This book has been called '...a brilliant and profoundly erudite epic...a heroic intellectual tour de force...' (by David Lorimer, the Director of the Scientific and Medical Network) and both 'brave...and totally insightful (by Ervin Laszlo) but the book defies description; it breaks all the rules and is unlike any other. It is so comprehensive in its sweep, original in its writing, and its synthesis, that to isolate any aspect is to misrepresent all the others.
Two companions, Reason and Soul, invite the reader to accompany them on a light-hearted poetic journey through the chronology of Western thought to uncover a bold hypothesis: that the evolution of science has been shaped by its gradual and accelerating recovery of memory (involution). That recovery has been led by the inspired maverick genius, moving backwards through time (usually called the past), but which has provided science's future at every moment of new creative thought.
Scientific inspiration and its chronology mirrors evolution. This incremental excavation and transfer of memory to intellect implies the pre-human encoding (involution) of consciousness in the structure of matter, and the interconnected consciousness of all life. DNA is the likely encoding and mediating molecule, or resonant coherence of this information, through both time and space.
The sweep of history is needed to expose this proposal and its evidence: It requires all the disciplines of science, all the epochs of thought: which only a poetic economy 'woven together with extraordinary subtlety' (Lorimer) could convey. Yet, paradoxically, through involution the collective journey has been lit by individuals, unique in their subjective contributions to the discipline that claims only 'objective' validated truth. The same pattern is mirrored in the congruent history of painting and musical composition. Genius differs only in the languages of expression. This book loosely weaves them all, using familiar material to arrive at an art, a science and divinity behind science.
In nine swift Cantos the work travels through pre-human involution, the enfolding of consciousness in matter, and then early man's emergence on the Serengeti. Through the recorded civilizations of Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, into the Enlightenment and finally Modernism the success of science progressively obscures the internal story, the story of direct intuition, nous, experience, and the complement to Darwin that this collective involution provides.
But there is more to it than merely science; for science is a language through which to follow a deeper journey, Mankind's collective journey inwards, to the nature of himself: which is why the scientific signposts are confined to end-notes to leave the poetic journey unencumbered. They take no scientific knowledge for granted: they are not essential to the poetic narrative but instead caulk the ship from which we view an alternative journey.
By adding involution to evolution, mind and matter become two sides of a single coin, only perceived as distinct through the intellect's division from its deeper self, from consciousness, experience, and understanding. The co-creation of God and the universe is what this book restores and is about. It has been called a 'heroic tour de force, a brilliant and erudite epic...' but also 'clearly written and easy to read' It slaughters a few sacred cows, 'brave and a lot of fun.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
At a quick glance, Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God seems like a scientific or spiritual read, and possibly a dry one, at that. But those too ready to judge a book by its title may be in for a surprise, here: for Involution is in actuality a poetic-based exploration of the Western thinking process, and is more focused on the process of Mankind's incremental rediscovery than scientific or spiritual analysis. It's neither poetry nor science, spiritual reader nor philosophical investigation - but it incorporates elements of each. Nor is it 'fish nor fowl' - which makes its intended audience and placement a bit ambiguous. How do you tell an audience mired in one discipline that there's value to be had (and elements of that discipline) in a book that crosses genres? Therein lies the presentation challenge; for it'd be a shame for the reader of science, spirituality, philosophy or history to miss the unexpected treats embedded in Involution. So what, exactly, is 'involution'? It's defined here as the basic idea that the progress of science in fact reflects its ability to recover memory, or involution. Strictly speaking, 'involution' happens when something turns in upon itself; but in this case it's more than a geometric or mathematical expression, more than a medical description, and more than the path the soul takes to become more self-realized. Here it's described as the impetus to the evolutionary process, key to understanding the idea of scientific investigation and progression. Here you will find it all: poetic cantos, scientific footnotes, discussions of ideals of liberty, Renaissance history, the psychology of love and reunion…all provided in a unique format with a distinctive perspective; perfect for multidisciplinary, college-level readers who want a scholarly yet evocative presentation of the concept and workings of involution through its increasingly unifying stages. This broad-brush journey through the history of Western culture offers an alternative vision of Man’s powers and his destiny; a return to Eden, now as co-Creator, conscious of the unity of all creation.
