Explaining Narcissism

Let’s start with babies. Infants and very young children can be said to operate quite naturally from a narcissistic point of view. They are completely self-absorbed, crave attention, and act as if the whole world should respond to their every need and demand and in this way they do get their needs met as they should. We could say they are totally self-centered and are unable to distinguish themselves from everything else they encounter. The whole world exists just to be put into their mouths. This type of narcissism is completely normal for an infant and small children because it is geared for their own survival and that is the key difference between a child and an adult. We think it is normal for an infant to be totally demanding and self centered but when we see this behavior in an adult it makes us uncomfortable and we think it is inappropriate and even weird.

Most of us do not realize that when we see narcissism in an adult we are actually looking at one of the main characteristics of soul age. We think that if a person has an adult body they must be mature but of course this is not the case at all. At this time fifty percent of the world population is in one of the three younger stages of development, infant, toddler, and child stages. People in any of these stages are going to exhibit some forms of narcissism. Why? Because they are not yet adults no matter what their biological age is. Psychologically they are exhibiting the dynamics of a small child. Me and not me, me and other me’s, and me and you and I win. In these three stages of human evolution there is no access to an internal life. There is virtually no insight, there is no actual relating to another person as an equal because they are simply not capable of putting their feet in another’s shoes.

However if you look around the world at how many adults treat each other you will clearly see that they are similar to four year olds. They can say all the right things but then hack other people to death, incinerate them, blow them apart, behead them, be completely oblivious to their suffering and so on.

When you see narcissism in an adult you are a looking at some version of a younger soul. So let us look at narcissism a little more.

Narcissism may show up in a variety of ways in an adult. Generally you might find yourself thinking that they are self-centered, selfish, egotistical, vain, arrogant, or conceited. You may also notice that they seem to have little or no compassion for other people less fortunate even though they spout politically correct phrases to the contrary.  They have no compunction about owning a huge opulent house or castle even though the townspeople are poor and scrabbling for a living.

feelings · maternity · me

Mothers (Who Can’t Love)

How thoroughly disturbing to dare to talk about the world’s greatest taboo: Unloving Mothers.
I was born to a woman who could not love.
For long, I have been urged to reconcile with her in many different ways. I have been criticised by many people around me. I have heard the classical “but she gave you life” and the more traditional “honour thy mother”. I’ve been advised to try to understand her because of her very difficult childhood, to understand her because she lacked love herself, because she lacked education….
But most of my life, I’ve been told to suck it up because I need to be positive, go forward, and at the end of the day, everyone else does (!).
My mother suffers from a “narcissistic” syndrome.
I have talked about that many times here (and there). I have worked quite intensively on myself. Followed different types of therapy. I have read a lot and I am trying to write a lot (also as part of the therapeutic process). But it is an endless subject and there is a huge black hole in my heart and soul that needs to be feed with understanding, research and process.
My mother has been desperate and depressive most of her life (and now she is getting old a little more) but she has also been very up (and high). One thing was constant, she was in need and when in need, she was abusive. This came probably as a response to all the above mentioned …
I was always confused as to why my mother could (occasionally) be loving and why everything went down the drain almost the next moment.
The queen mother of all criticism and threats was: “I hope when you have kids, they will not do this to you.”
(quoting a piece which I found somewhere on the net, sorry for not mentioning the source – I cant trace it back) “These kinds of mothers don’t mind you as long as you do what she wants you to do, as long as she has control over you, and most of all– as long as you don’t become a woman. In a lot of ways, I was no more than a piece of property to her. I was deprived and pruned so that I could one day be given away like property then people would see how amazing and strict she was. Thus, she would gain other people’s fear and respect. That was her ambition all along and it didn’t sit well with her that I refused to be treated like a trophy. My world came crashing down when I realized her need for fear and respect from a bunch of faceless people meant more to her than my life and happiness. She had no qualms about trying to break me, thinking I would eventually capitulate. Like many unloving mothers, she wreaked havoc on my conscience. I felt horrible for not obeying her commands. I felt so guilty whenever she reminded me of all she did for me. Like many daughters of unloving mothers, you break in another way be it physical illness or in my case: depression.This book also made me aware of how every experience with an unloving mother will mold the way you go through life. I’ve been on the receiving end of my mother saying: “I wish you were never born” and “You should have died a long time ago”– all in the same breath. However, her destruction did not start when I fell from grace. The tendency to feel responsible for other people’s happiness, feeling guilty if you don’t comply with other people’s wishes, and chasing approval all steams from how your mother raised you. It was such a shock for me to read that love does not have to be earned. I still remember my bridesmaids’ speech during my wedding. They called me loving. They said they loved me. I was speechless and felt that I didn’t deserve it. Sure I love my husband but I never expected much of it back. How bizarre it was for me when he was always there for me and took care of me without a second thought. How bizarre it was for me when a friend pointed out that my husband loves me more than how other husbands love their wives.”

