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bear by san

March 2017



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david bowie realism _ truepenny

a banjo sounds good to me

Book report #35: V.S. Ramachandran, A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness

Less in-depth than Phantoms in the Brain (the first chapter pretty much dispenses with the information in that book, admittedly in precis), but considerably broader in scope, and more concerned with Ramachandran's cheerful speculation on the neurological foundation of art, language, consciousness, and the sense of self. He also gets into the synesthetic foundation of metaphor (and of artistic and mathematical genius), the neurological basis of caricature and hyper-reality (and why Parvathi [and Jessica Rabbit] is sexy)**, and talks a little bit about dichotomy and concreteness. (Things my brain is bad at, so it's interesting to see them discussed in ways I can understand.)

An accessible, entertaining, erudite book, full of aha! and you have got to be kidding! Ramachandran freely admits that he's speculating. He suggests experiments to anyone who wishes to undertake them (one gets the sense he rather has his own hands full), and he throws out ideas with the rapidity of brain on full auto.

Smart guy.

Good book.

My neck still hurts (too much eighties with the Scalzis and earthgoat and marykaykare, et al: I may be too old to pogo without hurting my knee, but I can still headbang well enough to tear my jeans doing it) but I have had a bath, and now I am going to go work on my neglected math and guitar and maybe eat something.

It's good to be home.

The presumptuous cat rejoins me after lunch.

*I've been saying for years that art is not about realism. It's about pushing past realism to something I've been calling hyper-realism, or distillation (a common term for the pieces of which this thing is made up is "telling detail"). Ramachandran calls it peak shift, and now I have a neurologist I can quote to back up my ideas.

Go team distillation.


Hyperrealism, yes.

My favorite illustration of this is that wooden items on a stage set need to be painted so they look more like wood; just plain wood doesn't look right under the lights.

So much of creative work seems to be stripping things down to their essentials and then adding details that seem believable - not necessarily the most "realistic" or true-to-life ones, just the ones that resonate the most as true.