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Proust Was a Neuroscientist Paperback – Bargain Price, May 3 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Paperback edition (May 3 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547085907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547085906
  • ASIN: B002CMLR5Q
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #360,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With impressively clear prose, Lehrer explores the oft-overlooked places in literary history where novelists, poets and the occasional cookbook writer predicted scientific breakthroughs with their artistic insights. The 25-year-old Columbia graduate draws from his diverse background in lab work, science writing and fine cuisine to explain how Cézanne anticipated breakthroughs in the understanding of human sight, how Walt Whitman intuited the biological basis of thoughts and, in the title essay, how Proust penetrated the mysteries of memory by immersing himself in childhood recollections. Lehrer's writing peaks in the essay about Auguste Escoffier, the chef who essentially invented modern French cooking. The author's obvious zeal for the subject of food preparation leads him into enjoyable discussions of the creation of MSG and the decidedly unappetizing history of 18th- and 19th-century culinary arts. Occasionally, the science prose risks becoming exceedingly dry (as in the enthusiastic section detailing the work of Lehrer's former employer, neuroscientist Kausik Si), but the hard science is usually tempered by Lehrer's deft way with anecdote and example. Most importantly, this collection comes close to exemplifying Lehrer's stated goal of creating a unified third culture in which science and literature can co-exist as peaceful, complementary equals. 21 b&w illus. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Jonah Lehrer provides a fresh and unique look at eight of the artists who define modern culture." --Billy Collins, former poet laureate

“In this book, Jonah Lehrer shows us brilliantly that the process of cooking is more than chemistry." --Jacques Pepin

“In this intriguing reflection . . . both art and science are freshly conceived.” --Howard Gardner

"Lehrer puts current neuroscience to a fine use -- ancestor worship -- and in the process gives us a delightful, thoughtful read.” --Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error

"Brilliantly illustrated . . . amazing . . . [Jonah Lehrer's] clear and vivid writing--incisive and thoughtful, yet sensitive and modest--is a special pleasure." --Oliver Sacks

"Writing with effortless brilliance and astonishing clarity, Jonah Lehrer gives us . . . a beautiful book: I was enthralled by it." --Robert D. Richardson, author of William James (winner of the Bancroft Prize) and Emerson

"Jonah Lehrer in Proust was a Neuroscientist, brilliantly, playfully, and precociously shows how artistic perception often anticipates scientific discovery." --Michael Collier

"This is a delightful little book . . . fun to read and thought provoking." --Joseph LeDoux, New York University, author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self

"Comes close to exemplifying . . . a unified “third culture” in which science and literature can co-exist as peaceful, complementary equals." Publishers Weekly

"Pleasingly fluent . . . [introduces] art to scientists and science to artists. Solid science journalism with an essayist's flair." Kirkus Reviews

"Entertaining and enlightening." New York Magazine

"Precocious and engaging . . . Lehrer is smart, and there are some fun moments in these pages." --D. T. Max The New York Times Book Review

"His book marks the arrival of an important new thinker . . . wise and fresh." --Jesse Cohen The Los Angeles Times

"Lehrer writes skillfully and coherently about both art and science." --Gregory Kirschling Entertainment Weekly

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Reid on Dec 23 2008
Format: Paperback
This excellent book does two things exceptionally well. It presents 2008 brain science, and marries it seamlessly with art. It has a chapter on Proust - the memory one - about his tome: In Search of Lost Time, coming to the startling conclusion that the more we remember something, the less the memory is real. The book is not a book about Proust, per se, but, has chapters on different artists, for example: Walt Whitman - I Sing the Body Electric - literally; George Eliot, and the biology of chaos theory, and how this presents the ability for us to will our way to new brain cells; Cezanne and his understanding that brains take visual perceptions and impose upon them the need to recognize form, and this results in another unsettling truth: we see what we want to see; and, Auguste Escoffier, the French chef who discovered that glutamate - yes, really, MSG - from rendered animals and plants, is the key to all of smell.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Hass on Aug. 25 2009
Format: Paperback
"Proust was a Neuroscientist" was recommended to me after I went on a long and well-worn sceptical rant concerning positivism, and the idea that ultimate and perfect knowledge is attainable, with the trusty help of the scientific method.

Lehrer demonstrates the way in which eight artists, from Walt Whitman to George Eliot to Marcel Proust, challenged the scientific status quo before or around the time that it was scientifically overturned. The "xenocysts" of science: problems that are ignored such as phantom limb symptoms, the complex nature of language, the dazzling complexity of the brain (not to mention the problematic mind/brain distinction), as well as the chaotic and incomprehensible nature of matter on the microscopic and macroscopic level are all limitations that challenge the tyranny of "Science Ltd."-- the institution, not the discipline itself-- in defining our conception of what counts as both knowledge and reality.

Lehrer depicts a pattern in this trend between the arts and science, demonstrating that in the wake of emerging new ideas, the consciousness that emerges often affirms the artistic values of freedom, will, possibility, creativity, imagination, chaos, playfulness and above all, meaning-making, while overturning ideas of genetic predestination, all forms of rational and biological determinism, the "knowledge/information" model of DNA and memory, and the general scientific definition of humans as the rational animal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ardi Ghorashy on Feb. 12 2010
Format: Paperback
I saw Jonah speak at the NeuroLeadership Summit 2008 in NYC and found him a very fascinating and engaging person. As a neuroscientist who worked with the Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, Jonah brings a fascinating fusion of art and science explaining the workings of our brain. His meanderings through the kitchens of Escoffier, Cezanne's paintings, Proust's prose and Whitman's poetry is so engaging, you can miss your train stop being carried away in state of "flow."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I attended a presentation by Jonah Lehrer and he is so interesting that I decided to buy a few of his books. This is not a book you start when you are tired. You need to be fully awake when reading this. It is dense stuff, and I love it.
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By Safiyah on Dec 11 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Information flowing from so many sources uniting art and science showing how one fulfills the other and vice versa so much gold
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