#WaitingOnWednesday | #NonFiction Book Review | “The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning” by Jeremy Lent

Posted Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Patterning Instinct” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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a word about ‘waiting on wednesday’:

I have decided to start participating in this book blogsphere meme with a few small changes of how it’s regularly blogged about by my fellow book bloggers. I will either be introducing my current reads of upcoming releases as I am in the process of reading them and/or I might be releasing a book review about a forthcoming title by which I had been blessed to read ahead of publication. The main purpose behind the meme is to encourage readers and your fellow book bloggers to become aware of new books being released which caught your eye and which held your interest to read. Sometimes if your still in the process of reading the books, its the titles which encouraged your bookish heart. I look forward to spending the next seasons of the year, talking about the books I have on hand to read, the books I’ve been reading and the books I might not even have a copy to read but which are of wicked sweet interest to become a #nextread of mine.

Thus, this book review is showcasing a title which is set to release in a few short days – it is an incredibly evocative book about a subject everyone can relate too, as it speaks to the human condition and to the approach we all take towards understanding a new layer of our own humanity.  This is my entrance into the meme and a lovely introduction to one of the new books publishing this year by Prometheus Books – of whom, are consistently publishing topics in Non-Fiction which I love to seek out. I encourage you to dig through my tag thread for this publisher and see what else has caught my fancy!

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musings about the foreword & preface:

Similar to Fritjof Capra who wrote the Foreword, I have had an inquisitive mind attached to social history and the innovation invention of ‘ideas’ which may or may not parlay into a realistic impression on the history of humanity as its distinctions come from a myriad array of perspectives and impressions of interpretation. I garnished a keen interest in the Quantum realms when I turnt twenty, wherein I started to gather books about Quantum Physics and the inter-related fields attached to it – books by such men as Dr Brian Greene, Clifford A. Pickover and others who were writing about topics which fascinated me. My personal studies into the Quantum realms are constantly evolving and tuck into different corridors of theoretical thought as what is known right now in our expanding research focuses by today’s scientists and theorists.

In effect, what interested me about reading this particular release by Mr Lent is the curiosity of how our cultural historical imprint has a startling realisation about how we seek out meaning and our cultural awareness towards understanding our purpose whilst we’re alive. I love finding thought-provoking works in Non-Fiction but especially when they are not written in the traditional voice – granting further enjoyment by how the tome of insight your reading is happily set in a conversational tone of entreaty. I also like cultivating a wide net of co-relating interests and of researching topics and subjects which interest me on a multi-diverse layer of insight by different sources, voices and historical perspectives. Hence why I felt Lent’s point of view on this subject would be a wicked interesting read – he takes a multi-layered approach to augmenting his viewpoint.

Cognitive Science and cognitive awareness (as well as the science behind Consciousness) are fascinating topics to explore – as there is a heap of variables and unknowns when it comes to our understanding of how cognition and consciousness are interlinked and dynamically key to how humanity has evolved in it’s capacity to understand the wider world of our dimensional space.

As I recently explored the complexities of the natural world, I am now embarking on extending my focus to the complexities of the culture wherein mankind understands his/her interpretation of the world itself. This is a fundamental breakdown studying how our cognitive perceptional analysis in effect has a stark effect on how we (together) as a world society help to move ourselves forward as a (global) community but also, how we endeavour to remember our socio-pyschological heritage. Imagine excavating the landscape of our mind in order to seek out how we process information as a stepping stone towards properly understanding not only how we interpret what we understand but how what we understand acts as a linchpin towards affecting how events are shaped within the world itself.

Cultural History is critical towards understanding how each generation dealt with the circumstances they faced but moreso, how humanity was thus changed and consistently altering it’s course towards a tomorrow which went through a series of uncertainties and different trajectories before arriving where we are right now. I am also fascinated by the field of ‘Human Ecology’ as this can also be pursued in higher level education where you spend four years ‘discovering oneself and one’s own passions’ seeking to not only understand the ‘self’ but also, to see the world through a different pair of lens.

One thing that is mentioned is how the ‘gender’ of words describing History have altered from the traditional short-hand of ‘man’ or ‘mankind’ to a more inclusive humankind or other such variants. I have the tendency to refer back to the old gender-narrative as unlike some, I never took offence to how the words were used, as technically we are ‘mankind’ inasmuch as we’re ‘humankind’; it’s semantics, truly. Similarly to how I was never entirely sure why women were worried about being called ‘actors’ as I never took that as anything more than describing one’s field of interest: they ‘act and take on different characters’ whilst on stage or screen; in essence their roles are to ‘act’ and give an honest representation of the characters they’re assuming. I never saw how these instances provided bias against gender lines nor how it personally affected us to where Feminism had to take a forward step towards disintegrating the terms. Honestly, there are far more relevant ways we must circumvent gender bias, but to me these two infractions (at best) were benign compared to the wider problems which affect our lives most directly. Ergo, I had to smile how there was care to mention ‘this term was used’ verse having the freedom to use the term itself now.

