Tuesday, June 03, 2008

the secret life of beta

Without my knowing it, writing chums Peter Relic and Dave Tompkins apparently created this hippe-dippie pseudo-entity in the early 70s known as "Peter Tompkins" and co-authored tomes like The Secrets of the Great Pyramid and The Secret Life of Plants. I hold the two of them wholly responsible for inspiring the worst Stevie Wonder double album ever.

Still, there's lots of kooky science goodness to be had in The Secret Life of Plants. Nothing is quite helpful tipwise, like how to prevent root shock, secrets of how to make bulbs bloom, or what Beethoven sonatas will make plants grow best. Should I be playing Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations from 1955 or 1981 for the aloe? Will geraniums thrive better hearing Pablo Cassals's recordings of the Cello Suites or else Yo-Yo Ma's take? Can they hear Wagner looped in the GAS box set? Will the twee-classical of Nico Muhly shrivel them outright?

Instead, there are all these weird experiments that prove that plants are lie detectors, mind readers, can feel the death of any and all animal cells, and have a telepathy that has no bounds, meaning plants have a sense that extends beyond our understanding and conceptions of space and time. So the more I write snarky criticism, the more my plants will suffer? Oh, and they receive transmissions from deep outer space. Weird reports stream in from the Soviets and from India too (Pravda headline: "What Leaves Tell Us: Plants talk...yes, they scream").

They also talk about Goethe's lesser-known career discussing the morphology of plants: "To Goethe the fact that the action of the root of a plant is directed earthward toward moisture and darkness, whereas the stem of trunk strives skyward in the opposite direction towards the light and the air, was a truly magical phenomenon." Even during yoga class now, I keep imagining myself becoming some sort of plant: spine like a stem, face and hands turning towards the sun, growing ever so slowly. Guh, can I really be turning back into a hippie? Even if the archival discovery of this Father Yod album from 1973 makes my skin creep?