What you want

In Current reading, Food, Querying on March 10, 2015 at 9:02 am

Fame? Fortune? Headlines? A household name? Interviews in prime time, first-name basis with… uh…

Gregor Mendel (he was born and named Johann, like his father, and settled on Gregor later): his family was poor, he wished to study. Joining a monastery insured his livelihood while he studied the transmission of inherited characteristics in plants. A few days after his death, the new head of the Abbey ordered all his papers and scientific documents burned in the courtyard. All that has passed down of his research in genetics is contained in a handful of letters and the forty-four pages of his article on hybridization. Which is sad enough in itself. But what touched me most in the beat-up copy of an old scientific magazine I read yesterday: a naive and poorly written poem Mendel wrote as a young man wishing to express his admiration for Gutenberg. In rough translation, it reads:

May magnificent fate offer me

the supreme ecstasy of earthly joy

the finest goal of earthly ecstasy,

that of rising from the tomb and finding

my art prospering in peace

amongst those living after me. 

The heart-breaker in those words being the notion that, far from pursuing such “earthly ecstasy”, monster corporations now attempt to forbid  dissemination of seeds not “produced” and patented by them. So, rest in peace, Gregor, while horrific anarchists persist in setting up seed exchanges and planting old varieties of tubers and other foodstuffs. Foraging, even, and eating the produce provided by the land where such lands are still available.

What does this have to do with querying? Lots and lots. Reading. Writing. Wishing to exchange – a mutually beneficial process – while preserving the kind of freedom only selective anonymity can provide.



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