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Deep Play (1999)

by Diane Ackerman

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217291,012 (3.52)5
WithA Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman let her free-ranging intellect loose on the natural world.  Now inDeep Playshe tackles the realm of creativity, by exploring one of the most essential aspects of our characters: the abitlity to play. "Deep play" is that more intensified form of play that puts us in a rapturous mood and awakens the most creative, sentient, and joyful aspects of our inner selves.  As Ackerman ranges over a panoply of artistic, spiritual, and athletic activities, from spiritual rapture through extreme sports, we gain a greater sense of what it means to be "in the moment" and totally, transcendentally human.  Keenly perceived and written with poetic exuberance,Deep Playenlightens us by revealing the manifold ways we can enhance our lives. From the Trade Paperback edition.… (more)

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If you're reading for the pretty words and lyrical descriptions, this is the book for you. If you were wanting to gain insight on the psychological aspect of play, as it relates to humans and animals, this probably isn't the book for you.

After reading the first chapter, I thought I was going to learn something. Turns out I couldn't even finish the book. Somewhat unfocused, the author attempts to example how animals (and humans, if you need that differentiation) are constantly striving for a higher psychological state. This desire is present in our vocabulary and extra-circular activities. The transformation is addictive and requires longer engagement periods for the same "high". Ackerman has a hard time staying on point, and haphazardly references things (so it is impossible to ascertain truth or further research on a point). ( )
  Sovranty | Sep 17, 2013 |
Diane Ackerman, I am convinced, could write an entire book on moldy bread and it would be a treat. So far, I have followed her through gardens, grey matter, Shakespeare, penguins and albatross, and into taste buds, angels, and the fighting rats of Proust. I was saving Deep Play because I had already run through every other Ackerman book I could buy or call in from the library, but decided that the let-down after the 16th was worth an occasion.

With her gift for poetry and an unique understanding of science, Ackerman makes real the wonderful, and helps us see, feel, and taste where the wonder comes in. With Deep Play, she attempts to explain the waking dream state that scientists, artists, and mystics must enter in order to discover and create, and the ceremonies and agreements that connect us all.

All in all, as good an experience as ever. She treats her readers like friends, and I love to argue with her almost as much as I want to follow wherever she takes it into her head to go. My only complaint? This was a brief book, and had me hankering for another go at An Alchemy of Mind to complete my education. ( )
  shelterdowns | Aug 14, 2006 |
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WithA Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman let her free-ranging intellect loose on the natural world.  Now inDeep Playshe tackles the realm of creativity, by exploring one of the most essential aspects of our characters: the abitlity to play. "Deep play" is that more intensified form of play that puts us in a rapturous mood and awakens the most creative, sentient, and joyful aspects of our inner selves.  As Ackerman ranges over a panoply of artistic, spiritual, and athletic activities, from spiritual rapture through extreme sports, we gain a greater sense of what it means to be "in the moment" and totally, transcendentally human.  Keenly perceived and written with poetic exuberance,Deep Playenlightens us by revealing the manifold ways we can enhance our lives. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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