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Book Details

ISBN: 9780231067508
ISBN-10: 023106750X
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 155mm x 26mm)
Pages: 296
Imprint: Columbia University Press
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 25-May-1995
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A vision of nature through eyes looking for patterns in space and time. Volk (Earth System Science/New York Univ.) writes like the middle-age hippie he avowedly is: enthusiastic, liberal, starry-eyed, mystical, given to worshipful nods to Buckminster Fuller, Gregory Bateson (who coined the term metapattern), Zen philosophy, and other guides to the key to the universe. The result is a kind of top-down philosophy or epistemology in which certain forms are celebrated as elemental. For space these are the sphere, sheets, tubes, borders, binaries, centers, and layers. For time we have calendars, arrows, breaks, and cycles - with due homage to the intertwining of space and time. Each of the book's ten chapters focuses on one of the elemental forms, adducing evidence from nature and culture to justify its elevation into the epistemological pantheon. This allows Volk, who has degrees in architecture and applied science, to demonstrate his erudition with impressive allusions to art and music, politics and popular culture, architecture, agriculture, and religion. This works well in instances where the author can link a form to growth patterns in nature or to aspects of biology, in particular the human nervous system, that guide our perceptions of the world. In other instances, readers may find themselves groping for more solid ground or wondering why such-and-such is an elemental form. Volk's excessive devotion to jamming everything into his framework recalls the Pythagoreans, who elevated number as the key to the universe and developed a philosophy based on properties such as squareness and triangularity. In essence, a volume for those seeking reassurance that everything connects or correlates. But does it? (Kirkus Reviews)

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