I'm not entirely sure how to do a review that will do justice to Involution. For a start, Ms Rees' erudition across the breadth of science, religion, spirituality, philosophy and art make this semi-Socratic discourse a tour de force and far beyond my learning to fully appreciate and comprehend. And yet, somehow, appreciate and comprehend it I do. It's sublime poetic style ,it's artistry, is like a long, lover's song. I am stunned to read stanzas such as: `Yet the river in silence pulls on and on New turbulent streams drowning the past. Knowing the fathomless sea awaits Where all water is water and all is One' Fathomless sea indeed! This is a powerful dialogue on the nature of consciousness running not just parallel with, but indeed being the unseen composer beneath, scientific and philosophic thought. And this masterpiece links us, through art and spirituality, to the very seat of the soul. To say it is one of the most intelligent pieces of work I have ever read is a massive understatement. Similarly to speak of its sheer beauty seems destined to be also lacking. I love the gnostic overtones of the 9th Canto, where it all comes together in such poetic wisdom. It is entirely possible I have fundamentally misunderstood Ms Rees' thesis, so rich is her tapestry and so small my potential capacity to comprehend it. If so I apologise to her - but yet, even if so, it speaks profoundly to me. In the end it is a journey of the soul - consciousness rather than mere concept, being rather than just description. The ultimate path of the mystic, as she says: `What the intellect can understand Becomes unworthy of the heart'. A beautiful book, demanding quiet contemplation and attention and worthy of many repeat visits to weave within the magic of the poetry and the fascination of the history connected in her comprehensive appendix to the work.
As the book is subtitled, this is “an odyssey reconciling science to God”. That is Rees’s ambitious aim at least. I’m not so sure that she succeeds unless we, physical living mankind, are understood to be part of a flow of consciousness that is actually God. That is a difficult place for me to go. I need the division of the soul of man from the divine. However, to the main theme, that on a spiritual level we may already know all that science is steadily revealing to us, that we are all at core a part of a consciousness that is this Universe; I fully concur. I am not a person that finds it easy to connect with poetry, so was never going to find inspiration in the epic poetic story telling that amounts to our total history. I get the concept, and applaud it, but I’ve such a chaotic, dyslexic and ambidextrously muddled mind that I need the directness of prose. The splitting of the book into separate themes, half to connect with the artistic right hemisphere and half with the linguistic and mathematical left, wasn’t helpful. My “scientific” thought already contains plenty of mystical spaghetti. I am certain that Rees’s own flexible intellect is not just a few fathoms deeper than mine, but that most readers will have less of a problem with her holistic approach. I would far rather have had a straight prose history of thought with the wonderful endnotes she provides. Some will live in the poetry and forsake the naked theory and most others will engulf both spheres. Such diversity gives sound reason to Rees’s duality, for really this work has serious things to say to everyone. The key to my admiration for this work is the inspired belief that consciousness creates structure; creates the physical Universe we inhabit. Rees believes that if we look hard enough for the “facts” logic currently needs we will find them. The necessary solution, the quarks, will come into conscious existence because man needs to find them. Whether there was a quark before the conscious thoughts of man, already designed by the Highest Conscious, God, is a mute consideration. If Rees satisfactorily answered this question, then I missed it. Following Involutionary Theory, Einstein was only tapping in to what the unconscious mind already “knows”. Our, so called, trash DNA already contains all there is to understand about the Universe, as it has already lived the course of history. All we have to do is read our evolution back, involute knowledge already experienced. In this theory, the original language of conscious thought is none other than the chemical language of our own DNA. We need to follow the entanglement of knowledge back to creation, which just happens to be, as far as Rees is concerned, exactly where science is leading us anyway.