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Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light Paperback – February 27, 2007
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"Bold and persuasive...solidly researched and gracefully presented...Never before has such material been explored deeply and lucidly enough for non-specialists."--"San Francisco Chronicle""Provacative...passionate...[Shlain] is an engaging storyteller, skilled in the use of metaphor, analogy, and even imaginary journeys that at times are poetic."--"The New York Times Book Review""In eighteen years as an art critic I have not encountered more provacative insightful writing about art."--"Seattle Times""Leonard Shlain's "Art & Physics "is exquisite food for thought."--Fritjof Capra, author of "The Tao of Physics""A tour de force...A brilliant, accessible, and visionary look at the most revolutionary artists and scientists from the Golden Age of Greece to the present."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review"
About the Author
Leonard Shlain is Chairman of Laparoscopic Surgery at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image and Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution. Dr. Shlain lectures internationally and has been featured on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and NPR. He lives in Mill Valley, California.
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Brain lateralization, or, the division of the right and left brain into proprietary functions of affect and logic, respectively, has been largely dismissed. Nevertheless, it takes two legs to walk: a right leg and a left leg. Right and left legs and arms do not function in adversarial opposition to each other; they function in co-operative coordination with each other for the synergistic benefit and advantage of the whole. The same can be said for seeing various human intellectual endeavors as vital components to a larger ecological whole. Ignoring traditionally characterized "right brain" or "left brain" endeavors is functionally tantamount to giving one's self a "right brain" or "left brain" lobotomy. A truly well-educated person is firing on all cylinders, as it were.
Many scientists and mathematicians at the forefront of their fields, who are at the cutting edge of research, can go into rapture about the aesthetics of their work and the profound beauty of their discoveries. Likewise, many artists, in all media, are fascinated with the latest discoveries in science and developments in technology, seeing them as inspiration, and using them as instruments of artistic exploration, investigation, and expression.
Shlain's central thesis is that the arts are prescient. In the realm of art and aesthetics, artists articulate intuitive insights, usually without realizing the power of their own intuition, which the sciences later, independently and empirically, discover, explore, and develop. It's all part and parcel of the structure of human consciousness, which might be thought of as a product of the zeitgeist of an era, or an aspect of the larger universal mind. Citing instance after instance throughout the ages, Shlain makes the case, with aplomb, that art and physics are united in that higher realm known as "the universal mind."
This book is a cornerstone of my library, and it is highly recommended to all who value intellectual adventure and the insight that meta-analysis can provide. Consider purchasing this with Alan Lightman's wonderful little book, Einstein's Dreams.
I have read another one of this author's books titled THE ALPHABET VERSUS THE GODDESS that was also thought-provoking. I bought it without realizing it was the same author. I also have one more on my shelf that I haven't read of his titled SEX TIME & POWER. I like this author because he asks "what if" and just sets about diving deep into what he wonders about.
In a nutshell, this book is about SEEING THE WORLD IN A NEW WAY and how artists see it first and then science follows. The author uses primarily paintings as his artistic examples juxtaposed against revolutionary physicist discoveries. He shows example after example throughout history: Da Vinci + Newton and Matisse + Heisenberg and Picasso + Einstein to name a few.
How we see the world in a new way is right up there with the meaning of life for me as far as things to muse. It fascinates me for several reasons ~ one being that most of what we believe to be the TRUTH won't hold water in 1,000 years. Another is that which is within any one person that allows them to not only see beyond the illusion that we all accept as the truth but also to say it out loud knowing that it may cost them their head. And finally what are those eternal truths that will still be deemed true in 1,000 years (and does that make them truth or fiction in 10,000 years). Often I side with questions on this matter of truth or fiction. A REALLY GOOD QUESTION SEEMS MORE ETERNAL THAN MOST GREAT ANSWERS. And, more interesting to be honest.
This book is also filled with great quotes and points of view from great writers, artists, scientists and other visionaries throughout history. The author shows how literature and music were also in the mix ~ there seems to be a sort of SYNCHRONICITY when it comes to seeing the world in a new way just as there seems to be some of this when it comes to scientific discoveries. Before news moved at lightning speed, it was interesting how people from different parts of the world were seeing the same things at around the same times. This leads one to wonder if everything we are to discover has already been discovered or perhaps is just waiting for us to have new eyes in which to see what has been there all along. It's also not that unusual to muse that people from different fields ~ that are curious and brave enough to see something new will express it in their own way (art, science, literature, etc).
It could be as simple as an idea that's time has come suddenly reveals itself to all of us as plain as the full moon in a clear night sky and yet it is only a few that can see it. Maybe in the end, it only takes a willingness to ask "WHAT IF" and a spirit daring enough to say "WHY NOT."
I may add to this review when I take this book for another spin. While the detail has eluded me, the impression this book made upon is with me still.
You can like music and physics, and be the richer in both realms. The more I learn, the deeper that truth becomes.