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Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinkingby Vera John-steiner
Synopses & Reviews
How do creative people think? Do great works of the imagination originate in words or in images? Is there a rational explanation for the sudden appearance of geniuses like Mozart or Einstein? Such questions have fascinated people for centuries; only in recent years, however, has cognitive psychology been able to provide some clues to the mysterious process of creativity. In this revised edition of Notebooks of the Mind, Vera John-Steiner combines imaginative insight with scientific precision to produce a startling account of the human mind working at its highest potential.
To approach her subject John-Steiner goes directly to the source, assembling the thoughts of "experienced thinkers"--artists, philosophers, writers, and scientists able to reflect on their own imaginative patterns. More than fifty interviews (with figures ranging from Jessica Mitford to Aaron Copland), along with excerpts from the diaries, letters, and autobiographies of such gifted giants as Leo Tolstoy, Marie Curie, and Diego Rivera, among others, provide illuminating insights into creative activity. We read, for example, of Darwin's preoccupation with the image of nature as a branched tree while working on his concept of evolution. Mozart testifies to the vital influence on his mature art of the wondrous "bag of memories" he retained from childhood. Anais Nin describes her sense of words as oppressive, explaining how imagistic free association freed her as a writer.
Adding these personal accounts to laboratory studies of thought process, John-Steiner takes a refreshingly holistic approach to the question of creativity. What emerges is an intriguing demonstration of how specific sociocultural circumstances interact with certain personality traits to encourage the creative mind. Among the topics examined here are the importance of childhood mentor figures; the lengthy apprenticeship of the talented person; and the development of self- expression through highly individualistic languages, whether in images, movement or inner speech.
Now, with a new introduction, this award-winning book provides an uniquely broad-based study of the origins, development and fruits of human inspiration.
Far from a monolithic block of diehard slave states, the antebellum South was, in William Freehling's words, "a world so lushly various as to be a storyteller's dream." It was a world where Deep South cotton planters clashed with South Carolina rice growers, as Northern egalitarianism
infiltrated border states already bitterly divided on key issues. It was the world of Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson, and also of Gullah Jack, Nat Turner, and Frederick Douglass.
Now, in the first volume of his long awaited, monumental study of the South's road to disunion, historian William Freehling offers a sweeping political and social history of the antebellum South from 1776 to 1854. All the dramatic events leading to secession are here: the Missouri Compromise,
the Nullification Controversy, the Gag Rule, the Annexation of Texas, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Vivid accounts of each crisis reveal the surprising extent to which slavery influenced national politics before 1850 and provide important reinterpretations of American
republicanism, Jeffersonian states' rights, Jacksonian democracy, and the causes of the American Civil War.
Freehling's brilliant historical insights illustrate a work of rich social observation. In the cities of the Antebellum South, in the big house of a typical plantation, we feel anew the tensions between the slaveowner and his family, poor whites and planters, the Old and New Souths, and most
powerfully between slave and master. Freehling has evoked the Old South in all its color, cruelty, and diversity. It is a memorable portrait, certain to be a key analysis of this crucial era in American history.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 245-251) and index.
About the Author
Vera John-Steiner is Presidential Professor of Psycholinguists and Director of the Santa Fe Graduate Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
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