Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Fictional Neuroscientist

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam on Tom Wolfe's new novel:

Escaping the wrath of Wolfe

By Alex Beam, Globe Columnist
January 11, 2005

Is Dartmouth cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga in line to become the new Epictetus? Anything is possible.

Epictetus is the Greek Stoic philosopher who enjoyed a brief resurgence of popularity in 1998, when Tom Wolfe published his best-selling novel ''A Man in Full." One of Wolfe's characters improbably converted to the teachings of Mr. E., ''a philosopher who had been stripped of everything, imprisoned, tortured, enslaved, and threatened with death," per Wolfe.

Now, as first noted by Professor Gazzaniga's local paper, the Lebanon, N.H., Valley News, Mr. G. is just about the only academic to emerge unscathed in Wolfe's latest satirical outing, ''I Am Charlotte Simmons," which purports to be an expos of contemporary college life. The mention of Gazzaniga is ''noteworthy," the paper reports, ''because the rest of Wolfe's book rips apart faculty poseurs, smooth-talking college presidents and drunken frat boys.
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