“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, May 3, 2013

Secret Life of Plants Liveblog: Animation (Meeker and Szabari)

We will intertwine our speeches in a plant-like fashion
de Bergerac: narrator explains heliocentric theory--pip of apple as sun
when man is not center of cosmos: new kind of diplomat
Timaeus: gods created plants as another nature distinct from mankind
Vegetal alterity: plants as so unlike us that they elicit fantasies of communication
sci fi: early modern period gives birth to botanophilia; animation of plant
idea of plants as easily manipulable objects
the vegetal uncanny: plant conjures up solitude and extinction precisely as it resembles us
Bergerac >> The Thing from Another World
plant as apocalyptic object and subject of our sympathies
"plants express our sense of who we are" yet they are not like us
plants come to resemble humans and vice versa
de Bergerac: understanding reality though science; all that escapes is unconscious
premodern thought didn't assign such autonomy to the human being
literature animates plant to enable us to go before the human
Amilek of the Seeds of Mankind
paradise on the moon, garden: human is the small and seemingly insignificant extraterrestrial visitor
oak in conversation with stars
benign universe: human puniness a source of delight not fear
Claude Lalanne, "L'homme a tete de chou"
not daring to cut down a cabbage out of fear of hurting it (in Bergerac's story)
reasons why cabbages are beloved and also superior; we have no reason not to believe god is a cabbage himself...we behead people....etc.
angels as "intellectual cabbages"!
de la Mettrie, Diderot, Bernadin: plants become like humans, have their own language etc.
The Thing reverses Bergerac's space cabbage.
generosity and curiosity of scientists: they are not human in that they don't like family and nation, seemingly. Of course the Thing destroys the scientist...
Botany: curious and outdated knowledge. Vegetal uncanny in a fully human world.
the Thing has a Frankenstein-creature loneliness
the Thing looks not like a carrot but a human
Svalbard Global Seed Vault of "Doomsday Vault" -- possibility of apocalypse
fear of being abandoned by a single paternal authority
plant helps to navigate the horror
new botany in later modernity reopens what it means to be in touch with plants
Jessica Rather, Sisters Weeping from Take Me to the Apple Breeder, 2012
plants animated by the human emotions that turn towards them; like Antigone and Ismene
<< Michael Pollan; potatoes with new genes (story with scientist heroes)
ability of seed to survive freezing and be revived as genetic material
plant as companion species
Archiving Eden: The Vaults, 2008–Present (Dornith Doherty)
Sunlowers x rayed
cultivation + cryogenics signals end of traditional seed conservation

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