Out of My Head: On the Trail of Consciousness

New York Review. Oct. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781681373973. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681373980. PHIL
Parks, whose previous works include the Man Booker Prize short-listed Europa, here takes a creative look at consciousness by writing about the topic as he’s going through day-to-day activities, such as eating, sleeping, and talking with colleagues. Interspersed in these events, which he’s using to tell a story, is background on various schools of thought on consciousness and theories of what occurs in the brain when we have a conscious thought. This distinct narrative format makes for an accessible read but ultimately confuses readers who are trying to figure out the author’s understanding of the subject. The sections on past and current philosophers’ theories, and Parks’s applying them to ordinary life are fascinating, but never culminate into a coherent theory.
VERDICT The presentation of this work may appeal to some readers seeking a new approach to the elusive trail of consciousness. Yet the majority of audiences will find this structure off-putting as its style further complicates an already complex topic.
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