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B R A I N W A V E :    Thee Frequency ov Truth

Frequencies are an often talked about element of TOPY thought. One often encounters the idea that frequencies can be useful when trying to understand how different states of mind happen, and of course that frequencies play a major part in the effects of music. This pamphlet is an attempt to bring together some of the evidence about the effects that frequencies have on us, and to show useful lines of enquiry for people who want to empower themselves with knowledge of frequencies. It's only a starting point; the story of frequencies takes us from evolution to acid house and to all points in between.

A good way to start is by looking at what makes your brain function better: connections. The fundamental determinant of your brain's potential is the number of connections it can make. (This seems to hold true however you define 'potential': raw IQ, intuition, skill in languages, mathematical ability, whatever.) The average brain seems to contain 10 to 15 billion nerve cells, each one capable of making thousands of contacts. The possible permutations of connections between your brain cells are in the trillions. The more connections your brain cells enjoy, the easier they can shove around the flickers of electricity which form the data structures of our thoughts. The faster the brain moves them around, the more data processing it can achieve in a given length of time. The more data processing you can do, the easier it is for your personality to leap to new ideas, form conclusions, work out problems, get jokes, get turned on the easier it is for it to do whatever it is you consider to be 'intelligent' or beneficial to your sensibility. It's worth pointing out that this brain 'potential', as reckoned in brain cells, has been around a long time; it was acquired by cave-people and hasn't physically changed much for 50,000 years. (Probably a lot longer.)

Our brain cell potential isn't just inherited. What we choose to do with our brains is a major determinant of how many connections actually get made in between our ears. We've also got a huge genetic/social legacy of learning and connection-making. There have been, arguably (possibly very arguably) five prehistoric landmarks in the 'use' of 'intelligence': walking on two legs, increasing manual dexterity, tool-making, speech, and writing. The last two have been increasingly important to humans because communication has been essential to humanity's change (evolution?). Speech enabled us to pass on advice from one generation to another (especially through songs and storytelling), so we literally didn't have to reinvent the wheel every generation. Interestingly, a 400 word vocabulary will enable communication in any society; a modern adult (of most cultures world-wide, not just Eurasian ones) need 4,000 to survive. So speech has been incredibly useful and enriching. The addition of toolmaking and preserved speech (writing) brought about printing, and thus the first databases and encoded virtual spaces were invented. Printing enabled people to transmit messages to an unlimited number of people. And, coming full circle, there's evidence to suggest that mental activity and some mental abilities increase among children who read early and widely. That is to say, among children who receive and thereby learn to transmit messages early. This suggests something which a moment's reflection will demonstrate to be a commonplace idea:

The brain is the only organ which expands through use.

The more the brain is used, either to acquire facts or to coordinate activity, the more it creates memory associations. The more associations, the more you can remember previously acquired information, and also, to form new associations. To create new ideas and concepts. This is a 'virtuous circle', and reading is a key to forming it.

But none of this explains why we've got such a large brain.

"The brain is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use, a luxury organ., which it will take its owner thousands of years to learn to put to proper use if it ever does."
-Arthur Koestler

We didn't need such a large brain to succeed in the evolutionary race. And yet we've 'succeeded' this well mostly using the mechanical talents of the brain, solving the problems presented in mastering the physical environment. Industry, economics, capitalism, engineering, are all mechanical mental answers to mechanical survival problems. Can't organise the distribution of resources efficiently? Invent economics and free market capitalism. Can't make enough ploughs with viallage blacksmiths? Invent industry. Can't get across a river easily? Invent engineering. The mechanical problems we face now are a universe away from the ones we faced 4,000 years ago, or even a hundred years ago; we've been knocking them on the head, as a race, with ever greater rapidity.

It is the left brain which has solved these problems. The left brain (without wishing to assert exclusivity in function between the two brains), emphasises language, mathematics, logic, numbers, sequence, linearity, analysis, song words. The right brain is better at patterns, spatial manipulation, rhythm, images and pictures, imagination, daydreaming, tunes. (Without wishing to jump ahead too much, it's clear that Burroughs' desire for a new, non-linear prose, similar to abstract painting, is nothing more than a desire to get his fingers dirty with a new way of transmitting and receiving language-based signals, a way which would start to use the right-side of the brain, which had previously not been the author/programmer of the messages, but only the partial recipient.)

We can crudely summarise the difference between the left and right side of the brain by saying that the left brain analyses and rationalises; the right brain synthesises.

I think it is not too controversial to say that western societies have valued and do value left-brain functions higher than right-brain functions. This isn't a bad thing; homo erectus largely survived because of left brain functions. Still, it's true that (most) economists get paid more than (most) art teachers, and schools teach right-brain dominated subjects for perhaps two or three periods a week (probably less under the national curriculum).

And yet schools that have increased the proportion of arts subjects have found that ALL scholastic levels of performance increase. The two halves of the brain complement each other.

(If you're reading this thinking, great, I'm an arty left-brain-oriented person and this is telling me that I'm cleverer than everyone else thinks, then ask yourself if you can fix a car or a stereo, and if not, ask yourself how clever that makes you?)

Education that emphasises only analytical thinking is literally 'single-minded'; people's brains are being systematically damaged by education. In many ways, people are being de-educated.

We still face the same metaphysical problems we did 4,000 years ago. The left brain has succeeded almost beyond imagination. Perhaps it's because the right brain hasn't really had a look in as far as most people are concerned.

The better-connected the two halves of the brain, the greater the potential of the brain for learning (and creativity). (And by the way, research by Christine de Lacoste Utamsin of University of Texas found that the interconnecting area between the two halves of the brain tends to be richer in nerve connections among women than men. An interesting datum for witches and feminists.) Einstein failed mathematics at school, was a good violinist and artist, and got the insight that led to the theory of relativity when he was sitting on a hill in summer, imagining he was riding a sunbeam to the far edge of the universe, and returning to the sun; the dream could only be true if space-time and light were curved. Synchronisation and cooperation between the two halves of the brain helped him develop the theory of relativity. You can say something similar about Leonardo da Vinci.

According to Joseph Bergen, who wrote an article about the emphasis on left brain skills in education in a journal called the UCLA Educator, 'The current emphasis in education on the acquisition of verbal skills and the development of analytical thought processes neglects the development of nonverbal abilities. This starves one half of the brain and ignores its contribution to the whole person.'

I would therefore assert that mixing left- and right-brain skills are A Good Thing and the faster we can turn on right brain skills the better, preferably next Tuesday after lunch. Just think about what we've been missing. (Shut up Timothy Leary, your chance hasn't come yet.) But how?

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