I, myself, have not entirely understood why most of History is bent towards the Western world rather than a fuller embrace of the cultural history of the world – including by bridging the gap of differences igniting out of East vs West cultural divides. New generations offer different perspectives on all of this (which we can agree on) but why there is a certainty of non-inclusiveness is unknown. I also have observed how indigenous cultures world-wide (as they are not limited to North America) have also taken a backseat in History’s scope of narrative. There is an enriched well of stories yet to be told as the annals of human history are still missing key chapters which would provide new insights into how progress was not always kind to those who came before our current generation. Each generation has their struggles, yes, but why is there a continued erasure of certain truths behind cultural divides is one of our worst legacies.

I do agree with the postmodernist behaviour mentioned – of how we try to attach ourselves to different viewpoints, intellectual insightfulness and a merging of religious thought with those cultures we come across who provide us with a unique and fresh perspective. I am not entirely sure this was short-sided of us (on a whole) to remain on the superficial layer of what this insight would provide nor of being unable to dig further into how these opinions and views were rooted in a specific historical context. I tend to yield to giving the benefit of the doubt, on how as we were granted a heightened curiosity to understand things which are not readily understood – perhaps our approach to draw our differences together, we took a few missteps to fully appreciate the magnitude of how those other beliefs fit within the context of their cultural heritage. Most of us, I think do err on caution and do try to bridge together resources of knowledge which keep us in-tune with the complexities of global history. Knowledge (like life) has a steep learning curve and we never quite expire from learning something we previously hadn’t fully had the data to conceptionalise in a manner in which it deserved.

Part of my own theory on why we have such a divided world is because the truth of the matter is each country and continent had it’s own form of growth but part of human nature is to judge, measure, weigh and assert superiority. In this context, it’s hard to rationalise why there was such a race to ‘outwit and outsolve’ history’s key problems in industrial and technological advances as I previously have already read; some countries arose to the challenge ahead of others but there was a blackout in communication and of informational exchange. If we would stop ‘vying for being the first’ at everything, and recognise we’re globally interconnected to each other, we’d make better progress towards accepting our global heritage as we would stop compartmentalising ourselves.

When pondering one of the key conduits of thought within The Patterning Instinct – a term reappears quite frequently: historical reductionism which leapt out at me because it’s another way of stipulating: superficist historical perspectives which was my main bone of contention whilst in school and why I was perpetually bored with pre-determinded syllabuses. There is another interesting tidbit hidden within the context which is niche construction which by definition could be cross-applied to my own life, as I was in search of my ‘personal niche’ in life by which I could contribute something artistically created back to society (herein I refer to my quest to unearth my talent was to be a story-telller). I love how this term encapsulates how even in nature, there is evidential support to merit this inclusion towards understanding the nature of self-learning and self-adaptive qualities.

On the cognitive development of humans being influenced and patterned by linguistic heritage did not surprise me – as so much of how we internalise our world is fuelled by how we were understanding the world by those around us whilst we were too young to self-articulate what we were experiencing. It is also true to say, if we have a particular pattern of speech or a learning impediment (such as dyslexia; in my case) you can back-trace how you developed your own style of speech patterns to the people who were interacting with you the most whilst you were still developing your awareness of the information you were processing as a young child. Cognitive awareness starts quite young indeed but how to properly process what we are seeing, hearing and sensing takes a bit longer. If we rely on those around us to help guide us towards understanding how to break-down what we’re internalising and thereby, chart a course towards our own process of cognition, it stands to reason even on a fundamental level, through auditory means (of understanding), we are first mimicking how we hear words and the comprehension of what is around us. We follow this process by developing our own mind and our own interpretation of the world based on what we learn and how we gravitate towards renewing our sense of wonder through collecting knowledge and experiences.

There is an incredible insightful interpretation of what led to the demise of the rain forest which has always held such a tight ache in my own spirit for how destructively callous mankind can be when it comes to destroying what it does not readily understand. On a personal note, I once saw the brutal butchery of a weeping willow tree when living in a place where the outside caretakers were not determined by my family but by the community as a whole. They cut back the tree to such a state of destruction, the tree wept for the last time. It was reduced to such a horrid state of indifference, not even the birds returned; as many of them had nested there in the Spring. I remember vividly lashing out at the man with the chainsaw for his absolute stupidity for not recognising the consequences of his actions. I was physically sick and anguished by how indifferent he was to the fate of a ‘tree’. This new passage about how forests are living ecosystems where trees act as the guardians who protect the futures of the forest itself was not lost on me; if anything it re-instilled how limited mankind has progressed to understand the fuller picture of how nature and man are connected in ways which once severed cannot become re-aligned. Mind you, getting neighbours to respect how trees are our source of oxygen was another wrinkle of angst as they merely saw trees as the bearers of ‘leaves’ which they simply could not handle walking over in the Autumn.

