Dorion Sagan, son of the late astronomer and author Carl Sagan, attempts to outline our possible future in his latest book now in paperback, Notes From the Holocene. Sagan uses every informational tool possible, not just drawing from the sciences of physics and evolutionary biology, but also from “science fiction, knowledge of magic tricks, and even a little metaphysics to speculate on basics questions of who and what we are in relationship to the Earth and the universe.” It is a book that at times seems almost silly in its thoughts, drawing from ideas that are certainly not facts, and yet when viewed as a whole is comprehensive of the way things are and what they might turn out to be. As humans, we are always asking the “Why are we here?” question, sometimes with our own answers in mind. Notes From the Holocene is Dorion Sagan’s answer to this question and many more.
The book is split into four distinct parts: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Each section goes into immense detail about these specific components, educating the reader greatly in these areas, but at the same time, Sagan ties each part significantly to the overall idea of the book. The afterword, “Twelve Mysteries,” does an excellent job of quickly summing up his answers to the questions posed throughout the book. The twelve questions are:
Why does life exist?
Why do we drink water?
Can we save the earth from global warming?
Are human beings central and special?
Is it possible that we’ve arisen by pure chance?
Is the Earth an organism?
Are we part of its exobrain?
If Earth is alive, can it reproduce?
Can the universe?
What does the future hold in store for us?
Does God exist?
What is the nature of human reality?
Whether you’re an absolute scientist, a fundamentalist, or one who believes in reading the future in tea leaves, there is something for everyone in this book. The key is that Sagan is open minded and non-judgmental in every regard, saying that nothing is right or wrong, for nothing is certain, but here are all the possibilities. Notes From the Holocene is a book that may not have your answer to life’s questions, but it may get you thinking more about these questions, and start you on a journey with a destination where you will have your own satisfactory answers to these great questions.
If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.
Originally written on October 12th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.