I explore media in transition. My research encompasses film, video, print, digital arts, and the web. I'm interested in what artists and writers are doing and in what critics and scholars are saying.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Persistence of Memory: Dr. Eric Kandel’s Interests in the Mind

Dr. Eric Kandel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2000, gave a fascinating interview on The Charlie Rose Show last night. With Dr. Harold Varmus (Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1989), who was filling in for Charlie Rose, Kandel discussed his latest book, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind (W. W. Norton, 2006). Passionate about his work, articulate, and full of life, this seventy-six-year-old neurobiologist interwove personal and cultural memories while explaining his professional quest: to understand human memory. He traced his story back to his childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna and to his subsequent immigration to New York in 1939 when he was nine. In the autobiography Kandel presented to the Nobel Committee, he stated:

“My last year in Vienna was, in a way, a defining year, and it fostered the profound sense of gratitude I came to feel for the life I have led in the United States. It is probably futile, even for someone trained in psychoanalytic thinking as I am, to attempt to trace the complex interests and actions of my later life to a few selected experiences of my youth. Nevertheless I cannot help but think that the experiences of my last year in Vienna helped to determine my later interests in the mind, in how people behave, the unpredictability of motivation, and the persistence of memory. Over the years I have returned to these subjects repeatedly as my professional interests evolved from a youthful interest in European intellectual history at Harvard, where I studied the motivation of German intellectuals during the Nazi era, to an interest in psychoanalysis with its more systematic approach to mental processes, and finally to my interests in the biology of conscious and unconscious memory.” (The complete autobiography is available online.)

Last night’s broadcast of The Charlie Rose Show (March 29, 2006; 56 min, 40 sec) can be viewed on Google Video.

P.S. Charlie Rose underwent heart surgery in Paris on Wednesday.

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