[PDF] ✍ The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World By Michael Pollan – Motyourdrive.co.uk

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World summary The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, series The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, book The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, pdf The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World cc98c3fc64 Working In His Garden One Day, Michael Pollan Hit Pay Dirt In The Form Of An Idea Do Plants, He Wondered, Use Humans As Much As We Use Them While The Question Is Not Entirely Original, The Way Pollan Examines This Complex Coevolution By Looking At The Natural World From The Perspective Of Plants Is Unique The Result Is A Fascinating And Engaging Look At The True Nature Of Domestication In Making His Point, Pollan Focuses On The Relationship Between Humans And Four Specific Plants Apples, Tulips, Marijuana, And Potatoes He Uses The History Of John Chapman Johnny Appleseed To Illustrate How Both The Apple S Sweetness And Its Role In The Production Of Alcoholic Cider Made It Appealing To Settlers Moving West, Thus Greatly Expanding The Plant S Range He Also Explains How Human Manipulation Of The Plant Has Weakened It, So That Modern Apples Require Pesticide Than Any Other Food Crop The Tulipomania Of Th Century Holland Is A Backdrop For His Examination Of The Role The Tulip S Beauty Played In Wildly Influencing Human Behavior To Both The Benefit And Detriment Of The Plant The Markings That Made The Tulip So Attractive To The Dutch Were Actually Caused By A Virus His Excellent Discussion Of The Potato Combines A History Of The Plant With A Prime Example Of How Biotechnology Is Changing Our Relationship To Nature As Part Of His Research, Pollan Visited The Monsanto Company Headquarters And Planted Some Of Their NewLeaf Brand Potatoes In His Garden Seeds That Had Been Genetically Engineered To Produce Their Own Insecticide Though They Worked As Advertised, He Made Some Startling Discoveries, Primarily That The NewLeaf Plants Themselves Are Registered As A Pesticide By The EPA And That Federal Law Prohibits Anyone From Reaping Than One Crop Per Seed Packet And In A Interesting Aside, He Explains How A Global Desire For Consistently Perfect French Fries Contributes To Both Damaging Monoculture And The Genetic Engineering Necessary To Support It Pollan Has Read Widely On The Subject And Elegantly Combines Literary, Historical, Philosophical, And Scientific References With Engaging Anecdotes, Giving Readers Much To Ponder While Weeding Their GardensShawn Carkonen


10 thoughts on “The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

  1. says:

    I love books that open my eyes, teach me something, and even go so far as to re educate me on the fallacies foisted upon me by ill informed elementary school teachers To that last end, I found the chapter on Johnny Appleseed very enlightening as well as highly entertaining Michael Pollan is humorous and, let s just say, adventurous than one might expect from a journalist botanist see his passages on hallucinogenic plants I appreciate his willingness to go first in the same way I tip my hat to daring bastard who first tried, say, lobster I assume it went down like this What s this A giant, saltwater, armor clad cockroach Definitely looks poisonous.Fuck it, I m hungry Trying new, unknown food must have been done on a dare or at least with starvation lurking close at hand Farmers on any scale will enjoy and find use in The Botany of Desire As a pallid yellow thumb aspiring to green, I know I learned a few things For one, I ve finally transitioned over to organic apples I don t know who would eat another kind after reading this book Why with the chemicals already Good lord


  2. says:

