LIFETIDE: The Biology of the Unconscious by Lyall Watson
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LIFETIDE: The Biology of the Unconscious

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lyall Watson is a biologist who writes with captivating skill, bearing the reader along in his tidal flow of ideas, imagery, and observations into contact with the deeper forces he believes underlie life. Again we have the phenomenon of an English sensibility describing personal experiences of the paxanormal, at the same time discoursing in a purely rational mode on DNA, immunity, perception, evolution, and the behavior of assorted vertebrates and invertebrates he has observed at first hand. He takes off with the Hoyle hypothesis (see above) that life was seeded on Earth from space, taking root in clays to become membrane-enclosed cells and later aggregations which took off, so to speak, to lead to us. There is much of Dawkins' ""selfish gene"" idea, a little too much Koestler and MacLean and the tripartite (reptilean, lower and higher mammalian) mind in conflict, some heavy-handed male/female discrimination--with the whole pestled in a Jungian mortar. The life-tide is a metaphor to describe the tension that Watson believes characterizes the human condition (and other creatures with self-awareness and consciousness). It represents the pull between genetic destiny and what Watson calls the ""contingent"" system. ""Contingents"" incorporate the idea of the collective unconsciousness, that which transcends the individual and give rise to mind. Dreams provide a glimmer of this other force, as do hypnosis, psychosis, trance states, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena. Vitalistic, Bergsonian, speculative, occasionally given to oversimple polarizations or over-vague generalizations, yes. But at times utterly beguiling, as in the description of the aesthetics of bower birds, the chilling encounter of the wasp and the tarantula, and the odd waking-sleep-like cycle of a fish ""with the splendidly salacious name of slippery dick."" To be read for the writing--even by the most hardened reductionist.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster