An anthology of work

An anthology of work

BOOK REVIEWS 391 jective and conceptual, the age-long dispute over the significance of artistic activity emerges. "Painting is colour" says Frau Fra...

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jective and conceptual, the age-long dispute over the significance of artistic activity emerges. "Painting is colour" says Frau Frauchiger and goes on to maintain that a sure feel for colour (Sicherheit fiir das Gefiihl der Farbe) is to be compared with the gift of absolute pitch in the musician. But what is the sure feel for colour? In the case of pitch we can verify the gift in an acoustic laboratory. How do we know that one man's gift is "sure" and another's unsure? And will a judgement be maintained consistently or will it evolve - - perhaps in relation to the physiological state of the observer? It is a pity that Professor Frauchiger did not allow himself from his background of neuropathology to speculate upon the physiological and neurological basis of what we find beautiful. Can it be that once again it is simply a case of one's own judgement being "orthodoxy" and that of another "heterodoxy"? Tastes vary so much at different periods and the whole history of art and music is so shot through with reassessments and re-evaluations, that it becomes difficult to establish meaningful and intelligent canons of "good" art with more than transient validity. Perhaps the enigma is in some real sense a semantic one. For the experience or message which the artist seeks to transmit can perhaps only be transmitted in the medium he uses and attempts at verbal expression can, from the nature of the problem, be only partially successful. With Professor Frauchiger's thesis that art and science have common roots, few would disagree. He quotes Theodor Billroth's letter to Brahms: " I have never known a great research worker,

either personally or through his biography, who was not a sort of artist, with richly endowed imagination (mit reicher Phantasie und kindh'chem Sinn). Here I am again on my old hobby-horse: Science and Art stem from the same source." He might have referred also to Van 't Hoff's 1magination in Science (recently re-issued in English translation, 1967) where the same point is well made and illustrated. As one reads through Professor Frauchiger's little volume with pleasure and interest one comes upon many striking and witty phrases which shed new light on long accepted beliefs. "La m6decine m~ne ~t tout; pourvu q u ' o n en sort": " G a r zu gerne wird auch mit dem Wort Symbol hantiert, das auf deutsch Sinnbild heisst, obschon bei einigen in diese Kategorie gez/ihlten 'Kunstwerken' weder ein Bild noch ein Sinn zu entdecken sind"; and from Rodin's testament "Die Natur sei cure einzige Gottheit. Glaubt an sie fest und unerschiitterlich." Much of Professor Frauchiger's writing is itself a welcome antidote to the jeremiad from Spengler's Untergang des Abendlandes quoted on p. 115. Here and there in this remarkable and enjoyable little volume the comparative neuropathologist in Professor Frauchiger takes over and such problems as right- and left-handedness are discussed in relation to the problem of hand and brain. Altogether, the reader will enjoy this attempt to yoke together medicine and art and will find more than a hundred references, many with enticing titles for further reading.

An Anthology of Work (Session Reports from the Neurosciences Research Program Bulletin, Vol. 2), by F. O. SCrlMITT, T. MELNECHUK, G. C. QUARTON AND G. ADELMAN (Eds.), 642 pages, MIT Press, Boston, Mass. and London, 1967.

as "authors". Although each chapter was subsequently carefully reviewed and revised and in many causes brought up to date, some of the freshness which derives from a living and lively presentation permeates the text. The contribx~tors present a critical and concise survey of the present state of knowledge and, in many instances, indicate further new and profitable areas for research. Moreover, an attempt is also made to encourage subsequent interdisciplinary communication on these basic issues and "considerable editorial effort has been expended to make the reports readily assimilable by readers from all the neuroscientific disciplines, as well as valuable to specialists in each". The Editors and contributors are to be congratulated on having clearly attained their objective. The format is well designed and the diagrams and illustrations clear and helpful. A n extensive and selected bibliography is given at the end of each chapter.

This is the second volume containing summary reports of symposia previously reported in the Neurosciences Research Program Bulletin (1965, 1966 and 1967), consisting of 6 chapters each constituting what is virtually a monograph on a selected topic from the wide field of the neurosciences. The subjects discussed are: (i) sleep, wakefulness, dreams, and memory; (ii) brain mechanisms in conditioning and learning; (iii) simple systems for the study of learning mechanisms; (iv) brain and nerve proteins: functional correlates; (v) properties of the biogenic amines and (vi) cerebellar circuitry. The main contributions to the individual work sessions are acknowledged experts in their field as indeed are the many participants whom the Editors in their foreword gratefully refer to also



J. neurol. Sci. (1969) 8:388-393