Bridging the Gap: 'Entangled Life' by Merlin Sheldrake - book Review

Hello, everyone! It's me, again Swathi Udupa. With new book review "Entangled Life"

When I first came across this book, it sparked a unique set of impressions. Initially, I was unsure about whether to purchase and read it, but ultimately, I decided to make the purchase. I absolutely loved "Entangled Life" by Merlin Sheldrake. This captivating exploration of fungi completely reshapes our perspective on the interconnectedness of life.

The book begins with John Muir's profound observation that "when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe," and this statement holds particularly true for fungi. While we often think of fungi as mushrooms or molds, they are everywhere, both within us and around us. Sheldrake takes us on a journey to discover how fungi, often invisible, play a fundamental role in shaping our world.

Book Review - Entangled Life by Merlin SheldrakeBook Review - Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

Fungi are not passive inhabitants, they are integral components of various ecosystems. The merging of algae and fungi to form lichens, for example, allowed plants to emerge from water. Fungi play a crucial role in nourishing 90% of all plants by providing minerals. They have the incredible ability to break down waste, including oil spills, and can be harnessed for various purposes, from medicine to cooking to furniture construction.

Merlin Sheldrake, a mycologist, leads us into the world of fungi with enthusiasm and precision. He seamlessly weaves together stories, scientific explanations, and philosophical ponderings, even incorporating quotes from Prince and Tom Waits.

The book introduces us to the incredible diversity of fungi, with over 2 million species, most of which exist as multi-cellular filaments known as hyphae. These hyphae grow, mate, fuse, and form networks called mycelia, which are the unseen architects of our world. They communicate through chemical signals and even exhibit behaviors that resemble memory and decision-making.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants. The intricate exchange of nutrients and information challenges our understanding of cooperation, communication, and even courtship in the natural world. Sheldrake delves into the concept of the "Wood Wide Web," where trees communicate and support each other through fungal networks

Throughout the book, Sheldrake grapples with the challenge of describing these complex interactions. He introduces new terms and metaphors to capture the essence of the fungi's intelligence and agency. His exploration of the interdependence of ecosystems forces us to reconsider traditional boundaries and definitions of self and other, giving rise to the concept of "involution."

Sheldrake also confronts the darker side of nature, such as the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, which manipulates ants into serving its reproductive needs. While this might be a natural occurrence, it raises questions about morality and conscience unique to humans.

"Entangled Life" is a thought-provoking "door-opener" book, offering a deep and interconnected view of the natural world. Sheldrake's eloquent writing skillfully uncovers the hidden roles fungi play in our lives, from environmental remediation to the very fabric of existence. It's a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the profound impact of fungi on our planet and our understanding of life itself.

Book Review - Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

Genre: Non - fiction, Autobiography