Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secret Life Of Plants

The Secret Life Of Plants came out in 1973. I read that book and it convinced me not so much that the book had it completely right but that something real was happening in the souls of plants. I was so convinced, found it so in keeping with my own experience that I am now fully of the faith that sentience extends down into complex plant life if not all the way through so called inanimate matter. There is always an inside to life and life may extend just as I say through it all.

The Ivy In My Life

The English ivy
climbs so slowly that I lose
sight of it's intent
until that one day
when I freak out completely
and begin frantic
remedial work
pulling it back down, hearing
its highly pitched shrieks.

August 23, 2009 12:00 AM


  1. I'm a little freaked out, Christopher.

    It's uncanny too. Today at the end of my walk there was a group of grey trunks of pine. They were wet from the bottom up. I rationalized what was probable, that the rain wet the entire trunks but that the sun and wind dried the upper parts, leaving only the bottoms wet. I began writing in my mind about these trees who had wept and how their tears fell directly into their laps. I felt very tenderly for them.

    But earlier today I cleaned the top of a cabinet on which is my only plant. I got it twelve years ago or so. I didn't want it. Tried to give it away or kill it but it stayed with me. It thrived until last winter, despite my lack of attention. Nothing had changed last year other than the fact that I was going through a rough time. I think I'll go and water it, touch its leaves.


  2. Carl Jung felt that this sort of thing deserved a name and coined the term synchronicity, meaning that the timing of occurrences like this are intrinsically meaningful and if you have courage and are sensitive to them you can easily sense what it means. Not only that, they cast shadows ahead as well as behind them. And what is meaningful for you need not be for me at the same time. Only this time I am happy that on 23 August, over a year ago I chose to write this poem so that on this day we could share it - and that over thirty years ago I should read a book that changed me so that I could write the poem and some commentary too, and that some time ago you should decide I was worth following...

    All of this leads to what just happened. This is an amazing confluence of events. Of course plants care. Of course they do. That idea is actually more mundane than the sequences of events that have led to this evening.

  3. the intertwining of lives and ideas and poetics is such an intricate dance, isn't it. the poem and the comments were such a lovely pairing.
    i love ivy, and how it intertwines... and what it calls forth.

  4. I feel the sentience of things in nature. Ivy and I have a special relationship.

  5. I am having a good time doing these things. I think the internet is beyond amazing for this kind of associative meandering.

  6. Yes, yes, and yes! To the synchronicity of it all.


  7. I need to watch this when I have more time as I haven't seen it, nor heard of it. I believe everything has energy, and therefore life? I was reading somewhere that negative messages can change the ionization (or was it the ph) of water! Amazing. I need to learn more about that too. So much to learn, too much work.

  8. Annie, it is intriguing but as I wrote, this is not established science with mainstream acceptance as to what it reveals if anything. The implications remain matters of faith. I am settled in my own faith on the issue and this material is delightful as corroboration that my faith is an intelligent one that is shared by credible if marginal people.

    I would say that energy is a separate matter, that sentience relies on energy but is at least a transform of energy itself if not a separate but related force. In a similar way autonomy does not equal consciousness. Thus a plant is an autonomous sentience and that might not at all equal a conscious being. What is similar throughout is what might be called the inside story, interiority that is true for us and true as well for plants.

    There are credible speculations concerning the wave function of quanta at the very lowest level. The indeterminacy found there is highly reminiscent to the weirdness that is found because of the unpredictable and deflecting presence of free will in predicting certain human behaviors. That is why it seems credible that all matter and energy (all comprised of quanta) shares with the special cases of living things something called an interior and at the least a certain inner spontaneity if not actual sentience.

    I vote for sentience because I like the feel of things in such a universe. A sentient universe appeals to my desire for company and offers me the sort of universe that God might create. In this universe a universal sentience is His Holy Signature.

  9. Mm, I hate those moments. The weeds and I struggle like that, too. You've put it so very well here. Sometimes I think it's not worth the pruning and fighting.

  10. I have tried living under garden discipline and I don't like it. I have tried living in the garden created by my neglect and I don't like that much either. Somehow this morning the reply I have in mind is impossible to write. I really don't like that. I am not sitting that well in my own skin this morning.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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