JB: I wrote a book called the Identity of Man. I never saw the cover of the English edition until the book reached me in print. And yet the artist had understood exactly what was in my mind, by putting on the cover a drawing of the brain and the Mona Lisa, one on top of the other

Excerpt from

The Next Evolutionary Step in the Ascent of Man in the Cosmos by Jonas Salk

I FIRST HEARD OF JACOB BRONOWSKI in 1960. My interest was aroused by recognising the correspondence between his ideas and what I had in mind in trying to create an institution to heal the separation referred to by C.P. Snow as the 'two cultures'.
Jonas Salk
was the discover er of the vaccine for polio. Born in 1914, he was educated at NY University College of Medicine and Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City. He was director of the Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh and Commonwealth Professor of Experimental Medicine there until 1962. He was Founder, Fellow and Director of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies from 1963 to 1975. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1975. He died in 1994.
At our first meeting, I told Bronowski of my plans. When I met him a second time several days later, Bronowski's words to me were, "You have changed the course of my life. I have been thinking about our recent conversation and I would like to become associated with you in your new enterprise." I was surprised at the affirmation - a response such as this could not have been further from my expectations.

It had not taken Bruno long to sense what I must have conveyed. He had taken but a few days to reflect on and to recognise the meaning and the seriousness of my intentions.

Bruno told me that he had been contemplating a change and was considering possibilities in the United States. His talents were already well-recognised in his writings and in his appearances on British television and were later magnificently manifested in the Ascent of Man . Events had caught us in the stream of time and brought us together for a purpose.

Source: Leonardo Vol.18(4), pp.237-242, 1985

The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen Moss. All rights reserved.