Embracing The Wide Sky

A Tour Across the Horizons of the Human Mind
Review by Sam Spruce 
by Daniel Tammet

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A beautiful book which explains and illuminates the amazing diversity and creativity of the human mind.

Daniel Tammet's book is a brilliant illustration of how apparently unrelated things fit together.  From beginning to end this book is readable.  It never once falls into complicated and boring explanation.  It glides effortlessly across the landscape of our minds highlighting the wonders of the pure magic of the human experience.  Just imagine flying in a plane with a geologist and being shown the bigger picture of how all the fantastic cliffs and valleys, the rivers and meadows all fall into a complete relationship of harmony and significance.  How oxbow lakes are formed, how glacial moraines are produced, how rift valleys come about and how they all work together to form this beautiful landscape in which we live.  To begin to see the bigger picture of how the ecology works and to begin to realise that it all makes interrelated and interdependent sense is awe inspiring and totally uplifting.  This is the achievement of Daniel Tammet's book.

What Daniel has managed to do is to take one mind (his own) and to use it's particular qualities to illustrate the vast range of potential in all minds.  Being what is described as an autistic savant puts him in the position of someone who's mind is "different".  For the majority of people he is both disabled by his inability to do what most can do and marginalised by the extraordinary and "weird" things he can do.  But he quite correctly switches this around and illustrates and explains how what he "can't" do is some of the extraordinary extremes that we take for granted and what he "can" do is slightly different from most others.  In effect he uses his attributes to illuminate the beauty and wonder of all human minds.  This is not simply a poetic interpretation of the human mind (though it is surely that too) because he has seriously researched the content and theories that he includes.  He makes references to and draws together research from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and numerous other fields of human enquiry.

I won't attempt to go into detail mentioning the vast range of fascinating issues and research and human discovery and perception that he covers because that is all in the book.  But I will just say that this is a genuinely mainstream book for anyone who is intrigued by how we think and conceive and generally operate with our minds.  This is another one of those books in what could be called a new genre of making knowledge accessible to all.  If you become interested in aspects of the mind there are plenty of references in the book to lead you down new paths of knowledge and enlightenment.  But overall this is a beautiful book that will change the world.


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