Plants Listen

02022-12-16 | Book, Environment, Podcast, Reading | 1 comment

This week the Interdependence Podcast was recommended to me. I looked at the list of episodes and one, with artist and author James Bridle, appealed to me right away:

Other intelligences and prepping for utopia with James Bridle | Interdependence:

Thrilled to host James Bridle to discuss his recent book on ecologies of non-human intelligence “Ways of Being”, animal sensing and co-operation, deliberative democracy, the singing origins of language, cybernetics, and a great deal more.  Few have such an encyclopedic and generous grasp of this field and it was a real treat.

You should check it out, it will be an hour well spent. Link to James Bridle’s website. He also has a blog – link.

After listening to the podcast I decided to buy the book Ways of Being.

Here is a review of the book:

In this book, Bridle has created a new way of thinking about our world, about being. How would we live our lives and change our world if we embraced this thinking? If we did not place ourselves at the center of everything? Please read this important book. Read it twice. Talk about it. Tell everyone you know.

Link to the Washington Post.

I started reading the book yesterday. Much to contemplate and many highlights to revisit. Here is something I read last night:

In 2014, two biologists at the University of Missouri recorded the sound of cabbage white caterpillars feeding on a cress plant. (Arabidopsis thaliana, rock cress, is the macaque of the botanical sciences, the most popular plant for biological experiments, and it has taught us many things about plant growth and genetics. It was the first flowering plant to have its genome sequenced and its DNA cloned, and it has even gone to the moon.) Having left the caterpillars to munch away for some time, the scientists then removed them and played the sound of their approach back to the plants. Immediately, the plants flooded their leaves with chemical defences intended to ward off predators: they responded to the sound as they would to the actual caterpillars. They heard them coming. Crucially, they didn’t respond in the same way when other sounds – of the wind or of different insects – were played to them. They were able to distinguish between the different sounds, and act appropriately.

That was an excerpt From Ways of Being by James Bridle. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

My mother had a beautiful collection of plants growing in the windows of our apartment in Kóln. Among these plants were a couple of cacti. They grew to be quite large and often bloomed more than once a year. One afternoon a boy, who lived in the neighborhood, came by to ask her about her plant care. He told her that he loved cacti but, although he constantly checked the PH level of the dirt and gave the plants exactly what he had learned from books in the library, they had never bloomed. I remember his dumbfounded look when my mom told him she just gave them water when it seemed like they needed some and she often sang to them. Not a scientific experiment at all, but it taught me at an early age that for plants there is more to thriving than living in the proper dirt.

We are surrounded by intelligence. Much of it we haven’t learned to decode yet. That’s not the fault of fauna and flora… it’s our shortcoming. We are learning about it slowly. Anyway, read James Bridle’s book and you will be able to see what a possible future might look like, if we learn to interact with other intelligences. The book is not a dry scientific text. Bridle serves up plenty of great anecdotes that keep you interested. Perhaps you should start by listening to the podcast – it will give you a good entry into the book.

1 Comment

  1. luna

    Oh yes they do listen, and respond too! And it’s not for nothing that plant-based diets and plant food such as chlorella, algae, wheatgrass, spirulina, kale, parsley, and so many others generally affect our body chemistry very differently than other foods. Maybe they will do a study (or have?) about how eating your own homegrown garden plants can nourish your body better when the plants are talked to, petted, told how appreciated they are, and sung to? I bet there is some device that can measure the body’s neuroelectrical activity when ingesting those nurtured plants……..perhaps like ingesting nurturing and nurtured thoughts or words or actions, they change our physiology. So wonderful!


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