Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A la recherche du Proust perdu

Was Proust a neuroscientist? Jonathon Keats is pretty cranky about the whole idea. Balderdash! Balderdash! he says. I'm paraphrasing.

I'm of two minds about these sorts of books- let's call it the Picasso was really a physicist genre- which have come up here before. The first mind thinks that these books are great fun, really freakin' cool, and would make great Christmas presents for geeks like myself.

The second mind bristles at the idea that Proust, who wrote what's only the greatest novel ever written, needs to be proved to have given a crap about neuroscience. Alas, many members of my own family will likely never be impressed by the sort of brilliance that creates great art, while being superstitiously reverent of those 'geniuses' who can do high school calculus. So, I anticipate getting emails like, ''Hey, I never knew why you were into Proust. But I just heard that he might have had a passing understanding of something scientific. Now I get it!''

Note: Incidentally, I've not read one of these Picasso-in-the-lab-coat books, so if I'm mangling what they actually say, I'm sorry. I have read A la recherche du temps perdu, for what that's worth.

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