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I had the privilege this week of seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet starring David Tennant. The quality of the production was underlined by a spontaneous standing ovation, directed mainly at our Prince but deserved by the cast in general. I particularly enjoyed Oliver Ford Davies who played Polonius as a slightly senile actor who keeps forgetting or mangling his lines.

I had the privilege this week of seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet starring David Tennant. The quality of the production was underlined by a spontaneous standing ovation, directed mainly at our Prince but deserved by the cast in general. I particularly enjoyed Oliver Ford Davies who played Polonius as a slightly senile actor who keeps forgetting or mangling his lines.

Hamlet is, of course, all about the mind. It contains a line which must be one of the most commonly repeated in popular mind science books:

"there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

Neither Hamlet nor Shakespeare feature in the book I am now reading which, had I been reading it before Xmas would definitely have made my list of books of the year. It is ‘Proust was a neuroscientist’ by Jonah Lehrer. In each chapter of the book Lehrer looks at the work of a creative artist, ranging from George Eliot to Stravinsky to Escoffier, and shows how careful analysis of this work reveals sophisticated insights into the workings of the brain. Lehrer has a great website.  A few weeks ago he picked up on Zadie Smith’s powerful piece on the lyrical realist myths that form the heart of most modern literature. This theme of the relationship between how art understands our minds and what science is now telling us is fascinating. I have a meeting in a few weeks with some people from the RSC – I must see if they might help us commission Lehrer to do an RSA speech on Shakespeare the neuroscientist

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