Emotional Drama


Merry Christmas.  I am of course most interested in the biological roots  here but my indentured servitude with the farm has taught me to look for the flowers and the fruit as well.  An example of the former is that from Darwin’s keen and thoughtful observations of emotional expressions in animals, including humans, in 1872, through Ekman’s and his colleagues more modern and beautiful research into the universals of emotional expression, we have come to understand that we, apes and others express some consistent emotions through our facial expressions including joy, anger, fear, disgust, sadness and surprise.  We have learned that the right side of a person’s face better expresses their current feelings, and no surprise here, dogs looks at our faces the same way.  An example of the fruit is the duality of drama in its comedy and tragedy.  Of course as we have modernized in our understanding and art, we have developed many shades of their combination.  Interestingly, through a variety of means (Wada test, strokes, surgery, split brain studies, etc.) we have found that the right hemisphere shows a tendency for negative emotions and the left for positive ones.  Why?  I think the difference inherently lies at least partly in how each hemisphere handles the temporal processing of information.  The right dominates in focusing on the current moment, searching for the new to understand the situation and, once we have some experience under our belts, relate it to old data, which, let’s face it, over our life is mostly about difficult times.  As we monitor new, relate it to old, and behave in the moment, possibilities, the freedom of movement, recede.  On the other hand, the left dominates in focusing on information displaced in time and space, transforming old information from experience into a new imaginative context with many possibilities.  And to quote Angelique Kidjo, a most wonderful singer, “Possibility is joy.” Sorrow comes when no other possibility exists.  Root, flower and fruit.  Happy New Year.

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