Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mahler's Ninth

Lewis Thomas; Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (Penguin Books; 1995; ISBN 0-14-024328-3; cover by Gene Greif).

I read The Lives of the Cell several years ago and was impressed enough by the writings of Lewis Thomas that I bought all his other works that I could find. Alas, I stacked them on the shelf and did not come back to them until this year. I picked this one off the shelf as random, due to the title; and it is fitting in well with the similar works I'm reading by Dyson, Eisley, Clarke and others.

This collection is more political in tone than the previous; many of the essays were written at the height of the Cold War when the threat of nuclear armageddon was closer than it seemed now. This might make some of the essays "dated", but much of what is said could be applied to hysteria around non-nuclear forms of armageddon; comments about research could be applied to many fields; and there are plenty of essays to give you thought about mental health, medical technology, etc.

Made up of: The Unforgettable Fire; The Corner of the Eye; Making Science Work; Alchemy; Clever Animals; On Smell; My Magical Metronome; On Speaking of Speaking; Seven Wonders; The Artificial Heart; Things Unflattened by Science; Basic Science and the Pentagon; Science and "Science"; On the Need for Asylums; Altruism; Falsity and Failure; On Medicine and the Bomb; The Problem of Dementia; The Lie Detector; Some Scientific Advice; The Attic of the Brain; Humanities and Science; On Matters of Doubt; Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

Counts as 24 entries in the 2009 Year in Shorts.

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