I know it can be hard to find 70 or so extra minutes in your day to sit and watch something that will get you really thinking. ┬áBut if you can find it….I implore you to watch this.

In fact – you don’t really need to watch – just listen while you do something else.
There are so many things about this talk that have my brain whirring off in a million different directions. I am sharing this here as much to encourage you as I am marking it for myself so I can quickly find it again. I know I need to watch it a few more times to take it all in.

And right off the top — Pollan makes a point about how he was originally a ‘garden writer’….a term that I personally struggle with as there are relatively few who also refer to themselves in this way and whom I admire for their professional achievements and skill.
I had a thought over the weekend about how (after the initial shock has worn off), sad I am at the loss of Garden Design Magazine. Not because I recently loved it or will miss its individual issues — see my last post about this, – but because it signifies a loss of something that I once admired and strove for. There were great writers there on occasion and layouts that inspired me. There was a sense of skill in putting it all together. I’ve always admired Martha Stewart magazines for the same reason. Those spreads are so beautiful and the styling and photography so perfect. I’m sad that these outlets are shrinking and disappearing and I am casting about for who to look up to these days. I wonder if it is part of getting older that you outgrow your heroes or are there just fewer heroes? I’m not entirely sure.
Anyway — Michael Pollan is still definitely in my hero category…and to know that he, at one time, considered himself to be a garden writer gives me great hope and inspiration as I continue to explore my own path of writing.

So — if you have watched this video — I would love to chat about it. Other things I am still pondering is the part about Pagans and plants….and the rise of Christianity and the subsequent vilifying of plants (note forbidden apple from tree of life) as well as the idea that plants are as evolved as humans (plant genius) and the part about how the drugs we accept (vs. those we vilify) are a reflection of our cultural values and capitalistic society — and what does it mean that we are beginning to accept cannabis?

So much to talk about…if you want to chat these and other things over — by all means, meet me in the comments.

6 Responses to Michael Pollan at Berkeley

  1. Thank you Rochelle for posting this very interesting lecture, though I was surprised it was taped in 2002. I have not read the book Botany of Desire, so will have to get ahold of it.

    I was intrigued by his discussion of the value of forgetfulness, and the function of cannabinoids in the brain which mediate the process of forgetting. He said you can’t have a great passion with forgetting. This really rings true for gardeners, who forget all the money spent on plants that do not make it past droughts or rabbits or winter, etc. We forget the pain of seeing weeds taking over gardens, or trees struck by lightening and continue to merrily go out each spring and try yet again to develop our own Eden in our backyards. I think all passionate gardeners are a little or a lot already Pagan, because they do have a spiritual relationship with plants.
    There is so much he covered in this lecture, it was delicious. I don’t often comment on your posts, but I enjoy reading your writing and am thankful for all the gardening inspiration you bring to us your readers.

  2. HI Ann– so glad you commented…it means alot to hear from people who read what I say (there are days that I am not sure who I am talking to…) You might want to do a netflix or internet search for the Botany of desire — there is a documentary version (not sure how closely it matches the book) that is really interesting. I saw it on PBS a few years ago — well worth watching.

  3. Just for the record -read it in Genesis 3 for yourself- there was no ‘forbidden apple from the tree of life’. There WAS a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil…but the tree of life was not forbidden. Only after the forbidden fruit was injested was the tree of life off limits: and that an act of mercy (possibly to keep mankind from solidifying / cementing themselves in their fallen state?) I haven’t seen the video yet, just responding to your comments, rochelle.
    The question I have is this: What would anyone rather have: a relationship with the Infinitely Gorgeous Master Gardener/Inventor/Author-Sustainer/Fountain of all beauty, art, desire, life, and Love? (the deeply satisfying Triune God, Love Himself) or settle as a pagan must for an illusionary, ever-shrinking horizon of trying to become ‘one’ with the finite creation? Think about it, folks!
    “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink” – Jesus Christ
    “I am the way, and the truth, and the Life… – Jesus Christ
    “He is before all things, and by him all things consist…”

  4. Thank you so much for posting this Rochelle. I’ve been a fan of Michael Pollan since Botany of Desire. It was interesting to hear him say that he doesn’t believe plants are conscious, also his quote from Mary Bernard at 27:20 about plants being essential for otherworldly experiences. But what if plants are conscious? That consciousness would certainly seem otherworldly to us (or at least unusual). To me this is a more native view of consciousness, something all living beings share (and perhaps non-living, as Pagans believe). Could we experience this consciousness (and maybe communicate with them), without ingesting them? All this does is to move consciousness from a neural level to a cellular or atomic (or other) level. Do yoga and meditation give us this kind of awareness? Back in our hunter-gatherer days, when we were very close to nature, movement and stillness were a large part of life – plenty of opportunity to go beyond the conscious mind. So I think plant agents are helpful for reaching altered states, and reminding us of them, but those states are part of our nature, and the drugs aren’t required.

  5. Rochelle,

    Very interesting post; the next ten years will be extremely interesting regarding controlled plant substances. In the last two weeks, I read an article discussing the possibility of plants and consciousness; it was a scientific study–very interesting also (I will try to locate it). I enjoyed the video segment with Michael Pollan. Thanks!

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