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Episode 1. Upon the leaf: Queens of the night.


Essay available August 2019.

Teaser:
Gathered here tonight is an assemblage of plants which are known colloquially and quite gloriously as the β€˜Queen of the Night’. Their Latin scientific name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. E. oxypetalum blooms once a year, and only for one night – its beautiful, pale and heavily perfumed flowers wilting before the break of dawn.

The plant has other names: Orchid Cactus, the Night-Blooming Cereus, Gekka Bijin - meaning β€˜Beauty under the Moon’ in Japanese. As she lures our worship and admiration, so we choose to bestow upon her the title of Queen.

The genus name, Epiphyllum, translates from the Greek as β€˜upon the leaf ’. Upon the leaf is where the journey of this elusive flower begins, and ends. The Queen of the Night plant is cultivated from and passed between human caretakers through leaf clippings, which are then pressed hopefully into the soil. The flowers for which this plant is prized grow from stems that themselves resemble leaves.

Flower upon leaf upon leaf upon leaf upon flower.

These plants were all cultivated from the leaves of a single plant body. They are clones, plant bodies that also express the impossibility of absolute mimesis – each plant performatively expressing its diff erence from the other, in the curl of its limbs, the drape of its leaves.

Life proceeds through such differentiations.


Sonic Essay


πŸ‘‚πŸ½  (Sound file available August 2019).

Texts for an expanded reading practice