[Reading is Sexy] Wind a Whimsical Web Between Mathematics and Mysticism with Pickover’s ‘The Loom of God’

the man cave: The Mandelbrot Set & Fractals

“Mathematics is the loom upon which God weaves the fabric of the universe. The fact that reality can be described or approximated by simple mathematical expressions suggests to me that nature has mathematics at its core.”

― Clifford A. Pickover, The Loom Of God

With quarantine still pushing on, and Summer officially coming to a close without anyone getting a real vacation in – it’s important to me to at the very least, explore those things we can still explore. If we can’t adventure outwards, I firmly believe it’s our duty to venture inwards – with all physical and celestial frontiers conquered, to me this is the last sort of true exploration still out there; a sort of ‘manifest destiny’ of the mind, and a conquering of the ego and self as our final frontiers, if you will.

Growing up, I was all about a good detective story a la Lilian Jackson Braun; as I flowed out of high school and into myself, I started finding strength in characters in Danzy Senna’s coming of age tales, the seductive mysteries of Lauren Henderson, or a twisted dystopian view of reality from the likes of Jerry Stahl or Arthur Nersesian. Maybe it’s a symptom of age, or want of information – but now that I’m firmly in my thirties, I’ve noticed a mental shift – I ebb and flow towards books on science, mathematics, religion and philosophy, and haven’t picked up a work of fiction since powering through Richard K Morgan’s impressive Altered Carbon series. After finally making it through Livio’s impressive read on the ‘The Golden Ratio’, I got turned on to (and by) some of the quips that Livio proposed from Pickover.


The Loom of God: Tapestries of Mathematics and Mysticism: Pickover,  Clifford A.: 9781402764004: Amazon.com: Books

The Loom of God is part science fiction adventure as you traverse through the history of the world with your partner in curiosities Mr. Plex, part love story as Theano and last but certainly not least – part mathematical and mystical history of the world, and part philosophical conjecture. Throughout, Pickover’s passion for all topics is palpable and oozes through his writing style, as he poetically propels the reader on a journey befit with companions, pesky antagonists in the form of transfinites and a plethora of knowledge on the history of mathematics.

From Mandelbrot Fractals to Vampire Numbers, Logarthimic Spirals to Stonehenge, the history and philosphy of the multiple cultures, and a lovely marriage within the chapters between the science behind the fiction – this is a fantastic read, that’s difficult to put down and easy to digest.

The Edges of Nature | EcoTone: News and Views on Ecological Science

If this Pickover classic piques your interest, take the following books for a spin. Each weaves a unique, and beautifully explained web on the rich and diverse history and culture surrounding mathematics.

Whether you’re remotely into or completely enchanted by either Mathematics, Mysticism or the magical relationships between their two worlds – I couldn’t recommend this book enough. Find the book on Good Reads, snag yourself a copy from Amazon – or simply head down to your local libraries to see if they have a copy to get your mind into. Before I head on my next literary journey, if anyone has any fantastic pieces of fiction to share, please leave some recommendations in the comments below

The Loom of God: Good Reads | Amazon | Local Library

What are some examples of fractal patterns in nature? - Quora
Earth's Most Stunning Natural Fractal Patterns | WIRED
Fractals – Mathigon

[Reading is Sexy] Art, Nature and Mathematics Collide in ‘The Golden Ratio’

The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing ...

It’s not so often that you would recommend reading about mathematical history, but here I am – having finished Mario Livio’s wonderful retrospective on art, history and use (or purported use) of the Golden Ratio.

As a resident number nerd, and someone that their entire life claimed they detested art history and history itself – I have to say that Livio succinctly and sweetly would the three topics together into an enthralling tale of mis-attribution and cultural intrigue. All the while, pulling in both the natural math savant, art fluency and historical perspective within all of us.

Golden Ratio : What It Is And Why Should You Use It In Design
Golden Ratio Calculator - Omni

Though it initially seems a bit silly to read about numbers, but books on mathematics illuminate the whole mind into understanding the world around us – and within us – at a different frequency. Once you begin to understand what the Golden Ratio is (below), and the common natural occurances of it in the world around you (above) – I dare you to not be astounded that a natural phenomena can be so intricuately detailed within the permutation of a constantly recurring irrational number, phi – Φ.

Phi: The Golden Ratio | Live Science

As easy as it is to believe that a book about mathematics and history could be dense, Livio’s book The Golden Ratio is a poetic and poignant tale of something that we can all recognize in the world. Math is supposed to be accessible by everyone, as it’s the language of the universe, and Livio reminds you that it’s both both within and around you.

For more ‘books about numbers’ and some additional insight into art history, I highly recommend:

For more on Mario Livio + The Golden Ratio, head to their social media channels: Amazon | Good Reads

Golden Ratio Coloring Book by Rafael Araujo — Kickstarter

Or, if you’re more of a visual leaner – there’s a great pairing with the PBS / Nova series “The Great Math Mystery”.

