Restak on the “Enchanted Loom”

by F.

Richard Restak concludes his book The Secret Life of the Brain with a beautiful quote from neurophysiologist Charles Sherrington:

Swiftly the brain becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern though never an abiding one; a shifting harmony of subpatterns.

Restak is a humane, reasonable guide to this enchanted loom. His The Secret Life of the Brain is both a book and show. I’ve read the book and watched the show, and they make a nice combination. The book is clearly written and has nice diagrams; the show was, I thought, a little light on the content and detail. But, as a preface the book, it is wonderful, because you meet many of the patients who will show up in the pages of The Secret Life of the Brain. The book was published on October 15, 2001, but it doesn’t seem out of date. The DVD of the show is available on Netflix here. It’s three discs.

I also recently read Restak’s The New Brain: How the Modern Age is Rewiring your Mind, published on August 23, 2003. Another nice book, very easy to read, very humane, and slightly provocative—though less so that the title suggests. There seems to be more speculation in this one, but, again, I tend to trust Restak. From his reviews and other articles I’ve read, he seems quite reasonable and doesn’t seem to be pimping the provocative theory du jour.