An uninspired litany of workmanlike tasks to stimulate the brain.

This third installment of a series of workbooks offers ways to improve mental acuity.

Litvin (Sailor’s Psychology, 2012, etc.) has argued over the course of several books that the human brain is an impressively elastic organ, capable of considerable dysfunction as well as spectacularly efficient repair. Intellectual underperformance, he contends, is not usually the result of genetic disadvantage but rather the kind of damage done to the brain that reduces its overall operational power. More specifically, he believes a malfunctioning brain ceases to shuttle information throughout its various regions properly, essentially delivering packets of data to the wrong places. The principal culprits are complex brain cells, which can be repaired or replaced by the targeted stimulation of simple cells. According to Litvin, a psychologist, this may be accomplished by compelling the brain to process different kinds of perceptual stimuli in rapid succession. The author presents his general theory regarding brain operations in Psychoconduction (2012), and the theory underlying the exercises in particular in Litvin’s Code (2011). The exercises require the participant to translate symbols embedded in mathematical equations into different modes of perceptual expression. For example, a number can be represented by a smell (like a bar of soap) or a noise (like knocking on a table). The final volume presents the series’ most difficult equations, which neatly fall into problems of multiplication, division, and reverse division. Typical of Litvin’s other workbooks, the problems are clearly explained in plain language unencumbered by academic jargon and include helpful instructional illustrations by Martirosyan (Intermediate Brain Stimulation by Psychoconduction, 2011, etc.). This is only intended as a workbook—a catalog of mental drills—so no explanation of the psychology justifying the problems’ efficacy is presented here. The author never comments on what precisely is meant by advanced, and it remains unclear for whom the exercises are intended, though they seem to be suitable for readers in their early teens. The effectiveness of the exercises is difficult to ascertain—in none of his books does Litvin ever supply a systematically clear or scientifically substantiated account, and his claims regarding their expected results challenge credulity. The exercises themselves lack a creative element or the promise of entertainment—they are computational tasks. One is compelled to conclude that most readers will experience these drills as the performance of an educational duty. 

An uninspired litany of workmanlike tasks to stimulate the brain.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4669-0152-0

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2019



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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