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Bryan Appleyard is a special feature writer and columnist for the SUNDAY TIMES. He has also written for VANITY FAIR, the NEW YORK TIMES and the SPECTATOR. He is a three-time Feature Writer of the Year award winner and twice has been commended in the BRITISH PRESS AWARDS. https://www.bryanappleyard.com/ https://twitter.com/BryanAppleyard
Set in 1912, Bedford Park is not just a London suburb: it is a crucible for enlightenment and modernity inhabited by people who wish to better themselves - and those who should know better. It is a singular place, architecturally sidestepping the modern whilst encouraging those with new ideas to take up residence. Into this mix sails Cal Kidd from America. In a coffee-house he makes the acquaintance of Binks, a man whose occupation in the City is vague but he seems to know everybody. And so Cal meets real-life characters like Maud Gonne and Frank Harris, while Ford Madox Ford, W.B. Yeats and Joseph Conrad appear also. Then Binks is gruesomely murdered, and after never really having to deal with anything in his life, Cal the observer now has to act. The spirit of the age is what makes BEDFORD PARK so evocative, a time when everyone tries to invoke the future but often looks to the past to achieve it. Among the host of vivid characters, the greatest is London itself, a city in a constant state of flux whose centre is journalism. All the detail makes the place exotic and exciting - the marathon at the Olympics in 1908, a ride on the Flip Flap in White City, news being chalked up on dock walls for those who couldn't afford papers, a woman peeling potatoes in the Biosphere cinema in Bishopsgate. London has to comment instantly upon itself or be commented upon, always new and important.
A brand-new book from the award-winning SUNDAY TIMES journalist Brian Appleyard. Simplicity has become a brand and a cult. People want simple lives and simple solutions. And now our technology wants us to be simpler, to be 'machine readable'. From telephone call trees that simplify us into a series of 'options' to social networks that reduce us to our purchases and preferences, we are deluged with propaganda urging us to abandon our irreducibly complex selves. At the same time, scientists tell us we are 'simply' the products of evolution, nothing more than our genes. Brain scanners have inspired neuroscientists to claim they are close to cracking the problem of the human mind. 'Human equivalent' computers are being designed that, we are told, will do our thinking for us. Humans are being simplified out of existence. It is time, says Bryan Appleyard, to resist, and to reclaim the full depth of human experience. We are, he argues, naturally complex creatures, we are only ever at home in complexity. Through art and literature we see ourselves in ways that machines never can. He makes an impassioned plea for the voices of art to be heard before those of the technocrats. Part memoir, part reportage, part cultural analysis, THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN THE SKY is a dire warning about what we may become and a lyrical evocation of what humans can be. For the brain is indeed wider than the sky.
Since 1947, aliens have poured from the abyss that lies between ourselves and the world. So begins Bryan Appleyard's dazzling survey of one of the most pervasive yet under-reported phenomena of modern times: aliens -- what they are, why they are here, and what they say about us. Before science and technology took hold of our lives we called them different things: angels, demons, goblins. But in the post-nuclear world, in which man has discovered his cosmic insignificance, our need for aliens has reached the stars. Since 1947 there has been a deluge of sightings, abductions, cover-ups, conspiracies and all their associated sub-plots from cattle mutilation to anal probes. Science fiction both on the page and on the screen is in thrall to our perception of Little Green Men. How did we get here? And what does our fascination with all things alien, whether extraterrestrial or manufactured, say about us in a post-religious world? Bryan Appleyard's brilliant book is both a cultural history and an intellectual tour de force, covering everything from the joyful anthropocentrism of Star Trek to the bloody-minded nihilism of Stanislaw Lem.