What’s a book on a subject that you didn’t expect would open your eyes in new and wonderful ways? Let me know in the comments below!

[Reading is Sexy] Find Strength in Solitude with Thoreau’s Walden

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“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Thoreau

Admittedly, between moving four times across three different states in the last two years and starting up school again at the beginning of the year – I haven’t had much ‘downtime’ to read much. However, in light of recent events, I was finally able to finish Thoreau’s Walden, a book I started before my wedding, wayyyy back in 2017. Around America, 41 states have currently issued either a ‘Stay in Place’ or ‘Shelter in Place’ order – with another 4 deploying the order at a more local level. And we’re all trying to figure out how to adjust to this hopefully temporary new ‘normal’. Whether in comforting or in trying times, losing yourself in the lyricism of a fantastic book is always a novel idea; to be honest, with the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic in the world, I would even consider reading a necessary habit.

An exceptionally poignant read, I finished Walden with a snail’s pace that I’m sure Thoreau would respect, and feel like a better person for doing so; over and over, I have been humbled by the bits of knowledge that it doled out onto me. It’s a dense read, and by that I mean that each sentence is a meal worth truly digesting before moving onto the next – and after every paragraph, you were still left hungry.

Thoreau’s seminal work of Transcendental philosophy, Walden delves into living simply and solitarily, all the while finding personal resolve and strength. As Thoreau chronicles his life at Walden Pond, we’re brought in for an intimate journey of self reliance and societal retrospection on a newly industrialized world. Written originally in 1854, Walden gives a timeless analysis that’s just as important today as it was back then.

What book has helped you in a time of solitude or self-reliance?
Let me know in the comments below!

Some of my favorite quotes from Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” 

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.” 

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” 

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?” 

Buy Walden on Amazon | Discuss Walden on GoodReads

[Reading is Sexy] Ground Yourself in the Moment with ‘The Power of Now’

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As the digital age seems to exponentially evolve the world around it, whether it be through cell phones and social media or the internet of everything, it gets harder and harder to feel like you’re truly present for your life. Not the one that you’re busy posting to Instagram or Snapchat, but the only you’re physically, tangibly living; the one that you devote your emotional and mental energy to.

Inundated with high res digital images, high octane music and a high frequency world that keeps going at a faster and faster pace, I understand why so many of us are disconnected in one way or another from the biggest picture of life. Not “a” big picture, or their big picture – but the biggest picture of our reality, the cosmic unconsciousness which all living beings are an important part of.

Whenever I’m finding it hard to truly be, I can always pull myself out of my feedback cycles by opening a good book. It’s been a while since I’ve really gotten behind a self-professed ‘self-help’ book but far be it for anyone to believe they’re beyond needing a bit of enlightenment – especially me. Typically, I can sit in a corner and lock myself in my mental for hours while marinating in a good book, but due to the content and wanting to put my learning into action – I took this one in digestible partitions that were chalk full with potential energy. Two months later I can confirm: I’m so thrilled I did it this way.

For most of my life, I’ve proudly embodied the definition of being a multitask er but what ‘The Power of Now” made me realize was that I’m never truly present for any of it, if I’m trying to do all of it. I’ve found myself giving space and presence to my feelings instead of running from them, avoiding them or ushering them away. I have found ways to ground myself in the now. Instead of giving into negative feedback cycles, I give into and acknowledge my current state. Instead of anxiety about the future or pain from a past event, I’m content to purely exist as I am. It’s a beautiful chrysalis, and I feel like a new found butterfly that just discovered their wings.

On that note, I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book.


“Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.”

“The light is too painful for someone who wants to remain in darkness.”

“I have lived with several zen masters – all of them cats.”

“ As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action. ” 

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” 

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

“When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don’t forget: The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” 

“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what is, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.” 

“Resistance to the Now as a collective dysfunction is intrinsically connected to loss of awareness of Being and forms the basis of our dehumanized industrial civilization .”


For more on rooted in marinating in mindfulness – including a short list of books for a spiritual way of being – head here. Have you read ‘The Power of Now’? What were some of your biggest takeaways? Any book recommendations from y’all??


To learn more about ‘The Power of Now” or Eckhart Tolle, peep the links:

[Eckhart Tolle] Website | Facebook | Goodreads Profile

[The Power of Now] Amazon | Goodreads

[Reading is Sexy] Catching Inspiration with ‘The Net and The Butterfly’

Oftentimes, the mind likes to play tricks on the heart, dolling out various forms of creative comas; for me, these generally come in the form of writer’s block.  Somewhere, in the back of my brain, I’ve deemed my sentences as pedantic, my metaphors aren’t juicy enough, my epiphanies aren’t anywhere near novel or the syntax resembles that of a kindergartners.   This is all fine and well if you’re not trying to make a name for yourself in the creative sector, or a living off of being a writer; but for the rest of us, well, that’s a horse of a very different color.

