How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures

Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life has received great reviews by the science community, the public and the press, and I too can only highly recommend it. The Guardian descriped it as “a brilliant ‘door opener’ book” and “devoted to connectedness in all directions, and is one well suited to our times” (The Guardian, 2020).

In this short video Merlin Sheldrake talks about one of the messages of his book and explains why thinking about fungi makes the world look different…

Sheldrake concludes his book with a key experience from his childhood that strongly influenced his worldview. His deep interest in fungi was sparked by the insight that they are decomposers, “who unmake pieces of life. Nothing could happen without them. This was such a useful idea. It was as if I’d been shown how to reverse, how to think backwards. Now there were arrows pointed in both directions at once. Composers make; decomposers unmake. And unless decomposers unmake, there isn’t anything that the composers can make with.” (Sheldrake, 2020, p. 250)

He takes this thought further and finishes with a beautiful gesture: ”Fungi might make mushrooms, but first they must unmake something else. Now that this book is made, I can hand it over to fungi to unmake. I’ll dampen a copy and seed it with Pleurotus mycelium. When it has eaten its way through the words and pages and endpapers and sprouted oyster mushrooms from the covers I’ll eat them. From another copy I will remove the pages, mash them up and using a weak acid break the cellulose of the paper into sugards. To the sugar solution I’ll add a yeast. Once it’s fermented into a beer, I’ll drink it and close the circuit.“ (Sheldrake, 2020, p. 251)


The Guardian. (n.d.). Retrived from

Sheldrake, M. (2020: ). Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. London: The Bodley Head.


Image Source:

@ 2020 Merlin Sheldrake

Ingrid Ruegemer

Fields of Expertise: Art, Craft, Design