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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Philippa Rees has been unknown for way too long. I feel this travesty is about to be rectified, for this is the nature of genius. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Moises Halifax
Imagine being kidnapped in the Tardis by Doctor Who. That's the only comparison I can make for the reading of Involution. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mrs. Vivienne Tuffnell
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 morePublished 14 months ago by D. Donovan
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 morePublished on July 31, 2013 by Book lover
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 morePublished on June 20, 2013 by David Lafferty
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 morePublished on June 15, 2013 by tyreval
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