- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; Reprint edition (January 28, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688123058
- ISBN-13: 978-0688123055
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light Reprint Edition
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"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
...one of the most interesting books on how we've developed an understanding of our world. It is the best book on physics you will ever read--and the best one on art history. By digging into our past, Shlain gives you a sense of how the politics, emotion, theory, and inspiration of art, science, culture, and technology mix. -- Reason, Nathan Shedroff
About the Author
Leonard Shlain is a surgeon who practices in San Francisco. He lives in Mill Valley, California. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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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.
You don't need to accept every part of this book, or any book for that matter. I think it's important to read things like this that challenge you to look at the world in a different way. I think Shlain does a good job of that if you are open to it.
This book had a couple of main takeaways for me:
- Physics are Art are two disciplines that explain the world in non-verbal terms. It's nearly impossible for people to understand Physics without Math, and it's nearly impossible for someone to say in words what a good artist can express in Art. Both disciplines explain the same Universe and Human Experience in different ways.
- Art has the advantage of not being weighed down by the technical details of math & science. Art is intuitive. Therefore, artists typically are ahead of their time in expressing new cultural ideas. That doesn't mean they have a mystical power. Good artists are acute observers and their art speaks for itself.
- Lots of fun and interesting stories in the book that make it very engaging. It does take a couple of chapters to get going.
Currently reading Shlain's other book -- The Alphabet & The Goddess. He has a similar tendency here to have slightly weak arguments, but the point of these books isn't necessarily to convince you that his theories are absolutely correct, I think. The point is more to show people that these things are very real forces and factors to the whole picture. He admits in both books to not showing the whole picture or alternate theories due to the limitations of a single book. I highly recommend this book to the curious mind. Doesn't mean you need to accept every theory and idea put forth in this...or any book!