Reviews and Endorsements for Involution and An Odyssey

Reviews of the original ‘Involution’ (1970′s) Original and earliest to most recent (2014)

‘Theory of Involution’
‘At long last I have read your typescript from A to Z. Needless to say I agree with much, even most of what you have to say. This implies an answer to your question whether it is right to rewrite and expand your theory. It would be definitely worth it. I feel less optimistic about the possibilities of publication.’ Arthur Koestler, 1978.

‘I thank you very much for sending me your Theory of Involution. I have just begun to read it and it interests me enormously.… I certainly do share your views … and believe, like you, that so called evolutionary progress is explicable in scientific terms. I shall write again…’
Prof Konrad Lorenz, 1970. Nobel Prize 71 (Max Planck Institute, Bavaria)

‘Thank you so much for your letter and your manuscript on the “Theory of Involution”… I have had a good look at it and it seems you have a great deal to say that is of vital importance right now.…’ Irwin Schumacher, 1974, (Author of Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered.)

Praise for ‘Involution- An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God’

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

‘A brilliant and profoundly erudite epic charting the evolution of Western thinking processes, probing the frontiers of rationality and naturalism and opening up a deeper understanding of the nature of reality based on the reality of mystical experience. The author’s grasp of the principal elements of Western culture is masterly and her poetic narrative woven together with extraordinary subtlety. The detailed footnotes demonstrate a rare depth of perceptive scholarship. This is nothing short of a heroic intellectual tour de force and deserves the widest readership.’ (David Lorimer, Director Scientific and Medical Network)

: “This is a marvelous, wise, unique work written with great flair and originality.  Read it slowly and learn from it’s truth”. Andrew Harvey

 

Reflections on Almost Everything
Reflections on Almost Everything

‘…Your journey through poetry is more than just an alternative treatment of the material you originally theoretically described; it is the very act of genius, which is able to treat the ambiguous nature of the world differently. The poetry is an alternative for how the world makes meaning from the ambiguous. It is a completely alternative direction for an exploration of the world in itself.
The scale of the feat you have thereby achieved by writing in poetry is immense. This goes far beyond the mechanistic notions of wholeness arrived at by some modern scientific authors. Your work reintroduces the aesthetic, beautiful, meaningful process that is poetry into science. The genius of involution is not just a mechanism of science relating to the whole but a completely different realisation of the beautiful, within living process.’
(Philip Franses. Editor. The Holistic Science Journal. Lecturer Schumacher College)

 

“Involution is, at least in terms of ‘subject’, a daring, Dantean feat. Rees’s profound notion that the evolution of humankind is made possible by the dormant dominions of evolutionary memory in our unconscious – the eponymous ‘involution’ – is, I would suspect, a theory Charles Darwin would have gratefully embraced as a curative to his own bleaker ‘discoveries’, which he initially emotionally and religiously resisted.
That Rees has chosen to communicate her dialectic in the medium of sprung-rhymed blank verse is ingenious in itself, as well as being in the narrative spirit of the poetry of the ancients.
Whatever one’s poetic, religious or scientific response to Involution may be, what will be difficult for even the most scouring of critics to deny is it’s scholastic vitality, compositional discipline and macrocosmic scope. Involution is a work of indisputably tall ambition, and an accomplishment which may well prove much more than the sum of its invariably exceptional parts”.
(Alan Morrison. Poet. Editor: The Recusant On-Line Magazine)

 

The Following are reviews posted by readers on Amazon. All have awarded it Five Stars

Marianne Rankin. Director Communications Alister Hardy Trust

A Tapestry of Creation

5*

Philippa A. Rees, Involution, An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God,
Hertfordshire: CollaborArt Books, 2013. 427 pp. ISBN 978-0-9575002-0-4 (pbk) £17.99.

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 which I have often used when speaking of the work of the Alister Hardy Trust, RERC and SSSE: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

This set the scene for the adventure to begin – heralded by appreciations from people as diverse as Arthur Koestler, Konrad Lorenz and Irwin Schumacher (in the early years of The Theory of Involution) and forty years later for this book, with comments by Ervin Laszlo and David Lorimer among others. That in itself was an indication of the lengthy period of gestation, a labour of love for the author.

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. I could not switch one off to concentrate on the other and hopped between the two. Sometimes I wondered if her chosen format was an advantage or a hindrance, but as Rees makes clear, there are plenty of prose works available on similar themes. She wanted to be – and certainly has succeeded in being – different. Ultimately I decided to read the explanatory notes to each Canto before immersing myself in the verse, where she weaves magic in her words.

