Though it may not have been his intention, Dr. Alesha Sivartha’s masterpiece of mysticism and typography, The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man, is truly a work of art. While difficult to follow at first, the often densely worded drawings and diagrams created in the late 1800s do eventually begin to make sense—if only on a per-page basis. Nevertheless, rarely have form and function been so perfectly melded, ala Edward Tufte—though way before his time. Sivartha, a.k.a. Arthur Merton, MD, was allegedly the illegitimate son of the Rajah Ram Mohun Roy, a prominent Indian scholar and reformer. While little is known about his life or why he chose to dedicate it to mapping out the physical and spiritual nature of our higher brain functions, his apparent relation to the Raja may have been the impetus. An online version of the book maintained by the author’s great-great-grandson, complete with his own interpretations, is located here.
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