Reflections on the Nature of Nature
Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis
Foreword by Roald Hoffman
Narrated by Pam Ward
Approximately 10.5 hours
Book published by Chelsea Green
At the crossroads of philosophy and science.
At the crossroads of philosophy and science, the sometimes-dry topics of evolution and ecology come alive in this new collection of essays—many never before anthologized. Learn how technology may be a sort of second nature, how the systemic human fungus Candida albicans can lead to cravings for carrot cake and beer, how the presence of life may be why there's water on Earth, and many other fascinating facts.
The essay "Metametazoa" presents perspectives on biology in a philosophical context, demonstrating how the intellectual librarian, pornographer, and political agitator Georges Bataille was influenced by Russian mineralogist Vladimir Vernadsky and how this led to his notion of the absence of meaning in the face of the sun—which later influenced Jacques Derrida, thereby establishing a causal chain of influence from the hard sciences to topics as abstract as deconstruction and postmodernism.
In "Spirochetes Awake" the bizarre connection between syphilis and genius in the life of Friedrich Nietzsche is traced. The astonishing similarities of the Acquired-Immunity-Deficiency-Syndrome symptoms with those of chronic spirochete infection, it is argued, contrast sharply with the lack of evidence that "HIV is the cause of AIDS". Throughout these readings we are dazzled by the intimacy and necessity of relationships between us and our other planetmates. In our ignorance as "civilized" people we dismiss, disdain, and deny our kinship with the only productive life forms that sustain this living planet.
Lynn Margulis , Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, received the 1999 National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. She has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1983 and of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences since 1997. Author, editor, or coauthor of chapters in more than forty books, she has published or been profiled in many journals, magazines, and books, among them Natural History, Science, Nature, New England Watershed, Scientific American, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Firsts, and The Scientific 100. Over the past fifteen years, Margulis has cowritten several books with Dorion Sagan, among them What is Sex?, What is Life?, Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality, Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors, and Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. Dorion Sagan is author of numerous articles and twenty-three books translated into eleven languages, including Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future and Into the Cool, coauthored with Eric D. Schneider. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, Wired, the Skeptical Inquirer, Pabular, Smithsonian, Ecologist, Co-Evolution Quarterly, Times Higher Education, Omni, Natural History, The Sciences, Cabinet, and Tricycle.
“Biological phenomena are usually viewed in terms of plants and animals. Margulis and Sagan look at them from their extremes: Gaia—the living system of the Earth as a whole—and bacteria. Both Gaia and bacteria dazzle the reader accustomed to conventional fare. It is re-viewing of this kind that paves the way for real advance in science.”
—John B. Cobb, Jr., Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology
“Brilliant and fascinating, Dazzle Gradually unrolls for us the scroll of life on earth. These essays show us the intricate complexities of microbes; an atmosphere that performs self-maintenance; our own minds. Margulis and Sagan do not blink at the big questions or hard answers, and their writing is lively, precise, entertaining, and provocative, their passion for science everywhere evident and persuasive. Anyone who has ever wondered where we came from, who we are, and where we may be headed will delight in this extraordinarily exciting book.”
—Kelly Cherry, author of Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems
“Deeply personal, humorous, and brilliant…reading Dazzle is like journeying into two of the most original and creative scientific minds of our time. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan discuss their most revelatory and complex ideas in concise essays with accessible language, making this book a must-read primer to foraying their broad academic and intellectual interests.”
—Alan Berger, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
“This is a ripsnorting intellectual barnstorm of a book, a sort of chimeric hybrid of mental genes from Dorion Sagan, his genius mother Lynn Margulis, and his dead father Carl Sagan—surely one of the smartest families on the planet. The result is a remarkably coherent and blazingly original proposal for the next grand narrative of our civilization (now that we have pretty much burned out the Cartesian one).”
—Frederick Turner, author of Natural Classicism and The Culture of Hope
“In Dazzle Gradually, Margulis and Sagan effectively tap into the cultural waveform through a series of original science essays and provocative ideas to reveal why we are living in an open social networked world, and why survival of the fittest no longer means fit to kill, but fitting in with the rest of life. Simply said, Darwin is left in the dust.”
—Mary McGuinness, Co-Director, Sputnik Observatory