Rees could have chosen any field to illustrate her theory of involution, as it encompasses everything. She chose to focus on science but embraces art, music and touches on religions. We are caught up in the vast sweep of human development and expansion of knowledge through the ages – from the earliest humans to the philosophy of Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance to modern science and contemporary consciousness studies.

So does Philippa Rees reconcile science to God? She weaves the thread of God as underlying consciousness manifesting throughout creation, giving meaning to everything as opposed to all being a result of mere chance. The mystic vision reveals an underlying universal wisdom and the ever-present transcendent, which draws us to itself through love.

This is a personal review. It has had to be. Each reader will approach this remarkable book differently and each will read it and gain from it in their own way. I can only express what Involution, An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God has meant to me and  hope that I have done some justice to a book which I have yet to fully comprehend, but will treasure.

The reader who finishes the book will not be the same as the one who began it. New ideas will expand the mind but more profoundly, the deep, moving power of the verse will affect the heart. This book was a written pilgrimage for Philippa Rees “(costing not less than everything)” in the words of T.S.Eliot and it is a privilege  to share the experience with her.

Marianne Rankin (Director of Communications AHT&SSSE)This review was published in De Numine No56 Spring 2014

 

Ashen Venemas review on Goodreads Shaking Down the Ripe Fruit

May 12, 2013
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 inter-relationship with each other and every particle in the universe. Whether acknowledged or not, we have not lost the shamanistic knack to enter into what we deeply engage with. It can be a disturbing encounter with one’s self, because the intellect must make way to absorb a truth logic alone is not fit to comprehend.Science won’t go there. If some brilliant minds are defensive, it’s because science has built a reputation based on reliable facts and theories, and our progress seems to be the proof of the pudding. And yet, a paradigm where theories win over experience is becoming less and less convincing, not least because it alienates poets from logicians. Traditionally, aspirations and insights were projected onto prophets, only for their message to become distorted in the interest of politics. But why blame the prophets? Why throw the baby out with the bath-water?
Shaking down the ripe fruit …With consciousness expanding, we are becoming less herd-orientated (I hope). What becomes increasingly obvious is that the messages, the insights of the age are conceived inside, by hundreds and thousands of individuals. Some are scientists, some are artists, and many ordinary people keep their wisdom to themselves so as to not be rejected as cranks. I’m sure I’m not alone to feel heartened by people like Philippa Rees, who had the courage and resilience to follow up the authenticity of her powerful vision with decades of meticulous study and share the fruits.For those who appreciate their facts, they comprise half of the book. The epic poetry sections infiltrate deeper parts of the mind, in my experience. I’m reading the 9 Cantos in small sections, which feels like a meditative journey on a river, swift with recognition or slow, as in a trance, until suddenly a line jumps at me again with breath-taking beauty and clarity, or I find myself laughing out loud at the wit and humour breaking through. The book is an incredible achievement, a treasure I’ll keep exploring. Not a book for the superficially curious – it requires an open heart and mind. Then, as it says on page 235 – it will liquid shape your acquiescence.
September 12th 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. Rees believes that if we look hard enough for the “facts” logic currently needs we will find them. The necessary solution, the quarks, will come into conscious existence because man needs to find them. Whether there was a quark before the conscious thoughts of man, already designed by the Highest Conscious, God, is a mute consideration. If Rees satisfactorily answered this question, then I missed it.Following Involutionary Theory, Einstein was only tapping in to what the unconscious mind already “knows”. Our, so called, trash DNA already contains all there is to understand about the Universe, as it has already lived the course of history. All we have to do is read our evolution back, involute knowledge already experienced. In this theory, the original language of conscious thought is none other than the chemical language of our own DNA. We need to follow the entanglement of knowledge back to creation, which just happens to be, as far as Rees is concerned, exactly where science is leading us anyway.In a non-intellectually vigorous way I have long dabbled in Rees’s school of thought. This line is after all a very good way of making sense of life without losing either all the dogma of “Church” or embracing all the spiritual void of science. To look in my own backyard, speculative fictions of many sorts cover parts of the same ground, without actually getting anywhere near even the foothills of Rees’s integrated theory of everything. Those with other careers, specialities, and private convictions will equally find plenty that rings bells.The poetry enabled the skimming of the history of knowledge, and so avoiding risking being submerged in detail. This form also gave the freedom to seamlessly bob about on the timeline of history, without having to justify, or even make sense of, every leap. I admire the use of the epic poem as a way of trying to cover the history of everything, which it really almost does. But however much I admire, I would be lying if I claimed it suited my train of thought. Despite that, I got so much from this book. I have no hesitation in recommending it to any thoughtful reader of any area of interest; from the most open spiritually to the most narrowly religious, from the mathematically autistic to lovers of scientific fantasy. Rees’s thoughtful and though provoking journey is well worth taking.This is a very personal view of a very big philosophy. Please read a range of other’s reviews, which this one merely augments.

