Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

History Lesson

In his wonderful book, The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan asks us to consider evolution, not just from our own perspective, but from that of the things we grow. He gives four examples of how a plant’s appeal to a particular human desire enables it to gain an advantage in its fight to survive and propagate, which it then ruthlessly exploits. We should suspend, suggests Pollan, our conventional – and certainly Biblical – view of ourselves as gardeners in control of the earth and try to see creation from other creatures’ points of view. Having arisen this morning to day four of the vicious flu, I see his point. And while it’s hard to work up much empathy for the germs, it’s instructive to think of the process as Pollan does. After a sneak attack made more devious by the flu shot I had had two weeks before, the germs are now clearly in control of my body, having come out of nowhere, like Genghis Khan’s hordes, to crush a more advanced civilization. My germs, though, seem more like the Europeans in Africa, who appropriated the land, superimposed their own institutions on a weakened culture, and forced the natives to do their bidding. I wonder if my settlers believe, as the British did, that they are doing me a favor by cleansing me of the evils of my primitive practices. But Pollan – and history – have shown that they are there solely for their self-seeking purposes, and I must quietly marshal my strength to drive the invaders out.

The Hollow Men

Lance and Me