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I am aware that I have expended considerable ink bashing the left brain, whose wondrous achievements are celebrated on library shelves filled with the works of geniuses of logic, science, philosophy, and mathematics; I did not think it necessary to extol their contributions further here. The left brain's essential expression-masculine energy-has crafted many of humankind's great moments, but it has also informed the worst ones. For every Newton, there has been a Jack the Ripper. A subtheme of this book is that a lopsided reliance on the left side's attributes without the tempering mode of the right hemisphere initially leads a society through a period of demonstrable madness. It is only after this initial phase passes that literacy begins to work its salutary wonders for a culture. I have tended to characterize the right-hemispheric attributes as purely positive. But it is no less true that relying on them without the ordering balance which is the forte of the left hemisphere leads to a different kind of disarray and can result in mindless anarchy and sensuous excess. Emphasis on one hemispheric mode at the expense of the other is noxious. The human community should strive for a state of complementarity and harmony.

Another reason compelling me to write this book: I have been troubled since my youth by a question that surfaced as I became entranced by Greek mythology. I do not remember at what point it occurred, but I became aware that the Greeks did not engage in religious wars. Instead, they treated one another's belief systems with admirable tolerance and civility. What then, I asked myself, had changed in human culture? Presently, to be a Jew, Muslim, Catholic, or Protestant seems to inspire suspicion and in many cases hatred of the other three. Growing up during World War II and the Holocaust made finding an answer to my question seem urgent. Nearly everyone in the Western world believes in one God. How could the adherents of the presumably lofty monotheistic belief system despise each other so since they all freely acknowledge that they worship the same deity? If there had been a time in the historical past when people did not kill each other over religion, then why did they start? What factor, I asked myself, could have exerted such a powerful influence upon culture? That I suspect it was the alphabet resonates with the quote from Sophocles I cited on page 1: "Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse." Writing was indeed vast and it was accompanied by a curse.

I began my inquiry intent on answering the question Who killed the Great Goddess? My conclusion-that the thug who mugged the Goddess was alphabet literacy-may seem repugnant to some and counterintuitive to others. I cannot prove that I am right. I have had to rely on the doctrine of competitive plausibility, arranging the tesserae chips of historical events into a mosaic of many periods and cultures. Any individual chip's texture and design can be (and has been) explained by local conditions, but when all of them are viewed juxtaposed together, I think a pattern can be discerned showing the shaping influence on culture of writing and particularly the alphabet. The rise and fall of images, women's rights, and the sacred feminine have moved contrapuntally with the rise and fall of alphabet literacy.

I am convinced we are entering a new Golden Age-one in which the right-hemispheric values of tolerance, caring, and respect for nature will begin to ameliorate the conditions that have prevailed for the too-long period during which left-hemispheric values were dominant. Images, of any kind, are the balm bringing about this worldwide healing. It will take more time for change to permeate and alter world cultures but there can be no doubt that the wondrous permutations of photography and electromagnetism are transforming the world both physically and psychically. The shift to right-hemispheric values through the perception of images can be expected to increase the sum total awareness of beauty.

Long before there was Hammurabi's stela or the Rosetta stone, there were the images of Lascaux and Altamira. In the beginning was the image. Then came five millennia dominated by the written word. The iconic symbol is now returning. Women, the half of the human equation who have for so long been denied, will increasingly have opportunities to achieve their potential. This will not happen everywhere at once, but the trend is toward equilibrium. My hope is that this book will initiate a conversation about the issues I have raised and inspire others to examine the thesis further.
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