In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Cat vies with Hard Drive for my soul


A psychiatrist called Iain McGilchrist has written what in my opinion is an extraordinary and important book called “The Master and his Emissary – The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.”  I feel instantly at home with, and liberated by, its central thesis. Here is a quote from the blurb on the back of the book : “We need both hemispheres [of the brain] : but, McGilchrist argues, the left hemisphere has become so far dominant that we’re in danger of forgetting everything that makes us human. Taking the reader on an extraordinary journey through Western history and culture, he traces how the left hemisphere has grabbed more than its fair share of power, resulting in a society where a rigid and bureaucratic obsession with structure, narrow self-interest and a mechanistic view of the world hold sway, at an enormous cost to human happiness and the world around us.”

More information on both man and book can be found by entering his name on Google and going to his website which is easily found.

Other dualities are suggested by this revelatory finding, but all of those are concept, image, or picture. The tension between the hemispheres of the human brain is, by contrast, a plain discovery from which conclusions are inescapable. Myself I am wary of over-simplifying McGilchrist’s findings and conclusions, but have been moved to write a poem based on this primal duality and struggle which he has been studying for so long. I have dedicated the poem (or poems) to him and to my great pleasure he has accepted the compliment. Here below is the poem, following a short preamble


Cat vies with Hard Drive for my Soul


This poem is suggested by the bookThe Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.” by the psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, to whom the poem is dedicated. He writes about the two sides of the human brain and the tension between them, that tension and relationship reflected in the worlds we have made around us as a race. For the purposes of this poem, I have called the brain’s right hand side “Cat” and the left hand side “Hard-Drive.”


A Confession of Bias


I wish myself cat




I wish myself cat-alive

cat alert

sonar centre



lithe advance.

Hard-drive blunts me



and thickens me

Hard-drive weighs on me


like a hump,

an imperialist                        



Cat asleep


Ears at attention

sharp as bayonets


still scanning



And eyes though closed

still reckon


keeping the captain             

abreast of all our weathers


as he paces



on the bridge.

Any time now


those eyes will blaze



and cat will rise

and crouch


and bare teeth 

and pounce.


Hard Drive in the bath


Hard-drive specialises

in mean look

and fierce straight line.


Curves dismay him

They hint at softness

and lying back in the bath.


You dont bathe for joy,

proclaims Hard Drive, but for profit,

an increase of power and standing.


So yes, bathe often

but with vigour

and never lie back.


Hard-drive comes alive


Harddrive waits for nobody

and never gives way.


To pause is life-threatening

and to make allowance for other life


risks invasion                        

by gargoyle



by Dracula.


I shall force my will

on the landscape.


I shall stamp myself on the earth

like a brand.


Hey mother, do you see

this corpse at my feet


this victim at my hands ?

Until the moment


of victory

I had not arrived


O mother, mother,

I was not born.


Cat in the Sun


Cat glories in the sun.

He sees it a mile off

and knows he belongs there.


He rolls in the hot dust

and delights in that sliding, grain by grain,

inwards to the skin

to play among the follicles.


Hard Drive cant bear to look.

Instead he fixes on the horizon

in case typhoon is threatening there

or the barbarian horse

have broken through at last.


Hard Drive busies himself

on his preventive measures,

glancing with contempt

to where Cat lounges,

absorbing the suns heat,

cat ears pointy,

muscles flexed.


Hard Drive begs to go hunting


Gimme routine

rages Hard Drive,

youre unsettling me,

gimme something that stays

the same, gimme repeats,

gimme quarry to

run down, gimme

victims, gimme

leave to blame.


Cats astonishment


Cat spends all his life astonished.

His astonishment exhausts him

so he sleeps and then, on waking,

is astonished all over again.




So what do they make

of each other, these two,

Cat and Hard Drive 

forced to travel on opposing sides

inseparable  ?


He leans over me

grieves Cat, he positions

himself way beyond his station.

He eclipses my sun.

He has tricked me into a cage.


He frightens me, rages Hard Drive.

Every pace we take on the path

wears on me. It is like walking

chained to a fire-storm.

I never sleep.




It is cat who carries the weight

of true being,


who loves and suffers

in his worn flesh


the seasons, the wild heath.


Hard Drive lives in panic, a life-long

franticness to avoid


being overwhelmed. The fears

of Hard-drive


will overwhelm us all.


Rogan Wolf June 2013