More Great Academic Pleasure Reading . . .
I just love books like these, ones that you can feel the new learning as a whole new field or perspective just opens up to you. Here’s two new ones I’ve been using to stay sane while grading, and which I’m looking forward to finishing off now that grading is (finally!) done, grades are in, and I can return to enjoyable things like reading and writing.
– The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour through Mankind’s Greatest Invention, by Guy Deutscher (Holt, 2006). A non-technical, breezy, enjoyable, and ubersmart introduction to how languages change over time. Things like: where did case endings come from, or verb endings? Why do words change in sound and meaning over time, and what are the macrotrends? How did grammar evolve? Great stuff, so well written, what a damn geeky pleasure. Now if only the title didn’t have an androcentrism in it . . .
– I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self, by Rodolfo Llinas (MIT, 2002). Engagingly written, and with a pretty great angle to contemporary cog-sci: thought evolves from the internalization of the need to control movement. Llinas tracks how only motile organisms have nervous systems, and takes it from there. Embodied cog.sci. at its finest.
– The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI, by John Johnston (MIT, 2010). Ok, nothing lite about this one, but its well written, smart, and encyclopedic. Even has a section on Lacan and cybernetics.