Somewhere along the way, mankind has become blinded by his zest for colonisation and globalisation to where the natural world is no longer a reverent component of our lives but something which needs to be controlled and/or destroyed. How we turnt away from our heritage of connection with nature is not understood (at least not by me) but it is a pattern of change on it’s own merit. And, what cognitive pattern shifted our perspective from being caretakers to destroyers is even more interesting to contemplate.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#WaitingOnWednesday | #NonFiction Book Review | “The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning” by Jeremy LentThe Patterning Instinct
Subtitle: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning
by Jeremy Lent
Source: Direct from Publisher

This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world. It offers a glimpse into the minds of a vast range of different peoples: early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trail-blazers of the Scientific Revolution, and those who constructed our modern consumer society.

Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today’s cultural norms.

Uprooting the tired clichés of the science-religion debate, he shows how medieval Christian rationalism acted as an incubator for scientific thought, which in turn shaped our modern vision of the conquest of nature. The author probes our current crisis of unsustainability and argues that it is not an inevitable result of human nature, but is culturally driven: a product of particular mental patterns that could conceivably be reshaped.

By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633882935

Genres: Anthropology | Archaeology, Biological Diversity, Evolution, Life Science, Non-Fiction, Science, Social Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 23rd May, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 569

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #NonFiction, #CulturalHistory, #History + #ScienceBooks and #ThePatterningInstinct

About Jeremy Lent

Jeremy Lent

Jeremy R. Lent is a writer and the founder and president of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth. The Liology Institute (www.liology.org), which integrates systems science with ancient wisdom traditions, holds regular workshops and other events in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lent is the author of the novel Requiem of the Human Soul. Formerly, he was the founder, CEO, and chairman of a publicly traded Internet company. Lent holds a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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notes of interest on behalf of the introduction:

I, too, agree if our current course of action on the global stage of non-renewable energy and the mass consumption of non-sustaining resources – we will in effect exhaust the health of Gaia. In many ways, it is our greed and lust to conquer everything that is not currently ‘ours’ which is leading us towards an unhealthy imbalance. What I mean is for each new ‘discovery’ in technology and science, it isn’t enough for one person to make the discovery; no, everyone has to continuously make the same discovery the world-over if only to prove who was first and who was second. Rather than, say sharing the scientific breakthroughs and working collaboratively towards the same end goal. This has been happening for more generations than necessary; as Science moves forward, I can only hope the barriers of shared realisations will break-down and allow all of us to see a new depth of enlightenment as we shift forward together rather than apart.

One interesting theory explored in the book is how our worldview is nearly unchangeable once it’s set during our growing years; yet I find that interesting, considering I have found my worldview in constant flux and change. It started as an eleven year old when I first started pen palling and continuing through adulthood. When you write friends across the world and on five continents, you’d be surprised how quickly your worldview shifts and keeps pace with alternative perspectives and the differences of how cultural tradition can affect how we perceive each other. One thing I learnt from writing as many letters as I did growing up is how close the world truly is and how despite our differences, we’re more united than we are separated. My worldview was co-dependent on my friends of whom challenged me to see things outside my own living reality and to draw a new understanding based on their own living histories which effectively gave me a cross-cultural pair of eyes as a child and young adult.

Aside from correspondences enlarging my global understanding, I also grew up in a multi-diverse and multi-cultural metropolis where I was interacting with people of varied backgrounds and lifestyles. I wouldn’t say I augmented an unchangeable worldview but rather allowed my opinions about my limited scope of knowledge and understanding of the world shift forward when new information was found or understood. This is one reason I have enjoyed studying World Religions and different cultural heritages from across the world. We have to step outside our own lives to focus on the lives of others in order to better understand the fuller depth of our humanity; as evidenced through the film Babies (2010 French documentary) which encompasses directly how limited our capacity to understand each other truly is.

Although it’s our natural deposition to ask ‘why’ about everything, I did not always feel my peers were as inquisitive as I was to understand the answers to each ‘why’ which alighted in my mind to ask whilst growing up. Most of my peers were content to learn within the boundaries of a school day whilst I was contemplating if the greater academic challenge would await me in college (this was mused about from fifth grade to seventh grade) as I found our lessons very limiting in regards to increasing our awareness and understanding of our world. My peers never questioned what was being taught nor how limited what they were being taught was confined to a textbook without supplemental texts nor discussions rooting out where the textbook failed to insert new information past it’s publication date. I saw too many holes in the educational framework to where I was constantly disillusioned by regular classes as they were simply cyclic and limited in depth. I thought my classmates would be constantly questioning ‘why’ about more things than school lunch or which day we had a half day off. I couldn’t fathom why they were ‘okay’ with the superficial layers and never wanted to dig past where the lesson plan stopped. Therefore, I would disagree – we might be pre-desposed to ask ‘why’ and to be ‘curious’ about things but not everyone embraces their natural curiosity; some people accept only a rudimentary knowledge of their world.

