Per Nørgård points out
that one of the problems facing modern society is that everything is split up. Holistic
thinking is rare: all decisions are decisions about particular, limited areas. This is
partly due to the fact that our right brain hemisphere, which thinks holistically, is not
available to us. Language is of course the province of the left hemisphere.
we should arrange a kind of 'peaceful voyage of discovery' to the silent half of our brain
where we could cautiously listen to what is after all a very important part of ourselves.
We could then attempt to express the results using the 'compelling' language of our
intellect, and this analysis of the shape and form of our feelings would in all
probability reveal an astonishing store of wisdom [...].
The kind of wisdom Nørgård is referring to here is the ability to maintain a balance - understood here as a balance between the body's chemical processes at various levels. In this sense one could also call any homeostatic, or cybernetic, system or a work of art, 'wise'. In an answer to a critic, Per Nørgård wrote as follows in Svar til Poul Nielsen (Reply to Poul Nielsen), from 1973:
virtue of its total, ecological balance, a musical masterpiece embraces wisdom in the same
way as a creation of nature [..].
This means that:
work of art [..] we possess a wise model of our own humanity!
Per Nørgård was thus able to conclude that:
provide] a constantly expanding knowledge of what Man is [...], art is an irreplaceable
and equally ranked adjunct to anthropology, psychology, biology and all other relevant
sciences. In this way we [...] are approaching the idea of art as a tool, an organ of
Looked at in this way, art achieves a significance as
something more than a medium of 'good experiences', or experimentation for its own sake.
Art is thus seen as a phenomenon vital to our existence, precisely because it opens the
door to otherwise inaccessible corners of the human mind, to places within us that contain
a wisdom we humans sorely need to tap into.
In an article entitled Modbilledet (Contrast) (Per
Nørgård artikler 1962-82), Nørgård proposed a method to make us aware of the
'wisdom' immanent in a work of art.
that is basically grasped by the right hemisphere, i.e., which affects our emotions, [...]
can be transposed into a conceptual language (left hemisphere) based on the understanding
til Poul Nielsen).
Here we have touched on a cardinal point for Per Nørgård: contact with the experiences contained in our unconscious right brain hemisphere. Nørgård attempts to draw these experiences into consciousness by bringing them into contact with the discursive thought processes of the left hemisphere.
These experiences are not simply to be grasped intuitively: they are explicitly to be understood. At the risk of reducing matters to a slogan, it could be said that Nørgård's 'project in life' has been to grasp the irrational rationally. This is not to disparage what is irrational, but because our irrational side, on account of its special wisdom, offers insights much needed by our rational consciousness.
The tension in this 'project in life' lies in the fact that in practice it is impossible. In the nature of things, any 'wisdom of irrationality' cannot be completely grasped by rational means. If it could, this wisdom would no longer be irrational.