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Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists ed. by Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman
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Leonardo Reviews 95 the search for a new form of heritage that does not reject preservation but instead tries to broaden and deepen it, first by proposing forms of curating heritage that stop seeing integral material maintenance as an absolute ideal; and second by stressing the productive values of decay, which may prove much stronger instruments to give meaning and value to the past than the classic preservationist paradigm. In that regard, the positive reinterpretation of decay and entropy—the two principal notions defining what the classic paradigm wants to fight at all cost—does not come as a surprise. In the experimental heritage policy defended by DeSilvey, decay and entropy are not synonymous with destruction and loss; they instead open the possibility of seeing loss and destruction as the beginning of something new, not only in the material sense of the word but also in the cultural sense of the word, provided people manage to develop new ways of living the permanent change of things in relation to their own transience and mortality. (NonWestern cultures, which often have a different approach to change and impermanence, may provide useful examples in this regard.) DeSilvey does not make her claim via a theoretical discourse. Although she smartly uses all relevant literature in her book, she does so in a practicebased , hands-on and personal style of writing, by which she manages to seamlessly bring together major insights from human geography and cultural heritage (Ingold and Lowenthal are frequently quoted, along with many others), personal research reports (the author has been doing fieldwork in several American and British heritage locations, in very different archaeological and institutional contexts), personal reflections and testimonies (including the repeated use of poetic fragments, brilliantly woven into the fabric of the text; DeSilvey’s sober but crucial contributions of personal life-writing to the text are another powerful aspect of the text). Central to this book are eight case studies, each devoted to a specific kind of endangered site (deserted homesteads, abandoned industrial plants, harbors imperiled by sea storms and climate change, empty Cold War nuclear test sites) and each discussing specific aspects and dimensions of experimental heritage work. DeSilvey’s approach is always very cautious and extremely polite to the point of view of traditional preservationists, whose position and priorities are approached with carefulness and understanding and above all with a strong concern for what underlies the desires and sensibilities of all those having to do with heritage: the idea and practice of care as well as the need to find an ethics of heritage that emphasizes the connectedness of all things, human and nonhuman, living and no longer or not yet living. Although the aim of the book is not to propose a new institutional policy, it is impossible to think that DeSilvey’s line of argumentation— which is increasingly present in heritage studies—will remain without impact on the political agenda. At the same time, it should encourage those working in the field of immaterial heritage to start asking similar questions , and in this sense a book like Curated Decay is an essential contribution to a debate that we can no longer avoid. FUTURE OF THE BRAIN: ESSAYS BY THE WORLD’S LEADING NEUROSCIENTISTS edited by Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A., 2016. 304 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 978-0-691-17331-3. Reviewed by Amy Ione, Director, The Diatrope Institute. . doi:10.1162/LEON_r_01564 One of Times Higher Education’s Best Books of 2015, Future of the Brain offers a compilation of original essays by leading brain researchers. The book is divided into seven sections , and the range and disparities of the authors’ views underscore the lack of an overarching theory for researchers to apply to studies in this area. Cross-references among chapters do, however, remind us that science itself succeeds through communication among scientists about what their data says. Also noteworthy is that, even given the spectrum of views, most of the authors share a “we can do this” attitude: They are confident that scientists can and will eventually understand the brain. Suffice it to say, as Gary Marcus, one of the book’s two...