THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav

THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS: An Overview of the New Physics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Can there be a true marriage of particle physics and psychedelia? Can an Esalen-inspired seminar on physics yield insights into Zen, enlightenment, or other transcendental phenomena? Gary Zukav sounds an emphatic yes as he explains how he, physicist David Finkelstein (Yeshiva University), and Al Chung-Liang Huang, a T'ai Chi master who was leading a workshop at Esalen, met over dinner and evolved the concept of dancing Wu Li masters. Huang explained that physics was called Wu Li back in Taiwan where he learned it. And Wu Li means patterns of organic energy. It also means My Way, Nonsense, I Clutch My Ideas, and Enlightenment (used as chapter titles in the book). The dance is what physics ""masters"" do who elaborate theories and deal with the absurdities that sometimes characterize quantum physics. (Light as particle and wave, for example, the notion of spin when there is no spin. . . .) With this as theme, Zukav takes off to explain special and general relativity theory and the evolution of ideas in contemporary physics down to the current embarrassment of riches in particles with their various strange properties (including strangeness). When he sticks to Einstein thought experiments or simple examples not unlike those used in Gamow or Hoyle, the text is all right. Where the reader has cause for despair is in Zukav's enthusiastic jumps to Zen, right-left brain differences, Freud--or when he indulges in endless puns and uses his favorite foil for explanation, Jim de Wit. Pared of these excesses, this might be a good popularization. But that would be to eliminate just the East-West bridges Zukav wants to build.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow