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Review:The Secret Life of Plants

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Page first featured January 11, 2009

The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird; Harper Paperbacks; March 8, 1989
The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird; Harper Paperbacks; March 8, 1989

A Stunning Documentation of Plant Sentience


The book, The Secret Life of Plants is quite possibly one of the most engrossing books pertaining to biology and symbiotic relationships between plants and humans ever written.

The book alleges, with convincing proof, that plants can sense the emotions of living things around them, from other plants, to fish and animals, to humans. A lie detector and related apparatus affixed to a plant measures significant responses by the plant to its environment. Positive emotions, negative emotions, intent to harm, pain felt by a separate organism can be "sensed" by the plant, as show by the detector.

Though it starts slow, the documentary movie, produced a decade earlier, in 1979, contains some astonishing footage of some of these types of experiments.

"I read this book more than a decade ago. It is one of those 'life-changing' books that gives a fundamentally new perspective to the amazing world in which we live. I mark it among the most influential books I've read." -- Sterling D. Allan, CEO, PES Network, Inc. (Jan. 11, 2009)

We list it here at PESWiki for its relevance to the electrical nature of all living things. As we come up with new energy sources, we will need to understand how they interact with living systems, and make sure that they are not detrimental to life.

Contents

Purchase Book

Documentary Movie Online

(1.33.55 Hours)

  • The Secret Life of Plants Rare 1979 documentary explores the Secret Life of Plants. Includes music and songs written by Stevie Wonder, who also appears in the film. (Google Video; July 9, 2007)

Documentary Backgrop

Quoting from: http://www.psychobotany.com/projects/SLOP.htm

"In 1976, the producer (Michael Braun) and the director (Walon Green) of a feature film in-the-making, The Secret Life of Plants, arranged for a creative collaboration between myself, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and John Lifton, from London. John and I had been in touch on our shared creative backgrounds (architecture + AI) and creative interests (electronic arts and bio-sensing) since my visit to the UK the previous year. John had recently presented his very sophisticated, new audio/installation, "Green Music" at the Whitechapel Gallery, in London. I had been doing a project series, titled "Bio-Dis-Plays", with NASA technical support (multi-channel bio-telemetry systems), monitoring performers physiology (EEG, EMG, EKG, etc.) as inputs to audio and video synthesizers, in extended biofeedback-media artworks. At the time I often collaborated with Jim Wiseman, video synthesizer artist, as well as with a number of electronic music composers. I had just begun working with Tom Zahuranec, who was an audio technician at Mills College, and had been doing (GSR/Backster Effect) plant-audio synthesis interface works since 1972.
Christopher Bird, co-author of the book, The Secret Life of Plants, and I had corresponded, and in addition to putting the filmmakers in touch, he recommended that I meet Henry Dakin, in San Francisco. Henry had a building on Washington Street, in Pacific Heights, housing his independent Washington Research Center. He offered his help and his basement lab facilities, which included a large Faraday cage/room and electronic equipment, for creative and technical development of sequences that we would prepare for The Secret Life of Plants film. Ultimately, two plant-music on location sequences were scripted/created, to be included in the film.
Over the course of four days in June 1976, while open to the public, six large plants in the center of the glass Plant Conservatory in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (modeled on Kew Gardens, in London), produced an audible, live musical score, based on simple bio-electric sensing of their responses to light, temperature, movement and other physio-environmental factors (gold needle electrodes at the base of the stem/root). This was John Lifton's new variation of his "Green Music" composition. Amid the 'tropical'garden stood a five foot high rack of audio and digital processing systems[...].
In July, the production moved to a large sound stage (World Stage) in Los Angeles, for a more elaborate performance sequence which we had designed/composed. The choreographed audio and video performance would build incrementally, from one plant up to six monitored plants, while adding from one to six dancers wearing EEG and EMG sensor/transmitters. The set included numerous live plants, six dance performers from the L.A. area, John Lifton and his plant-music systems, Jim Wiseman on Paik-Abe and Sandin video synthesizers/processors, Tom Zahuranec on a Tcherepnin audio synthesizer, and me, interfacing multi-channel, FM bio-telemetry systems between the performers and the audio-video systems, and facilitating performance sequences.
Ultimately, the film included only a small part of the two production sequences we created. It also had a less than notable release, with a sound track by Stevie Wonder becoming its legacy. John, Jim, Tom and I, each retained some personal and project documentation and recordings, a few elements of which are presented here." ~ Richard Lowenberg, April 20, 2007

Reviews

"In the first part of their book, the authors explore the attributes of plants and pretty much conclude they have everything in common with animals-except plants probably came first on the evolutionary ladder and prepared the way for animals. In fact, if earth was invaded by alien species, the authors suggest the aliens were probably plants. But, you say, plants have roots and stay put (for the most part) and plants produce chlorophyll. Shell fish (oysters, mussels) and sea anemones can be rooted to one spot and small protozoa-like creatures produce chlorophyll." -- Wikipedia

Fields of Study

Psychobotany

"Psychobotany attempts to cultivate a cultural terrain that includes a wide array of efforts at human/plant communication. Artists, scientists, subcultures, religions, activists, and visionaries all share plots in the field of Psychobotany. Combining elements of scientific truth, spiritual beliefs, aesthetic savvy, and social expression, Psychobotany is a fertile ground where the diverse cultural roots of human/plant communication can take hold." -- Psychobotany.com

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In the News

  • Featured: Bio-Energetics > BioElectricity >
    The Secret Life of Plants -- A Stunning Documentation of Plant Sentience - A 1989 psychobotany book alleges, with convincing proof, that plants can sense the emotions of living things around them, from other plants, to fish and animals, to humans. A rare documentary by that name a decade before features video footage of such documentation. (PESWiki; Jan. 11, 2009)

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- PESWiki home page

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