Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

A year and a half into it’s life, I’ve finally had the pleasure of reading The Signature of All Things, written by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy

Courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy

This elegant tale reveals a riveting slice of life during the Age of Enlightenment, a time when humanity began looking at the natural world scientifically to better understand and explain life. Alma, the book’s main character, is an engagingly credible, intellectually ambitious 19th-century woman who has exactly the kind of mind—and patience—to appreciate the world of plants.

Her special passion is mosses: their primitive bodies, sturdy habits and peculiar reproductive modes. She loves the beauty they hold in reserve, unlike showier plants that attract other botanists. She finds previously unknown taxa just beyond her doorstep as dried mosses were once used for packing material. Rummaging through empty crates at local shipping docks turn up enough unfamiliar specimens to occupy her indefinitely. Over decades, Alma measures their growth in millimeters, and her days are happily consumed.

Dedicating her entire life to learning about the world through nature, Alma eventually discovers that only outside the protected domain of her family home can she glimpse vaster and more dynamic mechanics of creation. From unpredictable oceanic turbidity to living whirlpools of luminosity, to realizing the inner nature of life and what makes us complex humans do what we do…Alma’s world expands geographically.

Unfortunate misunderstandings that ensue following Alma’s first-ever-middle-age marriage to Ambrose—an extraordinarily candid and exquisitely gifted painter of orchids—later reveals a myriad of unseen connections within the context of love and life itself. In the back of my mind, I confess that I waited rather endlessly for Alma to have amazing sex. Ah, well….

helix nebula

More fascinating questions are raised that are still being explored today:

Is it one’s inner world that causes manifestation in the outer—the world we call reality?  Or is it the outer world that triggers curiosity, exploration and new ideas in the individual? Or is it that what seems new to the individual has simply existed all along, waiting to be discovered? If so, whatever the cause agent, it occurs in relationship to something else, no matter how seemingly insignificant that something else may be.  One could say that we live in a multiple-reality universe of infinite possible realities.

The Signature of All Things is a refreshing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas in a world that reveals itself to curious and patient minds.  Have you read this book? If so, let’s hear your constructive perspectives!


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