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This Is Your Mind on Plants

de Michael Pollan

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7041732,709 (3.7)10
"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, 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 Of all the things humans rely on plants for--sustenance, beauty, fragrance, flavor, fiber--surely the most curious is our use of them is to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: people around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. We don't usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So then what is a "drug?" And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime? In THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs -- opium, caffeine, and mescaline -- and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos with which we surround them. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and such fraught feelings? A unique blend of history, science, memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively -- as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that's one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay written more than 25 years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world"-- Of all the things humans rely on plants for-- sustenance, beauty, fragrance, flavor, fiber-- surely the most curious is our use of them is to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs-- opium, caffeine, and mescaline-- and explores the cultures that have grown up around these drugs. He examines the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos with which we surround them. The result is a unique blend of history, science, memoir-- and participatory journalism. -- adapted from jacket.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 17 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
As usual, Pollan is both enlightening and entertaining. But now I want to try mescalin. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Apr 18, 2024 |
Interesting, but perhaps I’m not the audience. He lays out a very clear argument against people appropriating sacred ritual for frivolous purposes and then proceeds to describe a travesty he attended without a shred of self consciousness. Luckily, this is toward the end . ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This is the book for all of us fascinated with the world of plants and the strange effect they can have on our minds. It is truly bewildering how some plants and the products we get from them are glorified, while others are demonized. Pollan explores this very arbitrary division through personal anecdotes, a little bit of scientific research and legal peculiarities.
I particularly liked the chapter on mescaline, while the ones on poppies and coffee were interesting as well. A must-read for all fans of Pollan. ( )
  ZeljanaMaricFerli | Mar 4, 2024 |
I liked it, though this felt like a short works companion adjacent to How to Change Your Mind (writing this on mobile so can't link book but may edit in later).

The opium section was originally in Harper's Weekly >20 years ago, with original pages restored that had been previously removed to avoid rubbing afoul of legal issues re: manufacturing a scheduled drug (presumably things have changed if we're publishing in a book). Caffeine was originally an Audible original, and the second paper version of an audible exclusive I've seen which makes me wonder about how those exclusivity contracts work (especially in light of Sanderson's discussion about how poor Audible's deals are). Mescaline, then, seems to be original for this book, especially as describes plans in the first year of the pandemic.

Would've been a relatively short read, but my time is occupied! ( )
  Daumari | Dec 28, 2023 |
This is like a combination of the Botany of Desire and How to Change Your Mind. We get a look at three different plants, and hear how the author has tried growing them or experimenting with them. This worked better for me than Botany did, and I think it's because it's more a memoir of his experience with these plants rather than trying to seem scientific the whole way thru. I especially was interested in how Native Americans have a monopoly on the legality of peyote. Some good thoughts to ponder in that section. ( )
  KallieGrace | Sep 28, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 17 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
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Of all the many things humans rely on plants for -- sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber -- surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, to fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience.
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Nothing about drugs is straightforward. But it's not quite true that our plant taboos are entirely arbitrary... societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society's rule and ban the ones that seem to undemine it. (p. 3)
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 collections of molecules in nature that allow us to do that. (p. 4)
But what is true of the opium poppy is true for all the medicines that plants have given us: they are both allies and poisons at once, which means it's up to us to devise a healthy relationship with them. (p.20)
What ha never occured to me when I began this experiement is that, by giving up caffeine I would be undermining my ability to tell the story of caffeine, a knot I wasn't at all sure how to untie. (p. 93)
Coffeehouses became uniquely democratic public spaces, in England they were the only such spaces where men of different classes could mix. (p. 106)
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"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, 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 Of all the things humans rely on plants for--sustenance, beauty, fragrance, flavor, fiber--surely the most curious is our use of them is to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: people around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. We don't usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So then what is a "drug?" And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime? In THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs -- opium, caffeine, and mescaline -- and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos with which we surround them. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and such fraught feelings? A unique blend of history, science, memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively -- as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that's one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay written more than 25 years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world"-- Of all the things humans rely on plants for-- sustenance, beauty, fragrance, flavor, fiber-- surely the most curious is our use of them is to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs-- opium, caffeine, and mescaline-- and explores the cultures that have grown up around these drugs. He examines the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos with which we surround them. The result is a unique blend of history, science, memoir-- and participatory journalism. -- adapted from jacket.

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