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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Morphic Resonance

There is something called the hundredth monkey effect - a phenomenon where supposedly a learned behavior spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to another once a critical number has learned it. This idea was popularized by Ken Keyes in his book The Hundredth Monkey. On the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952, macaques were observed to have learned to wash potatoes - this behavior was passed on to others on neighboring islands, supposedly without any direct contact between monkeys. The paranormal effect was reported to be evidence of morphic resonance, a theory of Rupert Sheldrake, a former British biochemist. According to the theory, the repetition of similar acts and/or thoughts creates morphic fields which have effects on others.
The whole concept is extremely fascinating and very compelling - perhaps accounting for its popularity amongst new age thinkers. However, morphic resonance is not supported in the scientific community and the hundredth monkey effect is largely considered to be an urban myth.
I have always been interested in treehouses - at one time several years ago, my interest became so acute I decided to search for existing books on the subject and surprisingly, a new text had just been published. Subsequently there has been a proliferation of other books and articles - a number have appeared in the New York Times.
I was both surprised and excited to see this display of tree houses in Madison Square Park, juxtaposed against the New York cityscape - see another group shot here. This is a public art project called Tree Huts by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata. If you don't mind a bit of artspeak, you can read about it here at the Madison Square Park website or here at the Tree Huts blog.
Although I realize that all the recent interest in tree houses is almost certainly due to cross pollination, I just love the idea that it could be morphic resonance :)

Note about the photo: The gold topped building in the background is the New York Life building - you can read my posting and see its spectacular night time illumination here.


Hilda said...

Are you allowed to climb up the tree houses and play? If not, then what's the sense of it? ;D

Love how the tree house is juxtaposed against those tall skyscrapers!

Terry B said...

This morphic resonance, scientific or not, is one of the things that makes New York the creative center it is. Anytime you get that many people and that much creative energy together in one place [not to mention the audiences for creativity that this kind of critical mass provides], ideas increase exponentially. One thing that strikes me whenever I visit New York is how many of the conversations I overhear on the street or the subway are about ideas.

Brian Dubé said...

Hilda - This is an art project, so no, you can't go up into the houses :(

terry - there definitely is a synergistic effect in this city of all the different creative and technical talents. this is why cities are still important.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you a sort of Tarzan,are you?

An Honest Man said...

I just wondered what sort of morphic resonance (and from what group) Brian was responding to himself!!