May 17 2013
Though I’ve always been interested in questions of consciousness and self, before this semester I had never focused on these themes in literature in such an organized way. Reading poetry and fiction had taught me that subjective truths weren’t necessarily less real than objective ones, but I did not think of subjectivity as a process that could be analyzed objectively. Through reading “neuro novels,” as well as researching synesthesia, I have come to understand subjectivity and objectivity as two sides of the same coin rather than as a binary of opposites. We often use the term “subjective” to suggest that something is not necessarily true. However, as Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment demonstrates, subjective consciousness may actually be the material that gives rise to and determines reality.
I think that my favorite book of the semester, by far, was Mrs. Dalloway. The metaphor of consciousness as a wave that washes over our surroundings–as opposed to more fixed conceptions of consciousness, like Damasio’s–has influenced my reading of books not only for this course but in others and in my own private reading. It has even affected the way I understood several films I’ve watched since reading Mrs. Dalloway, most notably Leviathon. I think that this novel is a must for any future course on “neuronarrative” literature.