Monday, November 21, 2011

What is David Rothenberg reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: David Rothenberg, author of Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science, and Evolution.

Part of his entry:
Since I’m writing a book on insect sound and music I must sometimes read nonfiction, especially things in the midst of my odd subjects, and there is a wonderful recent book on singing insects, Cricket Radio by John Himmelman, which presents a real love and attentiveness to the songs of crickets, katydids, and shieldbearers in the browning autumn woods of Connecticut shores. People tend to love these sounds for the melancholy march of the seasons that they convey, but we rarely play close attention to what we’re hearing. My next book will try to connect these resounding overlapping rhythms to the idea of music, and...[read on]
About Survival of the Beautiful, from the publisher:
A brilliant investigation of why nature is beautiful and how art has influenced science, sure to stimulate readers of The Art Instinct.

"The peacock's tail," said Charles Darwin, "makes me sick." That's because the theory of evolution as adaptation can't explain why nature is so beautiful. It took the concept of sexual selection for Darwin to explain that, a process that has more to do with aesthetics than the practical. Survival of the Beautiful is a revolutionary new examination of the interplay of beauty, art, and culture in evolution. Taking inspiration from Darwin's observation that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg probes why animals, humans included, have innate appreciation for beauty-and why nature is, indeed, beautiful.

Sexual selection may explain why animals desire, but it says very little about what they desire. Why will a bowerbird literally murder another bird to decorate its bower with the victim's blue feathers? Why do butterfly wings boast such brilliantly varied patterns? The beauty of nature is not arbitrary, even if random mutation has played a role in evolution. What can we learn from the amazing range of animal aesthetic behavior-about animals, and about ourselves?

Readers who enjoyed the bestsellers The Art Instinct and The Mind's Eye will find Survival of the Beautiful an equally stimulating and profound exploration of art, science, and the creative impulse.
Learn more about the book and author at the Survival of the Beautiful website.

Writers Read: David Rothenberg.

--Marshal Zeringue