Penn State

B. Tracy Nixon - professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Author: Carson McCullers

Book Description:

While alive, our "hearts" are compelled to hunt for physical and spiritual existence, in so doing defining our selves through our contacts with the external universe. These notions percolated in my thoughts when, as a teenager, I read McCullers' novel. The experience clarified an awareness of the loneliness, or rather uniqueness, of each and every living thing. Most profoundly, it impressed upon me how each person is only able to see the world through his/her own perceptions. That together with our independent struggles to survive gives us our common bond—conscious awareness of this fact gives birth to compassion and tolerance, and thereby a perception of beauty. These lessons also staged for me what has grown to be the essence of my scientific artistry: to strive to ever more precisely know and describe what I perceive to others that we may communicate most clearly about our uniquely experienced but shared experiences. I thank Ms. McCullers for sharing her perceptions

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