The Botany of Desire

by Michael Pollan
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In The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, in the Epilogue, how does he sound?

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The last section of this great work of non-fiction acts as a summary and a reinforcement of Pollan's main argument. As he visits his garden which he has ignored for the last couple of weeks, he is astounded at the way in which nature has erased all of his hard work through its profundity. Where he left neat and ordered rows, plants have overtaken and changed his vegetable patch into something resembling a jungle. He reflects on the myth that has characterised man's relationship with flora, that man can shape and dominate plants to his own liking, and meditatively explores how this is much more of a two-way process than most humans would ever believe to be possible. Note, for example, the following quote from the Epilogue:

The survival of the sweetest, the most beautiful, or the most intoxicating proceeds according to a dialectical process, a give-and-take between human desire and the universe of all plant possibility. It takes two, but it doesn't take intention, or consciousness.

The way in which human desire is linked with the attempts of plants to survive and dominate indicates the meditative and contemplative tone that Pollan takes in this final section of the book. He does not talk of nature as if it is a threat; rather, he marvels at its creativity and drive to reinvent itself and adapt according to the desire of humans, and how nature shows such massive intelligence for an entity that is thought to be entirely driven by instinct. Pollan is clearly a great lover of plants and nature, and this final section of the book only serves to reinforce this great love through the mystery and wonder that he expresses towards plant life as he understands more and more of the mystery behind the relationship between humans and flora.

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