When Santiago Beruete offered the Turner publishing house the manuscript of ‘Gardenosophy. A philosophical history of gardens’ (2016), they told him that the Anglo-Saxons were addicted to ‘nature writing’ (‘nature writing’), but that in Spain there was no niche. Not only was it a huge hit, but ‘Verdolatría’ and ‘Aprendivoros’ would come after it, and shortly he will present ‘A piece of land’. he and the german Peter Wohllebenauthor of ‘The secret life of trees’ (Obelisco), triggered a green ‘boom’ in bookstores.
What fiber do they touch? The main one, those who explore the vein agree – from the Italian neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso (‘The future is vegetable’, ‘The nation of plants’ or ‘The plant of the world’), to the philosopher Byung Chul Han (‘Vida contemplativa’ and ‘Loa a la tierra’), going through the anthropologist Edward Kohn (‘How the forests think’) or the philologist Marco Martella (‘A small world. A perfect world’), for example–, is the need to abandon the (destructive) central position we occupy in nature. Contact with the vegetable allows us to experience other ways of relating to the earth and with the other inhabitants of the planet.
To plant is to plant oneself
“The garden is one of the few sacred symbols that still endure in a secularized world,” he says. Beruete. An imitation of paradise lost. But he also points out, “the simple gesture of planting is an act of resistance, of insubordination. Planting is nothing more than a way of standing up against compulsive consumerism, against the frenzy of ‘always more'”. And you don’t have to have hectares. Urban gardens and even balcony pots are worth it. people: “those who see the Earth as a space for consumption and exploitation, and those who have a gardener’s conception, who see it as a space that we must take care of”, he ventures.
“The garden is one of the few sacred symbols that still survive in a secularized world” (Santiago Beruete)
Gardens and orchards thus become a school of ethical values: patience, humility, tenacity, hope, gratitude”. They, the plants, when faced with a problem, do not have the recourse to go out by legs. They collaborate with each other to find the solution. “It is a plant resilience that we could make our own,” says Beruete and it is something that neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso also underlines, perhaps the greatest defender of plant intelligence, in whose laboratory he has verified that plants are “aware” of what is happening in your body and outside. “The idea that man is superior to a fern is stupid –emphasizes the Italian–. If in life the objective is the survival of the species, homo sapiens has been here for 300,000 years and the average life of the rest of living beings is 5 million. Who is superior?”
Opportunity to rethink
Along these lines, in autumn Seix Barral will publish in Spanish ‘Sapien Plant’, of the professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science Paco Calvo, director of the MINT Lab (Minimum Intelligence Laboratory, specialized in Philosophy of Cognitive Science and Plant Neurobiology) at the University of Murcia. “The more we study plants in the laboratory, the more I see that the important thing is neither cerebral nor intracranial“, he notes. Only we were not able to get rid of the anthropocentric vision. “That prevents us from appreciating that what interests them has no reason to have anything to do with what we think should interest them. Thanks to plants we can rethink ourselves “, she invites.
and the philosopher Michael Marder, researcher at the University of the Basque Country and author of ‘The philosophical dump’ (Ned Ediciones) goes further. “When we look at the base of the human soul, at the bottom we find the plant,” he says. Marder turned his gaze to Aristotle’s ‘De anima’, which said that the vegetable soul –responsible for the elementary functions of life: nutrition and food– is in all living beings, but since Plato, philosophy has been concerned only with the immutable, with what remains. “The most amazing thing is that we have given body to those crazy dreams of the philosophers, like plastics or nuclear waste, which have become the environmental nightmare,” he reasons. It would be time, she says, to give Western metaphysics a spin.
“When we look at the base of the human soul, at the bottom we find the plant” (Michael Marder)
In this sense, Emanuele Coccia, author of ‘The life of plants’ (Miño and Dávila), notes that a plant not only stores in its body the solar energy that gives life to animals, it is also given by the waste of its existence (oxygen). “They give themselves to the other and live with the rest without dominating it,” Marder adds. “The fundamental relationship that defines the link between human and non-human should no longer be hunting, herding or farming, but a certain form of gardening,” Coccia proposes.