Yes, I will never have a loving mother but that is okay. But I can be a loving mother myself. And just because I never received the nurture I needed, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a loving mother to my child. On the contrary, I am very conscious and trying to do a lot to be there, to be loving, to be giving.



deeds and words

One of the main features of the 20th century is the massive critique of the seemingly natural caesura between ideas and expression, deeds and words, hard science and pure subjectivism or imagination. These dualities have been challenged, explored and intertwined by recent artistic research. This intertwining produces neither universal nor purely individual knowledge, but a creative research stance, performative power that disturbs our habitual gaze on the world, surprises us and uncovers new possible worlds.

The central question is what methodological approaches producing knowledge shall be used within artistic research in order to profit from the aesthetic experience and not to reduce its specificity.


Is the artistic research an art of its kind? Or shall it be?

If art claims to produce knowledge, are there methods that scrutinize this knowledge?

To what extent are methodological approaches in artistic research hostile to the creative process?

How shall existing methodology of humanities and natural sciences (phenomenology, enactive theory, qualitative research, ethnomethodology, cognitive science) be used in artistic research?

What is the added value of artistic research methods for art?

What are the consequences of the artistic research and how can they advance our understanding of the personal, political and social context of our lives?

SO MUCH, and much more…

to be continued….

family · feelings · info · life · maternity · past


Une chasse aux sorcières a été lancée pour repérer et se libérer des manipulateurs, pervers et narcissiques (MPN) et c’est tant mieux ! Cependant, les ouvrages, articles, témoignages font souvent référence aux manipulateurs, pervers-narcissiques dans un couple… Les références concernant la façon de se construire et de grandir aux côtés d’un parent MPN sont plus rares…Pourtant, c’est tout aussi difficile et douloureux… Et si, dans notre vie amoureuse, nous sommes confrontés à des MPN, c’est que nous y avons été confrontés dans le passé et que nous avons quelque chose à régler…

Même si les stratégies du manipulateur, pervers-narcissique et ses comportements sont plus ou moins similaires sur la forme, le fond peut être très différent et les conséquences et traces laissées également.

Alors, qu’en est-il quand, en tant qu’enfant, nous devons grandir et nous construire face à un personnage comme celui-là ?

Voyons d’abord quels sont les critères d’un, ou d’une, MPN :

Les paroles, gestes et comportements d’un parent MPN…

Il n’y a pas qu’une sorte de pervers narcissique… Même si des critères communs sont généralement repérés, il arrive que des surprises arrivent et que la diversité s’en nourrissent. De nombreux ouvrages dressent le portrait des MPN, ils sont tous plus ou moins d’accord sur le sujet d’ailleurs. Les éléments que je vais évoqués ne constituent pas une liste exhaustive. Mais disons que les grands traits et ceux les plus communs à tous s’y trouvent…

La manipulation permet aux MPN de mieux tisser leur toile, de créer un climat de confiance, de lui donner de la crédibilité, de tirer avantage des situations, d’éventuellement, de manière très subtile, se faire passer pour la victime.

Le chantage est une des armes favorites du parent MPN, la culpabilisation, les « après tout ce que j’ai fait pour toi » sont autant de façons de vous enchaîner.

Il passe du rire aux larmes très facilement ! Il les utilise pour vous sensibiliser, vous toucher, vous rallier à sa cause. Et vous, en tant qu’enfant, vous ne pouvez vous empêcher d’être touché.

