Victor MacGill Chaos and Complexity
Magic and Mystery
Victor MacGill's website
Mandelbrot Set

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

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My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
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Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
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Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
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Short previews
of all talks

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My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
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Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
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Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

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Other pages on my site.....

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Theosophical Soc logo

The Dunedin Theosophical Society

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Evolve logo

The Evolve Holistic Development Trust
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After October 2008, the books Victor is reading is included in his monthly newsletter

Books Victor is Reading

Reweaving the Web by Jay Ray (Sparrowhawk) (October 2008)

This book has recently been published by a friend who dins her spiritual direction from the world of Shamanism. Like Ubuntu below, it described an inspiring journey of discovery. That saw her return to England; to the land of her ancestors and to link with the land and her ancestors. She spent time in Australia, but has found New Zealand as her home. It is a great read, although I do find for me she romanticises the shamanic worldview and demonises the corporate world and would have prefered a better balance.

Ubuntu by Getrude Matshe (October 2008)

Having met Getrude at a Life Coaching conference in Queenstown and finding her talk to the conference totally inspiring, I bought the book. The book is simply written and very easy to read, but tells a truly amazing story about what is possible in life. She traces her life from her village in Zimbabwe where AIDS and poverty placed enormous stresses on daily life through to studying in London and then emigrating to New Zealand to be a highly sucessful business woman.

The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter (September 2008)

Joseph Tainter takes an academic look at some societies that have collpased in order to discover some of the underlying gfactors that saw them collapse. In patricular he looked at the collapse of the Roman Empire, The Mayan civilisatoin and the Chacoan society of the American Southwest. His main conclusion is that diminishing marginal returns led to the collapses. As a society develops resources become increasingly harder to access and the level of organisation needed increases. It will eventually reach the point where these difficulties outway the advantages of development and hte society reaches a critical point where collapse becomes much more likely.
Images of a Complex World by Robin Chapman and Julien Sprott (September 2008)
This book has many great images of fractals with poetry and short descriptions of the concepts used in chaos Theory. There is a CD that comes with the book that includes all the fractals used.

Biocosm; The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe  by James Gardner (August 2008)

James Gardner gives an interesting view of the universe by proposing that the very fabric of the universe is intelligent in itself and that the unfolding of life and consciousness are states of existence that just have to be, because it is the natural unfolding of the intelligence inherent in everything that is. It is extremely well documented and the arguments draw on a very wide range of sources to pull together a theory that gives us a ne idea of how we have come to be that bridges the dvide between science and spirituality.

Five Minds for the future by Howard Gardner (July 2008)

Howard Gardner is renowned world wide for his work on Multiple Intelligences. Previous to this intelligence had been defined in narrow intellectual terms. He recognised that intelligence is much broader, so he included other skills such as intrapersonal intelligence and musical intelligence. This has meant that we are now able to assess a far wider range of components that may make up intelligence.
In Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner again proposes that we need to redefine how we see ourselves and presents the idea that there are five types of mind needed to cope with the challenges we face in the future.
The first is the disciplined mind. He states that we need at least one field of knowledge in which we have an in depth understanding and a sufficient level of expertise. This forms the foundation of all that follows.
The second is the synthesising mind in which information from different areas is brought together to form a coherent body of knowledge. The third is the creating mind. It is not just taking existing knowledge and synthesising it, but is having new ideas and linking knowledge in novel ways to create innovative solutions.
The next mind is the respectful mind, where we work in with other people so that differences between people can be accommodated and help bring about higher levels of productivity and understanding. This respectfulness needs to be genuine and not just used as a strategy to get what one wants.

Finally is the ethical mind which requires reflecting on one’s role and actions. It means knowing and living from the core values of your profession and handing on those values to the next generation. In the respectful mind and ethical mind, issues are less clear and more open to interpretation.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence concept is sometimes criticised as being more intuitive than empirical and the same could be argued here, especially with these two minds. Howard Gardner has a strong background in education, so many of his examples relate to the world of academia and the teaching of the younger generation.

Howard Gardner does not specifically relate in any depth to the principles of chaos and complexity, but he does clearly recognise that we need to use all five minds to best cope with the complexities of modern life. It is interesting to see how he sees the five minds being connected. In some ways he presents them as a nested hierarchy where one is gained leading onto the next, but he also stresses the necessity for all five minds to be developed from the beginning. Respect especially, he states, needs to be inculcated from the beginning to ensure that it remains a core part of the development of an individual. It may have been interesting for Gardner to have explored in more depth the question of what sort of change is likely in the future and how the different minds he proposes will enable us to cope more effectively with the challenges that will arise from our increasingly complex, technological world?”