Enter: The Net and the Butterfly.

For all the times I’ve started a blog post and let it sit on the back burner, created a cover letter that I’ve then torn to digital shreds, or haven’t been able to put my finger on a press release, The Net and the Butterfly has released me from my anxieties of incomplete creativity and put me on the path for success. The brainchild of authors Olivia Fox Cabane, who penned The Charisma Myth, and Judah Pollack of The Chaos Imperative, this is perfect resource for any and every individual that’s looking to innovate their mental state and put a fresh spin on their success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for their next big break, or need a simple kick in the ass to get a project started – this is the book for you.  Take charge of your creativity and catalyze your inner momentum with engaging exercises, apt anecdotes to get your head spinning and solid solutions for whatever is sullying your sanity.

Hypothetically, you could finish this book in a single sitting – it’s wonderfully written and mentally probing, if you do it right; but by doing so, you’re  not doing yourself any huge favors, and you’re probably cutting corners by not marinating on the mental floss the book has given you. Pace yourself properly and really digest what you read by getting through one, maybe two, chapters a night and actually doing all of the exercises, you’ll be surprised by what works for you, and you’ll could be so immersed and enthralled in that new reality that you might just carry it over to your day to day life, maybe without even thinking about it. So whatever your vocation, or trepidation, is – The Net and the Butterfly posits some great knowledge and reignites the creative flame; and I’m speaking from personal experience.

For more on The Net and the Butterfly, head to the official website – or if you’ve caught the vibe and want more, snag your own copy on Amazon!

 

[Weekly Dose of Wisdom] The Power of Books

My entire life, I’ve been a collector of sorts – a personal curator for the museum that’s manifested into my modern life.  From My Little Pony’s and calligraphy pens, to my current menagerie of cats, gemstones, books, quotes good music and great company – I’ve managed to live up to my favorite Oscar Wilde quote: ‘I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.’ And speaking of quotes, with the reading that I’ve been doing and continual bouts of knowledge that I’m contently shoveling into my skull – I’ve found a great assortment of quotes on to the enraptured wanderlust of the reading experience.

Unbeknownst to me until this afternoon, it also just happens to be World Book Day!  Whether it’s a wonderful coincidence or a well planned post, I guess we’ll never really know but as the Genie says in Aladdin – a little of column A, and all of column B.  For other lessons in literature, delve into my book repository in my latest post concerning my 2015 Reading Challenge and take a gander at my Top 10 Works of Literary NonFiction.  While we’re here though, take a stroll through my favorite quotes on reading, books and literature.  To commemorate the day, I want to leave you with five of my favorite books of all time in no particular order because they’re all so different and good. My taste ranges from delicately woven social commentary and dark undertones mixed to insightful scientific analysis and gonzo storytelling, so if these five don’t float your boat – maybe something in my Good Reads Library will.

What’s your favorite book?

What’s your favorite quote about reading?

Let me know in the comments below!


[My Top Ten] Works of Literary Non-Fiction

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Just the other morning, my best friend from childhood tagged me in a brand new Facebook Challenge; in the back of my head, all I could pray was that it had nothing to do with Ice, Buckets or viral infamy – instead, I was urged to impart some wisdom in the form of books.  Finally – a challenge I can get behind! Eagerly, I did an about face to my towering library of literature and smiled to myself; I wasn’t sure what the true challenge would be, finding a group of friends that shared my bibliophile-esque ways – or narrowing my whimsical reading list down to only ten books. Regardless, I finally finagled my way to a list of ten (well, eleven – if you count my second Daniel Goleman rec), but all in all – these are the authors that have spoken to my soul over the past few decades.  Even if you don’t pick a book from this list, I highly urge you to find an author, subject, time period or style that you enjoy and dive into it head first, heart second.

Reading is my favorite form of escapism, because you can keep one foot grounded in reality while your imagination takes off like a wild wind. Whether they’re tense tales of mystery, bold epiphanies dressed as mental manifest destiny, revolutionary scientific discoveries and deep rooted philosophical questions – I absolutely love it.  I devour words for breakfast and snack on syntax for dessert, have an affinity for alliteration and an unrequited love of symbolism, analogy and metaphor.  And my brain – it acts like a sponge; every new piece I read, whether novel, poem or song lyric has pushed me to evolve my style of writing.  Each and every one of these books, and authors, has touched my life for the better and I’ve seen the world with new eyes time and time again because of the wonder and beauty they’ve inspired in the world around me, as well as this weird little world inside my head.  Without further ado, these are the ten non-fiction books that have influenced my life, in no particular order other than my memory.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

A wonderful expose into the nature, and importance, of emotional intelligence.  I was first recommended this read by my Counselor in High School – though I didn’t read it until my early twenties, this has been one of my favorite Non Fiction reads.  I highly suggest ‘Social Intelligence’ as a follow-up if this piques your fancy.