    All those plants care about is what every being cares about on the most basic genetic level making copies of itselfDid I choose to plant these potatoes, or did the potato make me do it All these plants, which I d always regarded as the objects of my desire, were also, I realized, subjects, acting on me, getting me to do things for them they couldn t do for themselves.Pollan posits that plants are clever little buggers who have tricked and enslaved the human race into doing their bidding.I am not unfamiliar with this thinking Growing up, my father regularly told me the same thing Once when walking home from school on a windy day, a large branch fell on me, striking my shoulder and knocking me to the ground Since my collar bone was not broken, I got up and walked home When I told my father what happened, he said, Of course The trees are always hoping we ll drop dead This one was just a bit aggressive about it CARMEN o.OPAPI Trees are always hoping that the humans or animals walking by will drop dead That way they will have a tasty snack I ve never forgotten what my father told me He was halfway serious in these remarks, and I take them halfway seriously, too Even though I ve seen tons of stupid or silly horror films which dream up scenarios in which plants are trying to kill us , there is an undercurrent of truth in the notion that, in a way, plants are very evolved organisms, much evolved than humans themselves Who can say what their true intentions are I m only half joking, here Despite the rather hokey horror film premise of Pollan s introduction, the book is a smart yet entertaining look at plants and their history of coevolution and codependence with human beings.The book is divided into four parts.1 APPLES This is a very interesting portion of the book A lot of focus is on Johnny Appleseed We also get some fascinating discussions of religion There was an old tradition in northern Europe linking the grape, which flourished all through Latin Christendom, with the corruptions of the Catholic Church, while casting the apple as the wholesome fruit of Protestantism Wine figured in the Eucharist also, the Old Testament warned against the temptations of the grape But the Bible didn t have a bad word to say about the apple or even the strong drink that could be made from it Even the most God fearing Puritan could persuade himself that cider had been given a theological free pass.2 TULIPS This section was hella boring I was bored out of my skull Ugh SO BORING.3 MARIJUANA This was a fascinating section about drugs, Pollan s experiences growing and smoking pot, and why plants that alter human consciousness could be a good thing.We also get gems like this Witches potion recipes called for such things as datura, opium poppies, belladonna, hashish, fly agaric mushrooms, and the skins of toads These ingredients would be combined in a hempseed oil based flying ointment that the witches would then administer vaginally using a special dildo This was the broomstick by which these women were said to travel.Pollan posits that many of our philosophies and our religions come from the influence of drugs There s a lot of research to back him up, which I won t go into here.4 POTATO This was interesting because Pollan discusses the Potato Famine and also GMO potatoes He even grows some GMO potatoes himself in his garden as an experiment Blah blah blah food industry blah blah blah monoculture blah blah blah.Tl dr 3 out of 4 ain t bad The mindnumbing tulip section stops this from being a 5 star book, but I think this is a better book than the only other Pollan book I ve read Cooked A Natural History of Transformation, in which Pollan comes off as a rather entitled and condescending wealthy person There s not much of that here, Pollan is much relatable in this book, perhaps because he s not trying to tell people what to eat and how to live their lives.Wow, Carmen, bitter much I call it how I see it pThis book has so much information and interesting thinking points that I think it is definitely worth reading for anyone who has even the slightest interest in the topics presented here I was surprised the book was so good I m impressed.


  3. says:

    Okay, okay, books by Michael Pollan are clearly a fad right now, but I have bought into it whole heartedly He is an amazing, amazing writer he makes me want to plant a garden, to tour his garden his bedroom what , to only eat organic food, and to find out the story and origin of every morsel of food I put in my body But he does it in a way that isn t overly preachy or agenda driven Instead, he lets you get what he is saying while at the same time telling an engaging, well researched story, both personal and historic, and one that made me want to read quickly to the very end I took many a too long lunch break because I was so hooked.


  4. says:

