Siri Hustvedt has always been fascinated by biology and how human perception works. She is a lover of art, the humanities, and the sciences. She is a novelist and a feminist. Her lively, lucid essays in A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women begin to make some sense of those plural perspectives.
Divided into three parts, the first section, “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women,” investigates the perceptual and gender biases that affect how we judge art, literature, and the world in general. Among the legendary figures considered are Picasso, De Kooning, Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe, the Guerrilla Girls, and Karl Ove Knausgaard.
The second part, “The Delusions of Certainty,” is about the age-old mind/body problem that has haunted Western philosophy since the Greeks. Hustvedt explains the relationship between the mental and the physical realms, showing what lies beyond the argument—desire, belief, and the imagination.
The final section, “What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition,” discusses neurological disorders and the mysteries of hysteria. Drawing on research in sociology, neurobiology, history, genetics, statistics, psychology, and psychiatry, this section also contains a profound and powerful consideration of suicide. => More Information…
Siri Hustvedt Views the Human Condition Through Art and Science
The New York Times Book Review – December 16, 2016 (Excerpt)
“A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women” is a collection of essays that, taken as a whole, is meant to increase the common reader’s understanding of and interest in the rich brew of human endeavor to be found in science and the humanities when we try to see the accomplishments of the one through the lens of the other. In its introduction, Siri Hustvedt reminds us of the famous culture war brought on in 1959 by the English scientist and novelist C.P. Snow, who warned that the gulf between those who understood either science or literature but not both would prove deadly to the future of liberal democracy. Today, Hustvedt observes, that threat seems more potent than ever, what with those who love the new technology indiscriminately, those who hate it indiscriminately, and very few in either camp who have a large grasp of its potential effect on us half a century from now. => Read more…