Ten of Spades: The Fungus Who Ruled the World


Qui domine le monde? Fistulina hepatica?

I am the master of my environment. The king of the fifth kingdom. My sweet chestnut tree delivers all the nutrients I need. I have no need for even a brain to live in this paradise on a lesser creature. Nothing needs to change; even in the far future, if my tree dies, my descendents can continue to feed on it. This forest belongs to us.

With food security like this, it does not matter that I am incapable of surviving without my host.  I have everything I need. I do not need to move, I do not wish to move, and, because a perfect design has no superfluous features, I have no ability to move.

And yet, I am moving. I am being pulled from my life source. Pulled by something even more powerful than myself.


I can no longer pretend that I am the master of my environment, above the rest of the animal kingdom. I can not go on as a parasite on less fortunate creatures, raising and killing them just because I have a big enough brain to know how. Something has to change. There are simply not enough resources to continue transforming large amounts of food into small amounts of meat. I want something to be left for my descendents. This forest belongs to nobody, and we have no right to destroy it for pasture.

I’m perfectly capable of surviving without meat. I can get all the nutrition I need from fruits, vegetables, chestnuts from the forest, mushrooms… ah, now here’s a beef steak I can eat without troubling my conscience.

I pull the beefsteak fungus from the treetrunk and take it home for dinner. I need not exercise my power over nature tonight.




According to Wikipedia’s disambiguation page for the letter J, in astronomy, J is a provisional designation prefix for some objects discovered between May 1 and 15 of a year. It happens to be between May 1 and 15 now, so I decided to go out and discover an object.

On the way to the nearest recycling station with a bag of PET bottles, a glass jar, and an aluminium orange juice can full of aluminium chocolate wrappers, I discovered the following objects:

  • 2008 JA An empty glass Corona beer bottle
  • 2008 JB An empty PET Fanta bottle
  • 2008 JC A religious tract entitled, « Qui domine vraiment le monde? » (“Who really rules the world ?” complete with mistake in the position of the question mark)
  • 2008 JD An empty aluminium Coca-Cola can
  • 2008 JE An empty aluminium M-budget energy drink can
  • Many cigarette butts (unnamed)

I disposed of objects 2008 JA, 2008 JB and 2008 JD appropriately at my destination. 2008 JE was discovered on the return journey, and will be used as an aluminium chocolate wrapper receptacle until the next mission.

This left object 2008 JC, and the intriguing question about who rules the world. Despite its provisional name, the object itself does not claim that anybody with the initials JC rules the world, but rather Satan. Before reading it, I considered the possibility that cigarette butts ruled the world. This was of course all worthless conjecture… I knew that for the purpose of this project, the answer was in the cards.

The answer was almost too obvious. Three of my tens of spades feature cats, surely the rulers of the world, at least in their own minds. But I wrote about cats last week, and it’s best not to bother them with paparazzi.

This week I visited the Solothurn Natural History Museum, where I bought many packs of playing cards featuring plants and animals. One of my new tens of spades features a plumed basilisk, also known as the Jesus Christ lizard. Could this be the JC that rules the world? Another features a red pimpernel, which leads me to this question from Sir Percy Blakeney:

Is he in heaven?
—Is he in hell?

That dammed, elusive Pimpernel.

Clearly the Scarlet Pimpernel is the link between Satan and the Jesus Christ lizard.

So who really rules the world? The answer is much less obvious, and it’s probably not whoever thinks they do. I offer two perspectives, one from Fistulina hepatica and one from Homo sapiens sapiens. It’s a little short, but if need be, I could stretch it out using a Zen drum.

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  1. #1 by PowerBill on May 12, 2008 - 1:39 am

    Ha! I knew that for the purpose of this project, the answer was in the cards!
    I’d like to see how you would have a beefsteak in fancypants. That would be a real fungi to see!


  2. #2 by A meri ca on May 12, 2008 - 8:16 am

    I’d like to see you actually put a mushroom in your mouth and actually eat it!
    DId you note the the reason there was so much damage done to Burma (can’t remember the new name) is because they pulled out natures way of breaking down the power of the sea near land, MANGROVES!


  3. #3 by angelabrett on May 12, 2008 - 10:56 am

    I don’t know about Burma, but yes, I heard something similar about Hurricane Katrina.


  4. #4 by PowerBill on May 12, 2008 - 11:34 am

    Is there such a thing as a Myanmese Cat?
    Would Burmese or Myanmese twins come out with grenades in their hands, knives in their mouth and a map of the world tattood on their behind?
    Also, if I do two posts on this list shall my picture come out as the same snowflake or shall it be different?


  5. #5 by angelabrett on May 12, 2008 - 11:48 am

    I should have known the conversation would end up being dominated by cats. If you put a Burmese cat in a box with some radio activists, will it be both Burmese and Myanmese at the same time until somebody opens the box?

    Your avatar shall be the same unless I change it to some kind of alien. I wonder whether HTML is accepted in comments.


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