Il peut aussi parler de vous comme étant la prunelle de ses yeux et le jour d’après prétendre que vous n’êtes plus son enfant parce que vous avez osé lui tenir tête ou fait quelque chose qui ne sert pas ses intérêts.

Tout est paradoxal et ambivalent. Tantôt il vous aime, tantôt il vous traite d’incapable, parfois de manière très subtile.

Il a aussi l’art de critiquer votre entourage, personne, ou presque, ne trouve grâce à ses yeux. En fait, tous ceux qui pourraient vous réveiller et voir clair dans son jeu sont une menace pour lui et son objectif est donc de vous en isoler… Pour mieux tisser sa toile.

Généralement, le MPN a connu une enfance difficile et douloureuse. Probablement avec un père et/ou une mère du même genre. Il s’est donc construit une réalité bien à lui… Où lui seul est intelligent, beau, expert en un tas de matières,…

Le parent MPN est, en général, très absent en tant que « parent normatif », en tant que parent aimant, présent, faisant passer son enfant en priorité. Par contre, il est très présent toxiquement parlant. Même s’il se fait passer pour le « meilleur parent » des deux. Lui, sait ce qui est bon pour vous !

Il a souvent des paroles assassines, blessantes à votre sujet. Peut-être pas directement à vous, mais auprès d’autres personnes… Sachez que ses propos ne sont que la projection de lui-même. C’est douloureux, ça blesse, ça crève le cœur,… Mais votre moyen de survie est de vous dire que ce ne sont que des projections de lui-même. Rien de ce qu’il dit n’est vrai. Il essaye simplement de vous nuire et de vous affaiblir.

Inutile de s’étendre sur toutes ces choses qui font mal. Voyons maintenant comment se préserver et se construire malgré tout cela.

Se préserver et se construire…

Malheureusement, un parent pervers narcissique et manipulateur ne sait pas ce que c’est aimer inconditionnellement son enfant. Il ne l’a lui même pas appris. J’ai mis du temps avant de me rendre compte qu’un parent MPN n’aime pas son enfant. Il ne l’aime ou en tous cas ne fait croire qu’il l’aime, que lorsqu’il y trouve de l’intérêt. Ce n’est pas lié à vous ou à votre taux « d’aimabilité ». C’est lui qui en est purement et simplement incapable.

Mais en tant qu’enfant de MPN, nous sommes toujours à la recherche de cet amour. Consciemment ou inconsciemment. Les enfants de MPN font parfois des choses un peu folles en espérant avoir l’amour de leur parent en retour.

Mais vous ne l’aurez jamais. Alors… Allez le chercher ailleurs. Nourrissez vous de tout l’amour que les autres sont capables de vous donner, le reste de votre famille, vos amis, vos enfants, vos conjoints,… Ils ont certainement de l’amour à revendre et vous aussi d’ailleurs ! Quand on a manqué d’amour pour se construire, il n’est pas rare que l’on soit une véritable boule d’amour… Les enfants de MPN, ceux qui ont réussi à se construire malgré tout, sont souvent des personnes lumineuses, à l’écoute, attentive aux autres, disponibles,… Donnez tout ce que vous n’avez pas reçu… Vous allez voir, c’est étonnant !

En tant qu’enfant de manipulateur, pervers-narcissique il s’agit de faire le deuil d’un parent (souvent) encore vivant. Ce qui est assez compliqué. Faire le deuil d’un parent vivant est un combat permanent entre son instinct de survie, qui sait qu’il faut couper les ponts sans équivoque, et son besoin d’amour et de reconnaissance de ce parent. Le temps est votre allié… Laissez vous le temps d’appréhender la réalité. De vous y faire. Ne soyez pas radical avec vous-même. Il ne s’agit pas de choisir entre un poulet rôti ou une entrecôte. Il s’agit de réconcilier ces deux forces extrêmes que sont l’instinct de survie et le besoin d’amour. C’est complexe… Car nous avons aussi besoin d’amour pour survivre…

