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Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God [Kindle Edition]

Philippa Rees
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 characters, Reason and Soul, undertake a light-hearted poetic journey through the chronology of Western scientific thought to expose a bold hypothesis— that science has been guided by the gradual and accelerating recovery of memory. That recovery has been through the inspired maverick genius and it moves backwards through time; from man’s emergence, (at one with the natural world), through the increasingly separate disciplines to the holistic origins; the birth of stars and the start of time. This incremental excavation and transfer of memory to intellect implies the pre-human encoding of consciousness in the very structure of matter, and all organic life.

It is the sweep of history that exposes this reversal of time: It requires all the disciplines of science, all the epochs of thought, and only poetic economy could convey this accompanying purposeful complement to the Darwinian random and accidental. It is the wood and not the trees that the work surveys from the height of a poetic balloon. Yet, paradoxically, the collective journey has been lit by individuals, unique in their contributions to the field that claims only ‘objective’ repeatable and validated truth. The same pattern is mirrored in the history of painting and the structure of musical composition. Genius differs only in the languages of expression.

In nine Cantos the two companions travel through pre-human involution, and early man’s emergence on the Serengeti to the recorded civilisations of Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, into the Enlightenment and finally Modernism when the success of science completely obscures half of the story, the story of involution. Science’s external domination has reproduced the web of consciousness in the internet, and its tools are the bones of its journey, but the life of the spirit has withered through science’s insistence on objectivity, and its neglect of its own subjective origins. Mystical experience is perhaps the most attested and agreed upon encounter, across climes and times, differing only in the words chosen to clothe it.

But there is more to it than merely science; for science is a language through which to follow a deeper journey, Man’s collective journey inwards, to the nature of himself: which is why the scientific signposts are appropriately confined to end-notes to leave the poetic journey un-encumbered. They take no scientific knowledge for granted: they are not essential to the poetic narrative but instead caulk the ship of science in which we travel.

The scientific serpent of DNA, the most likely candidate for memory, ends with a soliloquy, an invitation to re-acquaintance with love, for episodes of love through contemplation and self-forgetting has informed science all along.

The work restores the spiritual, and finds it within the process of mystical science. The perennial philosophy is newly validated in twentieth century language.

By adding involution to evolution, mind and matter become two sides of a single coin, only perceived as distinct through the collective intellect’s division from its deeper self, from consciousness, from experience, from rapture and understanding. The co creation of God and the universe is what this book restores and is about.

Editorial Reviews


Philippa Rees wrote a book that is a rarity: it is on a controversial, actually hair- and eye-brow-raising subject, and it is totally sincere.  And totally insightful. If you the reader are as brave as this author, you are in for a fantastic ride.  Getting close to science as well as to God at the same time.  That's no mean feat. Enjoy the ride - and the light! (Dr. Ervin Laszlo)

Product Details

  • File Size: 1683 KB
  • Print Length: 427 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: CollaborArt Books; I edition (June 13, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DEKR01A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,503 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascnating, brilliant and inspiring October 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slipping along the Nile May 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The problem with writing “Involution” is that there is absolutely no way to surpass it. To rise above it. It sets such a literary standard that it managed to create a genre of its own, placing itself at the apex, and daring anyone to reach up to its illustrious heights. We, mortals, aspire to serve our muse. Philippa Rees sits upon a throne to which even muses pay homage. Indeed, they do not inspire Philippa, she, from her Olympian heights, inspires them.

Whether you agree with the concept of Involution or not is academic. You can choose to grow within the limitations of the phenomenal reality, or within the infinite realm of your consciousness. Your time will come, after all we're all immortal. Yet thanks to Philippa, along our individual journeys,in moments of stress, we can now...

“Drift south in a felucca piled
For commerce on the slipping Nile;
See Gizeh with its sightless flanks,
Pyramids pale, austere, remote...”

...only to return, later, to where mortal men tread in mundane reality; yet refreshed, restored to face once again, the arduous climb to the realm of gods. You really must find out for yourself.

