(The photo: a grape vine climbed in my open window and selected a little pit-fired stirrup vessel sitting on the sill. When I had to close the window against the September chill, it held on.)
Thursday, Sept. 13th: I’ve recently started reading Michael Pollan’s book, “The Botany of Desire”. It’s an interesting read, so far. He suggests that, in the same way bees and apple trees use each other to fulfill their own purposes, we could step back and look at humans as another sort of bee: a tool some plants use to succeed environmentally, replicate themselves and carve out a niche in the ecosystem.
He says it can be argued that, despite our human tendency to put ourselves in the lead role, agriculture and human “domestication” could just as rightly be thought of as “something the grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees”.
This kind of head tilting perspective just tickles me to no end.
One of his quotes, too, seemed to weave itself into the studio, and my ongoing inner dialogue about art and intention, goal and process, failure and experiment. I feel like trying risky new work, making things that are spontaneous or poorly planned, or destined to failure and thus volunteering for extreme measures — is part of the process, however nerve wracking. Problems arise and the solutions to them can become new paths to follow to uncharted territory.
Pollan says, about the ant that cultivates its own fungus garden, or the insectivorous plant that smells like carrion to attract flies, that evolution has little to do with intention or will, but rather it’s a slow function of trial and error.
“Such traits”, writes Pollan, “are clever only in retrospect. Design in nature is but a concatenation of accidents, culled by natural selection until the result is so beautiful or effective as to seem a miracle of purpose”.