All in all, Howard Gardner presents us with a useful framework for looking at how we can develop our thinking in an holistic way so as to allow us to face the ordeals that await us in the future. This book lays the foundation for good discussion on the types of mind that will see us successfully navigate what could be a very treacherous journey into the 21st century.

Archetypes for Spiritual Direction: Discovering the Heroes Within by Bruce Tallman (July 2008)

This book is the most similar to my book, When the Dragon Stirs, so in a way it is hard to give an unbiased view as I constantly compare his ideas to my own. He skillfully describes the four archetypes of Gillette and Moore and their negative expressions and unfolds a pathway to spiritual direction through working with these archetypes.

I am interested to  make contact with him as we both make connections and investigate areas the other has not. This is certainly a recommended book for this area of knowledge.

Mama Tina: The inspiring sequel to Bridge Across my Sorrows by Christina Noble and Gretta Curran Brown (July 2008)

This book tells the story of Christina Noble, an Irish woman who went to Vietnam to work with the street children in Saigon. She had a history of abuse and violence in her own childhood, but nevertheless works tirelessly for the children of Vietnam and also in Mongolia. She had very small beginnings, but there is now a large, international, well organised foundation undertaking the work. It is a great inspiring story of what a person can achieve to help others.

The Elephant in the Room, Silence and denial in everyday life, Eviatar Zerubavel (June 08)

This is a good little book looking at denial and how we avoid looking at issues in life. It also looks in detail about how we conspire consciously or unconsciously with others in our denial. I am however left with the feeling that there is another level of depth to the issue, that perhaps is to do with how deception and denial is necessary for us to maintain autonomy

A Short History of Almost Anything by Bill Bryson (May 08)

Bill Bryson write about science in a very readable way with a lot of interesting personal background on the scientists that keeps attention. Did you know that the planet Uranus might have been called "George" instead! It is a good introduction to all the areas of science that are so influential in our lives.

Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution by Steve McIntosh      (May 08)

This is great! Integral consciousness is a newly developing field, so we do not know what mature forms of it will look like. It's growth has been dominated by the work of one author, Ken Wilber. His output and conciseness of thinking has been phenomenal. The down side of this is that his ideas tend to be seen as the whole of integral thinking, rather than one view if it. Steve McIntosh critically looks at the whole area and asks some very pertinent questions that may have an effect on the whole direction of integral consciousness. I found it very easy to read, but my familiarity with the area of knowledge may mean it is not as easy for someone without a background in WIlber's work. I loved it.

Lonely Planet Guides to Vietnam and Hong Kong/Macau (April 08)

I read these to prepare for my holiday to Vietnam and Hong Kong. They provided a good background knowledge and some tips that helped improve my holiday.

Beyond Natural Selection by Robert Wesson (April 08)

This book provides lots of detail about evolution and the processes involved. He shows that natural selection is not always the prefect process it is often made out to be with ever perfect forms of life being created. Often natural selection creates good enough solutions and some creatures end up with some extremely maladaptive traits. Tyrannosaurus Rex's silly little arms are not very effective, but they are not enough of an impediment to make it a very effective killing machine. It is quite dense reading because of how it details so many examples of evolution and took me while to read through.

The Chaos Point: the World at Crossroads by Ervin Laszlo (Feb 08)

Evin Laslzo outlines his ideas about the looming crisis before our planet. He sees 2012 as predicted in the Mayan calendar, and as he says scientific data is showing, as the crucial point where our planet will either descend into chaos or transcend the present reality to a new level of social organisation and spiritual growth. He outlines what we need to do for the world to bifurcate to a higher level rather than lapsing into chaos.

Simplexity:The Simple Rules of a Complex World by Jeffrey Kluger (Jan 08)

This book gives an introduction to the world of Chaos and Complexity Theory. It has minimal explanation of the concepts of complexity, but focuses on the issues that arise from complexity being observed in the world. It covers areas such as the stock market, company failures,baseball scores, security, language learning and the health system. This is not a book I would recommend for someone wishing to understand complexity and its principles.

The Ulysses Voyage: Sea Search for the Odyssey, Tim Severin (Jan 08)

This is similar to the Jason voyage. I have skim read this book, but it follows Ulysses (Odysseus in Greek) returning from try to Ithaca. Following his journey, he suggests that Ulysses went from Troy and almost reached the mainland oif Greece, but was blown off to Northern Africa. He then made his way back to Crete and then up the western coast, going past his home, before returning back to the island of Ithaca. He shows well how history becomes myth.

Books read in 2007

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