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Leonardo Reviews 151 similar material presented from previous centuries. Also in this last chapter, there is much name-dropping that takes away from the historical narrative. For example, saying that Carlos Eduardo Rocha-Miranda once worked with Wade Marshall gives RochaMiranda some prestige for those who know about Wade Marshall. If this connection contributes to the history, some indication of how it was important should be included. There are two other comments that I would view as relatively minor, but that might be helpful in future writings on the subject. The book is well illustrated with historical drawings that show how structures were understood over the course of history. To fully appreciate them it is necessary to have a good understanding of contemporary neuroanatomy . Some diagrams that would compare historical drawings to contemporary diagrams would be helpful. Also, the book has many quotes from various authors. These illustrate and support the arguments being made by the author and are appropriate for a scholarly document, but they take away from the continuity of the story line, especially since the book is billed as a group of tales. More footnoting and paraphrasing would create smoother stories. In summary the book is excellent as a documented, scholarly treatment of aspects of the history of neuroscience. I learned a lot from it. It is essential reading for those who are interested in knowing how contemporary ideas about the nervous system developed. THE ALPHABET VERSUS THE GODDESS: THE CONFLICT BETWEEN WORD AND IMAGE by Leonard Shlain. Viking, New York, NY, U.S.A., 1998. 464 pp. Trade. ISBN: 0-670-87883-9. Reviewed by Robert Pepperell, Winchester Wharf, Clink Street, London SE1 9DG, U.K. E-mail: rob@ninjatune.net>. I had a good deal of sympathy with the ideas expressed in Shlain’s previous book, Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light, but was unmoved by this subsequent work. His thesis is straightforward: that “literacy has promoted the subjugation of women by men throughout all but the very recent history of the west. Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word.” Given that it is not a unique thesis (he acknowledges Levi-Strauss), nor one that can be proven (he claims only to test its “competitive plausibility”) Shlain has cast a very wide net to land a fairly small fish. The book consists of a grand tour through scattered islands of human culture and history, from ancient Greece, Egypt and Palestine to the “New World,” Humanist Europe and the “Global Village.” In all these epochs he cites evidence to support the proposition that humans upset the inherent harmony of gender relations by adopting alphabetic communication. Shlain bases his argument on a certain understanding of the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, associating the left side with “maleness” and the right with “femaleness.” From this dubious position (I am a “neuroskeptic ” when it comes to brain-centered explanations of human behavior ), he extrapolates a further series of oppositions: death/life, analytic/holistic , sorcery/science, which tend to line up on either side of a male/female duality . The fact that the book is aimed at a general audience is not enough to excuse the degree of oversimplification and occasional naïveté in Shlain’s analysis (he cites the iconic letter “w” as indicative of liquid states, e.g. wet, womb, woman). At the same time, however , he does draw some fascinating connections between cultural events (as he did in Art and Physics) albeit some are highly implausible. THE NEW TYPOGRAPHY by Jan Tschichold. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., 1998. ISBN: 0-520-07147-6. Reviewed by Roy R. Behrens, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50613-0362, U.S.A. E-mail: . One year before the publication of the first German edition of this book, the Swiss-born typographer and book designer Jan Tschichold (pronounced Yohn CHICK-hold) gave a lecture in Munich with the same title. His lecture, an advertisement promised, would be illustrated by more than 100 slides, many in color, “and there will be no discussion afterwards.” That terse statement, notes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 151
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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