Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jonathan Miller sheds light on why we exaggerate

"The Body in Question" is a classic TV program by "that British man for all seasons", Sir Dr. Jonathan Miller. I found episode 3 (titled "How do you feel") particularly interesting.
Miller explains a series of experiments which established a map of how the brain sees the body, it looks like a cartoon character.

note: first 48 seconds show footage of surgery



John Kricfalusi often uses the term "emotional weight", and I am very pleased to see this term has scientific credibility. the parts we tend to exaggerate indeed have more "sensitivity points" as mapped by the brain. it makes perfect sense for why it is natural for cartoonists to exaggerate.

IMO Jonathan Miller is one of the most fascinating and admirable people alive, listening to him is always pleasurable and educational.
Sir Dr. is a real Renaissance man, gifted and skilled at so many different areas, to which he always puts his inimitable personal stamp. It is not by coincidence that he has the most important skill of all-- the ability to see to the core.
His superb analytical skills and critical thinking enables him to apply his varied skill and talent to any topic.

Some of my personal favorite Miller discussions:

Humor/Why we laugh:


Stammering (at 7:17)



"Major" film producers (at 6:00) :



On the fallacy of post-sixties education systems- "everyone being equal is an emphasis on equal talent" ( at 1:25) (This can also be explained in Steven Pinker's book "The Blank Slate- A modern denial of human nature")



On science as a candle in the dark: how medicine removed his fear of death:



Link to the complete series of chats with Dick Cavett


And an interview by Kristy Wark




9 comments:

Nico said...

damn, that drawing at the top is great. haha!

Michael Shell said...

My drawings are all of a sudden feeling very inadequate. Thanks a lot.
Well at least you've given me another reason to love Canada.

Mitch K said...

That is a hilarious caricature! And very well done, as usual. That video is great too, with the statue of this idea. I love how the mouth is so big. haha

I'm unclear on your point about "emotional weight." Maybe the exaggeration of caricature taps into how we perceive which parts of the body are important to ourselves.

GREAT POST. :D

Amir Avni said...

Thanks All! :)

Mitch- you're quite right about that point,
The body parts to which we give more "emotional weight" (put more emphasis on) have more sensitivity points linked to the brain.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Amir,

Nice caricature of Jonathan Miller. I'm not sure whether you're familiar with his early work as a member of "Beyond the Fringe", an ensemble that also included Alan Bennett and the more famous Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who would continue on as a comedy duo after the group broke up. Anyway, you should check them out, as there are a number of clips on YouTube. They preceded "Monty Python" by a few years and you can see their influence on the Python style of humour.

Amir Avni said...

Thanks Pete

From the little I've seen, I already like "Beyond the Fringe" better than Monty Python. I wish I could see the whole review.

Mario said...

Very interesting... I'm still watching all the videos!

Will Finn said...

Amir-- Glad to know you are fan of the multi-talented Dr. M as i am.

BTW -- A version of BEYOND THE FRINGE was taped for British TV at the end of it's run, including most (all?) of the most legendary bits. It should still be available on DVD and if you can't find it let me know...

There is also a 3 disc set of audio discs available, but find the DVD firs and foremost if you can!

Thanks for posting these lectures and oh yeah, nice sketch!

Amir Avni said...

Mario- Glad to hear!

Will- its always good fun to be mutual fans of someone great! Thanks for the info, and I'm happy you enjoy the post