Une grande partie de la construction des enfants de manipulateur, pervers-narcissique consiste en fait en une réparation… Réparer ce que le parent MPN a brisé, cassé, violé, sali, anéanti. Remplir ce manque d’amour qui nous écrase le cœur. Prendre conscience que même si l’un de nos parents ne nous a pas aimé comme il le devait, nous méritons d’être aimé. Se rendre compte aussi que les hommes (si c’est nous avons eu un père MPN) sont capables de nous aimer. Que tout en nous est aimable et que nous pouvons leur faire confiance. Si c’est notre mère qui est un parent MPN (et que nous sommes un homme), se rendre compte que les femmes peuvent nous aimer. Tout simplement parce que nous sommes des personnes aussi « aimables » que les autres. Avoir confiance en le sexe du parent MPN est souvent difficile. Nous avons tendance à reproduire les schémas que nous connaissons. Et si pour une raison ou une autre, nous avons du apprendre à nous méfier… Je vous laisse imaginer…

Si vous avez l’impression que vous reproduisez des schémas et que vous en avez assez, faites vous aider ! Il y a suffisamment de méthodes sur le marché pour trouver celle qui vous convient et qui vous aidera à vous libérer.

Enfin… Dans la lignée du deuil du parent vivant… Il faut également accepter. Accepter ce qu’est ce parent MPN, mais surtout accepter ce qu’il n‘est pas et ne sera probablement jamais.

Quand on est enfant de MPN, la construction est difficile. Les blessures causées par un parent MPN sont douloureuses et profondes. Notre estime de soi est touchée, notre capacité d’aimer, de faire confiance, notre image de nous, notre image du couple, du rôle de parent, notre capacité à s’ouvrir et à communiquer, à nous livrer,… Heureusement, les enfants de MPN sont plein de ressources. Le meilleur conseil que je peux leur donner est de s’entourer de personnes aimantes, chaleureuses, drôles,… Ils pourront ainsi se nourrir de tout ça et apprendre à donner et à aimer sans conditions.

Chaque jour, dites-vous et redites-vous que vous êtes une personne formidable qui mérite d’être aimé. Puisez dans l’affection et l’amour que votre entourage vous donne pour consolider votre estime de vous, pour vous redonner confiance en vous et en les autres. Faites un travail sur vous-même, entamer ce travail de réparation. C’est le meilleur service que vous pourrez vous rendre. Donner autant d’amour que vous pouvez et apprenez à en recevoir… C’est la clé de la guérison.


all · earth · future · life

“A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.”

The Secret Life of Trees: The Astonishing Science of What Trees Feel and How They Communicate

Trees dominate the world’s the oldest living organisms. Since the dawn of our species, they have been our silent companions, permeating our most enduring tales and never ceasing to inspire fantastical cosmogonies. Hermann Hesse called them “the most penetrating of preachers.” A forgotten seventeenth-century English gardener wrote of how they “speak to the mind, and tell us many things, and teach us many good lessons.”

But trees might be among our lushest metaphors and sensemaking frameworks for knowledge precisely because the richness of what they say is more than metaphorical — they speak a sophisticated silent language, communicating complex information via smell, taste, and electrical impulses. This fascinating secret world of signals is what German forester Peter Wohlleben explores in The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate (public library).

Wohlleben chronicles what his own experience of managing a forest in the Eifel mountains in Germany has taught him about the astonishing language of trees and how trailblazing arboreal research from scientists around the world reveals “the role forests play in making our world the kind of place where we want to live.” As we’re only just beginning to understand nonhuman consciousnesses, what emerges from Wohlleben’s revelatory reframing of our oldest companions is an invitation to see anew what we have spent eons taking for granted and, in this act of seeing, to care more deeply about these remarkable beings that make life on this planet we call home not only infinitely more pleasurable, but possible at all.

Illustration by Arthur Rackham for a rare 1917 edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales

But Wohlleben’s own career began at the opposite end of the caring spectrum. As a forester tasked with optimizing the forest’s output for the lumber industry, he self-admittedly “knew about as much about the hidden life of trees as a butcher knows about the emotional life of animals.” He experienced the consequence of what happens whenever we turn something alive, be it a creature or a work of art, into a commodity — the commercial focus of his job warped how he looked at trees.