Magnum Opus  Five *****

By David Lafferty on June 20, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

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 involves memories imbedded at a cellular or deeper level resulting from a type of evolution turned inward, reflected in the conscious mind as well as unconscious inspiration.But I soon found out, my lack of knowledge in this field did not prevent me from enjoying this immensely satisfying book. It is a wonderful blending of poetry, science, and history in the form of an epic poem similar to Dante’s Commedia (thankfully without attempting to imitate Dante’s terza rima). Rees’ decision to incorporate poetry is brilliant solution to tap into the right brain in order to communicate ideas that blur the distinction between the two brain hemispheres. The poetry also keeps the book from becoming another boring textbook on a very esoteric subject. Extensive commentary is intertwined with the poetry to help tie everything together. In addition the book is heavily footnoted and referenced. The notes alone are worth the price of the book.Even though I suspect Ms. Rees and I have very different spiritual backgrounds, I found her commentary to be balanced and informed, and the poetry to be wonderful. I’ll will be returning to this book often.Highly recommend.

By tyreval on June 15, 2013 Five *****

Format: Kindle Edition

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. If, as Rees says, we have become estranged from our spiritual consciousness in the rush toward scientific intellect, then this poetic journey is determined to take the first step toward a long-delayed reunion.You’ll need all your intellectual selves for this book that traverses, in poetic verse, the history of Western thought; and which suggests, audaciously, that science is the transfer of the memory of evolution, encoded in DNA.
Involution – it just feels right, 13 Jun 2013
By
JoBo Five *****
This review is from: Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (Paperback)

Involution is so satisfying as a theory because it resonates with a primal truth; it just feels right.

Philippa Rees tells this story of our story with wit and wisdom and manages to make profound points with flippant ease and sometimes with an archness that bypasses the reader’s resistance to the weighty so that you will find yourself effortlessly jogging along the narrative path alongside Reason and Soul whose banter is comforting and never grandiose. The dialogue permits relief from what could become didactic so that for example if the thesis offered by Reason is concerned with aspects of the Trojan War, the antithetical Soul interrupts with snorts of derision – impatient and demanding that we should get to the point.

Since the book is dealing with a journey through the entire history of human development and civilization, the use of poetry as the chosen form gives a stylistic neutrality to the narrative; we are not caught in any one epoch and seem to hover above echoes of Milton, Socrates, Pope with waspish Byronesque flourishes as we are afforded a birds-eye view of the forest. This is interrupted with swoops of close-up detail of particular trees using imagery and words that roll around the mouth like boiled sweets.

As the journey is completed on it’s circular promenade the voice of Soul takes over the narrative to tie up the tale with Love and Reunion, making a sort of bow on the top. And here the verse becomes sublime; Soul identifies himself as the impulse of genius as well as the Lord of misrule and in a heart stopping moment of tenderness gathers up the reader and reassures her that:

“Cradled in my neck you’ll breathe our essence:
I shall carry you entwined and carefully
Through the silver light and striding water….
Wade until we drown in salt bright sea.”

The parallel book that is the footnotes will need commentary from a different reader as I barely resorted to it, preferring to inhabit the landscape of verse. (I found it smugly pleasing to recognize allusions to Keats, or T.S. Eliot or the Pied Piper of Hamlyn and to realize that both the science and the poetry gathered components from many sources; naturally a poem about everything should draw from everything). It will require a second reading to plumb the subtleties and science that lie within. This is a hugely ambitious project reminiscent of the herculean literary tasks of another age. It made me realize how sparse most writing has become and how necessary to be given deep pools of velvety water in which to plunge.

Slipping along the Nile, May 16, 2014
This review is from: Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (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.

Close runner-up.
Close runner-up.

Review in Network Review (Winter 2014) by Director David Lorimer.

Network Review 2014
Network Review 2014  To read more ….

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