Coping the quote
30+ quotes from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

Quotes from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Michael Pollan ·  297 pages

Rating: (39.7K votes)


“For it is only by forgetting that we ever really drop the thread of time and approach the experience of living in the present moment, so elusive in ordinary hours.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Sooner or later your fingers close on that one moist-cold spud that the spade has accidentally sliced clean through, shining wetly white and giving off the most unearthly of earthly aromas. It's the smell of fresh soil in the spring, but fresh soil somehow distilled or improved upon, as if that wild, primordial scene has been refined and bottled: eau de pomme de terre. You can smell the cold inhuman earth in it, but there's the cozy kitchen to, for the smell of potatoes is, at least by now, to us, the smell of comfort itself, a smell as blankly welcoming as spud flesh, a whiteness that takes up memories and sentiments as easily as flavors. To smell a raw potato is to stand on the very threshold of the domestic and the wild. (241)”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Witches and sorcerers cultivated plants with the power to "cast spells" -- in our vocabulary, "psychoactive" plants. Their potion recipes called for such things as datura, opium poppies, belladona, hashish, fly-agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), and the skin of toads (which can contain DMT, a powerful hallucinogen). These ingredients would be combined in a hempseed-oil-based "flying ointment" that the witches would then administer vaginally using a special dildo. This was the "broomstick" by which these women were said to travel. (119)”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Yes, forgetting can be a curse, especially as we age. But forgetting is also one of the more important things healthy brains do, almost as important as remembering. Think how quickly the sheer volume and multiplicity of sensory information we receive every waking minute would overwhelm our consciousness if we couldn’t quickly forget a great deal more of it than we remember.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“It has become much harder, in the past century, to tell where the garden leaves off and pure nature begins.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“How did these organs of plant sex manage to get themselves cross-wired with human ideas of value and status and Eros? And what might our ancient attraction for flowers have to teach us about the deeper mysteries of beauty - what one poet has called "this grace wholly gratuitous"? Is that what it is? Or does beauty have a purpose? (64)”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Design in nature is but a concatenation of accidents, culled by natural selection until the result is so beautiful or effective as to seem a miracle of purpose.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“This is no small thing. Indeed, I would venture that, more than any other single quality, it is the relentless moment-by-moment forgetting, this draining of the pool of sense impression almost as quickly as it fills, that gives the experience of consciousness under marijuana its peculiar texture. Its helps account for the sharpening of sensory perceptions, for the aura of profundity in which cannabis bathes the most ordinary insights, and, perhaps most important of all, for the sense that time has slowed or even stopped. For it is only by forgetting that we ever really drop the thread of time and approach the experience of living in the present moment, so elusive in ordinary hours. And the wonder of that experience, perhaps more than any other, seems to be at the very heart of the human desire to change consciousness, whether by means of drugs or any other technique.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Each spring for a period of weeks the imperial gardens were filled with prize tulips (Turkish, Dutch, Iranian), all of them shown to their best advantage. Tulips whose petals had flexed wide were held shut with fine threads hand-tied. Most of the bulbs had been grown in place, but these were supplemented by thousands of cut stems held in glass bottles; the scale of the display was further compounded by mirrors placed strategically around the garden. Each variety was marked with a label made from silver filigree. In place of every fourth flower a candle, its wick trimmed to tulip height, was set into the ground. Songbirds in gilded cages supplied the music, and hundreds of giant tortoises carrying candles on their backs lumbered through the gardens, further illuminating the display. All the guests were required to dress in colors that flattered those of the tulips. At the appointed moment a cannon sounded, the doors to the harem were flung open, and the sultan's mistresses stepped into the garden led by eunuchs bearing torches. The whole scene was repeated every night for as long as the tulips were in bloom, for as long as Sultan Ahmed managed to cling to his throne.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Memory is the enemy of wonder”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Johnny Appleseed was revered . . he was . . . an evangelist (of a doctrine veering perilously close to pantheism).”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider. (“Hard” cider is a twentieth-century term, redundant before then since virtually all cider was hard until modern refrigeration allowed people to keep sweet cider sweet.)”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Darwin called such a process artificial, as opposed to natural, selection, but from the flower’s point of view, this is a distinction without a difference: individual plants in which a trait desired by either bees or Turks occurred wound up with more offspring.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“The bubble logic driving tulipomania has since acquired a name: “the greater fool theory.” Although by any conventional measure it is folly to pay thousands for a tulip bulb (or for that matter an Internet stock), as long as there is an even greater fool out there willing to pay even more, doing so is the most logical thing in the world.