of lobotomy, perhaps to be recognized as “lobotomy lite”. The processes of the cancel culture can be explored in this light.
More radical, it is in this sense that promotion of the current array of sanctions against Russia can be seen as a “surgical procedure” by which that culture is severed from the global system. As in the Cold War, this is designed to isolate that hemisphere as separate from the rest of the globe — then to be acclaimed as singularly unified (if only in terms of a primarily Western perspective).
Clearly the past controversy surrounding the use of lobotomy, and its effective abandonment, is a potential source of learning regarding the systemic viability following any form of global lobotomy. With the focus on severing connectivity of every kind, it may then be asked how viable global connectivity would be recognized — and from within what hemisphere? What is the integrative functionality for which two hemispheres emerged through the evolutionary process? If lateralization of brain function into hemispheres is of such cognitive importance to survival, what might be the consequence of severing connections between hemispheres of the globe? What might be anticipated in the case of severing Russia in this way?
The following speculative exercise develops an earlier argument which endeavoured to highlight the merit of transcending the conventional binary “us-and-them” articulation of disasters such as Iraq and Ukraine (Ukraine versus Iraq — Humanitarian Intervention versus Invasion? Russian “peacekeeping” or another “forever war”, 2022). Lobotomy thus serves as a strategic metaphor for a process of severing connectivity — one which has every reason to be considered “unfit for purpose” given the ineffectual responses to current crises.
The question here is how to comprehend and enable higher orders of connectivity in the face of dysfunctional simplicity (Time for Provocative Mnemonic Aids to Systemic Connectivity? Possibilities of reconciling the “headless hearts” to the “heartless heads”, 2018). Is there a mode of meta-discourse to be “re-cognized” as enabling a transformative dynamic?
Mixing metaphors, given the relationship of the complementary hemispheres of the brain to sight, what is the paradoxical perspective enabled by stereoscopic vision? How might a transcendent “stereoscopic strategy” then be understood? By contrast, is severing a hemisphere to be promoted from a Christian perspective in the light of the Biblical injunction:
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:9)
The eye metaphor offers further insight with regard to mainstream assumptions concerning the irrelevance of alternative perspectives — traditionally highlighted by one-eyed entities in mythology and fiction (Transcending One-eyed Global Modelling Perspectives, 2010; Cyclopean Vision vs Poly-sensual Engagement, 2006).
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