The squid of Wolf’s title represents the neurobiological approach to the study of reading. Bigger cells are easier for scientists to experiment on, and some species of squid have optic-nerve cells a hundred times as thick as mammal neurons, and up to four inches long, making them a favorite with biologists. (Two decades ago, I had a summer job washing glassware in Cape Cod’s Marine Biological Laboratory. Whenever researchers extracted an optic nerve, they threw the rest of the squid into a freezer, and about once a month we took a cooler-full to the beach for grilling.)(At his blog, Caleb promises a series of supplementary posts on the matters discussed in the article--I very much like this approach, it's a good way for a professional critic to supplement what he publishes in print with the more extensively illuminating and informative stuff that can be linked to online. My only complaint about Caleb's blog is that he doesn't post often enough--but he had a beautiful one recently about his beloved and recently deceased dog, and he's also just published a novella in the latest issue of n+1.)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Probably he's got a lot of firewood"
Much linked to already (I was most immediately reminded by a post at Educating Alice), but Caleb Crain has an interesting piece on reading in this week's New Yorker. It includes some useful discussion of Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid, which I wrote about here--here's a funny bit I especially liked: