AS A THEORY
Written and Illustrated by
Ira Livingston

by Ira Livingston
(Poetics Lab, 2015) is now available FREE in several editions for all Apple/Mac devices and for all PCs, Android, tablets and e-readers.

The original iBooks edition features an innovative design, interactive scrolling and zooming illustrations, pop-up hypertextual asides, an embedded flip-book and video, and more illustrations. This version is downloadable to any iPad (recommended), Mac computer or phone, and some PCs. If you haven't read a full-on digital book before, this would be a good time to start! It's self-explanatory when you click through this link.

For Apple/Mac, both editions are available on the iTunes store. The original (interactive) edition is the one with the May 2015 date: I recommend this one!

Download iBook

The Google Play Books (for PC and Android), Kindle, Nook and other editions have all the text and the most important illustrations but not the interactive and hypertextual features.

Download Play Book
Download Kindle
Download Nook

Note that, because of the vagaries of "price matching" practices, some websites may not offer the book for free at all times: if so, you can either buy it (for Kindle in particular) at Amazon's usual mandatory minimum price of $1.99, or if it will work for your device/app, go to another site to get it for free. The iBooks store (for Apple/Mac), Google (for PC/Android), and Barnes & Noble (for Nook) seem to have it for free all the time.

The frontispiece of Poetics as a Theory of Everything depicts a hand holding out a tab of LSD, an emblem of the author's ambition to take the reader on a journey into

...a universe full of psychedelic meaning.

*Disclaimer: All brain re-wiring requires a certain amount of attentive work, sometimes known as thinking. Your actual mileage may vary. Metaphors may be realer than they appear.

Drawing on poetics and visual art as well as philosophy and the science of complex systems, the book explores what our seemingly most artificial conceptual constructs (such as poems and metaphors) and even the most illegitimate offspring of the human brain (such as drug-induced hallucinations) can tell us about the natural processes that shape living creatures and other systems.

Poetics begins by considering current obsessions with both sustainability and apocalypse— symptoms of the postmodern condition— and follows them down to their roots, which extend all the way into our common predicament as living beings.  Subsequent chapters take up constraint (a fundamental creative principle in poetry, games— and thermodynamics) and meaning (understood as a Rube Goldberg-like process whereby systems interact with their fellow systems, subsystems, and environments).  The book ends lyrically with a series of prose sonnets and illustrations that develop these principles.

Throughout, text and images embody a principle compatible both with systems theory and a kind of Daoism: that the same process that leads to the emergence, consolidation and elaboration of form also leads to its fragmentation and dissolution.

Trained first as a visual artist and then in poetics, cultural theory and the study of complex systems, Ira Livingston teaches and directs the Poetics Lab initiative at Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviewers have described Livingston's previous books as “lucid, playful, and reader-friendly,” “exhilarating and moving,” and “high-level discursive performance art full of conceptual kicks.”

Explore and/or buy Ira's book Where God Comes From: Reflections on Science, Systems and the Sublime (Zer0 Books, 2012)

Download from iBooks a free copy of Ira's short story Why I Live in the Climate Change National Park.