The links between language, brain asymmetry and right-handedness are said to be much of what makes a person human. Hands perform around a thousand different functions every day. The well-behaved hand is an orchestra: when it plays, there's an extraordinary co-ordination of motor and sensory activities. The hand is both metaphor and symbol: a ‘short-hand’ version of one's self. As hands express one's genes and identities, they've acquired many different cultural functions. This chapter illustrates the author's fascination with the symbolism of the hand, with its differentiation into left and right, and the secret lateralisations of physics and chemistry, as part of her own quest to find out what's so wrong about having a damaged right hand.
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