This is a fantastic piece of prose from one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, D.H. Lawrence. It’s full of hope, ambition and encouragement to free ourselves of the anxieties and distractions that hold us back from realising our true potential.
Lawrence also shows a deep knowledge of one of our default traits as humans; we are all, from time to time, trapped by our ego’s, fueled by the reptilian part of our brains. In other words, the fear of failure (FOF) or fear of missing out (FOMO) or not being good enough can consume us. It’s also this part of the brain that has been programmed over the ages to guard against predators and to see survival as a competition. More below on the three parts of our brain that work together to make up who we are. The good news is that, through practice, there is no limitation to what we can learn. We can all “get into the forests again” and “stamp our feet with new power”.
We shall laugh and institutions will curl up like burnt paper
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper.” – D.H. Lawrence
The three parts of the human brain
- The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brain-stem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.
- The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals. It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings. The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippo-campus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.
- The neocortex first assumed importance in primates and culminated in the human brain with its two large cerebral hemispheres that play such a dominant role. These hemispheres have been responsible for the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. The neocortex is flexible and has almost infinite learning abilities. The neocortex is also what has enabled human cultures to develop.