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Showing posts from July, 2012

Imagine--Jonah Lehrer

In his third book length publication Jonah Lehrer takes on the world of creativity, innovation, and to some extent imagination--though that is hardly touched upon at all.  Leaving the secure ground of neuroscience (particularly in the second half og the book) Lehrer strays into the fields of social psychology and sociology with somewhat mixed results.

Perhaps that is only for me.  I tend to become quite skeptical when research involves more than empirically verifiable fact and strays off into the territory of group interaction.  You can say that something worked, but it seems difficult to pinpoint why that something worked in the particular instance.  Taking the well-known example of Pixar, Lehrer  (summarizing the work of others, implies that success was largely the result of architecture forcing hallway meetings and interchange.  This, in turn, blossomed into some of the wonderful films we see from the studio.  If such chance meetings and random conversations were really the breedin…

The Lieutenant--Kate Grenville

I'm not certain that enough good can be said of Kate Grenville.  In this second book of a trilogy devoted to the early history of Australia, she gives us the story of  Daniel Rooke--fashioned loosely after the real-life character of William Dawes.  William Dawes was an early student of the Aboriginal peoples and their language as well as an astronomer and all round polymath.  He was expelled from Australia and went on to join forces with William Wilberforce and, eventually, to open a school for freed-slaves in Antigua.

What Ms. Grenville gives us here is a remarkable story of first contact--of trying to forge the bonds of understanding that would bridge a vast gulf between the experiences of two different cultures.  She performs a remarkable feat in being able to show us the darkness of "civilization" as viewed by the aboriginal people.  She also speaks of the tenderness of heart and kindness that can bridge any gap.  She does all of this in language at once supple and l…

The Secret River--Kate Grenville

One Saturday I happened into the library and stumbled upon a relatively new book by Kate Grenville with the title of Sarah Thornhill. I might not have given it a second glance--but truth is, I did, and doing so discovered that it was the prize-winning third volume of a trilogy.  Never one to start at the end I went looking for the other two volumes and stumbled upon The Secret River. As is the way with a great many things from the library, it took me a while to get around to it, and then some time to get into it.  And once again, I'm very glad I did.
The Secret River tells the story of William and Sarah Thornhill from the time that William was born to an impoverished family in the London Slums through the time of his transportation to Australia and on to his eventual success there.  In the course of the story, he marries Sarah who goes with him to Australia and in the strange way that things transpired in that early colony becomes his overseer and master.  They land in what was to…