The Telling Image
In presentation a glossily-paged hardback of reference-text quality. Illustrations range from striking and fine photography to depicted shapes to microphotography. Photographs, both macro and micro, are riveting in their clarity and relevance to preceding text. I experienced none of the sequential whiplash so common in illustrated work. To the contrary, text and images made for a free-flowing dialogue. Each pulled, supported, and aided the other. Constantly striking, but not a coffee table book, this is a serious presentation of a significant, worthy, and groundbreaking world view.
Images and shapes tell this author about culture, connectivity, and systems of cultures. Her background as a visual explorer and commentator has led her to this complex revelation. Changing cultures or evolving cultures have been, and are reflected, she posits, in the changing dominances of shapes. In direct contact with the earth and its recurring rhythms, circular-emphasis shapes of buildings, shelters, even of statuary, were our beginning dominant focus and orientation. Beginning as mud huts, Yanomami clan houses, as enclosures for herds, she convincingly illustrates that hypothesis. Social interaction was typified by circular tribal councils, a gathering about fire and in cross-circle communication.
As humans became, through agriculture and trade, more sedentary, dominant shapes evolved to the square and rectangular. Council became dominance, social positioning became ranking. Later evolution of culture, more elaborate belief systems, and a more hierarchical social order led to a grid-style of architecture. There, the elaborate overarching architecture of the great cathedrals, the great houses. In that grid-cultural format, mathematics, measurement, science, all advanced. Now, the writer postulates, we are in a transition to a helix-swirled world, still measured in a grid system or by grid systems, but encompassing much more, in terms of complexity and variability, than the earlier grid-oriented thinking and style afforded us.
I must return to the excellence of this presentation. It is astonishingly non-repetitive, save as the chronological “fracting” of our social movements are recounted. Word choice, sentence length, adherence to subject within paragraphs and sections are polished and professional. The continuous juxtaposition of imagery with illuminating text aids reading speed and comprehension. In all, an engaging presentation of a unique way to look at the world. Awareness of others’ shape matrices make for a bigger world for someone who has been exposed to this contemplative and imaginative tome. There is real worth in another facet of thinking, another way to view things and the people who engender them.
I sincerely want to encourage thinking people to acquire and discuss Lois Stark’s wonderful contribution to world view.
Greenleaf Book Group
Lois Farfel Stark