Siri Hustvedt is an American writer and intellectual who grew up in Minnesota. She has always had a keen interest in the nature of identity and our perception of self as themes in her writing - she based her college dissertation on the use of language as a metaphorical tool in exploring the conception of self present in the works of Charles Dickens.
Although Hustvedt is best known for her fiction - the move to critical writing seems like a natural progression. AWLAMLAW (makes a pretty impressive acronym too) combines all of Hustvedt's main interests - Art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and social ethics, in a collection of essays that spans a range of equally interesting themes.
The first section examines the work of various visual artists (including Picasso, Louise Bourgeois and Robert Mapplethorpe) alongside essays by Susan Sontag and Knut Ove Knausgaard. The second, looks at the relationship between mind and body, and the separation of the two in Western teachings, in relation to philosophy, neuroscience and the gulf between art and science. The third, entitled 'What Are We' is a grouping of lectures on the human condition given by Hustvedt around the world.
It's a challenging but very accessible read (full disclosure I haven't actually finished it yet but I'm really enjoying it, it's pretty thought-provoking!) that exposes gender-bias, examines the relationship between the western idea of mind vs body, and deconstructs myths surrounding hysteria, synesthesia and memory. (it makes you feel pretty smart too justsaying)
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