Tuesday 29 January 2019
Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
This is a fascinating look into the way that artists have revealed insights into the way our brains work, insights that have later been shown to be based in science. Each chapter focuses on a different artist and how she or he changed the way we think about our mind processes and also changed the history of art. The book focuses mostly on writers exploring how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory, how Virginia Woolf explored the way we think and how Gertrude Stein explored and revealed the deep structures of language. Another chapter explores how Igor Stravinsky changed the way people thought about music and how as people listened more to his music it became less discordant and ugly as their ears attuned to the new combinations of sound. There's a chapter on how Cezanne tried to show reality as it really is rather than as we see it, thus paving the way for abstract art.
Each chapter is fascinating in its own right but together they add up to a very strong argument that the arts are as important for understanding life as are the sciences.
This is reflected in the latest policy report from educational charity The Edge Foundation, Towards a Twenty-First Century Education System, which calls for dramatic changes to the UK's current national curriculum and argues that creativity should be at the heart of all learning.
Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer published by Mariner Books.