Then, about twenty years ago, everything changed when he began organizing survival training and log-cabin tours for tourists in his forest. As they marveled at the majestic trees, the enchanted curiosity of their gaze reawakened his own and his childhood love of nature was rekindled. Around the same time, scientists began conducting research in his forest. Soon, every day became colored with wonderment and the thrill of discovery — no longer able to see trees as a currency, he instead saw them as the priceless living wonders that they are. He recounts:

Life as a forester became exciting once again. Every day in the forest was a day of discovery. This led me to unusual ways of managing the forest. When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.

The revelation came to him in flashes, the most eye-opening of which happened on one of his regular walks through a reserve of old beech tree in his forest. Passing by a patch of odd mossy stones he had seen many times before, he was suddenly seized with a new awareness of their strangeness. When he bent down to examine them, he made an astonishing discovery:

The stones were an unusual shape: they were gently curved with hollowed-out areas. Carefully, I lifted the moss on one of the stones. What I found underneath was tree bark. So, these were not stones, after all, but old wood. I was surprised at how hard the “stone” was, because it usually takes only a few years for beechwood lying on damp ground to decompose. But what surprised me most was that I couldn’t lift the wood. It was obviously attached to the ground in some way. I took out my pocketknife and carefully scraped away some of the bark until I got down to a greenish layer. Green? This color is found only in chlorophyll, which makes new leaves green; reserves of chlorophyll are also stored in the trunks of living trees. That could mean only one thing: this piece of wood was still alive! I suddenly noticed that the remaining “stones” formed a distinct pattern: they were arranged in a circle with a diameter of about 5 feet. What I had stumbled upon were the gnarled remains of an enormous ancient tree stump. All that was left were vestiges of the outermost edge. The interior had completely rotted into humus long ago — a clear indication that the tree must have been felled at least four or five hundred years earlier.

How can a tree cut down centuries ago could still be alive? Without leaves, a tree is unable to perform photosynthesis, which is how it converts sunlight into sugar for sustenance. The ancient tree was clearly receiving nutrients in some other way — for hundreds of years.

Beneath the mystery lay a fascinating frontier of scientific research, which would eventually reveal that this tree was not unique in its assisted living. Neighboring trees, scientists found, help each other through their root systems — either directly, by intertwining their roots, or indirectly, by growing fungal networks around the roots that serve as a sort of extended nervous system connecting separate trees. If this weren’t remarkable enough, these arboreal mutualities are even more complex — trees appear able to distinguish their own roots from those of other species and even of their own relatives.

Art by Judith Clay from Thea’s Tree

Wohlleben ponders this astonishing sociality of trees, abounding with wisdom about what makes strong human communities and societies:

Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.

Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way round, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance.


A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.

One can’t help but wonder whether trees are so much better equipped at this mutual care than we are because of the different time-scales on which our respective existences play out. Is some of our inability to see this bigger picture of shared sustenance in human communities a function of our biological short-sightedness? Are organisms who live on different time scales better able to act in accordance with this grander scheme of things in a universe that is deeply interconnected?

To be sure, even trees are discriminating in their kinship, which they extend in varying degrees. Wohlleben explains:

Every tree is a member of this community, but there are different levels of membership. For example, most stumps rot away into humus and disappear within a couple of hundred years (which is not very long for a tree). Only a few individuals are kept alive over the centuries… What’s the difference? Do tree societies have second-class citizens just like human societies? It seems they do, though the idea of “class” doesn’t quite fit. It is rather the degree of connection — or maybe even affection — that decides how helpful a tree’s colleagues will be.

These relationships, Wohlleben points out, are encoded in the forest canopy and visible to anyone who simply looks up:

The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken. However, it heavily reinforces the branches it has extended, so you get the impression that there’s quite a shoving match going on up there. But a pair of true friends is careful right from the outset not to grow overly thick branches in each other’s direction. The trees don’t want to take anything away from each other, and so they develop sturdy branches only at the outer edges of their crowns, that is to say, only in the direction of “non-friends.” Such partners are often so tightly connected at the roots that sometimes they even die together.