    The Botany of Desire A Plant s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan introduces the possibility to the reader that plants are using insects, animals and humans to ensure their own survival An interesting book about the symbiosis between all living organism and how Charles Darwin s evolutionary theory of natural selection is happening In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship He masterfully links four fundamental human desires sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control with the plants that satisfy them the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind s most basic yearnings And just as we ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them So who is really domesticating whom What the author did in the book is to address the hybridizing of plant species to fit our needs Although domesticated plants have been multiplied at a much greater rate than in nature, they also stand to disappear due to over hybridization This is highlighted in this book.Hail to Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers How plants manipulate us, as well as animals and insects are riveting reading for sure But how we domesticated plants, and the consequences of our own actions, are much disturbing Watch this documentary for a fascinating insight into this part of plant behaviour The information in this document is much detailed than the book and one is of my favorites If you watched this documentary, you will get a much better idea of how it works.https www.youtube.com watch v Q 4w5It is indeed a mysterious world to get involved in, even if you only want to read about it Plants have souls and feelings That s the bottomline There so many anecdotes I can share concerning the interaction between plants, animals, insects and humans, that it will require a book to do so So I will unhappily sit on my hands and just allow the urge pass me by for now You probably will have to read the book, yes, definitely read the book It s a great start The author approached his subject with sensitivity and great care.OKAY IT S SOAP BOX TIME One comment in the book made me sit up straight Had me hackles raised It s losing a star as a result.I ve sent an excerpt of the book to 30 botanist friends from all over the world, who worked with me on an international DNA project of the natural flora in our country, and just loved the reactions Serious researchers, doing their jobs for decades, could not believe this assumption made in the book According to Jack Goody, an English anthropologist who has studied the role of flowers in most of the world s cultures East and West, past and present the love of flowers is almost, but not quite, universal The not quite refers to Africa, where, Goody writes in The Culture of Flowers , flowers play almost no part in religious observance or everyday social ritual The exceptions are those parts of Africa that came into early contact with other civilizations the Islamic north, for example Africans seldom grow domesticated flowers, and flower imagery seldom shows up in African art or religion Apparently when Africans speak or write about flowers, it is usually with an eye to the promise of fruit rather than the thing itself. That is certainly an interesting, and true statement However, the next paragraph had us all gasping for air Dumbfounded the ecology of Africa doesn t offer a lot of flowers, or at least not a lot of showy ones Relatively few of the world s domesticated flowers have come from Africa, and the range of flower species on the continent is nowhere near as extensive as it is in, say, Asia or even North America What flowers one does encounter on the savanna, for example, tend to bloom briefly and then vanish for the duration of the dry season. My first thought was that an anthropologist won t know that than 80% of the 2400 Pelargonium species originate in southern Africa numerous orchards, too many to list here, horde of proteas, ericas, lilies, flowering trees, and hundreds of highly sought after succulents come from dear mother Africa Some of the international well known botanists comments which can be shared publicly, the rest is unpublishable I read that piece It is nonsense Badly written and poorly researched is my comment Africa is the best at all things natural, most especially flowers I think they are also missing that flowers are attached to plants and we Africans have been interested in the other parts as they hold the goodies that cure us of almost any illness We used the flowers to help us get to the right plant It has been so tied up in African culture that it is magical and mysterious sangoma style so the knowledge never made it into books We laugh at this book from a dizzy height Nevertheless, let s leave it at that Michael Pollan concentrates on four domesticated plants and their uses to humans The philosophy, history, and huge impact the plants had on human survival is discussed with a focus on the uses which satisfied mankind s four basic needs sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control He confirms why it has become highly essential to preserve the original plant species in nature The plants are altered, the less chance there is of the species to survive a dangerous situation for both this planet and mankind Hybridization also happens in nature For instance, bees pollinate a different variety of one species with the result of new species developing from it Crassulas, in nature, is a prime example of this So many cross breeds develop that it is a headache for botanists to identify those species correctly Most people in the world are not aware of the huge challenges facing global food production More than 60% of the world s population currently reside in cities, with little or no access to land Countries, such as Japan, have already began to expand vertically, and not horizontally A complete city, providing housing, schools, hospital and shopping areas are provided in high rise buildings There is simply not enough space horizontally any to expand Another current trend worldwide is for people to move out of suburbs into inner cities again It is predicted that suburbs will become the future slums Highways, the cost of vehicles, fuel and traffic congestion, the decline in oil resources, are discouraging the future development of suburbs Many boarded up or abandoned houses can be found everywhere Huge inner slums and squatter camps are popping up all over the world as a result of uncontrolled population growth, unemployment, job losses and lack of job opportunities Urban people are and unable to propagate their own food Add to that the limited areas suitable for agriculture in the world, with limited water resources, and the picture becomes a little complicated While the world s human population increases at an alarming rate, the agricultural land to produce food for the masses do not As a result it was necessary to develop plants that could produce fruits on the same parcel of land and have new possibilities to protect themselves against water restrictions and pests Extended families do not manage farms any Farmers are forced to mechanize, which is not only expensive, but also detrimental to oil resources in the world A staggering number of farmers are leaving the industry annually due to the high costs and low profits or no profits in food production.In hybridization, and the very expensive research to accomplish the outcomes, different plants are used to cross breed in order to address the challenges For instance, the DNA of one plant which has a natural defense against pests are bred with another plant which do not have the ability My husband produced hybridized seeds of tomatoes which produced uniform color and fruit size and had a longer shelf life I cannot name the company who sponsored it not Monsanto , but can mention that a cantaloupe gene was used to accomplish this another edible fruit In pumpkin hybrids two different varieties were used to produce a uniform, round pumpkin which which was smaller in size and could fit into a shopping bag so that the consumer could handle it The author mentions an incident he read about in which the DNA of fireflies were added to tobacco plants My philosophy is if you haven t seen it with your own eyes, don t spread the story I almost lost interest in this book after reading that However, the author made the effort to visit the research facilities of the Monsanto company, interviewed farmers, and made an effort to understand what is recently done to increase food production and the methods that is used He states that unrelated species in nature cannot be crossed But then alleges that Monsanto crossed that barrier Nature , he says, exercise a kind of veto over what culture can do with a potato Donkeys and horses were cross bred, but the resulting animal were sterile That s a fact in nature I agree with the author s statement All domesticated plants are in some sense artifical, living archives of both cultural and natural information that people have helped to design Any given type of potato reflects the human desires that have been bred into it. There is sadly not enough space left on earth to allow people each a piece of land and enough water to produce their own food We cannot go back to wearing natural fibers, since there are not enough grazing or space, once again, to keep the animals on that land which will produce those needed fibers That s the bottom line Too many people, too little natural resources For instance, if we allow 7 billion people to strip mine plants in trying to return to natural medicines, there will be nothing left of nature It is therefore essential that everything we use be produced commercially in particular agricultural zones all over the world, and to protect natural fauna and flora in designated protected zones We have to hybridize to survive as the human race For the past seventy years it has become necessary and the challenge will be bigger in future Humans are already dependent on it and there s no way out of it If you are fortunate enough to have space for your own fruit and vegetable garden, make use of it to plant your own food Use vintage seed and go organic, since you do not have to produce masses of fruits and vegetables for billions of people living in urban areas with limited space Organic farming is labor intensive Commercial farmers do not have enough labor resources to do the same.The good news is that and commercial farmers are moving away from monocultural farming, with involvement in the agronomic side of soil management Biodiversity is making a comeback.In the end, it is obvious from the discussions in the book, why Africa is still the cradle of mankind Not mentioned in the book, it is just my own reaction In Africa, people did not listen to the flowers to spread them in unnatural selections Africans had a vast knowledge of the value of plants in their natural state, for thousands of years, used it for various purposes, still do, but allowed the plants to remain part of the natural biodiversity around them In fact, should an apocalypse hit this planet, it will be the people who respected the natural laws, who would survive And that will be the Africans, most probably They did not change nature, and lived in harmony with it all their lives The message I take from the book, as an African and naturalist, is that my continent knew what they were doing when they left nature alone Perhaps they were not left behind, they were in fact far ahead in time Oh well, it is something to think about, at least I enjoyed the book and recommend it for sure Sometimes there are fairy tales in real life Just listen to the flowers


