Laudation Merlin Sheldrake Groeneveld award 2022 Dirk Sijmons (on behalf of the Groeneveld Foundation) Dear Merlin Sheldrake, We are very honored to have you in our midst. Your book ‘Entangled Life’ has the touch and feel of an instant classic when it comes to natural history books because it is not just a work of science but also a work of love. Through your fascination and love for the subject the reader feels connected to this unknown world, it is as if your writing connects us with nature through thousands of invisible treads. He wanted to follow up on the hypotheses of the drunken primates eating fermented fallen fruits and collected whole bags of apples from the ground already in fermenting state, pressed them and produced a cider out of it. Nothing special you could say, not a very strong punch line to end a book. It gets more interesting when he tells us that these fruits fell of the apple tree near Trinity College in Cambridge where famously Isaac Newton was hit by one that evoked the idea of universal gravity. Sheldrake thickens the plot by narrating how at least three Apple trees in and around Cambridge claim to be the ‘Newton’ tree or at least be a clone of the original tree. He adds another layer to tell us that although nobody believes this falling apple – emerging genial idea – story really happened, the trees are sacrosanct and highly protected to give visitors/tourists the illusion that they visit the place and touch the tree where it all happened and with any luck see an apple fall. The adventure of letting the brew ferment with natural yeast and the sensation of the unexpected taste spectrum. I quote the very last paragraph: “….to my amazement it was delicious. The bitterness and the sourness of the apples had transformed. The taste was floral and delicate, dry with a gentle fizz. Drunk in larger quantities, it elicited elation and light euphoria. I didn’t feel clumsy, although yeast had most certainly made a nonsense of me. I was intoxicated by a story, comforted by it, constrained by it, dissolved in it, made senseless by it, weighed down by it. I called the cider ‘Gravity’, and lay heavy and reeling under the influence of yeast’s prodigious metabolism.” It’s that kind of book. Biology, ecology, philosophy, nature and culture are being twinned into an homage to the role of fungi and in a unique reading experience. It unlocks the rich diversity of the Kingdom of Fungi and highlights the importance of mycorrhiza, the collaboration between fungi and plants, seen from the perspective of the main figures: the fungi. The book’s structure and your fluid way of writing sucks the reader into a field of fascinating scientific research full of new insights and surprising links. It is not limited to your own research but by highlighting the work of many fellow scientists. Quite rare to find a register, bibliography, and a footnote machine in a popular science book, that is so comprehensive, together filling almost a quarter of the pages. Sounds extremely dull and not quite the criterium to award a prize, but makes the book complete, and I want to add, the notes read like a book in a book But for the few people in the room that didn’t read the book YET let me try to give a short introduction. It was the fungi that crawled ashore about 500 million years ago and 450 million years ago, together with algae, took the first step towards the greening of the planet through a successful symbiosis. This early symbiosis still lives on in the form of lichens. Your research and your writing allows the reader to look at the living world in a different way. You show how the Wood-Wide-Web of underground substances and information exchange can be understood evolutionarily, and how fungi make systems into eco-systems. The book manages in setting the record straight in our mental hierarchy where plants are ranked higher then – what we learned in school as - lower forms of live. Plantcentrism you call this. It even poses the question who is domesticating who. The recent myth that trees communicate between each other is replaced by an even more miraculous hypotheses that the only organism having an evolutionary benefit in keeping the wood as a whole healthy Ladies and gentlemen, Before I start with my laudation for Merlin Sheldrake, I think I owe you an explanation. You might have been a bit bewildered by the invitation the Groeneveld Foundation sent you. Only at a second glance some of you might have guessed what it was: an apple being devoured by a fungus. We chose for this somewhat puzzling illustration because Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled life ends with apples.

6 Online Touch Home

You need flash player to view this online publication