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“...People who smoked cannabis were Other, and the cannabis they smoked threatened to let their Otherness loose in the land.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“More than any other single trait, it is the apple’s genetic variability—its ineluctable wildness—that accounts for its ability to make itself at home in places as different from one another as New England and New Zealand, Kazakhstan and California. Wherever the apple tree goes, its offspring propose so many different variations on what it means to be an apple—at least five per apple, several thousand per tree—that a couple of these novelties are almost bound to have whatever qualities it takes to prosper in the tree’s adopted home.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Queen of Night is as close to black as a flower gets, though in fact it is a dark and glossy maroonish purple. Its hue is so dark, however, that it appears to draw more light into itself than it reflects, a kind of floral black hole. In the garden, depending on the the angle of the sun, the blossoms of a Queen of Night may read as positive or negative space, as flowers or shadows of a flower.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“cultural change occurs whenever a new meme is introduced and catches on. It might be romanticism or double-entry book-keeping, chaos theory or Pokemon. So where in the world do new memes come from? sometimes they spring full-blown from the brains of artists or scientists, advertising copywriters or teenagers. often a process of mutation is involved in the creation of a new meme, in much the same way that mutations in natural environment can lead to useful new genetic traits.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving, in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victor. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The problem very simply is that the apple trees no longer reproduce sexually, as they do when they’re grown from seed, and sex is nature’s way of creating fresh genetic combinations. At the same time the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects keep very much at it, reproducing sexually and continuing to evolve until eventually they hit on the precise genetic combination that allows them to overcome whatever resistance the apples may have once possessed. Suddenly total victory is in the pests’ sight—unless, that is, people come to the tree’s rescue, wielding the tools of modern chemistry.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Human cultures vary widely in the plants they use to gratify the desire for a change of mind, but all cultures (save the Eskimo) sanction at least one such plant and, just as invariably, strenuously forbid certain others. Along with the temptation seems to come the taboo.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“For as long as the carnival of capitalism lasts, the rules of logic are repealed...”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Immersed this spring in research for this chapter, I was sorely tempted to plant one of the hybrid cannabis seeds I'd seen for sale in Amsterdam. I immediately thought better of it, however. So I planted lots of opium poppies instead. I hasten to add that I've no plans to do anything with my poppies except admire them - first their fleeting tissue-paper blooms, then their swelling blue-green seedpods, fat with milky alkaloid. (Unless, of course, simply walking among the poppies is enough to have an effect, as it was for Dorothy in Oz.)”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Plants are nature’s alchemists, expert at transforming water, soil and sunlight into an array of precious substances, many of them beyond the ability of human beings to conceive, much less manufacture.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“For great many species today, “fitness” means the ability to get along in a world in which humankind has become the most powerful evolutionary force.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“There is another word for this extremist noticing—this sense of first sight unencumbered by knowingness, by the already-been-theres and seen-thats of the adult mind—and that word, of course, is wonder.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“The virus altered the the eye of the beholder. That this change came at the expense of the beheld suggests that beauty in nature does not necessarily bespeak health, nor necessarily redound to the benefit of the beautiful.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Huxley suggests that the reason there aren’t nearly as many mystics and visionaries walking around today, as compared to the Middle Ages, is the improvement in nutrition. Vitamin deficiencies wreak havoc on brain function and probably explain a large portion of visionary experiences in the past.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“a .22 shell is used to fire stainless-steel projectiles dipped in a DNA solution at a stem or leaf of the target plant. If all goes well, some of the DNA will pierce the wall of some of the cells’ nuclei and elbow its way into the double helix: a bully breaking into a line dance. If the new DNA happens to land in the right place—and no one yet knows what, or where, that place is—the plant grown from that cell will express the new gene. That’s it? That’s it.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“Our mental health depends on a mechanism for editing the moment-by-moment ocean of sensory data flowing into our consciousness down to a manageable trickle of the noticed and remembered. The cannabinoid network appears to be part of that mechanism, vigilantly sifting the vast chaff of sense impression from the kernels of perception we need to remember if we’re to get through the day and get done what needs to be done.* Much depends on forgetting.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


