How do you transform difficult scientific theories into an evening’s entertainment?

“A leading neuropsychologist explains how he adapted his best-selling book on the brain, soul and ‘self’ for a theatre audience.”

Paul Broks in The Guardian:

I have never bargained with the Prince of Darkness but I do get drawn into wrangles over the soul. They are mostly benign but one woman came to the brink of physical assault. It was during a talk I gave at a literary festival. She told the organisers she just wanted to shake me by the lapels. What had I done to upset her? I’d said that studying brain function and working with brain-damaged people had led me to certain views about the nature of personal identity; that neuroscience had no place for the soul; that the human brain was a storytelling machine, and that the self was a story.

I said that our deepest intuitions about what it means to be a person are based on an illusion. There is no inner essence, no ego, no observing ‘I’, no ghost in the machine. The story is all and, moreover, the story is enough. It was nothing personal. I’ve reeled off my litany of self-annihilation ad nauseam since Into the Silent Land was published. Sometimes I feel like shaking myself by the lapels.

The book explores love, loss and personal transformation through neurological case stories and speculative fiction. But if the scientific assault on the soul is one of its themes, so too is the limitation of science.

More here.