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The most ambitious and enlightening work to date from the bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses, An Alchemy of Mind combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate, as never before, the magic and mysteries of the human mind.Long treasured by literary readers for her uncommon ability to bridge the gap between art and science, celebrated scholar-artist Diane Ackerman returns with the book she was born to write. Her dazzling new work, An Alchemy of Mind, offers an unprecedented exploration and celebration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days -- and does for the human mind what the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses did for the physical senses.Bringing a valuable female perspective to the topic, Diane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can: with gorgeous, immediate language and imagery that paint an unusually lucid and vibrant picture for the reader. And in addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects like the effects of trauma and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, heavily anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness, human thought, memory, and the nature of identity.
Does the mind reflect or dictate what the body sees and feels? What is the language of emotion? Is memory a function of our imaginations? Are we all just out of our minds? In this ambitious and enlightening work, Diane Ackerman combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate the magic and mysteries of the human brain. With "An Alchemy of Mind," she offers an unprecedented exploration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days. In addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, Ackerman reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses such controversial subjects as the effects of trauma, nature versus nurture, and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness and the nature of identity.
"Cultivating Delight" celebrates the sensory pleasures that the author discovers in her garden.
A celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist explores a year of dawns in her most personal book to date. In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn--drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping. As a patient and learned observer of animal and human physiology and behavior, she introduces us to varieties of bird music and other signs of avian intelligence, while she herself "migrates" from winter in Florida to spring, summer, and fall in upstate New York. Humans might luxuriate in the idea of being "in" nature, Ackerman points out, but we often forget that we are nature--for "no facet of nature is as unlikely as we, the tiny bipeds with the giant dreams." Joining science's devotion to detail with religion's appreciation of the sublime, Dawn Light is an impassioned celebration of the miracles of evolution--especially human consciousness of our numbered days on a turning earth.
With A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman let her free-ranging intellect loose on the natural world. Now in Deep Play she tackles the realm of creativity, by exploring one of the most essential aspects of our characters: the ability to play. "Deep Play" is that more intensified form of play that puts us in a rapturous mood and awakens the most creative, sentient, and joyful aspects of our inner selves. As Ackerman ranges over a panoply of artistic, spiritual, and athletic activities, from spiritual rapture through extreme sports, we gain a greater sense of what it means to be "in the moment" and totally, transcendentally human. Keenly perceived and written with poetic exuberance, Deep Play enlightens us by revealing the manifold ways we can enhance our lives.From the Trade Paperback edition.
As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, The Human Age, "our relationship with nature has changed...radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable." Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth. Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a "frozen ark," equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating--perhaps saving--our future and that of our fellow creatures. A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.
Diane Ackerman's poems reveal her intense response to the several worlds of nature, science, and society. Her lyricism fuses wit and sobriety, meditation and activism, and she confronts us with figures both real and fantastic.As always, her strong connection with the natural world, the realms of language and literature, myth and imagination, combines with her deep understanding of the sciences to offer her readers a singular American voice. This is not a voice crying in the wilderness, but one that gives forth songs of joy and wonder.Organized into seven sections, including "Timed Talk," "By Atoms Moved," and "Tender Mercies," I Praise My Destroyer is less an assorted collection than an organically coherent whole, one that reveals Ackerman's true calling as a twentieth-century metaphysical poet of the highest order.From the Hardcover edition.
In A Natural History of the Senses Diane Ackerman revealed herself as a naturalist who writes with the sensuous immediately of a great poet. Now Jaguar of Sweet Laughter presents the work of a poet with the precise and wondering eye of a gifted naturalist. Ackermans's Olympian vision records and transforms landscapes from Amazonia to Antarctica, while her imaginative empathy penetrates the otherness of hummingbirds, deer, and trilobites. But even as they draw readers into the wild heart of nature, Ackerman's poems are indelible reminders of what it is to be a human being -- the "jaguar of sweet laughter" that, according to Mayan mythology, astonished the world because it was the first animal to speak.
In a rare blend of scientific fact and poetic truth, the acclaimed author of A Natural History of the Senses explores the activities of whales, penguins, bats, and crocodilians, plunging headlong into nature and coming up with highly entertaining treasures.
The bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses now explores the allure of adultery, the appeal of aphrodisiacs, and the cult of the kiss. Enchantingly written and stunningly informed, this "audaciously brilliant romp through the world of romantic love" (Washington Post Book World) is the next best thing to love itself.
Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth. "Delightful ... gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in."--The New York Times.
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize Finalist for the National Book Circle Critics Award "A testament to the power of creativity in language, life--and love." --Heller McAlpin, Washington Post No other writer can blend the science of the brain with the love of language like Diane Ackerman. In this extraordinary memoir, she opens a window into the experience of wordlessness--the language paralysis called aphasia. In narrating the recovery of her husband, Paul West, from a stroke that reduced his vast vocabulary to a single syllable, she evokes the joy and mystery of the brain's ability to find and connect words. Deeply rewarding to readers of all kinds, Ackerman has given us a literary love story, accessible insight into the science and medicine of brain injury, and invaluable spiritual sustenance in the face of life's myriad physical sufferings.
In a prefatory note to this collection of poems, Diane Ackerman tells us that her goal in this book was "to corral the unruly emotions that arose during intense psychotherapy."
The renowned author of A Natural History of the Senses takes readers in search of the "rarest of the rare," species likely to disappear before most of us have ever seen them. From Brazil to the Pacific to Japan, Ackerman shares her concern at the animals' plight, rejoices at the chance to experience them, and cheers those who work to save these fantastic creatures.
This astonishing book by the prizewinning, bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses reveals Ackerman's parallel lives as an observer of the wildlife in her garden and as a telephone crisis counselor. "(Ackerman) brings a luminous and illuminating combination of sensuality, science, and speculation to whatever she considers."--San Francisco Examiner.
In the twenty-some years since award-winning writer Diane Ackerman first visited the Tequesquite ranch in New Mexico, she has delighted readers with her rich, observant prose in such books as "A Natural History of the Senses" and, most recently, "Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden". However, her first nonfiction book, "Twilight of the Tenderfoot", reveals the strong beginnings of a writer who renders the experience of nature and place into an intimate and magical affair. Now back in print, "Twilight of the Tenderfoot" lets readers once more glimpse the backbreaking, soul-satisfying work of ranching. Growing up in rural Illinois, Diane Ackerman "knew" the West through film and television. Her abiding love of horses led her to one day seek to ride alongside cowboys on a traditional New Mexican ranch. As a tenderfoot -- and a woman in a man's world -- Ackerman undergoes an often hilarious initiation: but she is game and spirited, up to the challenges of red-hot chiles, Red Man chewing tobacco, revved-up horses, snakes dangling from brooms, and tough work well before sunrise. For Ackerman, and for her readers, what happened remains indelibly branded in memory.
The New York Times bestseller: a true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story--sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.
Jan and Antonina Zabiñski were Christian zookeepers horrified by Nazi racism, who capitalized on the Nazis' obsession with rare animals in order to save over three hundred doomed people. Their story has fallen between the seams of history, as radically compassionate acts sometimes do. But in wartime Poland, when even handing a thirsty Jew a cup of water was punishable by death, their heroism stands out as all the more startling.
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