Phonetics and the spoken language: I was most keen to read the chapter about this because as a young child, I struggled with speech patterns and differentiating what I was hearing vs how I was speaking words myself because the syntax was oft-times lost on me. In other words, Phonetics became a bone of contention and a dragon I never slayed. As an adult writer, I shifted my focus off my own vernacular and created a written hybrid voice between American and British English to off-set the issues I have as a Creative Dyslexic Writer. I am not sure if this measure of how children become aware of cognition through speech is the baseline or one variable of how linguistic heritage is inherited.  If the example in the book was the baseline, I’m the anomaly. I did not rely entirely on what I was picking up in my native environment nor do I continue too today, as I am more akin to gravitate towards books, music, tv and films originating from Canada, the UK and Australia parlaying into my interest to ‘hear’ English in a different variant of my native tongue. Which technically sounds more ‘natural’ to me in some ways because I can ‘hear’ the changes in syntax easier than my early childhood where I struggled to ‘catch’ the syntax errors which only served to frustrate me further.

My review of the patterning instinct:

It felt rather ingenious to begin the discussion with the opening credits to 2001: A Space Odyssey as I used to watch this film and it’s successor 2010 every so often during my childhood. The opening sequence never did sit well with me but it wasn’t until I read this book, I realised what it was that was disturbing me! It was the conflict resolution – how the early humans were resolving a dispute and how they used violence as a method of resolution. I have tended to believe we’re imprinted to be more empathic, cooperative and community oriented rather than self-involved competitive zealots.

Lent takes us through a back-story on evolutionary man’s rise through generational growth to best project a theory about how we’ve evolved forward as a species from our originating states of being. In this way, he’s showing how we learnt to communicate through the nuanced gestures and sounds which formulated a language without words prior to spoken speech. He charts the evolution of man through how cognitive behaviour alters and changes through each new generation of man and how we are similar but dissimilar to other species who are our closest ‘relatives’ in the wild. If you come from a background of faith, as I do, you have to go into this context with an open mind and make your own choices by what you’ll accept as theory and what is the truth of your own perception on human evolution. As even if you adhere to a more spiritual background of truth, humanity does ‘evolve’ through time as genetically we are not entirely the same as we once were in previous generations. If we were, our immunity would be far lower than it is today.

As we turn away from prehistoric man (from the physiological to behavioural studies) to discuss the back-story of how Cognitive Science first started to have a footprint on the science of consciousness, we start to see how recognition and cognition work hand in hand; especially as we learn more about the origins of ‘working memory’ and ‘symbolic cognition’. Our brains continuously have developed to expand our personal awareness of what we perceptionally can understand; including how the data we consume is processed, digested and re-affirmed through speech or written response. As  Lent explores how symbolism and cognate similarities allow us to communicate not only with each other but through interspecies communication; you start to see how language and the interpretation of language can be widely applied. There are cognates and recognisable words of meaning across languages where we can find ‘liked-minded meanings’ out of language which is not our native tongue. Similarly, we can find a calm recognition of expressing language through ASL (American Sign Language) as it’s symbolic in nature and cognitively expressive based on a pattern of gestures and non-verbal symbols representing a coded pattern of speech.

When we break down the conjecture of what we’re attempting commonness references to our shared experiences, we find ways of bridging the gaps in our living hours where we can become interconnected through specific shared moments we all live through during any given day of life. In this, we start to form a cognitively tangible arc of reference to where each of us has our own memories sparking forward with a key reference based off a singular word which triggers the same memory for all of us at once. This speaks to our shared reality but also, how we are living a similar life even if at times it feels like we are all isolated islands bobbling around the same ocean.

Seeking patterns out of my living experiences and of what I could denote out of the observations I made throughout my life, part of the joy of seeing the patterns was understanding the nature of what made them occur. Likewise, sometimes finding the patterns which intersect with our lives is in-part one way of understanding our own back-history and self-evolving natural awareness of how we’ve obtained growth through the changing tides of our lives. Though this is limited to the cognitive memory and not entirely existential based, everything we’ve embraced whilst we’ve lived our lives can provide further understanding of how what we absorb whilst we’re alive can become imprinted and catalogued as direct references in which to build new information. We’re constantly acting like sponges where we continuously absorb more information in order to best understand what inherently fascinates us to explore in greater depth of perceptional analysis.

