This book is fantastic if you want some inspiration...or if you are simply feeling a bit philosophical. Langdon is highly articulate. His intellectual and yet somewhat emotional take on the philosophy behind the symbolism covered in the book is intriguing. The book has a rare quality, in that it can make readers focus the same amount of attention to both the symbols and their explanations, and it leaves you with a desire to go and do something creative.
A totally original and completely fascinating investigation into the way in which many fundamental concepts in life and science are effectively reconciliations of opposites. What we might initially think of as entirely different concepts or feelings may be just opposite poles of a single idea. Happiness and misery, desire and fear, love and hate are obvious examples. Here, Professor John Langdon begins and ends with the Taoist concept of yin and yang and the ancient divination system of the I Ching. But along the way he examines many aspects of the physical world - from astronomy to electricity and mathematics; the natural word - such as seasons and waterfalls; and the world of art and beauty. In each case, he provides stimulating insights into ways of looking at these subjects which will usually not have occurred to us. But - and this is the totally novel brilliance of the book - each topic is illustrated by his wonderful ambigrams. In their basic format, these are words which read the same upside down but here there are many variants, from mirror-image ambigrams to circles, spirals and 3-D models. And the concluding section explains the process of development of this intriguing art form. This is a book that you can pick up and delve into anywhere and enjoy.
If you are wondering why the book should be relevant to Advaita, it is because the ambigram can be seen as a powerful metaphor. Firstly, it presents the appearance of duality but, on investigation is found to be only one - a resolution of seeming opposites. Secondly, the recognition that the symbol is an ambigram does not usually occur immediately. It is only after a period of study and contemplation that the realization suddenly occurs. In this sense, it is a metaphor for the enlightenment that takes place in the mind on the dawning of Self-knowledge. Lastly, appearances should not be taken at face value. If we look beyond the name and form, as John does in this book, we may discover the unity behind the outward show. Overall, a highly recommended book. (And this has nothing to do with the fact that John has also designed the triple ambigram for the cover of the second edition of `Book of One'!)
Dennis Waite, author of The Book of One (N.B. If the image on the 'Book of One' cover that you see is not an ambigram, it is the wrong one! This is the case as I write this review.)
This is an awesome book, in the sense that its actually overwhelming - its brilliance and insight and intelligence. I have trouble reading and looking at it. I have to put it down before my head explodes. One day I shall woman up and take it all in.