The fate of the scientific novel is neglected. Overshadowed by his ambitious older sister, the sci-fi, and his reckless younger brother, the sci-fi thriller, he’s hard to notice. Among the latest titles that have attempted to emerge as a genre in its own right can be mentioned Solar by Ian McEwan (2010), The city of the sun and the moon by physicist Philip Ball (2011), vacuum energy by Bruno Arpaia (2011), We are all completely beside ourselves Written by Karen Joy Fowler (2013), The invisible world by Liz Moore (2021). They are novels that have scientists as heroes or revolve around their characters and, unlike science fiction or historical fiction, are set in the present, while unlike science novels such as Michael Crichton, they do not have adrenaline-pumping mysteries on a fresh basis. techniques. Climate scientists, behavioral scientists, physicists, astronomers and computer scientists are the protagonists and their personal and family stories are intertwined with the research they engage in.
The last access is revelation Written by Eric Hall, published in Italy by Carbonio and written by a young neuroscientist in his first novel. The plot is summed up quickly: Twenty-seven-year-old Kirk Soren, after breaking up with his manipulative academic mentor and failing to graduate, emerges from the bohemian life on the California streets with an invitation to join a super-team. One of the most promising young neurosciences created by New York University. CNS – an abbreviation for the Center for Neurosciences – is a modern structure funded by DARPA (US Defense Advanced Projects Agency), which has set itself the goal of unraveling the mystery of consciousness, testing various philosophical interpretations through experiments with animals and computer models. which the young team members are almost the embodiment of. It’s clear that when eight ambitious young men at the start of their careers and with a hormonal high charge are brought together, anything can happen, and in fact anything happens. The death of one of them under mysterious circumstances will prompt Kirk to further investigate the purposes of the center to which he belongs, but it is not so much the investigation itself that drives the novel as the development of its protagonists and the intertwining of their personalities. Stories and the problem to which they decided to devote their lives. All but Kirk, who has decided to abandon neuroscience and who sees his idea grow stronger every day, in the face of the amoral attitudes, apathy, and lack of angst that motivate his colleagues and superiors.
There are two themes revolving around it revelation. The first concerns the philosophy of the mind and the mystery of consciousness, and the goal of the protagonists’ research. Before abandoning the research, Kirk was developing—like the author of the novel—a mathematical model for measuring consciousness through information theory. It is a line of research that refers to the studies of Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi, authors of information integration theory whose aim is to assign to consciousness itself a “quantity of measure”, a fundamental quantity such as mass, charge and energy, measurable in anything: this is based on the idea that subjective experience stems from the capacity of system on information consolidation (see Edelman and Tononi, 2000).
In contrast to this approach we find that represented by Greg, who declares himself “exclusionary”, i.e. adhering to a materialistic interpretation of consciousness which according to subjective states ( qualiacolor vision) and conscious experience are merely illusions, and thus excluded from any fundamental theory of mind: there is only the physically tangible, and so the human brain is merely a calculator (cf. Dennett, 2005). To Gregg’s objectivity, Kirk contrasts with radical subjectivism: we will never be able to know the feeling of others, to enter the secret of the self, because there is no objective world to relate to the set of sensations but every conscious experience generates a world of its own, impermeable to others. It is this drama of consciousness that makes all monads impenetrable and any hope of true empathy impossible. The characters in the novel are all characters in this drama.
The other major theme, closely intertwined with the previous one, is a critique of the unbridled ambition of the scientific enterprise represented by the academic world, which is dominated by the professions, manipulations, frauds, immoral experiments, and toxic relationships, in which every person is involved. The sacrifice of the victim to be sacrificed on the altar of knowledge. Kierk, who like his true alter ego has ambitions as a writer, would rather write his personal memoirs than write scholarly articles. In that diary, she writes that one of her recurring dreams is of a huge millennial tree:
This is Yggdrasil. world tree. Tree of knowledge. And those who helped make it grow wander around it, all natural philosophers. But there is a subtle organization: the most ancient discoveries and basic theories are in the central part of the trunk, and then, as you climb along the branches, there are more of them.
Kirk feels like dreaming of bringing him down, but he knows he can never do it.
“I have neither the tools nor the will to do so. But I fall to my knees to implore, and I ask in a pleading tone: Where will it be on the tree? Where will the theory of consciousness find its place? On what distant, secondary branch? On physiology, for it deviates into neuroscience? Metasciences The computer, towards the obscure part of information theory? Away from mathematics and physics? From what branch does it grow? Will it be an extension of analytical philosophy? What about that distant allusion which is complex systems science or the language of state space? The only question I ask of it when I plead or in case Out of anger is where will it stay in the tree? Where?”.
revelation Phases, like all the other scientific novels mentioned at the beginning of this article, the true drama of science, the impossibility of attaining true knowledge of the world was once summed up by Stanislav Lem with this terrible question:
“Could it not be that social evolution took us out of the animal kingdom, along an exponential curve, when we were fundamentally unprepared for such an ascent?”
To this conclusion Kierk arrives through the events that make up Erik Hoel’s novel. The drama of science and the drama of man are one and the same, and the mystery of conscience is ultimately summed up in one mystery: the mystery that every man represents, closed to himself and impermeable to others.
- Bruno Arbia, vacuum energyJuanda, Milan, 2011.
- Philip Ball The city of the sun and the moonDaedalus, Barry, 2011.
- Daniel Dennett, Sweet dream. Philosophical illusions about consciousnessRaffaello Cortina, Milan, 2005.
- Gerald Morris Edelman, Giulio Tononi, world of consciousness. How matter becomes fictionEinaudi, Turin, 2000.
- Karen Joy Fowler We are all completely beside ourselvesPonte al Grazie, Milan, 2013.
- Stanislav Lim, voice mrMondadori, Milan, 2022.
- Ian McEwan, SolarEinaudi, Turin, 2010.
- liz moore, The invisible worldNN Publisher, Milan, 2021.
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