When Lent starts to speak about the art of metaphors and the recognition of what they imply – I had to smile. I used to talk in riddling metaphors with my friends for the sake of shaking off childhood boredom. I also found comprehension of complicated and complex word combinations or narrative was easier once I understood where my dyslexia was inflicting the most challenges (as I had severe issues with learning how to read but not in the general way in which most dyslexics find issue) I was able to compensate for those short-falls. In fact, I’ve become overly compensated as an adult who has severe dyslexia when studying the issues directly. If anything was viewed as ‘challenging’ in school to where you had to reach a higher level of education to understand it, those were the lessons I attached myself too (in regards to extra credit). It’s because I never saw dyslexia as a definitive barometer of my life. It was a learning difficulty and a different perceptional intuitiveness of the world at large, but it wasn’t a definitive gauge of intellectual curiosity; of which I had in spades. Too often traditional education sidelines anyone who falls under Special Ed guidelines – these days I think that term has altered to IEP (or Independent Education Plan) children, but irregardless, if you learn differently, the world views you differently. Hence why I think I latched onto metaphors, cognates, prefixes, suffixes and spent a heap of time reading dictionaries, encyclopedias and thesauruses. In other words, I liked finding the hidden codes behind how we self-contribute cognitive expressions of language through spoken speech, written narrative, music, art, dance as well as motion images and pictures.

Curiously: has anyone noticed how hashtags on Twitter are a new age variant of Morse code?

A prime example of symbolic commonality in language today are the EMOJIs.

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I loved how there were pictures included about the cave paintings and the hand-carved art by early human civilisations. What was wicked fascinating to me was the articulation of the art itself – how the cave paintings were realistically impressioned and how the carved artwork looks like pieces modern humans might contemplate creating rather than having come from a society which existed thirty-five thousand years ago! This section reminded me about what I loved most about visiting the Archaeological Museum in Mexico City! Art has been one of the truest forms of creative expression which has not only existed longer than most would speculate but it’s the intricacies of the designs and methods of creative arts being used which has captured my attention.

Lent goes into quite a bit of length to have a discourse about where religious thought and spirituality fit within the framework of the evolution of man as it co-relates to Cognitive Science. In this, he theorises, religious views and the mystic beliefs of others may or may not be entirely plausible given the back-history of our cognitive progressive natures. I divert here a bit in taking a leap of faith with his discourse but did entertain reading the passages to see where he would confirm his thoughts and views whilst stepping outside of my own. On another note which is connected to this sub-topic, is that I have lamented for a long while throughout my blog how I believe in the inter-connectedness of humanity and the natural world; whereas in this book, there is a measure of discredit towards that end as well.

I enjoyed learning more about the indigenous cultural heritage and spirituality practices of tribes of whom felt their lives were co-dependent on their acceptance of having a belief history where the living and dead are interjoined. There were multiple passages which talked about shamans and how indigenous communities practice an interconnection between their spirit world and the world of the living; where both are interchangeable. I had previously heard about the shapeshifting aspects of how man and animal could exchange themselves for each other but I am not remembering exactly where I came across this previously. What staid with me most during these passages is the compassionate way in which the dead were still honoured and the way in which spirituality of this nature heightened the living experiences of the families left behind. Quite similar to the origins behind the Day of the Dead in Central and South America – which celebrates death in a very different way as compared to North America and Europe.

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Shifting forward in time to where humankind stopped living a nomadic life and opted instead to transition into a more permanent community where self-sustaining practices were evolving into view through self-directed needs for curating one’s own agriculture – you start to see the reasons why we originally shifted forward towards this new way of living and why transitioning back to a self-sustaining future is just as difficult as it was then. Originally, the lifestyle was to live and roam, following the seasons and the places in which food could be foraged but nowadays, one thing we ‘forgot’ from the past, is by overpopulation and overuse of natural resources without sustainable practices in place, leads to a disproportionate level of food security.

It did not surprise me our sedimentary lifestyle was also one of the root causes of why we have more grief living today than we did long ago. This was played out well in the film Wall-E (2008) where quite creatively a lot of the topical discussions in this book were inserted and explored in this animated children’s film which was wicked enjoyable for adults, too. It was a harbinger of a message many might overlook, too. Similarly, in this context, I appreciated the film The Croods (2013) for how it demonstrated an earlier understanding of how humans once lived; it takes on a lot of creative liberty, of course, but the sentiment is alive and it does touch your heart in the end.

