25 February 2011


"It is the relations between things, more than entities in isolation, that are of primary importance to the right hemisphere. Music consists entirely of relations, 'betweenness'. The notes mean nothing in themselves: the tensions between the notes, and between notes and the silence with which they live in reciprocal endebtedness, are everything. Melody, harmony and rhythm each lie in the gaps, and yet the betweenness is only what it is because of the notes themselves. Actually the music is not just in the gaps any more than it is just in the notes: it is in the whole that the notes and the silence make together. Each note becomes transformed by the context in which it lies. What we mean by music is not just any agglomeration of notes, but one in which the whole created is powerful enough to make each note live in a new way, a way that it had never done before. Similarly poetry cannot be just any arrangement of words, but one in which each word is taken into the new whole and made to live again in a new way, carrying us back to the world of experience, to life: poetry constitutes a 'speaking silence'. Music and poetic language are both part of the world that is delivered by the right hemisphere, the world characterized by betweenness. Perhaps it is not, after all, so wide of the make to call the right hemisphere the 'silent' hemisphere: its utterances are implicit." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 72). 

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