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Old 04-04-2012, 04:58 AM
sericmarr sericmarr is offline
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Default Jonah Lehrer discussion...

Attended a discussion with Jonah Lehrer this evening as part of the Aloud series at the Central Library in Downtown LA. Really an excellent event. His new book, Imagine, is a very good summary of recent thought on the subject of "creativity." I highly recommend it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:04 AM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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I love Lehrer. I'm ordering his new book as well. How fortunate that you got to hear him speak. I can't wait to read his book.

Did you read "Marcel Proust Was A Neuroscientist"? I actually haven't yet. It will have to go on my reading list as well.

He is one of the few writers I know who is steeped in science and has a profound respect for the arts, for literature. Outstanding mind.

Thanks for posting this.

Don
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:48 AM
Jean L. Kreiling Jean L. Kreiling is offline
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Hi--

I'm so glad to have a chance to make a plug for Proust Was a Neuroscientist, one of my all-time favorite books. It has weak spots, but it is often brilliant, and as you read it, you can feel distant territories of your brain starting to speak to each other!

I will try Imagine.

Best,
Jean
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:22 PM
sericmarr sericmarr is offline
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Default Yes, Proust...

Yes. I was impressed with the Proust book as well. I emailed the author with a question after the lecture/discussion and have already received a reply. How cool is that!!!!!!
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:18 PM
Charlotte Innes Charlotte Innes is offline
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Hi there,

Ah, I'm so sorry I missed this! I wanted to go to that event, actually, but even when I got the ALOUD series by e-mail, it was already full! Did you go on stand-by? WAS it full?

In fact, I don't know Jonah Lehrer's work at all, but it sounds fascinating. Thanks for the recs., Jean, Don and ...sericmarr (?).

All best,
Charlotte
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:02 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Well, I just started the Proust book. It's entertaining, in a Malcolm Gladwell sort of way, but superficial in the same way and not quite as well written. The Whitman chapter offers nothing new to anyone at all familiar with Whitman, pretty much just rehashing a lot of familiar stuff. I didn't even get his point about George Eliot. And that's as far as I've gotten.
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:45 AM
David Mason David Mason is offline
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I've just started the Proust book and find it a bit "journalistic," as Roger does, but I think the effort to move into neuroscience removes it from poetry criticism in a useful way. I'm not far into the book, but I don't really think the Whitman chapter is about Whitman, and that's a good thing. It's about what Whitman's medical observations share with those of others. I'll stick with it a while longer...
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:48 AM
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John Whitworth John Whitworth is offline
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Another writer steeped in science who also knows his way around a novel or a poem is the redoubtable Raymond Tallis. May I plug 'Not Saussure' here. Every poet should have read it.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:05 AM
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Duncan Gillies MacLaurin Duncan Gillies MacLaurin is offline
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Here's an edited extract from Imagine in today's Guardian.

I've culled this passage:

Why poetic forms are so important

"The constant need for insights has shaped the creative process. In fact, these radical breakthroughs are so valuable that we've invented traditions and rituals that increase the probability of an epiphany, making us more likely to hear those remote associations coming from the right hemisphere. Just look at poets, who often rely on literary forms with strict requirements, such as haikus and sonnets. At first glance, this writing method makes little sense, since the creative act then becomes much more difficult. Instead of composing freely, poets frustrate themselves with structural constraints. Unless poets are stumped by the form, unless they are forced to look beyond the obvious associations, they'll never invent an original line. They'll be stuck with clichés and conventions, with predictable adjectives and boring verbs. And this is why poetic forms are so important. When a poet needs to find a rhyming word with exactly three syllables or an adjective that fits the iambic scheme, he ends up uncovering all sorts of unexpected connections; the difficulty of the task accelerates the insight process."

Duncan
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:24 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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That's an interesting if familiar observation. Of course, it explains only why a poet might wish to write in form, not why a reader might wish to read it. If form is a tool to prompt the poet to make interesting or worthwhile connections, why shouldn't the poet proceed, after those connections are made, to rewrite the poem in free verse? I would think that part of the answer is that the surprising connections are also, in some way, validated by being embodied in the form that caused the poet to stumble across them. Meter and rhyme lend credence and authority to what is being said and have some sort of legtimizing force or power of their own. That's why magic spells tend to rhyme, no?
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