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S in Looking are about visual art And yet the same uestions recur throughout the collection How do we see remember and feel How do we interact with other people What does it mean to sleep dream and speak What is the self Hustvedt's uniue synthesis of knowledge from many fields reinvigorates the much needed dialogue between the humanities and the sciences as it deepens our understanding of an age old riddle What does it mean to be hum. Good god Siri Hustvedt is bright When I write nonfiction this sort of thing is my ideal effortlessly jumping between art and science continental and analytic philosophy personal experience and heavy abstraction Like Sontag before her but thankfully jettisoning a lot of Madame Sontag s embarrassing claims about aesthetics as many great claims as she had as well she takes all that stuff that forms her framework and without any difficulty at all uses it to discuss writers thinkers artists scientific concepts and the ordinary stuff of daily life

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Living Thinking Looking

The internationally acclaimed novelist Siri Hustvedt has also produced a growing body of nonfiction She has published a book of essays on painting Mysteries of the Rectangle as well as an interdisciplinary investigation of a neurological disorder The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Academy of Fine Arts in Muni. Siri Hustvedt is a remarkable writer a perceptive art critic a painstaking intellectual and a profoundly gracious human being Don t pass up an opportunity to read her work or if as privileged as I was to hear her speak and to speak with herPerhaps I will return to write my thoughts onappreciation of some particular essays in this collection as some have a tenacious uality than a few others there are 32 of them but for now I will urge you if memory neuroscience psychology philosophy or literature or art in any form matters in your life swan dive into this without delay I often found myself nodding along with what I knew and furiously scribbling in the margins what came as revelation She is among the best and most pertinent we have

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Ch In 2011 she delivered the thirty ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna Living Thinking Looking brings together thirty two essays written between 2006 and 2011 in which the author culls insights from philosophy neuroscience psychology psychoanalysis and literatureThe book is divided into three sections the essays in Living draw directly from Hustvedt's life; those in Thinking explore memory emotion and the imagination; and the piece. I remember the first time I heard of Siri Hustvedt it was via Larry Ypil poet extraordinaire who d drawn me aside one night of literature and revelry to say If you want to read about Eros you have to read Siri Hustvedt Nearly her entire published oeuvre later I came to her latest collection of essays Living Thinking Looking picked up from a bookstore one distraught night it felt like the Universe had consoled me and I have emerged affirmed of my devotion to Hustvedt The collection felt too much bewilderingly so like coming home Or perhaps accurately being reminded of what that familiarity felt like The first essay its very first line Desire appears as a feeling a flicker or a bomb in the body but it s always a hunger for something and it always propels us somewhere else toward the thing that is missing From this nugget of rhetoric the essay Variations of Desire A Mouse a Dog Buber and Bovary veers into touchstones seemingly so disparate Siri s sister Asti pins her childhood longings on a Mickey Mouse telephone I am introduced to Martin Buber stroking a horse the immense vitality beneath his skin as he did so and I cross paths once with Madame Bovary And yet Hustvedt makes it workDesire has long been Hustvedt s forte from her novels and threaded through her nonfiction And the essays in this collection are so unmistakeably to me Hustvedtian They re essays in the blessedly conventional sense the simplest route from writer to reader Here are a host of subjects in a deeply personal voice exceedingly intelligent than a little sensuous and familiar all throughout Desire weaves in and out of the essays Living for her musings on family life Thinking for her reflections on the making of and the appreciation of literature the academe as well as her disarmingly easy relationship with neuroscience Looking for her meditations on art Again All of them fascinatingly elouent and all of them unafraid to draw from Hustvedt s own life No shame to tell the reader that this was how she felt as she thought This unabashedness coupled with her goddamned intellect never fails to send happy shivers down my spineThe first time I read her nonfiction via her collection A Plea for Eros I tapped into that uncanny Hustvedt worldview then expression I d enumerated above Whilst her fiction was dense and generous tense in its examination of desire and its fathomless rewards and conseuences will everybody just please read her incomparable novel What I Loved now her nonfiction was lucid cerebral but relentlessly personal At the heels of reading Eros I wrote It s about all things Hustvedt The essays are penetrating eerily intelligent just the right bit of sensuality The pieces are reflections on a wide variety of subjects and the personal ness is the driving force Yeah that s the word reflections In Hustvedt s characteristically uiet and charged still yet voluptuous voice that I ve known and long loved It s like sitting down for a cup of coffee and listen to one of your idols ramble and rave and rant and brood and celebrate And argue And reason against the mundane complexities of the universe There may be to say but I fear I have exhausted myself This exhaustion I hasten to add is not an effect of Hustvedt I think now that hell perhaps I could have fared better if I wrote down my thoughts on each essay as I went on In a nutshell This book has all that yet again and remains faithful to what I ve known the author to be And that against her previous book of essays this one manages to exhibit Hustvedt s broad range of Awesomeness far better And yes there s wonder in this too The awe that someone can be so intelligent so well versed in a variety of subjects and familiar with so much ephemera so masterful with her language and yet bafflingly graciously thankfully so generous with her insight and her life Sigh Consider me awestruck Yet again Cross posted from the blog


10 thoughts on “Living Thinking Looking

  1. says:

    Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking partthat wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of from Where Your Eyes Don't Go by They Might Be GiantsOnly because it was already unshelved did I play and replay the CD with the above song on it on Sunday while I was cleaning the house As the line went throu

  2. says:

    Siri Hustvedt is one of the most interesting writers of the moment I read almost all her novels and was always pretty impressed She is a very erudite intellectualist writer but not at all 'blasé' on the contrary her message is usually how few certainties we have in life and how little we know about what really matters even armed with the latest scientific insights Her focus initially was on aesthetics and on the complex relation

  3. says:

    Siri Hustvedt is a remarkable writer a perceptive art critic a painstaking intellectual and a profoundly gracious human being Don't pass up an opportunity to read her work or if as privileged as I was to hear her speak and t

  4. says:

    I remember the first time I heard of Siri Hustvedt—it was via Larry Ypil poet extraordinaire who’d drawn me aside one night of lit

  5. says:

    Siri Hustvedt has a brilliant mind In this collection she draws from her extensive knowledge within the fields of neuroscience psychology literature and art as well as from her own life and personal experiences to explore topics like memory identity perception and language What happens in our brains when we remember when we imagine when we look at art? What is the self? What is reality?These essays are erudite compelling

  6. says:

    Collection of essays I especially liked the first two parts Living and Thinking very interesting stuff on migra

  7. says:

    Good god Siri Hustvedt is bright When I write nonfiction this sort of thing is my ideal effortlessly jumping between art and science continental and analytic philosophy personal experience and heavy abstraction Like Sontag before her but thank

  8. says:

    Is there nothing this woman cannot do well? Sir Hustvedt's essays are intelligent interesting inspiring Her key passions art neuroscience psychoanalysis narrative fiction are not so different from my own key interests I fo

  9. says:

    My favorite essays in this collection were My Mother Phineas Morality and Feeling and Critical Notes on the Verbal Climate Other essays I liked or affected me in some way Outside the MirrorThe Real StoryFreud's PlaygroundThe portions called Living and Thinking affected and interested me the most I ended up skimming through the section called Looking bored by the unfamiliar artists and artworks referenced

  10. says:

    The best book of essays I've read in a long time I especially like the thinking part of the essays Her experience in vari