Conversing with the Planets: How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos

Anthony F. Aveni, Author
Anthony F. Aveni, Author Crown Publishers $21 (255p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1975-2
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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Aveni, a professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University, seeks here to integrate--in his view, reintegrate--the rational universe with a more comforting model that takes into account ``the interrelationship between matter and spirit.'' Such ancient astronomically inclined peoples as the Babylonians and the Mayans, he argues, made direct connections between events in the night sky and those on earth, and hence between nature and culture. The Mayans, for example, used their observations of the path of Venus to create a culturally useful myth about planting. While attempting ``to dispel some of the misconceptions we have about our ancient predecessors,'' Aveni the anthropologist ( Empires of Time ) leads Aveni the astronomer ( The Sky in Mayan Literature ) into giving these ancient pre-scientists what seems like more credit than is their due. In the end, his thesis spins out of orbit into deep New Age space; for a more balanced work of comparative astronomy, see E. C. Krupp's Beyond the Blue Horizon . ( Sept. )