  5. says:

    4 What, no cannabis leaf emoji Leave it to Canada to provide a maple leaf stand in Sweetness Beauty Intoxication ControlSex Loveliness Desire HungerIn 4 parts on a grand botanical scale and the perfect accompaniment on my nature walks.


  6. says:

    This is a marvellous book, which discusses the science, sociology, aesthetics and culture, relating to four plants.ApplesTulipsMarijuanaPotatoesBecause of who I am, the things that interested me most were the tulip and potato sections.With the first, he discusses the notorious obsession surrounding tulip cultivation in Holland in the 17th century With the second he discusses a genetically modified potato which was on sale in the US at the time he wrote the book, in 2001 The potato is a variety called NewLeaf This is no longer a product being promoted by the company which produces the seeds for it Monsanto of course , but what the author has to say about it is still very relevant with regard to current and future vegetable research It has left me feeling a lot less blaz about GM vegetables and monocultures This may be the only way forward if we are to feed the vast number of people on this planet, but it comes at a price and that price may be largely unknown In contrast to the huge vegetable factory type farming discussed in most of this section, Pollan also visits an organic farmer, and the difference hits you big time Everything about the factory farms are so alien, and brutal in their approach, they seemingly use anything they can to get the most produce for the least bucks and everything about the organic farm is so much harmonious, and working respectfully with nature Interestingly the main factory type vegetable farmer he spoke to, also grows organic vegetables, but just for him and his family s consumption Go figure.He also fairly briefly discusses the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1852, and that too was extremely interesting.And now on to matters of the heart The section on tulips in the 17th century was a great pleasure to read Here I am just going to type a few chunks out of the book, some rather chopped about I m afraid for those of you who fancy a brief excursion into a time of passion, madness and decadence view spoiler Tulip mania in Holland reached its peak between 1634 and 1637.The queen of all tulips was Semper Augustus Generally regarded at the time as the most beautiful flower in the world In 1624 there were only a dozen or so specimens, most of them owned by Dr Adriaen Pauw.This was the intricately feathered red and white tulip one bulb of which could change hands for 10,000 guilders at the height of the mania, a sum that would have bought one of the grandest canal houses in Amsterdam It is now gone from nature But I have seen paintings of it the Dutch would commission portraits of venerable tulips they couldn t afford to buy Beside a Semper Augustus a modern tulip looks like a toy.A tulip that falls out of favour soon goes extinct Generally a strain won t last unless it is regularly replanted, so the chain of genetic continuity can be broken in a generation Even when people do continue to plant a particular tulip, the vigour of that variety which is propagated by removing and planting the bulb s offsets , the little genetically identical bulblets that form at its base eventually fades and must be abandoned Tulips, in other words, are mortal.No tulip appears in the flower crowded borders of medieval tapestries, nor is the flower ever mentioned in the early herbals the Old World encyclopedias of the world s known plants and their uses The fierceness of the passion that the tulip unleashed in Holland in the seventeenth century and to a lesser extent in France and England may have had something to do with the flower s novelty in the west, and the suddenness of its appearance It is the youngest of our canonical flowers Ogier Ghislain De Busbecq, an Austrian, claimed to have introduced the first tulip to Europe, sending a consignment of bulbs from Constantinople in 1554 The word tulip is a corruption of the Turkish word for turban Tulips, like apples, do not come true from seed which accounts for the astonishing variety it can produce..though it takes 7 years before a tulip grown from seed flowers and shows its new colours In seventeenth century Holland botany became a national pastime, followed as closely and avidly as we follow sports today.Land in Holland being so scarce and expensive, Dutch gardens were miniatures, measured in square feet rather than acres and frequently augmented with mirrors The Dutch thought of their gardens as jewel boxes, and in such a space even a single flowercould make a powerful statement.What the Dutch really sought were broken tulips, these were flowers where you get a white or yellow ground, with intricate feathers or flames of a vividly contrasting hue.In the 1920s the electron microscope was invented, and scientists discovered that the virus causing broken tulips was spread by myzus persicae, the peach potato aphid Peach trees were common in seventeenth century gardens By the 1920s the Dutch regarded their tulips as commodities to tradeand since the virus weakened the bulbs it infected the offsets of a broken tulip were small and few in number , Dutch growers set about ridding their fields of the infection.There was another Dutch obsession a quest that has gone on for 400 years the quest for a black tulip Today we have Queen of the Night a dark, glossy maroonish purple Breeders today are busily seeking a new black tulip because they know that this current standard bearer is probably on her way out Alexandre Dumas wrote a novel The Black Tulip in 1850 based on this search hide spoiler


