Finalizing chapter 7 of Human: Instructions for Use made me look closer at ambidexterity.
I stumbled upon this superb article written more than a century ago: The pre-eminence of the right hand, a study in religious polarity.
Beside superb content, I relished the language: a rich vocabulary, carefully constructed sentences, scholarly yet approachable style.
I loved the question presented in the paper: “Are we right-handed because we are left-brained, or are we
left-brained because we are right-handed?”
I loved the mature outlook on the cultural and religious basis of our uni-dexterous bias.
Look at this paragraph, for example:
So it is not because the left hand is weak and powerless that it is neglected: the contrary is true. This hand is subjected to a veritable mutilation, which is none the less marked because it affects the function and not the outer form of the organ, because it is physiological and not anatomical. The feelings of a left-hander in a backward society are analogous to those of an uncircumcised man in countries where circumcision is law. The fact is that righthandedness is not simply accepted, submitted to, like a natural necessity: it is an ideal to which everybody must conform and which society forces us to respect by positive sanctions. The child which actively uses its left hand is reprimanded, when it is riot slapped on the over-bold hand: similarly the fact of being left-handed is an offence which draws on the offender a more or less explicit social reproof.
Beautiful, is it not?
In 2006 and 2007 I began practicing ambidexterity, writing the manuscript of Human: Instructions for Use. This is how I did it in Bengaluru, India, on February 2007:
Notice the right hand?
As a left-hander, I wrote all my notes with my weak hand. Notice how I am close to the final pages of the notebook. The manuscript was almost ready…
In 2007 I published the first edition of Human in Slovenian. Since then, the book had four reprints and reached thousands of readers. Now I am typing the first English edition, ambidextrous, and wondering am I not, perhaps, ambisinister?
I am left-handed, so my practice is to enhance my right hand’s skills to equal my left hand. Sadly, the word ‘ambisinister’ is already occupied, meaning “equally clumsy with both hands”. In this world having two left hands can’t be viewed as positive, can it?
And so I write in my book:
My intention is not to fight against the existing situation. That would be futile. The cultural inertia is immense and it would be extremely naïve to suggest that a few pages of one man’s reasoning could change deeply rooted cultural paradigms. If these pages encourage a few people to change their lives even slightly, that will be a reason for celebration. I am not expecting much more.
A great joy for each writer is to receive enthusiastic feedback from his readers. I keep re-reading my writing and the more I do it the more I feel distanced from it. The more I see it is not mine at all. I carry a message that wanted to be born through me. I wonder and admire the text and hope you will share my admiration soon. 🙂
The saying: “Practice makes perfect,” is not only about perfection in a routine, it is about personal perfection—physical, emotional and intellectual. For this perfection, you need to be in close touch with the world you live in, to experience it intimately and make theoretical concepts lively and meaningful. “Juggling” with life, with nature, and artfully creating harmonies, adds a magical dimension to “juggling” with inert objects. If you can find your calling in the society and your home in nature, it doesn’t matter what you do and how, what matters is the alignment between your being and your environment. Would you agree that such alignment is a sort of perfection?