Fun Guy Genius
June 8, 2023 11:33 AM   Subscribe

“If you had no head, no heart, no center of operations,” he began. “If you could taste with your whole body. If you could take a fragment of your toe or your hair and it would grow into a new you — and hundreds of these new yous could fuse together into some impossibly large togetherness. And when you wanted to get around, you would produce spores, this little condensed part of you that could travel in the air.”
Merlin Sheldrake, The Man Who Turned the World on to the Genius of Fungi. (NYT Guest Link, Archive Link)
posted by Rumple (21 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
related: his dad, rupert sheldrake, is a fascinating and entertaining crank.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:19 PM on June 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

Fungi are crazy.

Super bad if they infect you. Pretty solid if they create chemicals for your enjoyment.

They mostly all taste like dirt though, so there is that.
posted by Windopaene at 12:20 PM on June 8, 2023

"And the company that will bring it to you: AT&T."
posted by credulous at 12:56 PM on June 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

Sheldrake's mushroom book is a lot of fun.
posted by doctornemo at 1:06 PM on June 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

“You cannot kill me in a way that matters”.
posted by mhoye at 1:40 PM on June 8, 2023 [12 favorites]

They mostly all taste like dirt

It's the other way around.
posted by swift at 1:43 PM on June 8, 2023 [15 favorites]

Reminded me to go dig up this silly article (and associated thread) again. Thanks!
posted by Navelgazer at 1:46 PM on June 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

They mostly all taste like dirt though, so there is that.

You’ve clearly been withheld the tastier ones: their gamut of aromas and flavours is obviously as wide as their range of funky appearances…

So weird that fungi have so consistently been deprecated, as though plants were some inherently nobler, more presentable/palatable thing. Mycophobes of the world, fungi have been waiting for you for near eons…
posted by progosk at 2:12 PM on June 8, 2023 [4 favorites]

If you say you don’t like the taste of mushroom you just haven’t had the right one yet. The taste and texture of edible mushrooms is vast.
And here’s your edible mushroom tip for the day: button, crimini, portobello and baby bella are all the same mushroom - Agaricus bisporus. They all taste exactly the same and are based on a color mutation and a marketing campaign.

So don’t say you don’t like mushrooms, say you don’t like button mushrooms and get out and try some fun new ones!
posted by misterpatrick at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2023 [3 favorites]

Violent action ensues.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:46 PM on June 8, 2023

They mostly all taste like dirt

It's the other way around.

That's messed my head up to a surprising degree.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:23 PM on June 8, 2023 [5 favorites]

Also, throwing a handful of dried porcinis into a soup or stew is so good I could almost give up meat.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

That was such a fun article. Additionally, I'd absolutely buy a coffee table book filled with glossy color photos of the Purce-Mandrake family home in London, with their green plastic tablecloths, well-cared for plants, hanging nature sculptures, and shelves of paperbacks. Glorious!
posted by but no cigar at 5:12 PM on June 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

36,000 sexes.
posted by clew at 11:01 PM on June 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I had considered posting an AskMe specifically on this topic. The subject probably leeched into my brain over the past year or two. Definitely going to check this out. Thanks!
posted by slogger at 11:06 PM on June 8, 2023

It's a bit normative to call the Sheldrakes cranks. Established science has not brought only blessings and maybe we could all benefit from some outside the box thinking?
One way to get your Out There ideas out there is to give up on the ould peer review and write a book. In a book, or a blog!, you can leaven the solid findings of scientific research with some untestable speculation . . . about, say, how psychotropic mushrooms may have opened to the doors of perception in early hominids. Give up the ould tree branches wumman, you should try strutting your stuff on the ground . . . and the rest [axes, barley, clocks, dredls, epi-pens, flintlocks . . . and Voyager II] is history. I used to lecture about the contingent events that started humanity down the path from being just another ape and I'd never heard of that idea before. It doesn't seem wilder than some of the other speculation that has been thrown into that stir-about for explaining how we got Here.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:54 AM on June 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the article!

Fascinating family, the Sheldrakes. Brother Cosmo sings of tardigrades (whilst making cider) and generally centers his wonderful music on the natural world...
posted by angelplasma at 2:12 AM on June 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I have read Merlin Sheldrake's book, Entangled Life, and it is indeed pretty good. He covers a lot of stuff without going too far into the woo that exists around fungi enthusiasts¹, and it's all pretty interesting, holds your attention. The only really silly bit I remember is when he immersed himself in hot compost at a spa that apparently does that sort of thing, and felt a sense of connection with the fungi. And even then it was just sort of like "Well of couse this guy would do that.

¹ See the documentary Fantastic Fungi for an example of all this gone wrong. It starts as a perfectly good documentary about fungi, spends way too long on psychedelic therapy, includes a man praying to mushroom statues, and then finishes with a surprisingly short look at some new applications of fungi that seemed way more interesting than most of the rest of the movie.
posted by timdiggerm at 5:09 AM on June 9, 2023

I enjoy his brother's music.
posted by thedward at 8:30 PM on June 9, 2023

Paul Stamets represents mushroom progress worse than Sheldrake?

As to 'they taste like dirt' there is a birch polypore which does not taste like dirt. There is a phrase edible but not palatable for a reason.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:55 PM on June 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed the article, which uncritically highlights the nepo baby privilege that Merlin has enjoyed, giving him the opportunity to pursue this line of thought. A great argument for the advantages to society that UBI and equality would bring.

I get my fungi info from Dr Gordon Walker on Tik Tok. He regularly does lives where you can chat with him.

In other fungi news, some people with ADHD (which may well include Rupert and fam) benefit from the Default Mode Network dulling effect of psilocybin. This affords them greater ability to concentrate, and calms the brain. Other people with ADHD find the same with cocaine. Presently there are few ways of finding out which is best without direct experience.
There is a place in the US which will run a full DNA scan for around $140, which may give indication of which drug pathways are most likely to be effective. I learned this from the Adult ADHD podcast, probably the one about medication.
posted by asok at 5:11 AM on June 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Bad Waitress   |   So much for the post-apocalyptic air purfier... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments