Chaos, Complexity and Change: more books to make you think

rock graffitiAs a followup to my post on the , let me offer these books about chaos, complexity, and change. More volumes to make you think!

The Indescribable and the Undiscussable: Reconstructing Human Discourse After Trauma This clinical psychologist examines how we construct ‘facts’: some of which are verifiable and some of which are simply a reframing in our own minds as a way to deal with trauma, and how we change in the process. Topics include: searching for words related related to feelings, the change of social contexts, and the task of constructing a moral imagination.

Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology A collection of the writings of Gregory Bateson, including his metalogues such as “Why do things get in a muddle;” “About games and being serious;” form and pattern in anthropology, biology and evolution; epistemology and ecology; and crisis in the ecology of mind. “One of the great books of the 20th century,” said Charles Keil.

Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Routledge Classics) From the introduction: “Professor Bohm argues that if we are guided by a self-willed view of realtiy we will perceive and experience the world as fragmented. Such a view is false, because it is based on our mistaking the content of our thought for a description of the world as it is. 

Bohm introduces the notion of the implicate order in which any element contains enfolded within itself the totality of the universe. This much acclaimed work is a combination of science and philosophy and is written byone of the world’s most eminent physicists who was profoundly influences by his close contact with both Einstein and Krishnamurti.” A collection of essays.

How to Cope with Life Transitions: the Challenge of Personal Change (Death Education, Aging & Health Care)Written primarily for the general reader who wants to understand and cope with the impact of change in their life. The book is about personal change: birth, death, illness, marriage, divorce. It focuses especially on short sharp changes we call life transitions. In the book the author emphasizes two points: how we can cope with change comfortably and productively, and how we can welcome change as an energizer and a defense against boredom. Unproductive responses, the author continues, exact a heavy price in anxiety, depression, illness, mistakes and conflicts.

The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems Capra, Fritjof. A good basic text, including chapters on deep ecology, models of self-organization, dissipative structures, and ecological literacy.

Chaos: Making of New Science Gleick burst on the scene in 1987 with this book that fired the imagination of a nation. Here was a new science! Here, for the first time, was explained in layman’s language the reasons for the neverending changes around us. It was well written with clear examples. It is worth a reread.

Exploring Complexity: An Introduction A seminal introductory book about complexity. (Prigogine received a Nobel prize for his groundbreaking work in complexity theory.). It deals with a definition of complexity in nature, conservative and dissipative systems, bifuraction and symmetry breaking, perturbation of resonant motions in nonintegratable conservation.

The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms Ho, Mae-Wan.  From the preface: “This book began 30 years ago when as a young undergraduate, I came across Szent Gyorgyi’s idea that life is interposed between two energy levels of the electron. I was so smitten with the poetry in that idea that I spent the next 30 years searching for it. This book is patterned roughly after Schrodinger’s What is Life and addresses the same question: Can living processes be explained in terms of physics and chemistry.”

Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Helix Books) Holland, John  “The man who had the highest record of accurate guesses in mathematics, the man who could beat engineers at their game, who could size up characters and events in a flash, was a member of an all-but-extinct professon, the profession of prophet.”~~Gian-Carol Rota in the introduction.

At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity This book describes the author’s search of laws of complexity that govern how life arose and evolved into the biosphere we inhabit today. He believes that natural selection is not the entire answer, but rather selection has always acted on systems that exhibit spontaneous order.

Navigating the Tides of Change  A more philosphical approach to change, interweaving text with fictional encounters with historical figures such as Shackleton, Harriet Tubman, Gandhi and Mendeleyev. Makes interesting reading from a different perspective about change and its wide ranging effects.

Turning Points: Self Renewal at Mid-Life From the introduction: “There are moments in time through all our lives which stand apart as turning points. They can act as detriments immobilizing us and causing us to lose our way or they can propel us forward to the right fork in the road prompting a positive decision crucial to our future. Before such periods occur, we mull along, dimly aware that the route we have mapped out is no longer fulfilling. 

Yet we are reluctant to break the mold. Mired in the present, fearing to diverge from the old and initiate the new, we feel destined to plot the familiar course the rest of our days or we may be only periperhally aware of the need for change, but suddenly there is an electric life shock that triggers a potent exploration of our existence and values—who we are, what we want to be, our ideas of a more fulfilling life.”

The author explores life changes such as marriage, divorce, widowhood, career cahnge, retirement, burnout.

Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything From the forward: “Akasha is a Sanskrit world meaning ‘ether’: all pervasive space. Originally signifying radioation or brilliance, in Indian philosophy akasha was considered the first and most fundamental of the five elements: the others being vata (air), agni (fire) ap (water), and prithivi (earth).”

This book gives excellent explanations of some of the basic quantum concepts: the weird world of the quantum; the entangled particle; quantum vaccuum characteristics.

Laszlo appears to have spent his life gathering data from multiple fields and then integrating it to form a unification theory. His ideas are fascinating!

The Essence of Chaos (The Jessie and John Danz Lecture Series) Three series of lectures at University of Washington by the man who put a name to chaos theory. The first series encompassed a definition of chaos such as nonlinearity, complexity and fractality. Weather as an example of chaos theory was the second series of lectures. The final lecture series presented an account of our growing awareness of chaos and offered a prescription via which one could design one’s own chaotic systems. Interesting!

The Psychological Meaning of Chaos: Translating Theory into Practice A collection of articles dealing with chaos, change, and psychology. Major themes include: self organization in the developmental process; chaos, complexity and psychopathology; systematic chaos: self organizing systems and the process of change.

Exploring Complexity: An Introduction Summary of the concepts of complexity including: The vocabulary of complexity, conservative and dissipative systems, bifuraction and symmetry breaking, randomness and complexity and bifurcation analysis.

From the introduction: “Our physical world is no longer symbolized by the stable and periodic planetary motions that are at the heart of classical mechanics. It is a world of instability and fluctuations which are ultimately responsible for the amazing variety and richness of the forms and the structures we see in nature around us.”

The authors discuss nonequilibrium physics, including far-from-equilibrium models. They state that the central discovery is the prevalence of instability, that small changes in initial conditions may lead to large amplifications of the effect of the change.

This text is more complex in nature. A basic understanding of physics and higher math would be helpful.

The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology         An interesting use of music ‘play lists’ tailored to specific psychological problems, with the aim to change anxiety for calm and effectiveness. Sample chapters include: improving communication, being versus trying to be, rhythmic synchronicity, entrainment, thought stoping through the use of music cues.

The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth  Peck deals with the difficult questions of love and discipline. He makes an interesting correlation between evil and sloth or entropy. He says that without divine intervention, i.e., grace, to lift us forward into action, we would not change.

Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists Ken Wilber. Deals with the merging of physics and mysticism, through collected of writings of the worlds greatest physicists: Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Einstein, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli and Eddington. Extraordinary writings!


About Author, Pegasus Quincy Mystery Series

I write a mystery series about a young rookie deputy on her first assignment in the Verde Valley of Arizona.
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