Posts Tagged ‘affective ecology’

‘I’m In Love With A Tree! It’s The Best Sex I Ever Had!’

2015 03 23 woman falls in love with tree

Careful, Emma. With all this publicity, Tim could get pretty poplar in that neck of the woods.

This photo of a story from the UK junk tabloid Closer has been making the internet rounds, prompting many to speculate on Tim’s prowess compared to Groot’s . . .

2015 03 23 Groot - for woman falls in love with tree

Actually, Closer does go so far as to (allegedly) get a clinical psychologist to say that Ms. McCabe has “condition known as dendrophilia.” Dr. Mark Griffiths, Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, has posted A Beginner’s Guide to Dendrophilia which discusses how the term dendrophilia “has now been adopted by some in the sexology field to refer to those who have a fetishistic or paraphilic interest in trees.”

So it is a thing. Huh.

2015 03 23 cucumber better than man


Planting a Clock That Tracks Hours by Flowers

2015 02 18 29GARDEN1-articleLarge

The Horologium Florae, or floral clock: “The professionals said it could not be done. They had never tried it, and they didn’t know any public garden that had tried it, and they wouldn’t recommend anyone else give it a try.”

“Flower opening has inspired many artists and seems of special emotional value to people,” write the sober scientists of the Journal of Experimental Botany. Support for their suggestion, writes Michael Tortorello in the NYT, rests in the sentimental British garden journals of the early 19th century, where the flower clock inspired some marvellously bad poetry:

Broad o’er its imbricated cup,

The goat’s-beard spreads its golden rays,

But shuts its cautious petals up,

Retreating from the noontide blaze.”

Now, readers of the Plant Intelligence Project will know that questions around the emotional value of plant behaviour, and of whether stuff like the above is bad poetry is are what I like to go on about (see my essay, whenever the eff it finally appears, on Shelley’s “The Sensitive Plant”).

But Tortorello’s article (thanks Brian Bacchus, for sending it to me) appears just a day after I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent novel The Signature of All Things (Penguin, 2013), in which she keeps alive the idea of timekeeping flowers:

In her ninth summer, completely on her own, Alma learned to tell time by the opening and closing of flowers. At five o’clock in the morning, she noticed, the goatsbeard petals always unfolded. At six o’clock, the daisies and globeflowers opened. When the clock struck seven, the dandelions would bloom. At eight o’clock, it was the scarlet pimpernel’s turn. Nine o’clock: chickweed. Ten o’clock: meadow saffron. By eleven o’clock the process begins to reverse. . . . What Alma wanted to know most of all was how the world was regulated. What was the master clockwork behind everything? (p. 63)

Tortorello notes that “the poetry of the flower clock continues to grip the imagination.” He finds a few recent references but notes that “three authors do not make a trend.”

Gilbert makes four. And me, I suppose, makes five.

Vampire Plant ‘Sweet Talks’ to Victims While Sucking Out Vital Fluids


2014 08 24 vampire plant on sugar beet

Could predatory behaviour in plants engage in the same twisted emotional BS as human exploitation? One write-up of new research published in Science suggests that some manipulative whispering is going on when strangleweed gets in at the DNA/RNA level and “tells its victims how to grow.”

“At the same time, the parasite weed was also getting feedback on how things were going with the victim plant and somehow perhaps acted concerned, letting the Arabidopsis victim ‘know’ things such as ‘I feel your pain’ as creepy and unbelievable as that sounds.”

Strangleweed sounds like a real jerk.

Newsweek’s report on the same paper is a bit less provocative.

Here’s the actual Science paper. Enjoy!

Natasha Myers’ Kriya for Cultivating Your Inner Plant


2014 04 01 bedel and myers tumblr_n1wiefOwBi1rfm6vfo1_1280


Natasha Myers, associate professor of anthropology at York, fellow Travis Bedel enthusiast and member of the friendly Plant Studies Collaboratory, has written a Kriya for Cultivating Your Inner Plant.

A Kriyā, says Wikipedia, is most commonly understood as  “a ‘completed action’, technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result. Another meaning of Kriya is an outward physical manifestation of awakened kundalini, such as a spontaneous body movement related to Kundalini energy flow.” As a poet, I love reading Myers’ kriya as a text to recite – or rather, to embreath – again and again. Myers’  text can be read as a set of ideovocal poses to flow through, as idea moving in and out through the lungs, as language as  transformative breathing practice. 

Anyone who has ever had someone say the right thing in the right way at the right time, such that their body responded, can understand the power of intention and language combined.

Anyone who is familiar with this blog can vibe with Myers’ assertion that a vocalized practice can lead us into, or away from, an idea of a self as like “one giant nerve cell merging with soil.”

Myers’ “invitation to deepen your already multispecies Yoga practice” blends theories of affective ecology with research on plant science. If only it were fashionable in lit circles to discuss the breath and poetry and Eastern philosophy from a postcolonial perspective: there was good reason why poetry discourse moved on from that (the awkwardness of white, Western North American poets of the 60s and 70s wanting to be non-brown yogic sage-shamans, for one).

But if one perhaps starts with the acknowledgement that these South Asian thinkers knew something then that we want to know again, now, in our time – we can think simultaneously about what bodies inhabit the most authoritative spaces of thought production and wonder how the affect/interspecies wisdom we’re turning to Eastern thought to express irrupts back into Western thought at the site of the idea of the plant.