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Lent moves into cross-referencing the Ancient world’s interpretation on religious history and the fundamentals of ancient religious thought. This includes referencing Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient India whilst talking about the differences of how faith is understood and acknowledged by the different traditions therein. He is looking for a conjoined understanding of belief and the unity of how man’s quest for meaning is also tied to the pursuit of spirituality and religious conviction. Depending on where your own personal views lie, Lent highlights all angles and all traditions of insight seeking to uncover where man first learnt to seek out the patterns of instinctive thought and the understanding of where humanity first sought to understand it’s own origins. You can get bogged down in the rhetoric and the subtle changes between the different branches of religion but throughout all of it you start to notice what Lent did: part of man’s quest for understanding his/her own humanity was understanding the meaning of life itself.

Something that came out of this section which previously I was not aware of is how Egyptology changed during different periods of it’s own historical past. There were shifting points of view and differences in approach towards their understanding of where their spiritual lives represented their core beliefs. The sections about the societies in Mesopotamia brought back happy memories of my early History classes in elementary and middle school, as I did remember these societies were a bit ahead of the curve in how they developed intellectual pursuits in the disciplines outlined in the text. What is further incredible is how inspiring they were to move society forward whilst putting down the foundations of how society lives and moves through the hours we clock and the ways in which we live by establishing cutting edge methodologies of keeping records and collecting information pertinent to commerce and trade. They also gave us a distinctive way in which to observe our lives and create the separations between faith and society. As you read about how their innovative intuitiveness allowed progress to shift forward and move into Mathematics and Science, you start to see how due to their insights the tides continued to turn into newer discoveries across disciplines in latter centuries.

Similarly, re-tracing the history of Greek thought and intellectual perplexities which drove them to seek out a better understanding of everything in the known world  was quite delightful. I did not find myself overly drawn into Greek studies whilst I was in school – as most of the time, the focus were locked inside Greek Mythos and Pathos, but one thing I did find inspiring (outside the Olympic Games) is how the Greeks strove to understand our world from an origin viewpoint and of the mind from a humanistic perspective of living here whilst attempting to augment understanding out of the questions which inspired them to seek the answers they could not always find in the pursuit of the knowledge they sought. Pursuing knowledge and understanding what grants our minds a licence for curiosity is something which is in of itself curiously entertaining to read. To withdraw back through time to how the original thinkers of our epochs understood what was not yet understandable is equally fascinating. To see how their instinct to question, ponder and draw out a propensity of original thought against what was not as commonplace to be known then is quite extraordinary to view now in today’s world. My readings of the sections involving the Greeks also reminded me of the readings I had put off for a future date involving the collective philosophies and works of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. Being able to read a portion of what their legacies involve as far as shaping Western philosophical thought was quite champion as it both picked up from where I left off studying their collective works and re-inspiring me forward to continue to seek out the words they’ve left behind for us to read anew in our current age.

One thing that did surprise me is my elementary understanding and knowledge of the philosophies and theological thoughts of Ancient India are not as superficially inclined as I reasoned they might be based on the limited time I’ve given to seeking them out. I had a feeling I might not know as much about Ancient India and their precepts of origins – yet, whilst I read the sections of their cultural heritage and of how they shaped their own identity and understanding through a different approach of reasoning than the Greeks or the Egyptians, I noted how much I already understood. The curious thing is I oft-mused there had to be more to ‘yoga’ than what is currently perceived; as technically, as a student of Tai Chi Chaun, I can attest, there is more than what lies in front of the eye. I found these passages curious as when you back-read the fuller history of yoga, you see how limited contemporary society has diffused it’s purpose. This draws back to one of the opening observations about how man has the tendency of drawing out components of other cultures and theological philosophies without the depth of understanding for what everything involves. In other words, despite knowing onions are as layered as the tress in the forest – how many seek out what each spiral will foretell and inspire? Or to put it another way: how many dig below the surface of where knowledge lies in wait for the curious mind to discover the breadth of what is just out of reach?

I have also postponed a more intensive study of the Tao Te Ching, however, my understandings of the yin and yang inasmuch as my understanding of qi – stem out of my studies of Tai Chi. Interestingly, the concepts are not entirely unknown to me, as I did briefly look over the thoughts of Confucius whilst I was still in school. Despite the disinterest in lower grades to teach Classical Studies in Logic, Philosophy and Reason, there was enough of a presence of Classical Rhetoric in my life to give me a strong foundation of understanding whilst I entered into each individual section of focus within The Patterning Instinct. The more curious observation as a reader though is how there are concurrent patterns to how humans understood the mysteries of man, universe and life. If you seek out the origins of the patterns themselves as Mr Lent has done quite eloquently – you also start to see how everything starts to interconnect and become a cardinal piece of the greater whole of what universally can be understood. For each cultural insight Lent provides, you can find tangible connective threads uniting the differences and of granting further insight into how man understands himself and the universe as a whole.