“My guess is that the Jonathan would be as out of place in England or Kazakhstan, the native ground of its ancestors, as I would be in Russia, the native ground of my own. The arrow of natural history won’t be reversed: by now the Jonathan’s as much an American as I am.”
― Michael Pollan, quote from The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World


About the author

Michael Pollan
Born place: in Long Island, New York, The United States
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“After this interlude we return to the question of the parcel. Yes, says the Postmaster, it has been here – actually here in the office! But it is here no longer. It has been removed to the custody of the Customs. Monsieur B. must realize that parcels are subject to Customs dues. B. says that it is personal wearing apparel. The Postmaster says: ‘No doubt, no doubt; but that is the affair of the Customs.’ ‘We must, then, go to the Customs office?’ ‘That will be the proper procedure,’ agrees the Postmaster. ‘Not that it will be any use going today. Today is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays the Customs are closed.’ ‘Tomorrow, then?’ ‘Yes, tomorrow the Customs will be open.’ ‘Sorry,’ says B. to Max. ‘I suppose it means I shall have to come in again tomorrow to get my parcel.’ The Postmaster says that certainly Monsieur B. will have to come in tomorrow, but that even tomorrow he will not be able to get his parcel. ‘Why not?’ demands B. ‘Because, after the formalities of the Customs have been settled, the parcel must then go through the Post Office.’ ‘You mean, I shall have to come on here?’ ‘Precisely. And that will not be possible tomorrow, for tomorrow the Post Office will be closed,’ says the Postmaster triumphantly. We go into the subject in detail, but officialdom triumphs at every turn. On no day of the week, apparently, are both the Customs and the Post Office open!”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“An avalanche starts with one pebble. A forest with one seed. And it takes one word to make the whole world stop and listen. All you need is the right one.”
― Jay Kristoff, quote from Endsinger


“Christianity is a gateway into God. And then when you get into God, “with Christ in God,” then you’re on a journey into infinity, into infinitude. There is no limit and no place to stop. There isn’t just one work of grace, or a second work or a third work, and then that’s it. There are numberless experiences and spiritual epochs and crises that can take place in your life while you are journeying out into the heart of God in Christ. God is infinite! That’s the hardest thought I will ask you to grasp.”
― A.W. Tozer, quote from The Attributes of God: A Journey Into the Father's Heart


“Bir dakika bekle, " dedi Naturelle. Mutfağa gidince Monty de gözleri kapalı bir halde, ağırlığını bir ayağından diğerine aktararak beklemeye koyuldu. Mutfaktaki musluktan sanki uzaklardan bir yerlerden bir alkış sesi geliyormuşçasına su damlıyordu. Naturelle elinde bir torba dolusu buzla gelip, torbayı Monty'nin yanağına bastırmasını işaret etti. Bir süre hiç kıpırdamadılar. Naturelle elini Monty'ninkinin üzerine koyup, bir süre bekledi.
Monty kadının kendisine sımsıkı sarılmasını, kulağına kimsenin kendilerini bulamayacağı bir yer bildiğini fısıldamasını diliyordu. Ona arkasından geleceğine, Otisville' de bir iş bulup her hafta onu ziyaret edeceğine söz vermesini istiyordu. Yedi senenin kötü bir rüya gibi geçeceğini sonra yeniden birbirlerine kavuşacaklarını, önlerinde daha upuzun bir ömür olduğunu, filan söylemesini bekliyordu.
Naturelle hiçbir şey söylemedi Monty de öyle. Sonunda Monty baş sallayıp, dönerek kapıyı arkasından kapattı. Poşeti ters çevirip içindeki buzların üç kat aşağı düşüşünü izledi. Sonra poşeti cebine koydu.”
― David Benioff, quote from The 25th Hour


“A man devoted time to what mattered to him—to what he deemed worthy of his attention.”
― Gena Showalter, quote from Burning Dawn


Interesting books

The Force of Wind
(11.6K)
The Force of Wind
by Elizabeth Hunter
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
(6.7K)
Memoirs of a Dutiful...
by Simone de Beauvoir
Carrion Comfort
(15.7K)
Carrion Comfort
by Dan Simmons
The Hidden
(8.3K)
The Hidden
by Jessica Verday
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
(24.7K)
The Assassin and the...
by Sarah J. Maas
The German Ideology
(2.6K)
The German Ideology
by Karl Marx

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.