Thank you, Philippa.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tapestry of Creation April 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Marianne Rankin (Director of Communications of the Alister Hardy Trust & Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience)

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to review it. Involution, An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God sounded completely different from anything I had ever read before – a challenge. On opening the book, I found a much-loved quotation by Teilhard de Chardin “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

The prose Introduction offers the opportunity to explore the concept of involution before embarking on the main text of the Cantos in verse. I skipped ahead and read the Appendix first, as well as about the author’s extraordinary life and the experiences which triggered the book.

Involution proposes that humans carry within them the history of the universe, which is (re)discovered by the individual genius when the time is ripe. All is stored within our DNA and awaits revelation. Such piecemeal revelations set our finite lives in an eternal chain of co-creation and these new leaps of discovery are compared to mystical experience.

In nine Cantos of dialogue between Reason and Soul, Philippa Rees takes the reader on a monumental journey through the history of everything – with the evolution of man as one side of the coin and involution the other. The Cantos are complex and the extremely learned and extensive footnotes offering background knowledge are necessary and fascinating. In effect there are two books, offering a right and left brain approach.

As I wanted to understand the thinking as well as to feel the beauty of the verse, I was at times torn between the notes and the Cantos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whole of History is in Our DNA, Even the Future? September 12, 2013
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagine being kidnapped in the Tardis by Doctor Who...
Imagine being kidnapped in the Tardis by Doctor Who. That's the only comparison I can make for the reading of Involution. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Vivienne Tuffnell
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poetic-Based Exploration of Western Thinking: Neither Fish nor Fowl
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. Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Donovan
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to take the journey upstream
Involution is a magnificent piece of work. Not one to be rushed through, in fact impossible to rush through because it is the story of human life and endeavour and needs mulling... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Book lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnum Opus
Involution is a beautiful, scholarly, challenging, and ultimately fascinating work of literature. As one with no background in this area, my understanding is that involution... Read more
Published 23 months ago by David Lafferty
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and Spirituality Reunited
A sly and engaging journey that flips science on its back, using all that science automatically fears: poetry, emotion, intuition; in short, all that makes us irrevocably human. Read more
Published 23 months ago by tyreval
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaking down the ripe fruit ...
The recovery of evolutionary memory happens to innumerable people today, people who through a personal experience become cognizant of a knowledge we all have in our bones, of our... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ashen Venema
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More About the Author

Biography- Philippa Rees.

The lives distilled in the work of Philippa have been as manifold as the proverbial cat. But all have fed into the mix. Born in South Africa to a family on both sides of the Boer war divide (half fighting the other half) her childhood was equally extreme. As an only child of a single mother she was imprisoned in harsh boarding schools, but holidays were spent on her horse riding the mountains of Lesotho, or on safaris with a beloved grandfather inspecting African schools in the remotest areas of Botswana, shooting for the pot and camping under the stars.

In the background of solitary African existence there were always books, and a family that valued them: Her grandmother was a Barrett, related to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and her great great aunt corresponded with George Eliot, whose step sons she befriended in tragic circumstances. So writing and literature were the ways to make sense of experience.

Choices were always difficult because everything was equally interesting: university involved sampling five faculties before deciding on zoology and psychology. Early marriage to a marine biologist took her to an island off the Mozambique coast, scavenging on the mud flats for abundant sea food, but post only by occasional fishing boat. Her first book 'Dryads and Drinking Water' was set in Mozambique at the start of the civil war. Later life took her first to Florida and then to the Max Planck Institute in Bavaria where she lived in an eleventh century saw mill on the banks of a lake with an unrepentant Nazi landlady, while her husband worked with Konrad Lorenz and the exciting school of animal behaviour that surrounded him.

Following some profound spiritual experiences Philippa divorced and came to England with two small daughters, where she converted some barns as a music centre, and taught courses on 'Saints and Scientists' at Bristol University. But writing always came first, and none of it slotted into a Dewey Index easily. Her poetic novella 'A Shadow in Yucatan' is an evocation of the atmosphere of the sixties, set in Florida. A new 'magnum opus', a poetic history of Western thought, 'Involution' is due to be published in March 2013. After that she hopes to publish her short stories revealing the gulf between New and Old World attitudes and a novel based upon her personal experiences. She has four daughters and lives in Somerset.


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