An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

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Simon and Schuster, 2004 - Science - 300 pages
28 Reviews

The most ambitious and enlightening work to date from the bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses, An Alchemy of Mind combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate, as never before, the magic and mysteries of the human mind.

Long treasured by literary readers for her uncommon ability to bridge the gap between art and science, celebrated scholar-artist Diane Ackerman returns with the book she was born to write. Her dazzling new work, An Alchemy of Mind, offers an unprecedented exploration and celebration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days -- and does for the human mind what the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses did for the physical senses.

Bringing a valuable female perspective to the topic, Diane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can: with gorgeous, immediate language and imagery that paint an unusually lucid and vibrant picture for the reader. And in addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects like the effects of trauma and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, heavily anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness, human thought, memory, and the nature of identity.

  

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This book is a prose poem ode to the brain. - Goodreads
It offers a great overview of the brain. - Goodreads
Diane Ackerman's prose is genius!! - Goodreads

Review: An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

User Review  - Alice - Goodreads

Some parts were a little disjointed. Some of the material did not go as in-depth as I was expecting. Overall I really liked this book. It offers a great overview of the brain. There were a couple of ... Read full review

Review: An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

User Review  - Annie - Goodreads

Diane Ackerman seems like someone you'd enjoy having a conversation with in a coffee shop somewhere, but her (seemingly) endless stream of chatter that is An Alchemy of Mind was rather tedious ... Read full review

Contents

This Island Earth
7
The Fibs of Being
19
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines
28
SWEET DREAMS OF REASON
35
Inner Space
41
Attention Please
47
A Passion for Patterns
54
In the Church of the Pines
60
Shall It Be Male or Female? Say the Cells
151
Creating Minds
159
THE WORLD IS BREAKING
171
The Pursuit of Happiness
188
Memorys Accomplice
201
Metaphors Be with You
210
The Color of Saying
218
THE WILDERNESS WITHIN
229

The Minds Eye
66
PAVILIONS OF DESIRE
73
Reflections in a Gazing Ball
79
RememberI Dream
97
Traumatic Memories
105
SmellMemoryand the Erotic
111
NEVER A DULL TORMENT
119
The Other Self
127
Conscience and Consciousness
235
A Kingdom of Neighbors
241
The Beautiful Captive
250
alchemical symbols
259
selected bibliography
281
acknowledgments
287
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Diane Ackerman was born on October 7, 1948 in Waukegan, Illinois. She received a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Poet, author, educator, adventurer, and naturalist, she tries to bridge science and art in her writing, exploring questions of who we are, where we come from, and how we fit into the fabric of the world. She has written many books of poetry including The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral; Wife of Light; Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems; Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire; and I Praise My Destroyer. Her nonfiction works include A Natural History of the Senses; A Natural History of Love; The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Crocodilians, Penguins, and Whales; An Alchemy of Mind; and On Extended Wings. She also writes nature books for children including Animal Sense; Monk Seal Hideaway; and Bats: Shadows in the Night. She is coeditor of a Norton anthology, The Book of Love. Her essays about nature and human nature have appeared in Parade, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker magazines. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by A Natural History of the Senses. She received the Orion Book Award for The Zookeepers Wife. Her other awards include the Abbie Copps Poetry Prize, Black Warrior Poetry Prize, Pushcart Prize, Peter I. B. Lavan award, and the Wordsmith award. She has taught at a variety of universities, including Columbia and Cornell.

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