Category Archives: science

Space Is the Place: The Lives And Times Of Sun Ra

By John F. Szwed (1998)
Sun Ra, a.k.a. Herman Poole “Sonny” Blount (1914–1993), has been hailed as “one of the great big-band leaders, pianists, and surrealists of jazz” (New York Times) and as “the missing link between Duke Ellington and Public Enemy” (Rolling Stone). Composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, poet, and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, Sun Ra led his “Intergalactic Arkestra” of thirty-plus musicians in a career that ranged from boogie-woogie and swing to be-bop, free jazz, fusion, and New Age music. This definitive biography reveals the life, philosophy, and musical growth of one of the twentieth century’s greatest avant-garde musicians.

Posted in art, biography, jazz, music, myth, science

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

By James Gleick (2011)
Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs.

Posted in history, language, media, science, technology

Hallucinations

By Oliver Sacks (2013)
To many people, hallucinations imply madness, but in fact they are a common part of the human experience. These sensory distortions range from the shimmering zigzags of a visual migraine to powerful visions brought on by fever, injuries, drugs, sensory deprivation, exhaustion, or even grief. Hallucinations doubtless lie behind many mythological traditions, literary inventions, and religious epiphanies. Drawing on his own experiences, a wealth of clinical cases from among his patients, and famous historical examples ranging from Dostoevsky to Lewis Carroll, the legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks investigates the mystery of these sensory deceptions: what they say about the working of our brains, how they have influenced our folklore and culture, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.

Posted in consciousness, culture, myth, science

Art and Electronic Media

By Edward Shanken (2009)
Art and Electronic Media is the latest installment in the THEMES AND MOVEMENTS series, a collection of groundbreaking sourcebooks on the prevailing art tendencies of our times. This is the first book to explore mechanics, light, graphics, robotics, networks, virtual reality and the possibilities afforded by the web from an international perspective. It outlines the importance of figures previously neglected by art history, including engineers, technicians, and collaborators. Included are works by over 150 artists, both familiar – Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman, James Turrell, Mario Merz – as well as emerging and recent pioneers, such as Robert Lazzarini, Blast Theory, Granular Synthesis, Simon Penny, Marcel.li Antunez Roca, Mikami Seiko, and Jonah Bruckner-Cohen. The book is divided into seven thematic sections arranged chronologically. Art and Electronic Media is a lucid, accessible, and authoritative evaluation of continually developing media.

Posted in art, history, media, science, technology

Joseph Beuys in America: Energy Plan for the Western Man

Joseph Beuys in America: Energy Plan for the Western ManBy Joseph Beuys (1993)
Joseph Beuys, artist and scholar, was the most influential thinker among artists of the postwar generation. He inspired the avant-garde with his impassioned appeals for democratic anarchy, and actually founded a string of ‘free universities’ across Europe. His credo was “Every man is an artist.” In 1974, he accepted an invitation to visit the U.S. His travels too him to New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis, and he called the trip – fact an extended performance piece – “Energy Plan for the Western Man.” Beuys’ writings have never before been collected in any language, and most of the interviews and speeches in Joseph Beuys in America have never before appeared in book form.

Posted in art, counterculture, education, history, interview, myth, philosophy, politics, science

A Natural History of the Senses

A Natural History of the Senses (Vintage)By Diane Ackerman (1990)
An exciting multidiscipline book that crosses the lines of literature, history, anthropology, music, psychology, sociology, and philosophy and that flows with grace and reason. The theme is expressed in such a way as to draw readers into experiential thought and, therefore, impacts heavily upon the way one looks at the issue of sensing and its role for humanity. It is sure to raise readers’ consciousness level while providing researched and analyzed information on this topic. In addition, the language is clear and concise, which makes the book valuable to a large cross section of readers. The generous use of cultural and historical examples adds to the readability.

Posted in consciousness, history, language, music, philosophy, science

A Pictorial History of Psychology

A Pictorial History of PsychologyEdited by Wolfgang G. Bringmann (1997)
Compendium of 107 historical essays and illustrations. Expanded version of a translated German title (1993). Includes 50 new English language essays.

Posted in consciousness, history, psychology, science

Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again

Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together AgainBy Andy Clark (1996)
Brain, body, and world are united in a complex dance of circular causation and extended computational activity. In Being There, Andy Clark weaves these several threads into a pleasing whole and goes on to address foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of the emerging sciences of the embodied mind. Clark brings together ideas and techniques from robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial intelligence. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought.

Posted in consciousness, language, science, technology

Digital Mantras: The Language of Abstract and Virtual Worlds

Digital Mantras: The Language of Abstract and Virtual WorldsBy Steven Holtzman (1995)
Holtzman, who holds a doctorate in computer science, provides a highly stimulating discussion of the integration of music, art, and language with recent trends in computer technology. He traces the evolution of formal abstract structures as they exist in the music of Schoenberg and Boulez, the art of Kandinsky, and the language grammars of Chomsky. Since computers have the capability to manipulate structures, the author contends that we have reached new frontiers of unexplored artistic creativity; he foresees new worlds of creative expression-that is, “virtual worlds.” This text wisely addresses the issues of dissonance in electronic music and human emotion and understanding in the creative process. Holtzman’s journey into “virtual reality,” sprinkled with a touch of Indian mysticism, is a totally intelligible, enjoyable venture.

Posted in art, history, language, media, music, philosophy, science, technology

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology (Vintage)By Lawrence Weschler (1995)
In the non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean, non-Newtonian space between the walls of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles exist bats that can fly through lead barriers, spore-ingesting pronged ants, elaborate theories of memory, and a host of other off-kilter scientific oddities that challenge the traditional notions of truth and fiction. Lawrence Weschler’s book, expanded from an article for Harper’s, is, at turns, a tour of the museum, a profile of its founder and curator, David Wilson, and a meditation on the role of imagination and authority in all museums, in science and in life. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder is an exquisite piece of “magic realist nonfiction” that will prove utterly captivating.

Posted in art, biography, consciousness, exhibition, philosophy, science