The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind

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Date: Summer 2001
From: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine(Vol. 44, Issue 3)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,185 words

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The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind. By F. David Peat. New York: Perseus, 2000. Pp. 232. $26.

The central premise of this long essay is that there is a fundamental relationship between the creation of the universe, creativity in nature, and creativity as a human endeavor. This is a hard thought to communicate; many religious experiences are. However, I believe the author has failed to make the case that these different phenomena are really manifestations of the same elemental force. The problem is not that the arguments he marshals are incorrect or incomplete, it is just that they arise from a Zen-like insight that occurred to him while off in a foreign country sitting for long periods of time just staring into space. I will grant that at the root of it all there are some very mysterious aspects to the universe that seem so implausible that any search for additional wisdom is warranted.

The author's background as a theoretical physicist prepares him well to address these issues. Physics prepares one in several ways. First, it asks the big questions: what is the origin of the universe? what is that nature of matter and energy? what are the forces that propel the universe? what is the nature of time, and why does it move forward? Physics also prepares an observer to address questions in an abstract context, by speaking in the language of mathematics and symbolic logic. Finally, physicists commonly acknowledge that there is a gap between the precise analytic approach of quantum mechanics and relativity and the answers to the questions being posed. It is this gap that irrationality and religion must fill. For example, if the universe started with a singularity that broke down and exploded in the big bang, what came...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A77187991