On the Genealogy of Morals

In college, I waited until essentially the last second to complete my English requirement – the last quarter of my Senior Year, if you want to get specific.  But, the course – Comparative African Literature – was well worth the wait and the Professors and TAs were some of my favorite of my entire collegiate career.  At the end of the quarter, we got to pick our own essay topics – I was just descending into Nietzsche’s writings and ended up comparing Neo-Colonialism in Africa to the deep rooted Judaeo-Christian ideals of morality and ethics. Needless to say, both proved to be interesting reads.

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

With literary prowess and an incredible knack for storytelling, Robert Jourdain weaves one of my favorite stories – your brain on music.  I live, eat, sleep, breathe music – I wake up with songs in my head, and immediately head to my laptop to turn off the silence of the world.  Tunes, melodies, lyrics – they circle around me and I love how they can bring me to both tears and the height of ecstasy.  In this book, Jourdain takes a scientific approach to music – conveying how tone, melody, melody and composition all play into each other, and just why each and every one of us is so enthralled by it.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Like most of the authors on this list, to only put one Ruiz book on this list is potential blasphemy – every last piece he’s written I’ve eagerly gobbled up with my eyes and have felt better for it.  But, for anyone that hasn’t had experience with his books – The Four Agreements is an excellent place to start.  The simple premise, is that everyone should live by four essential agreements – Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.  With mantras like that, how could you possibly go wrong?

The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell

Mmm, Huxley. Where do I even begin – this was recommended by a few friends when I mentioned I was looking for an adventure, and a mental adventure is what I got.  Huxley circumnavigates the brain and delves into unmapped areas of human consciousness.  It’s an incredible read; take the journey.

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If Huxley is your cup of tea, Daniel Pinchbeck is your tall tumblr of Whisky; taking a page from Huxley’s mental explorations, Pinchbeck ventures into contemporary Shamanism with the assistance of modern psychedelics.

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

I found this book on my bookshelf a few years ago, I think my step-mother handed it down (she always gives me great reads) and it stayed there for years – but I was going through some difficult times and needed a mental adjustment.  ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’ provided just that. Through personal anecdote and tiny stories, humor and introspection, Sylvia Boorstein slowly but surely helped change my mindset towards a more positive way of life in the way of the Buddha.  

The World Without Us

Time for a little thought experiment: the dinosaurs were wiped out long before us, and there’s a chance humanity won’t last either – what happens to the world if the human race becomes extinct?  It’s not the most pleasant question to ask yourself, but in the realm of possibilities – why not indulge your brain – Alan Weisman sure did, and the results are astounding. There’s so much manmade infrastructure, like subway systems and dams, that will simply lay waste and become overrun by the original ecological state of the region.  Parts of the world would almost become unrecognizable within centuries.  It’s a wonderful read, and definitely made me think of the effect of global industrialization

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A book….about Numbers? Yep – you’re damn right it is.  Math is the Yin to the Written Yang – words can be flowery, beautiful, whimsical and shift in meaning – but numbers are static, stoic, firm and steady; they’re an exact science, and they’re one of the greatest discoveries of all time.  Tobias Dantzig provides an excellent account of the history of the numbers themselves; though not everyone likes reading about mathematics – if you happen to be a fan of the subject, you won’t be able to put this book down.

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This is the year of now – instant food, instant drinks, instant payments, insta-grams and a gogogo lifestyle are all indicative of a grandiose shift in global consciousness from stopping to smell the flowers, to filtering them in LoFi and throwing hashtags on them. Now, I love how tech-savvy the world has become – but I have a big fear that a lot of people are forgetting that it’s okay to walk instead of drive, call instead of text, send mail instead of email, cook a homemade dinner as opposed to popping something in the microwave.  Through example after example, Carl Honere exemplifies his issue with the ‘Cult of Speed’ and has converted me into a Slow-Life believer.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood WarriorI literally grew up on a basketball court. Go back – farther back than High School, farther than Middle and even Elementary School…I can remember being 3 years old and my dad lifting me up to “shoot” my first shots on a big hoop, I remember watching, awe inspired, as players gracefully glided like gazelles up and down the court.  When I was at my most competitive, playing for a club team, my middle school team and being scouted for High School – my parents passed this book on to me and I eagerly lapped it up.  Phil Jackson is an idol in so many ways, and his words – and stories – truly spoke to me.  Whether you were a player, a coach or simply just love the game – this is an excellent read and I promise you won’t be putting it down anytime soon.