Do the same parts of the readers' brain become active when they read specific parts of a book as the ones that fired when the author wrote the passage?
The world of the atom, the world of the cosmos—it’s all so last century. Now it’s the world of the mind—or at least the brain—that dominates science reporting, with its research and discoveries about what actually happens in our heads as we go through the daily whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, interactions and experiences.
These synapses spark as we devour a hot fudge sundae; those cells flash watching a psycho on the screen seize his victim; the blood throbs here thinking of our beloved, thrums there at the ex-beloved who jilted us.
And what happens when we read a book?
What happens when we write one?
The idea was to connect him to enough gadgets and gizmos to monitor his every twitch, pulse, and brain wave as he labored over his latest novella—and then do the same to fifty people reading the book.
Will the same parts of the readers’ brains go into gear when they read specific sections as the ones Grunberg mined to write them? And does this mean they’re cycling through the same patterns of understanding and emotion?
That is the question.
And if so, so what?
As for Grunberg himself, there might be reason to question how seriously he’s taken his foray into brain imaging technology. In the past, he’s been accused—by admirers—of viewing the life and work of a writer as something of a lark. After all, this is a man honored twice for writing the best first novel in his native Netherlands—first as himself and then again six years later under a pseudonym.
So how does it feel trying to mix an insider’s and outsider’s view of pounding the keyboard while twenty-eight electrodes are affixed to his skull? Said Grunberg: “It’s like having someone else embedded in my own brain.”
Wow, does that make me shudder and cringe! Writing a book can be crazy-making enough for some of us even when there’s no one else inside there but little old me.