Harpo Marx’s contribution to whole-brain theory and practice. Redeeming Feeling capacity in holistic brain study
We need some context to understand Harpo Marx’s contribution to whole-brain theory and practice.
At the height of the right~Left Brain fad, 1975-1985, it was common to hear people–inaccurately–describe themselves as strictly “right-brained” or “left-brained.” The left-brainers bragged about their math skills; right-brainers emphasized their creativity and intuition.
Which brain hemisphere do you think Harpo was more expressive of?
Which brain hemisphere do you think Groucho was more expressive of?
Before we reinforce erroneous over-generalizations of right~left brain contrast, let’s set the record straight.
Our waking psyche is multi-intelligent. Waking adults enjoy the use of multiple intelligences. Without multiple intelligences humans would only have only instinct and habit to solve problems.
Ever see a cat with its head stuck in a tight-fitting small bag? The cat only has instincts and reflexes to get out of the bag. The cat backs up. The cat jumps. The cat is unable to think, “Maybe if I put my two paws up and grasp the bag, this could knock or push the bag off.”
If you ask them, an adult human can think of 5-10 ways to get its head out of a paper bag. Ability to think of multiple solutions to the same problem is highly suggestive of Multiple intelligences.
Full discussion of Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences 1.0 and MI 2.0, can be found in Balance on All Levels PACME+Soul.
Back to Harpo Marx. Harpo’s humor arises very much from what he limits himself to.
Does Harpo limit himself more to his right brain hemisphere or left brain hemisphere?
Right, you got it.
Harpo pretends he has no language ability and no math computation ability. He limits himself to responses to life a creative child (or a creative, silent Buster Keaton) comes up with. We like Harpo because he has no Inner critic and refuses to let anyone else’s Inner Critic or cultural norms dampen his enthusiasm and joy for life and people.
Harpo makes it possible to contrast his one-sided cartoon of right brain expressions with a “cartoon” of left brain hemisphere expressions.
Our left hemisphere is dominant in language processing, formulating thoughts and words you have not expessed before. Left brain is dominant in interpreting what you hear. It handles the duties of speaking beyond screams, yells, cursing and other more guttural (gut brain) habitual and learned expressions of emotional liking and disliking.
Left brain is also dominant in constructing logical sequences in–among other areas–exact mathematical computations.
To simplify, in waking adults, left brain is dominant in activity where rational Thinking-Feeling are at the fore.
Harpo shows us what humans would be like if we turned off our left brain.
In Horse Feathers, Harpo grabs a book off the shelf, opens it, laughs at the contents; then immediately, throws the book into a roaring fireplace. Later in the scene, we see him again involved in his attack on written language. This time he is shoveling a large pile of books into the fireplace ~ p. 100, A Century of the Marx Brothers by Joseph Mills
Harpo proposes, if we turned off our left brain, if we approached the written word more skeptically, we would get a lot less work done; and, have a whole lot more fun.
Whole-brainedness proposes a balance of left~right is best. If you need encouragement to redeem your right brain abilities, Harpo is your inspiration.
Which brain hemisphere do you think Chico was more expressive of? That’s right, a little bit of both right and left.
Harpo shows us a human living more in Feeling
One of the big philosophical struggles being worked out as we speak, is how to reframe science-technology so it serves life and truly human values; instead of, too many Dr. Frankenstein creations, one after another.
A simple way to language this is we need a science more aligned with and attuned to Feeling.
Fortunately how a right brain Harpo science works out and dovetails with left brain-only science is already accomplished. It’s the topic of the Three Sciences we use everyday, a major topic of this website. Full discussion in Goethean Holistic Science and the Three Sciences We Use Everyday for Holistic Practitioners and Self-Healers: Chapters 19-20 from Balance on All Levels-PACME+Soul Plus Related Essays.
First Order Science is theory and experimental method for, the rational choices we make using feeling and intuition. Harpo Marx could be the cartoon mascot–but then–so could Goethe, the West’s earliest holistic thinker.
It’s fun for me to re-imagine the conversation between the one-eyed, color blind scientist and Goethe as a conversation between Harpo Marx and Dr. Frankenstein.
To Learn More
The Card of Destiny for both Harpo Marx and Sai Baba is the 10Hearts. You can look up its characteristic expressions.
BIO ~ Author and Health Intuitive Bruce Dickson is a wounded healer who completed his Heroes Journey this lifetime. He likes to share the Elixirs of Life he found, with those interested. “Service to myself and others is why I get out of bed each morning.” Find him at http://www.Amazon.com/Bruce-Dickson-MSS/e/B007SNVG46