Siri Hustvedt has always been fascinated by biology and how human perception works. Read more...
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Publisher: Simon & Schuster$18.00
Siri Hustvedt has always been fascinated by biology and how human perception works. She is a lover of art, the humanities, and the sciences. She is a novelist and a feminist. Her lively, lucid essays in A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women begin to make some sense of those plural perspectives.
Divided into three parts, the first section, "A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women," investigates the perceptual and gender biases that affect how we judge art, literature, and the world in general. Among the legendary figures considered are Picasso, De Kooning, Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe, the Guerrilla Girls, and Karl Ove Knausgaard.
The second part, "The Delusions of Certainty," is about the age-old mind/body problem that has haunted Western philosophy since the Greeks. Hustvedt explains the relationship between the mental and the physical realms, showing what lies beyond the argument--desire, belief, and the imagination.
The final section, "What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition," discusses neurological disorders and the mysteries of hysteria. Drawing on research in sociology, neurobiology, history, genetics, statistics, psychology, and psychiatry, this section also contains a profound and powerful consideration of suicide.
There has been much talk about building a beautiful bridge across the chasm that separates the sciences and the humanities. At the moment, we have only a wobbly walkway, but Hustvedt is encouraged by the travelers making their way across it in both directions. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women is an insightful account of the journeys back and forth.
- ISBN-13: 9781501141096
- ISBN-10: 1501141090
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publish Date: December 2016
- Page Count: 576
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-26
- Reviewer: Staff
In this erudite collection, novelist Hustvedt (The Blazing World) explores philosophical questions central to the humanities using research from other disciplines, such as biology, feminist theory, and neuroscience. The questions relate to the self, epistemology, and art and literature, among other things. In the middle portion of the book, in an essay that ought to become canonical, Hustvedt examines the problematic underpinnings of current scientific fads such as evolutionary psychology and computational theory of mind. Her lengthy exercise in phenomenology provides a dense, succinct overview of the mind/body problem, which has haunted Western philosophy since the Greeks. The questions that preoccupy Hustvedt are the questions of a novelist, but they take consciousness itself as their subject: Where do ideas come from? How do stories get created? What is reflective self-consciousness, and how is it formed? What role do imagination, emotion, memory, and the unconscious play in this thing we call mind? The book conveys the wide range of Hustvedts reading as she focuses on the interstices between people; between disciplines; and between concepts such as art and science, truth and fiction, feeling and perception. The research is sound and the scholarship engaging, and the exacting prose turns humorous and almost warm when Hustvedt incorporates her personal reflections, exhibiting, as she says of the artist Louise Bourgeois, a quick mind, interested above all in its own contents. (Dec.)