Oliver Sucks?

by F.

I’ve blogged before about This is Your Brain on Music, which is not only a wonderful book about music but a great overview of cognitive psychology. And now comes Uncle Oliver the aging hippy, with Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

Not having read it, I would predict it would be a desultory litany of odd syndromes. Which is exactly what Anthony Gottleib says it is:

In the end, Sacks’s catalog of oddities sheds little systematic light on the mystery of music. He cannot be blamed for this — the science of music is still in its early days. Readers will probably be grateful that Sacks, unlike Freud, is happy to revel in phenomena that he cannot yet explain.

I disagree with the last bit. I think he can and should be blamed for not providing a more systematic treatment of musical cognition, since there is plenty of work on this topic—perhaps 200 researchers worldwide are on the case, as Levitin tells the story.

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