Balanced Living for Creatives

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March 9, 2014

The Signature of All Things

     For those of you readers who enjoy novels about science and/or art, here is an excellent book. "The Signature of All Things," is a well-researched book about botany and early botanical art. The author is Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book "Eat, Pray, Love," that so many of us read or watched on film. The Signature of All Things taps into the questing nature of nineteenth century naturalists. This is a time when naturalists have moved beyond the medieval mind and have started to observe and explore the world as the newly coined word, "science."
     The book explores the early sixteenth century writings of Jacob Boehme and the medieval connection between religion and all of nature. Writers and philosophers looked at items of the natural world as though the hand of God touched them all. They strove to discover this connected "signature" in all things. Seventeenth century naturalists, like Newton, began to focus more on observation of facts. Philosophers, naturalists were still often theologians by scholarship and nature. But by the early to mid 1800s, the world of information exploded to the point where one person, through study, could no longer learn it all. Individuals began to specialize in areas such as botany, geology, etc. Writers such as Goethe began to be interested in this new area of science. And forward thinkers, such as Darwin began to make connections and observations ushering in the brave new world of science.
     In her book, Gilbert follows the life and career of a Alma Whittaker, a woman caught up in the center of the botany world, and her relationship to an eccentric Ambrose Pike, extraordinary botanical artist of orchids. Taking place in settings around the world, this book is substantial and thought provoking. It is a sweet read.
Ah, Nature and art...could there be a sweeter combination?

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