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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures PDF

Author: Merlin Sheldrake

Publisher: Random House


Publish Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN-10: 0525510311

Pages: 368

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface


LOOKED UP TOWARD the top of the tree. Ferns and orchids sprouted from its trunk, which vanished into a tangle of lianas in the canopy. High above me, a toucan flapped off its perch with a croak, and a troupe of howler monkeys worked themselves into a slow roar. The rain had only just stopped, and the leaves above me shed heavy drops of water in sudden showers. A low mist hung over the ground. The tree’s roots wound outward from the base of its trunk, soon vanishing into the thick drifts of fallen leaves that covered the floor of the jungle. I used a stick to tap the ground for snakes. A tarantula scuttled off, and I knelt, feeling my way down the tree’s trunk and along one of its roots into a mass of spongy debris where the finer roots matted into a thick red and brown tangle. A rich smell drifted upward. Termites clambered through the labyrinth, and a millipede coiled up, playing dead. My root vanished into the ground, and with a trowel I cleared the area around the spot. I used my hands and a spoon to loosen the top layer of earth and dug as gently as I could, slowly uncovering it as it ranged out from the tree and twisted along just below the surface of the soil. After an hour, I had traveled about a meter. My root was now thinner than string and had started to proliferate wildly. It was hard to keep track of as it knotted with its neighbors, so I lay down on my stomach and lowered my face into the shallow trench I had made. Some roots smell sharp and nutty and others woody and bitter, but the roots of my tree had a spicy resinous kick when I scratched them with a fingernail. For several hours I inched along the ground, scratching and sniffing every few centimeters to make sure I hadn’t lost the thread. As the day went on, more filaments sprang out from the root I’d uncovered and I chose a few of them to follow all the way to the tips, where they burrowed into fragments of rotting leaf or twig. I dipped the ends in a vial of water to wash off the mud and looked at them through a loupe. The rootlets branched like a small tree and their surface was covered with a filmy layer that appeared fresh and sticky. It was these delicate structures I wanted to examine. From these roots, a fungal network laced out into the soil and around the roots of nearby trees. Without this fungal web my tree would not exist. Without similar fungal webs no plant would exist anywhere. All life on land, including my own, depended on these networks. I tugged lightly on my root and felt the ground move.

Cover Title Page Copyright
Prologue Introduction: What Is It Like to Be a Fungus?

Chapter 1: A Lure

Chapter 2: Living Labyrinths

Chapter 3: The Intimacy of Strangers

Chapter 4: Mycelial Minds

Chapter 5: Before Roots

Chapter 6: Wood Wide Webs

Chapter 7: Radical Mycology

Chapter 8: Making Sense of Fungi Epilogue: This Compost
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