This post is a list of quotes form the book - This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan. This Is Your Mind on Plants is a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants - and the equally powerful taboos.
This Is Your Mind on Plants Quotes
We don’t usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use of it as an addiction, but that is only because coffee and tea are legal and our dependence on them is socially acceptable.
Societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it. That’s why in a society’s choice of psychoactive substances we can read a great deal about both its fears and its desires.
Evidently, normal everyday consciousness is not enough for us humans; we seek to vary, intensify, and sometimes transcend it, and we have identified a whole collection of molecules in nature that allow us to do that.
Deep down I suspect that many gardeners regard themselves as minor-league alchemists, transforming the dross of compost (and water and sunlight) into substances of rare value and beauty and power.
One of the greatest satisfactions of gardening is the independence it can confer—from the greengrocer, the florist, the pharmacist, and, for some, the drug dealer.
Is there another flower that has had anywhere near the opium poppy’s impact on history and literature? In the nineteenth century, especially, the poppy played as crucial a role in the course of events as petroleum has played in our own century: opium was the basis of national economies, a staple of medicine, an essential item of trade, a spur to the Romantic revolution in poetry, even a casus belli.
The war on drugs is in truth a war on some drugs, their enemy status the result of historical accident, cultural prejudice, and institutional imperative.
Something like 90 percent of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, and the only one we routinely give to children (commonly in the form of soda). Few of us even think of it as a drug, much less our daily use of it as an addiction. It’s so pervasive that it’s easy to overlook the fact that to be caffeinated is not baseline consciousness but, in fact, an altered state. It just happens to be a state that virtually all of us share, rendering it invisible.
That’s pretty much all writers do: take the blooming multiplicity of the world and our experience of it, literally concentrate it down to manageable proportions, and then force it through the eye of a grammatical needle one word at a time.
The widespread use of caffeine is, arguably, one of those developments in human history, like the control of fire or the domestication of plants and animals, that helped lift us out of the state of nature, providing a new degree of control over biology, in this case our own.
Here’s what’s uniquely insidious about caffeine: the drug is not only a leading cause of our sleep deprivation; it is also the principal tool we rely on to remedy the problem. Most of the caffeine consumed today is being used to compensate for the lousy sleep that caffeine causes.
The energy that cup of coffee or tea has given you has been borrowed, from the future, and must eventually be paid back. What’s more, there is interest to be paid on that loan, and it can be calculated in the quantity, and quality, of your sleep.
Coffee and tea have not only benefited by gratifying human desire, as have so many other plants, but these two have also assisted in the construction of precisely the kind of civilization in which they could best thrive: a world ringed by global trade, driven by consumer capitalism, and dominated by a species that by now can barely get out of bed without their help.
That’s how evolution works: nature’s most propitious accidents become evolutionary strategies for world domination.
To an extent, this is what all psychedelics do—not so much change how we feel inside (as stimulants or depressants reliably do) as imbue the world around us with never-before-appreciated qualities.