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Gary Marcus, Kluge : The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 20081. 211 pages, including notes, references and index.
Gary Marcus is a professor of psychology at New York University and director of the NYU Infant language Learning Center. In this book, he investigates how the brain works: sometimes well, sometimes not so well. His premise is that the brain is a patchwork of operations which developed/evolved over time into what he have today. As he writes on page 2:
Where Shakespeare imagined infinite reason, I see something else, what engineers call a "kluge." A kluge is a clumsy or inelegant -- yet surprisingly effective -- solution to a problem.
In a very brief and exceedingly entertaining work, we are taken on a tour of various functions of our brain. The chapter titles indicate what is considered:
- Remnants of History
- Things Fall Apart
- True Wisdom
I cannot praise the author's clarity, style or wit sufficiently. This is a wonderful book for anyone even in the least interested in psychology. Concise and amusing, scientific and accessible, fact-filled and not in the least dull, this volume is worth every moment spent reading (and re-reading) it. Don't just sit there...go find a copy and read it!
-- Notes by SJB