Richard Powers reads his genome | Bleader

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Richard Powers reads his genome

Posted By on 10.21.08 at 12:09 PM

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One of my favorite authors is U of I prof Richard Powers, who trained as a physicist before becoming one of American literature's bright young things; among his notable talents is his willingness to engage sympathetically and critically with science on its own terms, not to mention engaging with it as a culture and an even an aesthetic. I can't recommend The Gold Bug Variations highly enough. It's long, and about a number of high-flown things (classical music, genetics, library science, art history), but it's also clever, moving, accessible, and romantic. And according to an acquaintance, he's also a very good fiction-writing teacher.

Anyway, he's got an essay in GQ this month about having his genome sequenced (via Jonah Leher's wonderful science/neurology blog The Frontal Cortex). In 2006 he sat down for a somewhat rare interview for the Reader's fiction issue:

"The question is the relationship of technology to the user. The really perceptive thinkers about technology have been especially useful in pointing out, in the last several years, how tools are not something external to us or forced upon us, not something that makes us conform intellectually to certain forms of use. Rather, our technologies are prosthetic extensions of ourselves; they represent the congealed collection of our hopes and fears and dreams about the way we would like to extend ourselves into the world."

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