This review is from: The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head (Paperback)
As a medic, I found this to be an immediately accessible and a splendidly conceptualised book: a philosophical undertaking in the context and inclusive of the widely accepted seat of all philosophical undertakings: the head. Here a meditation for everything organic: the skin, the face, the sense organs, the secretions, the expulsions, the injuries is complemented by a meditation of something inorganic: the familiar socio-philosophical concepts of the egocentric space, thoughts and perceptions, objectivity and subjectivity, inception and demise, culture and mannerisms, expressions and behaviours, projections and interpretations, ephemarility and immortality: it's all here. Tallis, for me has achieved something special by taking liberal helpings of medicine, history, sociology, philosophy, literature and even some autobiography, as the emergent account of the every-moment wonder of being human is wide, ever-curious and infinitely well-informed.
There is a conversational enthusiasm that buoys the book of such scope and while one can never accuse it of being dragged by dry academic leaden-ness, it definitely has a penchant to launch skywards in hot air balloons swollen with tautologies and verbose mega-sentences, particularly towards the latter half. Oddly enough, despite being gifted with a perpetual vocabulary, he seems distractingly attached to the words "coterminous" and "metonym".
But my few limitations about its indulgence aside, it remains an undeniably erudite discourse of the worlds created, lived within and lived by the head, the brain and the mind that deserves getting immersed into just to experience first-hand the articulation of this three-fold everyday encephalic reality. If overarching themes are indeed looked for in this text, those of celebrating the irreducible complexity of moment-to-moment consciousness (an axe Tallis grinds to full effect in his later Aping Mankind), of contemplating the sheer internal organisation of biological processes and of the endless cultural attributions placed by humans of "civilization" since humanity's inception on the physicality of their own organism resonate long after you have turned the last words.