Taking a group of artists - a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists - Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering.
We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain's malleability; how the French chef Escoffier identified umami (the fifth taste); how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language - a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists. It's the ultimate tale of art trumping science.
More broadly, Lehrer shows that there's a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and this is what art knows better than science.
An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both, to brilliant effect.
©2008 Jonah Lehrer; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Well, I love Jonah Lehrer, and he has a great way of telling a story.
It is packed with thought provoking ideas that lead to further reading [listening too].
No, I only wish the author had been reading, as he did for Imagine. That was terrific. This is fine, just not as good as Lehrer.
It made me have a 180 on my opinion of Gertrude Stein, for one thing. It made me tell people stories from it, as Imagine did, and recommend it avidly.
I do not care a fig about the supposition about Lehrer's Dylan quotes, although I am sure that he does. I think he is a remarkable story-teller and I am very sorry he resigned from the New Yorker. These little details do not matter in the service of the high-level thinking that he conveys in such plain English in his books. I am still recommending this book to everyone.
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