THE DOCTOR WITH TWO HEADS: Essays on Art and Science by

THE DOCTOR WITH TWO HEADS: Essays on Art and Science

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Physician/writer Weissmann follows up his previous collections of essays (The Woods Hole Cantata, 1985, and They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus, 1987) with still more philosophical meditations inspired by a career in science. Art and science have evolved in a parallel manner in the past century, maintains Weissmann, inspired by the same historical events and perhaps filtered through similar sensibilities. It makes sense, then, he says, that the study of disease relies heavily on military metaphor and that much modern art and literature reflect the cold minimalism of urban, high-tech life, while both have grown so abstract that it often takes ranks of interpreters to translate each to the layman. Wandering far and wide to support this rather obvious thesis, Weissmann reflects on how Hitler's rise resulted in a flowering of both scientific and artistic creativity among European ÉmigrÉs in America; looks to Gertrude Stein's early studies in anatomy as the inspiration for her prose style; rants over the current medical system in the States; and invents a fanciful plan for rendering America's cities mobile as a means of avoiding a Russian nuclear attack. While some of the essays do achieve a certain resonance (particularly ""The Age of Miracles Hadn't Passed,"" in which Weissmann conveys the satisfaction of bringing a young lupus victim back from the brink of death), and others wax truly eloquent (including ""To the Nobska Lighthouse,"" a plea in support of the pro-choice movement), most of the collection remains self-indulgent and rarely comes to a discernible point. The meandering style of much of Weissmann's writing suggests a somewhat distracted, if always earnest, sensibility.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf