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Nature's Chaos Paperback – October 31, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; Reprint edition (October 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316609420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316609425
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,682,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This collaboration by the eminent nature photographer and the recent author of Chaos: Making a New Science ( LJ 8/87) uses the photographer's observation of the "random chaos of the natural world--a world of endless variety where nothing was ever the same" to elucidate the new science. While reflections on the disorder of nature are eloquently articulated by both Gleick and Porter, the main offering is the selection of over 100 photographs, most previously unpublished, culled from a lifetime of work. Details and fragments are intermixed with landscapes, exploring the tension between order and chaos. Here are icicles, lichens, mosses, rocks, leaves, lava flows, clouds, cinders, even crab scratchings and flamingos, from far flung places such as Kenya, Uganda, Tan zania, Maine, Michigan, the Galapagos, Iceland, Antarctica, and Asia. What is revealed in this new book is more than the science of chaos--it is the wonder of this photographer's eye and artistry.
- Ann Copeland, Champaign, Ill.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Gleick is also the author of the bestselling book, Faster. He has been an editor and a science writer for the New York Times and edited The Best American Science Writing 2000.

Eliot Porter (1901-1990) was a photographer of international renown. His books include In the Wilderness Is the Preservation of the World and Intimate Landscapes, a retrospective compiled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Danny Burk on October 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I received my copy of the new (2001) printing of NATURE'S CHAOS earlier today. While the Porter photographs are both unusual and beautiful, it's great pity that this edition is poorly printed. I've not seen the original edition for comparison. In this printing, color is poorly balanced for many photographs, often to the point that the original vision is obscured. Plus, some photos are very "soft" and lacking in detail, which is surely the fault of the printers as well. What a shame, and what a surprise coming from Little, Brown.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By jason ramsay (jramsay@oise.utoronto.ca) on June 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a graduate student, there is little time or mental space for pursuits beyond the academe-especially one that does not operate in the verbal realm. At nights, on weekends, and in reveries induced by deoxygenated library atmospheres I am a photographer. An early inspiration for me was Eliot Porter. Very early on I became enthralled by the careful studies of trees and fields. I was drawn to the intense, microscopic details in his works, which could not be characterized as minute in any regard. I was amazed at how, by capturing a dizzying array of detail in his work, he could portray the raw, intricate, complex beauty of something I had stared upon, vacuously, every day. Later, when I first became interested in chaos theory, dynamic systems and complexity, I enjoyed a new appreciation of Porter's craft. I found that in the visual sense I was always looking to portray the orderly chaos, or the chaotic beauty of nature. Once, whilst in the office of a professor that I am writing book with (about cognition-emotion interaction as a self-organizing system) I came across the book "Nature's Chaos" by Porter. I immediately recognized the photography and picked the book up from the shelf. To my amazement, Gleick, whose book "Chaos" started a revolution of sorts in the biological science community, was a co-author. I was enraptured. I borrowed it. I tried to buy it from my colleague. I wandered through used book stores on my way to the campus. I made inquiries at the publisher.
Nihil.
So I ordered it through Amazon.com. It arrived, ahead of schedule. I justified the price to myself because I had won a small award for a photograph that was inspired by Porter.
The book is astounding. The text is lyrical and erudite, it flows and meshes with the startling images. I can't say much more-but if you are a photographer, or chaos buff, or god-help you both, then this is a requisite volume. Don't hesitate. Ta panta re!
Jason Ramsay
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jud Newborn on August 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to listen...does it make a sound? Is there any sense, order or meaning to the universe beyond our human projections?
These photographs of Eliot Porter--selected to provide an illustration and counterpoint to James Gleick's eloquent text--are among the most rapturously beautiful ever produced. They are the visual equivalent of poet Wallace Stevens' attempt to grasp that which lies beyond the limits of sentience. Looking through the original hardcover edition is both an act of meditation and of homage--to the greatness of creation, in all its mystery, as well as to the human need to think, feel, and reach for meaning. As I journey through these images, I ask myself, do we look out upon the universe from afar--or do we do so from within, as integral parts of the greater mystery? Let go...allow Gleick's text to pose the question--and Porter's photographs to frame the answer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven Unwin on September 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting little book that looks at the relationship between order and chaos.

I arrived at this book because I read and enjoyed James Gleick's book Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics on the life of Richard Feynman,
In essence this is a picture book of photographs taken by Eliot Porter supported by an essay by James. The book is interesting as it conveys a powerful idea very concisely, and then offers the opportunity through the pictures of nature, and the way of seeing they invite, to observe the idea through nature in our everyday lives.

In a nutshell the essay explores the relationship between order and chaos. This is a subject that I increasingly think is very important for understanding change, why it works and why it doesn't. I think the first thing the book has taught me is a new understanding of what chaos really is. I guess that I'd understood chaos to be chaotic; the absence of order. In reality there is order in chaos, what is missing is our ability to understand it. What we call chaos calls for us to understand order in new ways and to do so we must be able to see in new ways. When we begin to do this, it is not simply our understanding of order that is transformed, but our understanding of what it is to understand. This is where things get really interesting in addressing the challenge of change.

The oft quoted example to illustrate chaos, is that the fluttering of a butterfly's wings in one part of the world impacts on the growth, or not, of a hurricane in another part.
Read more ›
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