Author(s): Bryan Appleyard
Simplicity has become a brand and a cult. People want simple lives and simple solutions. And now our technology wants us to be simpler, to be 'machine readable'. From telephone call trees that simplify us into a series of 'options' to social networks that reduce us to our purchases and preferences, we are deluged with propaganda urging us to abandon our irreducibly complex selves. At the same time, scientists tell us we are 'simply' the products of evolution, nothing more than our genes. Brain scanners have inspired neuroscientists to claim they are close to cracking the problem of the human mind. 'Human equivalent' computers are being designed that, we are told, will do our thinking for us. Humans are being simplified out of existence. It is time, says Bryan Appleyard, to resist, and to reclaim the full depth of human experience. We are, he argues, naturally complex creatures, we are only ever at home in complexity. Through art and literature we see ourselves in ways that machines never can. He makes an impassioned plea for the voices of art to be heard before those of the technocrats. Part memoir, part reportage, part cultural analysis, THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN THE SKY is a dire warning about what we may become and a lyrical evocation of what humans can be. For the brain is indeed wider than the sky.
A brand-new book from one of our most insightful journalists.
As readers have come to expect from Bryan Appleyard, his new book is another literate and sensitive reflection on how science is changing our self-understanding. -- Steve Fuller The Literary Review an acerbic expose of the empty promise of the computer age. -- James McConnachie Sunday Times Brian Appleyard's 'The Brain is Wider than the Sky' is a beautifully written defence of human complexity in the face of the corporate mechanisation of our lives. If you are frustrated by automated queuing, this is one for you. -- Michael Burleigh The Sunday Telegraph 20111127 Appleyard is scientifically literate, vigorous and intelligent...Appleyard's meditation is essential reading. -- Simon Ings The Observer Bryan Appleyard is our foremost guide to understanding contemporary culture. This exploration of what it means to be human today grips the reader from the first page. -- John Gray There are great science writers and there are great arts writers - and then there's Bryan Appleyard. He's both -- John Humphrys Bryan Appleyard is that rarest of rare birds, a journalist who can mine factual subjects for their poetic resonance right across the spectrum. He is our main man for this kind of writing -- Clive James One of the most interesting, curious, cultured and trenchant writers on this planet -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Author Of The Black Swan Appleyard is a gifted writer, able to explain both the beauty of a Hockney drawing and the mathematical unit used to measure how many computations processors like our brains are capable of performing...it's always fascinating, and always clearly expressed. -- Helen Lewis-Hasteley NEW STATESMAN In an engaging style, drawing on personal meetings with key figures, cultural analysis and scientific evidence from a wide variety of areas, Appleyard explains how simplification, whereby technology provides simple solutions to complex problems, has been unable to capture the full depth and complexity of human experience...A fascinating and informative read. GOOD BOOK GUIDE
Bryan Appleyard is a special feature writer and columnist for the SUNDAY TIMES. He has also written for VANITY FAIR, THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE SPECTATOR. He is a three-time FEATURE WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD winner and twice has been commended in the BRITISH PRESS AWARDS.