Lent pulls back the veil on Early Christianity by cross-referencing early Christian precepts with the known philosophies of the Greeks whilst also sharing concluding evidence of where certain understandings originated which were later explored in different books of the Bible. There is compelling arguments being shared about ‘the origins of thoughts and ideas’ pertinent to man’s understanding of what was being disclosed and understood through parables and the stories within the Bible itself. The interesting bit is how Early Christianity grew out of the foundation set by the Ancient world and of which was inter-related to past revelations by other philosophers who had gained previous insight into the same questions which were being re-explored or re-explained in a different context. As you walk through these sections you start to see how much there is an overlay of understanding and of original thought towards explaining what was once thought to be unexplainable.

Something I found interesting is how intolerance has been an issue for a very long period of time but how in certain places, tolerance was mainstream. It’s interesting because of the world we live in right now has a high degree of intolerance – but more to the point, it was interesting to read how different cultural histories were merging together of out Ancient China: Buddhism, Taoist and Confucian traditions were forming their own merger of ideas which impacted one field in particular: Modern Science.

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Through my previous reading of Kepler and the Universe I was thankful to be in a position of better understanding when the focus was turnt back towards Galileo, Kepler and Newton; or rather, to put it more plainly: when Lent honed in on how cognitive intuitive instincts in the Science community (of whom were focused on the language of mathematics unlocking the universal truths which were generally considered to be all-telling) could be traced through a broad understanding of how Science and Religion do not always have be separate nor apart but could in theory, walk side by side was quite refreshing. As this was outlined throughout the book as well – as how much cognition and the broad strokes of our conceptional understanding of life and the meaning within our experiences can be brokered out of our cultural and religious heritage. We internalise everything in an intrapersonal way by using our intuitive capacity to seek out what fascinates us to understand in more depth. It is through the pursuit of knowledge across interdisciplinary studies we draw closer to peering into the fuller scope of where humanity has had a tenacious knack for unearthing new understanding out of newfound awareness for the things we did not previously understand. Yet, the key here is how did we first develop the instinct to question what we did not yet understand?

This isn’t a book you can read once and leave it on your shelf as a fading memory of the time you spent within it; no, it is a book which merits re-reading and re-digesting key portions of the context in order to better understand how Lent threaded his thesis and personal curiosity into the framework of how he disclosed his own discoveries on the topic at hand. He thankfully refreshes your memory on key sections which become interlaced and re-introduced in latter chapters; as each section is a building block towards future sections and each new revelation of insight is another piece of the expanding puzzle of how to understand humanity’s cognitive instincts whilst pooling together a general awareness of where cultural and religious heritage drew together to shape our perceptional analysis of of everything which implores the merit of dissecting further to the point of greater understanding of the bridge between East and West philosophical origins.

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This is something I felt was pertinent to highlight:

The idea that language – and its corresponding cultural framework – affects the way we think is the key premise of the book. The reason it’s important to investigate the root metaphors of ancient cultures such as Greece, India and China is that they have framed the patterns of thought each of us inherits as we grow up, thus affecting how we construct meaning in our lives. If we each determined our own ways of thinking independently of our language and culture, we wouldn’t need to delve into the past to understand our pattern of cognition.

-quoted from an uncorrected ARC of “The Patterning Instinct”; text in the finished book may differ from the ARC. Quoted with permission of the publisher.

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reflections on the final chapter:

One interesting thing to note, is although History has shown humanity’s pattern of behaviour to be non-linear in growth, one thing I appreciate most about fictional projections of where futuristic life will transition us is how right or wrong we envision the future we are building today. There is solace in this on one hand, for writers endeavour to understand the future based on what is realistically plausible today based on various resources of insight – yet as Lent highlights, our present knowledge is most likely to short-change the future we endeavour to envision. We are hindered by what is not known and of what cannot be predicted; the variables are greater than our capacity to imagine a more realistically ideal future. Yet, by inventing the futures within Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction – we find ourselves able to augment a theory of temporal change.

I almost think we are on a pathway of three distinctive different portals of passage – there is the definitively Dystopian world where we were unable to forestall climatic catastrophe whilst technologically erasing our humanity; there is a middle road of newfound enlightenment where mankind has learnt from his mistakes of overpowering the natural world and there is a third path which is a crosssect of the previous two where we are staring at a glass which is either half full or half empty depending if your naturally pessimistic or intrinsically optimistic.

There are murmurs and echoes of how we’re impacting the natural environment in a negative way; little clues and insights of how ‘something’ is wrong but we’re either too ignorant to notice, slightly immune to observing another depressing truth of our present reality or blinded by the oversight of thinking we have an indefinite measure of time to circumvent what is wrong in the natural world. For instance, by reading about the reef system in Cuban waters you can gain insight into why the sharks off the coast of Hawaii are attacking us (ie. their the guardians of the reef). If you take stock of the plight of the bees, you start to see how dynamic their demise is impactful on our food chain. If you start to notice how aggressive certain regions are blighted by the presence of vengeful insects, you might question what is wrong in the regional environment which makes those insects attack humans? Why did the elk find it necessary to migrate to Kentucky and why are wolves swimming across Lake Superior? There are shifts in the the biosphere and in the patterns of migration whilst hinting towards a realisation of how our effects on the natural world are a harbinger of future issues which will lead us to taking a harder look at how our footprint is causing radical changes in the harmonic imbalance of our beloved Earth.

