“Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavour.” The Asphalt Jungle

To be honest, the only time I give my lack of leftiness much thought is when I’m elbowing the person next to me, or when some neuroscientists release a study that suggests my left hand is a window to my soul, or that it can be used to divine my future. I’m right-handed all the way you see. I’ve tried writing with my left, but the scrawls look akin to the pen to paper ramblings of a serial killer. For some reason those who confuse left with right don’t have the same problem between top or bottom. Gravity rules huh? In most societies, up to 10% of people are left-handed. But wait, you need your right hand to stencil your left.

The Bible also suggests that lefties have the devil on their side, so you’d at least think they might have some fun sinning during our short time on Earth, but no – studies also show they reach sexual maturity later than your average right hander. Awkward. It seems to me as a layperson that a pianist does the most difficult things with his right hand, but that a violinist does the trickiest bits with his left hand. I suppose it depends on what piano music you’re listening to.

According to research presented by Dr Daniel Casasanto to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, people just prefer things that are in front of their favourite hand. It could be products on a shelf, or applicants for a job. His theory, in simple terms, is that because people go through life with a “fluent side” and a “clumsy side”, they develop a kind of unconscious favoritism, even for things that don’t require them to use their hands.

‘Not being a political thinker, I suppose I identify the right with certain virtues and the left with certain vices,’ wrote Philip Larkin. The Semetic inventors of writing wrote right to left, which is still the custom in the Middle East, but in the West we write right to left. I can’t figure to whether that’s all right or not.

Nasrudin, the mullah, was sitting with a  friend as dusk fell. ‘Light a candle’, this friend said, ‘there is one just by your left side.’ ‘How can I tell my right from my left in the dark, you fool?’ said the mullah.

The flexible of hand tend to be flexible of brain, because the two halves of the brain – each of which controls one hand – are more practised at talking to one another. For some reason, this also helps you get to sleep faster. I have candles to burn and bridges to cross though so what about being ‘inconsistent-handed’? Some say a pun is the lowest form of wit, others that wit is the best form of pun. Is this because there is no logical answer?



One reply on “Gauche/Adroit

  • Erica

    I had a high school soccer coach, who was way more spiritual than your typical alpha dog coach, who said we must learn to be equally reliant on our right and left foot not only because we’d be phisically more capable but also because it would allow our brains to see the field better!! Ever since then, I’ve thought of this topic.


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