Review of Norman Holland, LITERATURE AND THE BRAIN
Neuropolitics, Neuroscience and Subjectivity
Nikolas Rose and Joelle Abi-Rached
This article considers how the brain has become an object and target for governing human beings. How, and to what extent, has governing the conduct of human beings come to require, presuppose and utilize a knowledge of the human brain? How, and with what consequences, are so many aspects of human existence coming to be problematized in terms of the brain? And what role are these new 'cerebral knowledges' and technologies coming to play in our contemporary forms of subjectification, and our ways of governing ourselves? After a brief historical excursus, we delineate four pathways through which neuroscience has left the lab and became entangled with the government of the living: psychopharmacology, brain imaging, neuroplasticity and genomics. We conclude by asking whether the 'psychological complex' of the twentieth century is giving way to a 'neurobiological complex' in the twenty-first, and, if so, how the social and human sciences should respond.
The Role of (Liberated) Embodied Simulation
in the brain. The subpersonal level of description provided by neuroscience is necessary but not sufficient to understand human cognition and aesthetic experience. To make sense of cognition and aesthetic experience, we need to study the brain, the
Triangulation and Third Culture Debates
In his recent agenda-setting monograph, Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film, Murray Smith (2017) foregrounds the currency of “third culture” as a key concept for contemporary debates on cinema and the brain
Film theory has been much involved with psychology, especially with the viewer's perceptual and emotional response to the images on the screen. Psychoanalytic and cognitive film theories, though not exactly kindred spirits, have so far dominated psychological film studies. At the present time, technology offers neuroscience methods to explore the brain that open up the discourse on the mind. This article explains ways in which neuroscience, and its study of the brain, can extend our understanding and theory of film by exploring three areas of our response to cinema. Although the perception of motion is a complicated business, the phenomenon of implied motion suggests the brain's readiness to find movement even when there is none and links together many of the same perceptual mechanisms we use when viewing film and also the world outside the theater. Attention, focus, and binding are essential for us to make sense of the vast amount of stimuli that bombard our eyes. They explain what we see and do not see when viewing film and also the way film technique controls our understanding of the action on the screen. Finally, the argument about what we feel and do not feel when watching the characters on the screen may receive some clarification by neuroscience's investigation of "mirror neurons" in our brain.
Jeffrey M. Zacks
This article is a précis of the book Flicker: Your Brain on Movies (Zacks 2014). Flicker aims to introduce a broad readership to the psychology and neuroscience that underlies their experience in the movie theater. The book covers a range of topics, including emotional experience, adaptation from texts to films, memory and propaganda, movie violence, film editing, and brain stimulation. Cutting across the specific topics are a few broad themes: the evolution of the brain and mind, the role of automatically evoked responses in film viewing, and the role of behavioral and neural plasticity in everyday experience.
A cultural neurohermeneutic account
This essay answers the question: what is interpretation? It does so by proposing that interpretation involves certain brain operations. These utilize perceptual and procedural culture stored in neural networks. The parts of the brain performing interpretation are said to constitute a cultural neurohermenetic system, hypothesized to function according to an interpretive hierarchy. It is argued that such an approach has two benefits. The first of these is to provide a non-sociobiological, non-reductionist way of analyzing interactions between culture and biology. The second benefit is to provide conceptual tools for explaining how the micro-realm within individuals (I-space) makes connections in the macro-realm (E-space) of events in social forms. Conceptualization of such connections forms a basis for a variety of social analysis termed complex string being theory.
The connection between film elements and brain responses has been suggested by a number of neurocognitive studies. The studies of event segmentation, in particular, support that film editing conditions cognitive responses. After discussing the findings of these studies, this article draws on Münsterberg and Arnheim's classical cognitive approaches to film as well as on poststructuralist film theory to argue that the event segmentation approach still falls short of accounting for the impact of noncontinuous film stimuli on the brain's event segmentation, while it shares with other neurocognitive film research the tendency to naturalize narrative and continuity editing. Finally, the article points out that by approaching the findings of event segmentation studies from the perspective of complex systems neuroscience, new hypotheses can be drawn on how noncontinuous and complex film stimuli condition our brains by mediating (enabling or disrupting) event segmentation and cognitive patterning.
Prison Reading Groups in Practice and Theory
This article considers the theoretical and practice-based evidence for the therapeutic effects of the shared reading of literature (poetry, fiction, plays, short stories) in prison communities. Taking as its starting point recent research and practice relating to the successful intervention ('Get into Reading') pioneered by UK charity The Reader Organisation, the article situates the components of this model in the context of established theories of reader response, as well as new research on reading and the brain. Yet its focus is always shared reading in practice and, through specific examples and testimony from prisoners and those who read with them (including health professionals), the article demonstrates the vital relation of this intervention to current recommendations in respect of the mental health needs of prisoners. It also offers a possible model for future interdisciplinary research in this field.
Une sociologie d’État
It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.