We hope you are well. It is now less than two months until the official publication date of The Matter with Things. In this newsletter we have two new articles to share, a recent podcast with Iain and Dr Alexander Curmi as well as Iain’s latest reading from his forthcoming book in the member’s area of Channel McGilchrist.
“The entire book that you are going to read,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in the Introduction of Democracy in America, Volume One (1835), “was written under the pressure of a sort of religious terror in the author’s soul, produced by the sight of this irresistible revolution” (6, Mansfield & Winthrop ed., U. Chicago Press, 2000).
The religious terror haunts the two volumes of Democracy in America. What is the object of that terror? Does the object of terror change between 1835 and 1840, when Volume Two appeared?
The object of terror is not “this irresistible revolution” itself. The “irresistible revolution” is the “equality of conditions” in one of the meanings of that expression, namely, equal subjection of the individual under the sovereign, in the territorial polity (62, 559, 646). The equality of subjection arose when the sovereign was represented by a Caesar (420) or the crown(5) and it continued into Tocqueville’s present. The trappings of the sovereign changed, but equality of subjection persisted. This “revolution,” he wrote in 1835, “for so many centuries has marched over all obstacles” (6). Read the full article here.
Enchantment is essentially an experience of wonder, and like the experience itself, the subject is hard to pin down. So think of this essay instead as a wander through one corner of it, with glimpses farther afield.
It’s a lot to ask of one example to cover all the aspects, but here is a personal account that touches on some of the most important. In his classic wondertale of 1871, George MacDonald, says that in the country at the back of the North Wind, there is a river that “flows not through but over grass: its channel, instead of being rock, stones, pebbles, sand, or anything else, was of pure meadow grass, not overlong.” In 2004, a friend took me for a walk in Nakajimadai Recreation Park in Shishigahana Shitsugen, at the foot of Mount Chokai in Akita Prefecture, Japan. And there, in a forest at the foot of the mountain, although not looking for it, I found it. I had never been for a walk with a river before. Not by, but with. It flowed freely where it would, not taking a predetermined or even self-created course in a riverbed but among grass, moss and dead leaves, through the forest. And we walked alongside it, fully enchanted, the three of us keeping each other company. Read the full article here.
Podcast with Alexander Curmi and Iain McGilchrist – On the Brain hemispheres and on embracing Uncertainty and Intuition
Dr Alexander Curmi is currently undertaking his registrar training at the Maudsley Hospital, London, where Iain McGilchrist worked as a psychiatrist. In the first conversation they discuss in-depth the division of the two hemispheres of the brain, and in the second conversation they discuss the nature of embracing uncertainty and intuition in relation to the two brain hemispheres and psychiatry. Iain says, ‘There is a danger in the practice of psychiatry and in all of the way we think nowadays, broadly in our culture, that we tend to decontextualize things, we abstract a phrase or word, an idea, a belief…so what I would say about the understanding of a person, is that we have to see that person in that context…’.
Click the images below for each conversation:
Iain McGilchrist reads from chapter 22 – Time – from The Matter with Things
In the member’s area of Channel McGilchrist, you can now listen to Iain reading the first of two excerpts from chapter 22 – Time. In this chapter, Iain begins by looking at how we conceptualise time, and the problems this misunderstanding brings with it. He says, ‘In reality, time is more real than mere things could ever be.’ Information about Channel McGilchrist membership can be found here.
Plaudits for The Matter with Things
You can find what others who have read The Matter with Things and reviewed it, have to say here. The latest plaudit is from Professor Charles Foster who writes,
‘It’s very simple: this is one of the most important books ever published. And, yes, I do mean ever. It is a thrilling exposition of the nature of reality, and a devastating repudiation of the strident, banal orthodoxy that says it is childish and disreputable to believe that the world is alive with wonder and mystery. For McGilchrist the universe is a constantly evolving symphony – a gradual unfolding of an epic story. We urgently need to attune our ears to this music – to re-enchant the world and ourselves, and to confound those who say that there is only noise.
No one else could have written this book. McGilchrist’s range is as vast as the subject – which is everything – demands. He is impeccably rigorous, fearlessly honest, and compellingly readable. Put everything else aside. Read this now to know what sort of creature you are and what sort of place you inhabit.’
Professor Charles Foster, Oxford University, author of Being a Human and Being a Beast
You can pre-order your copy of The Matter with Things at a discount here (currently for UK residents only).
Thank you for reading,
The Team at Channel McGilchrist