  7. says:

    In East Asian cultures according to my increasingly Japanese daughters the number four brings bad luck This is because it sounds a bit like the word for death Clearly the number four has no such associations for Michael Pollan The Omnivore s Dilemma is based around four meals and this one is based around four plants I ve done than just enjoy these two books, they have completely enchanted me whilst also informing me and keeping me greatly amused.Now, desire sounds like a strong word to use about botany There is, of course, that Frank Zappa song Call Any Vegetable and it will respond to you I think this is also the song which ends with the memorable line, O what a pumpkin Now that isn t quite the desire Pollan is talking about here His four plants are the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato As a one time Irishman I have no problem with the idea that the potato might make the list of plants of desire, but I can see that others might struggle most with that one being included.This book is based on the idea that plants use us as much as we use them and the plants best able to meet our desires are the plants we help most to spread about the world So much so that we tend to make monocultures of those plants that best match our desires something that is arguably as much a problem for the plants as it is a boon for them.Do you know when you sort of know the story to something, even if you don t quite know the details I had that kind of relationship with the story of Johnny Appleseed aka John Chapman While I had some notion of him going around frontier America planting apple seeds and ten points for promoting dental health he was never really going to cut it beside, say, Daniel Boone what a dream come er true er was he Little did I know that rather than being a man dedicated to the random distribution of apple seeds, he actually sold apple trees to pioneers when not considering matrimony with stray 10 year olds Pioneers were keen to buy the said apple trees not due to the dearth of doctors being kept away by all those apples being eaten, but rather the equally troubling shortage of bartenders Apples being as good a way as any to make a pleasant alcoholic drink and one that wasn t complained about in the Bible It is here that Pollan develops one of his major metaphors borrowed from Nietzsche that most popular of masturbatory German philosophers of the dichotomy between the Apollonian and the Dionysian I ve generally found this to be one of the lucid and intelligent things Nietzsche ever said and so wasn t disappointed that so much time was devoted to this idea in this book Basically, Apollo was the god of order and light, Dionysus the god of wine and orgies Our obsession with growing the same potato all over the world to make the perfect McDonalds fry is symbolic of the Apollonian desire Johnny Appleseed growing apple trees from seed and thereby getting a vast number of genetically different trees symbolic of the Dionysian.This central tension forms a large part of the basis of the book It proves an interesting thing to say about Tulips too, and obviously also of marijuana I guess it is possible that if Dionysus was with us today he might well be a pot head The stuff about marijuana is very interesting Particularly the fact that it has become about 10 times potent over the years and that this increase in potency is directly attributable to the war on drugs Pollan makes an interesting case for the idea that if the US government hadn t spent billions of dollars imprisoning its citizens and fighting a war it could never win, pot would still be coming into the States from Mexico and would not have been bred up to being the super drug it is today Pollan says that his initial reaction to smoking pot was much the same as mine has always been That its main effects seemed to be to make me feel paranoid and stupid Having been brought up in the loony left I really didn t need chemistry to help me be paranoid, or stupid, for that matter Apparently, this is because on the rare occasions when I did smoke pot I was smoking blue collar marijuana Which is probably for the best.Again, as with the apples and the tulips, I did know much of the story of marijuana before I started reading, but not really all of the details The story of tulips causing a major economic bubble is worth reflecting on at the moment The plants themselves are equally fascinating, as are little facts gleaned along the way about depression and plant viruses.But the section on the potato is riveting and not just for the Irish This is similar to the first section of The Omnivore s Dilemma on corn We really are going to have to do something about the way we produce food and if you need to know why, then reading this chapter will make it all clear If the only way we can grow potatoes for McDonald s fries is to kill the planet then perhaps and this is just a suggestion we shouldn t be eating McDonald s fries.I think I liked The Omnivore s Dilemma better than this one, but really, they were both fascinating and well worth the read.


