David Peat’s book is an intellectual autobiography, with a stronger emphasis on the intellect than on other matters. He mentions the birth of his children, for example, without first alerting us to any romantic attachment, let alone marriage. Nevertheless, Pathways of Chance is an appealing book, even in those places where the concepts Peat is excitedly explaining are hard to grasp.
Peat is a scientist with a daunting curiosity and range of enthusiasms. Growing up in Liverpool during the 1940s and early 50s, he conducted home experiments that dissolved the interior of the fridge and blacked out the neighbourhood. He also read voraciously, looked at paintings and listened to music. “The marriage of art and science remains a great dream for me,” he says. Later, in Canada, he supplemented his research with writing – for radio, for the stage and for print. He made films, too. He is now based in Pari in Italy, where he has set up the Pari Centre for New Learning. Intercut with this story are what Peat calls “excursions”: philosophical and scientific essays. The non-specialist may not follow all the nuances of Peat’s arguments, but should get an impression of a mind that is searching and sympathetic.
Saturday 3 March 2007