ISBN: 9781933392325 Year Added to Catalog: 2007 Book Format: Paperback Dimensions: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 Number of Pages: 224 pages Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Release Date: September 15, 2007 Web Product ID: 398
In Notes from the Holocene Dorion Sagan crosses freely that no man's land between science, religion, and philosophy. The result is a synthesis of ideas linking the peculiar to the universal, sleight-of-hand and the anthropic principle, science fiction and science faction. . . . Think the Symposium with Tallulah Bankhead, Derrida, and Philip K. Dick as dinner guests.
This is Sagan's most personal book to date. Appropriately, since the subjective informality of Notes allows him latitude to advance the difficult questions, ones an academic approach would likely sidestep: Is the Earth an organism? What's our place in it all, and is it as central to the universe as we presume? The timeless reach here is matched by its timeliness: arguably no generation has more needed to understand its context in, and impact on, the big picture.
Yet the broadest of speculations is still grounded in the science, where even the four elements of classical cosmology — the frame on which he stretches his canvas — find a contemporary gloss in his portrayal of thermodynamic systems. Like the master illusionists he details, Sagan conjures up a world whose magic is only augmented by knowing how the trick is done. It's a smart, daring book and I've come out the smarter for having read it.
—Steve Shavel, author of How Small Brides Survive in Extreme Cold
Why does life exist? Is the Earth an organism? Are we part of its exobrain? Can we save it from global warming? In seeking answers to such difficult questions, Dorion Sagan leads his readers down canyons of cosmic time and space by luring them onward with a paper trail of visual metaphors and social references that range from prehistory to pop culture.
Sure-footed and encyclopedic in its scientific and cultural scope, this text coaxes the reader to savor the more exotic fruits of molecular, biological, and cosmological research, richly garnished with philosophy both ancient and modern.
By canvassing these deeper aspects of cosmological existence in his characteristic stream-of-consciousness style, the author offers an intimate perspective that is spectacularly different from the majestic Cosmos presented by his illustrious father.
—Reg Morrison, author of The Spirit in the Gene
Looking into the future, Sagan doesn't see the customary technological Eden but a universe far stranger than science fiction. With humor, humility, and sobering scientific knowledge, he describes a purposeful Earth, an evolved God, and a human image so reflective of the cosmos that his unavoidably anthropomorphic argument finds the truth in the lie. Although concepts don't quite exist yet to contain his ideas, Sagan proceeds anyway down the difficult and productive routes of paradox and metaphor. In the end, helping us imagine an unthinkable, thaumaturgical, and sane future, he actually begins to create it.
—Victoria N. Alexander, author of Naked Singularity and Smoking Hopes
In Notes from the Holocene, Sagan's 'wild speculations' are like stepping before the dressing room mirror. Seen from so many sides, our reality is revealed to be as mysterious as we thought—or perhaps more so. Provocative, sometimes disquieting, and thoroughly exciting, Sagan tackles the Big Questions with wit and wisdom that I'd expect from him, like a magician explaining a parlor trick.
—Seth! Leary, Exhibits Research and Development Manager, The Museum of Flight (Seattle)
Dorion Sagan has vividly expounded what I experienced viscerally while living in the artificial world of Biosphere 2: that we are literally, and not figuratively, all parts of our biosphere. He brilliantly expands this into a unifying, science-based cosmology—and it is thrilling. For anyone trying to make sense of the seeming chaos of our world today, Notes from the Holocene is a must read.
—Jane Poynter, author of The Human Experiment
A heterogeneous hymn in the key of Gaia, Notes from the Holocene sets Dorion Sagan, coauthor of an indispensable suite of popular science books, free to compose inspired mind jazz riffing among the best available science, a select database of world literature, and an arsenal of tasty anecdotes.
—Bruce Clark, President, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, and original bassist for Sha Na Na (1969-1973)
Notes from the Holocene is a pop culture trek of reality reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but rife with scientific, religious, and philosophical neurotrinkets, many original enough for scholarly pursuit."
—Jessica Whiteside, Professor of Terrestrial Paleoenvironments, Brown University
Dorion Sagan's Notes from the Holocene is at once profound and hilarious. Melding science and speculation Sagan puts forth the "big questions"—who and what are we—in the context of 4,000,000,000 years of life on Earth and the far briefer context of human thought. When you finish reading Notes from the Holocene you will feel both humbled and exhilarated to be a part of the history and presence of Earth's biosphere. You'll not only know you live on a planet, you'll feel it.