Yet, we’re adaptive by nature and we are incredibly innovative as thinkers – how then, as a society will we choose which path we wish to walk together? How do we knit a universal pattern of reforming principles of re-balancing our zest for ‘more’ when we can succeed with ‘less’ than what we truly need to consume? Will instinct re-define our humanity or will adaption out of necessity re-align our future? One thing is for certain – our desire to understand and to seek out the answers for our humanistic experience has been resolute through time. Why then, have we spent less time discovering how to live in harmony with our ecosystems?

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On how mr lent made this text approachable:

First of all, one thing I look forward too whilst digging into the heady topics I enjoy reading in Non-Fiction (especially in topical research across multidisciplinary studies in Science & Mathematics) is how compelling the narrative feels as a reader who likes to read intellectually stimulating texts which take-on a conversational tone of delivery. I love finding texts like this one which not only present the topic with clarity of opinion but allow the reader to take it a step further and re-align how the information shared can cross-apply to their life and/or be a stepping stone towards renewing a greater understanding for a topic not often mused about in everyday life. There are instances of where Lent shares his own opinion but then pulls back to allow the reader to either agree, disagree or agree to disagree with his opinions – furthering the conversation forward by pulling together multiple streams of interpretive thought. Despite the alarming truths of the fate of the natural world – there is still a balm of hope where humanity will effectively change certain aspects of our daily lives to have a positive renewal of regenerative resources. The core message is simply: we have the knowledge, we have the choices, but what do we choose and how do we use the knowledge we’ve gained to effect change in a world caught up in a stasis of inaction?

In an early chapter, Lent mentions ‘Game Theory’ of being a key element of understanding what motivates humans to behave in the ways that they do, which I found interesting as during my reading of The Patterning Instinct, I came across an upcoming release by this publisher called: Game Changers: Stories of the Revolutionary Minds behind Game Theory by Rudolf Taschner. I’ll say it again – I have noticed there is an intrinsic pattern within what I am reading and the next books I am considering to read. Everything is interconnected even if I do not always recognise the pattern of what I’m doing or in the methodology of my selective choices being augmented through an invisible thread of connective narratives. The last time I found a ‘theory’ which perked an interest as it was outside of what I would normally stumble across was ‘Chaos Theory’.

Even when I was in disagreement with Lent, I found the context of how he articulated his view points or those who were being discussed to highlight where Cognitive Science has progressed into a new layer of understanding by researchers today; I appreciated the cross-section of theory, evidenced conjecture and the interspersing of different opinions on everything being discussed. The way in which he breaks down each section is to put information into the lay person’s hands which can be ruminated and digested on an individual level. We might not share all the same beliefs or viewpoints but one thing is for certain, we can all hold a discussion about the topics which fascinate us to explore in further depth.

There is a counter-balancing of ingenuity and mindfulness observation intermixed with the purity of conceptionalised ideals against the framework of intellectual instinct percolating throughout The Patterning Instinct; whilst providing a cross-section of theory, philosophical intuitiveness and reasonable logic across cultural divides. It’s a thinking-man’s tome of the cultural origins of how humanity strives to understand it’s own purpose and meaning by uncovering the layers of how the human mind processes information, knowledge and intuitive thought. At the very same time it’s also an exploration of trying to understand man’s intent to cause harm on the natural world without the realisation of knowing how harmful those actions are against humanity.

reading habit:

Lately, I am finding my reading exploits and adventures are best hooked into #SlackerRadio via headphones which give me this unique soundscape whilst I entreat inside the heart of the writer’s imagination. The melancholic alternative sounds on the Alternative Hits station suited the context of this book quite well.

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This book review is courtesy of:

Prometheus Books

whilst being featured in conjunction with #FuellYourSciFi:

#FuellYourSciFi badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Patterning Instinct”, book synopsis, author photograph and author biography provided by the publisher Prometheus Books and used with permission. Small quotations from Prometheus Books titles can be used in critical reviews as stipulated in the Copyright Notice; thus my quoted text is being used with permission of the publisher (including quotes from ARCs). Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie in Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, #FuellYourSciFi badge, #WaitingOnWednesday badge using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Pacto Visual and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 17 May, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Archaeology, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Memes, History, Indie Author, Nature & Wildlife, Non-Fiction, Prometheus Books, Science, Social Change, Social Services, Sociological Behavior, Sociology, The Natural World, Waiting on Wednesday




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