I've been reading an intriguing little book by David Gelernter, 'The Muse in
the Machine', (1994) ISBN 1-85702-083-9, which argues against predominant
conceptions of the mind as machine, and of vistas of cybernetic progress
towards Mr Spock-like Artificial Intelligence as a desirable cultural goal,
while speaking up for, of all things in such a technocratic money-backed
context, the psychological validity of poetry. He takes an interesting, if
critical, line of departure from Julian Jaynes's remarkable 'The Origins of
Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind', and too looks at,
and takes issue with, critiques of the notion of Self as being, although
objectively valid, in the sense that the unified 'I' we experience is a
conjuring trick, experientially false. I guess one could say he views them
as modes of alienation.

The book too has implications for the cultural reception of poetry, for the
academic predominance of criticism over creativity, altho' sadly it is
pessimistic, he sees poetry as an art that is dying along with the cognitive
habits that create it., just as modalities of spirituality or prophecy are
dying too, at least in 'educated' Western-style cultures. I was interested
too in his linkage of the metaphorical fecundity of the speech of infants
with the creative facility.


David Bircumshaw

Leicester, England

A Chide's Alphabet

Painting Without Numbers