بخش 33کتاب: چگونه ذهنیت خود را تغییر دهید / فصل 33
- زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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متن انگلیسی فصل
If Stamets is a scientist, as I believe he is, it is in the Humboldtian mold, making him something of a throwback. I don’t mean to suggest his contribution is on the same order as Humboldt’s. But he too is an amateur in the best sense, self-taught, uncredentialed, and blithe about trespassing disciplinary borders. He too is an accomplished naturalist and inventor, with several new species and patents to his credit. He too hears nature’s voice, and it is his imagination—wild as it often is—that allows him to see systems where others have not, such as what is going on beneath our feet in a forest. I’m thinking, for example, of the “earth’s Internet,” “the neurological network of nature,” and the “forest’s immune system”—three Romantic-sounding metaphors that it would be foolish to bet against.
What strikes me about both Stamets and many of the so-called Romantic scientists (like Humboldt and Goethe, Joseph Banks, Erasmus Darwin, and I would include Thoreau) is how very much more alive nature seems in their hands than it would soon become in the cooler hands of the professionals. These more specialized scientists (a word that wasn’t coined until 1834) gradually moved science indoors and increasingly gazed at nature through devices that allowed them to observe it at scales invisible to the human eye. These moves subtly changed the object of study—indeed, made it more of an object.
Instead of seeing nature as a collection of discrete objects, the Romantic scientists—and I include Stamets in their number—saw a densely tangled web of subjects, each acting on the other in the great dance that would come to be called coevolution. “Everything,” Humboldt said, “is interaction and reciprocal.” They could see this dance of subjectivities because they cultivated the plant’s-eye view, the animal’s-eye view, the microbe’s-eye view, and the fungus’s-eye view—perspectives that depend as much on imagination as observation.
I suspect that imaginative leap has become harder for us moderns to make. Our science and technology encourage us in precisely the opposite direction, toward the objectification of nature and of all species other than our own. Surely we need to acknowledge the practical power of this perspective, which has given us so much, but we should at the same time acknowledge its costs, material as well as spiritual. Yet that older, more enchanted way of seeing may still pay dividends, as it does (to cite just one small example) when it allows Paul Stamets to figure out that the reason honeybees like to visit woodpiles is to medicate themselves, by nibbling on a saprophytic mycelium that produces just the right antimicrobial compound that the hive needs to survive, a gift the fungus is trading for . . . what? Something yet to be imagined.
Coda You are probably wondering what ever happened to the azzies Stamets and I found that weekend. Many months later, in the middle of a summer week spent in the house in New England where we used to live, a place freighted with memories, I ate them, with Judith. I crumbled two little mushrooms in each of two glasses and poured hot water over them to make a tea; Stamets had recommended that I “cook” the mushrooms to destroy the compounds that can upset the stomach. Judith and I each drank half a cup, ingesting both the liquid and the crumbles of mushroom. I suggested we take a walk on the dirt road near our house while we waited for the psilocybin to come on.
However, after only about twenty minutes or so, Judith reported she was “feeling things,” none of them pleasant. She didn’t want to be walking anymore, she said, but now we were at least a mile from home. She told me her mind and her body seemed to be drifting apart and then that her mind had flown out of her head and up into the trees, like a bird or insect.
“I need to get home and feel safe,” she said, now with some urgency. I tried to reassure her as we abruptly turned around and picked up our pace. It was hot and the air was thick with humidity. She said, “I really don’t want to run into anybody.” I assured her we wouldn’t. I still felt more or less myself, but it may be that Judith’s distress was keeping me from feeling the mushrooms; somebody had to be ready to act normally if a neighbor happened to drive by and roll down his window for a chat, a prospect that was quickly taking on the proportions of nightmare. In fact shortly before we got back to home base—so it now felt to both of us—we spotted a neighbor’s pickup truck bearing down on us and, like guilty children, we ducked into the woods until it passed.
Judith made a beeline for the couch in the living room, where she lay down with the shades drawn, while I went into the kitchen to polish off my cup of mushroom tea, because I wasn’t yet feeling very much. I was a little worried about her, but once she reached her base on the living room couch, her mood lightened and she said she was fine.
I couldn’t understand her desire to be indoors. I went out and sat on the screened porch for a while, listening to the sounds in the garden, which suddenly grew very loud, as if the volume had been turned way up. The air was stock-still, but the desultory sounds of flying insects and the digital buzz of hummingbirds rose to form a cacophony I had never heard before. It began to grate on my nerves, until I decided I would be better off regarding the sound as beautiful, and then all at once it was. I lifted an arm, then a foot, and noted with relief that I wasn’t paralyzed, though I also didn’t feel like moving a muscle.
Whenever I closed my eyes, random images erupted as if the insides of my lids were a screen. My notes record: Fractal patterns, tunnels plunging through foliage, ropy vines forming grids. But when I started to feel panic rise at the lack of control I had over my visual field, I discovered that all I needed to do to restore a sense of semi-normalcy was to open my eyes. To open or close my eyes was like changing the channel. I thought, “I am learning how to manage this experience.”
Much happened, or seemed to happen, during the course of that August afternoon, but I want to focus here on just one element of the experience, because it bears on the questions of nature and our place in it that psilocybin seems to provoke, at least for me. I decided I wanted to walk out to my writing house, a little structure I had built myself twenty-five years ago, in what is now another life, and which holds a great many memories. I had written two and a half books in the little room (including one about building it), sitting before a broad window that looked back over a pond and the garden to our house.
However, I was still vaguely worried about Judith, so before wandering too far from the house, I went inside to check on her. She was stretched out on the couch, with a cool damp cloth over her eyes. She was fine. “I’m having these very interesting visuals,” she said, something having to do with the stains on the coffee table coming to life, swirling and transforming and rising from the surface in ways she found compelling. She made it clear she wanted to be left alone to sink more deeply into the images—she is a painter. The phrase “parallel play” popped into my mind, and so it would be for the rest of the afternoon.
I stepped outside, feeling unsteady on my feet, legs a little rubbery. The garden was thrumming with activity, dragonflies tracing complicated patterns in the air, the seed heads of plume poppies rattling like snakes as I brushed by, the phlox perfuming the air with its sweet, heavy scent, and the air itself so palpably dense it had to be forded. The word and sense of “poignance” flooded over me during the walk through the garden, and it would return later. Maybe because we no longer live here, and this garden, where we spent so many summers as a couple and then a family, and which at this moment seemed so acutely present, was in fact now part of an irretrievable past. It was as if a precious memory had not just been recalled but had actually come back to life, in a reincarnation both beautiful and cruel. Also heartrending was the fleetingness of this moment in time, the ripeness of a New England garden in late August on the verge of turning the corner of the season. Before dawn one cloudless night very soon and without warning, the thrum and bloom and perfume would end all at once, with the arrival of the killing frost. I felt wide open emotionally, undefended.
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