  8. says:

    I ve wanted to read this book ever since it came out, but, so far, I ve been pretty deeply disappointed by it From the jacket copy and reviews I d read, I d come to expect a poetic lay science book about the entwined destinies of plants and humans Hell, that s what the author s introduction led me to expect, too.I did not expect, nor want, most of the chapter on the apple to be concerned about the historical realities of Johnny Appleseed than with the apple itself I didn t want the author to neglect almost the whole history of the fruit before 1776, by virtue, apparently, of being too lazy to do than pay lip service to anything that didn t happen in America If I hear one cute little musing about Johnny Appleseed, I will start seriously considering not listening to this book any.I hope the damned thing gets interesting in the next chapter, that s all I m saying But I don t have very high hopes Updated I don t think I ever even finished the dratted thing.


  9. says:

    Packed with food related history, trivia and stories, Michael Pollan attempts to explain how four types of plants have had such a large effect on humanity We automatically think of domestication as something we do to other species, but it makes just as much sense to think of it as something certain plants and animals have done to us, a clever evolutionary strategy for advancing their own interests I believe that our lives are intimately intertwined with our environment, even if we can t quite see how Pollan removes the veil between apples, tulips, marijuana, potatoes, and mankind in order to illustrate how the plants evolved and what kinds of shenanigans they ve brought on civilization in the process Our grammar might teach us to divide the world into active subjects and passive objects, but in a coevolutionary relationship every subject is also an object, every object a subject That s why it makes just as much sense to think of agriculture as something the grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees My favorite chapter was about the tulips Did you know at one point in the Dutch Republic a tulip bulb cost as much as a house It was called tulipmania and it caused enormous havoc in the local economy when the tulip bubble burst.I also learned about the evolution of flowers, which I didn t know anything about before reading this I had only ever considered them from a spiritual perspective I think it was Eckhart Tolle who talked about flowers being the spiritual evolution of plants It s rather interesting actually if you re into that kind of thing But I do wonder if it isn t significant that our experience of flowers is so deeply drenched in our sense of time Maybe there s a good reason we find their fleetingness so piercing, can scarcely look at a flower in bloom without thinking ahead, whether in hope or regret.Pollan s writing style wanders no where quickly, so readers who have little patience for storytelling non fiction may want to choose a different book I rather liked it.I think he may have oversimplified the plants and humanity relationship by picking only one motivating desire per plant Let s be real, things are never as simple as that But for the premise of this book, it worked well enough.Basically, The Botany of Desire encourages readers to consider what plants get from us as much as what we get from them It s a different perspective, like looking at your home from the level of a toddler rather than your usual height There s things to learn and puzzle out and discover that you may have never even imagined.Recommended for readers interested in botany and different worldviews.


  10. says:

    As beguiling as the plants this book enlightened me about


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