Art by Cécile Gambini from Strange Trees by Bernadette Pourquié

But trees don’t interact with one another in isolation from the rest of the ecosystem. The substance of their communication, in fact, is often about and even to other species. Wohlleben describes their particularly remarkable olfactory warning system:

Four decades ago, scientists noticed something on the African savannah. The giraffes there were feeding on umbrella thorn acacias, and the trees didn’t like this one bit. It took the acacias mere minutes to start pumping toxic substances into their leaves to rid themselves of the large herbivores. The giraffes got the message and moved on to other trees in the vicinity. But did they move on to trees close by? No, for the time being, they walked right by a few trees and resumed their meal only when they had moved about 100 yards away.

The reason for this behavior is astonishing. The acacia trees that were being eaten gave off a warning gas (specifically, ethylene) that signaled to neighboring trees of the same species that a crisis was at hand. Right away, all the forewarned trees also pumped toxins into their leaves to prepare themselves. The giraffes were wise to this game and therefore moved farther away to a part of the savannah where they could find trees that were oblivious to what was going on. Or else they moved upwind. For the scent messages are carried to nearby trees on the breeze, and if the animals walked upwind, they could find acacias close by that had no idea the giraffes were there.

Because trees operate on time scales dramatically more extended than our own, they operate far more slowly than we do — their electrical impulses crawl at the speed of a third of an inch per second. Wohlleben writes:

Beeches, spruce, and oaks all register pain as soon as some creature starts nibbling on them. When a caterpillar takes a hearty bite out of a leaf, the tissue around the site of the damage changes. In addition, the leaf tissue sends out electrical signals, just as human tissue does when it is hurt. However, the signal is not transmitted in milliseconds, as human signals are; instead, the plant signal travels at the slow speed of a third of an inch per minute. Accordingly, it takes an hour or so before defensive compounds reach the leaves to spoil the pest’s meal. Trees live their lives in the really slow lane, even when they are in danger. But this slow tempo doesn’t mean that a tree is not on top of what is happening in different parts of its structure. If the roots find themselves in trouble, this information is broadcast throughout the tree, which can trigger the leaves to release scent compounds. And not just any old scent compounds, but compounds that are specifically formulated for the task at hand.

The upside of this incapacity for speed is that there is no need for blanket alarmism — the recompense of trees’ inherent slowness is an extreme precision of signal. In addition to smell, they also use taste — each species produces a different kind of “saliva,” which can be infused with different pheromones targeted at warding off a specific predator.

Wohlleben illustrates the centrality of trees in Earth’s ecosystem with a story about Yellowstone National Park that demonstrates “how our appreciation for trees affects the way we interact with the world around us”:

It all starts with the wolves. Wolves disappeared from Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, in the 1920s. When they left, the entire ecosystem changed. Elk herds in the park increased their numbers and began to make quite a meal of the aspens, willows, and cottonwoods that lined the streams. Vegetation declined and animals that depended on the trees left. The wolves were absent for seventy years. When they returned, the elks’ languorous browsing days were over. As the wolf packs kept the herds on the move, browsing diminished, and the trees sprang back. The roots of cottonwoods and willows once again stabilized stream banks and slowed the flow of water. This, in turn, created space for animals such as beavers to return. These industrious builders could now find the materials they needed to construct their lodges and raise their families. The animals that depended on the riparian meadows came back, as well. The wolves turned out to be better stewards of the land than people, creating conditions that allowed the trees to grow and exert their influence on the landscape.

Art by William Grill from The Wolves of Currumpaw

This interconnectedness isn’t limited to regional ecosystems. Wohlleben cites the work of Japanese marine chemist Katsuhiko Matsunaga, who discovered that trees falling into a river can change the acidity of the water and thus stimulate the growth of plankton — the elemental and most significant building block of the entire food chain, on which our own sustenance depends.

In the remainder of The Hidden Life of Trees, Wohlleben goes on to explore such fascinating aspects of arboreal communication as how trees pass wisdom down to the next generation through their seeds, what makes them live so long, and how forests handle immigrants. Complement it with this wonderful illustrated atlas of the world’s strangest trees and an 800-year visual history of trees as symbolic diagrams.

Text BY MARIA POPOVA – originally written/published on the excellent brainpickings.org.