Geotropism – New Eyes for Plants

If you have no knowledge of Goethe’s work on the metamorphosis of plants, then this video may seem a bit strange to you, and you may wonder what on earth I am doing. That is fine, and I would totally understand.

Goethe, over 200 years ago, developed what he called a delicate empiricism, a radically new way of doing science which included developing one’s intuitive and perceptive faculties, so that it would be possible to enter into the coming-into-being of a plant, what he called the metamorphosis of plants. Goethe developed a methodology which involves first prolonged studying of the physical phenomena, and then replaying these observations in one’s mind. In this way, it is possible to gain a far more intuitive feel for the dynamic processes of living organisms.

For the last couple of weeks I have been creating a new time lapse video of a bean, looking at how the bean sprouts. In particularly, I was interested in geotropism, the ability of a seed to respond to its orientation, so that the roots grow downwards how ever the seed is positioned. Well have a look at this:

Unfortunately the shoot in this experiment did not manage to grow upwards, once the downward direction of the shoots had been established. This may be because of the medium of the glass restricting the sideways exploration, I don’t know.

As to why anyone would want to do this kind of experiment, well it has great value in terms of really connecting with a living organism, you really feel the aliveness of the seed inside of yourself in a way in which we do not experience in our normal lives when we simply see the category bean, as opposed to connecting emotionally and intuitively with the dynamic processes of growth. Sometimes I think we are so lost in technology, just doing this small exercise has huge value in reconnecting us with nature, the dynamics of organic beings which can lead us to a much deeper experience of complex dynamic processes, something we just can not do if we think about these in the abstarct, or model mathematically.

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