I read and enjoyed this book years ago, and copied a chapter I have reread a number of times and shared with friends. In the chapter called The Essence of Balance, Watson describes a culture of cannibals living in Indonesian New Guinea. These Papuan Asmat people have (had, presumably) a system of headhunting that at first glance is repellent: eating your dead enemy's brains? But in delicate detail, one comes to potentially understand this system as infinitely more civilized (to start with, by resolving tribal tensions with a single death) than our supposedly superior ways of bombing, maiming, and starving hundreds or millions. This essay alone is worth the price of the book.
Lyall Watson is a renaissance man, and his vast and varied experiences, readings
and interests are easily on display in this and all his other books. Watson has an eye for whimsical and unusual events, for beautiful images whether natural
or manufactured, and a keen intution for the magic in the ordinary image, thought, and objects.
This book specifically addresses all those strange and unexplained events which our orthodox scientists (isn't that an oxymoron) reject as unproven,
untested, and unscientific. Watson who holds a PhD in some branch of the natural sciences sees the inifinite humor, compassion, and joy inherent in being
alive on this earth, and the strange inhabitants of it, whether it be Komodo dragons, human beings, or rivers. In his stories and anecdotes inanimate objects
come to life, water can be happy or sad, mammals can re-grow severed limbs, and teh existance of shells (with their forms often representing mathematical perfection)
can have hidden lives....
If for no other reason than to have whimsical, unusual, and interesting trivia to talk about at a dry and dull dinner table, this book is to be read and marvelled at...