Are you a pseudo new-ager? Do you wear rose quartz point pendants? Have you seriously considered a short course in reiki? If so, you may have heard about Dr Masaru Emoto, the Japanese scientist who magically made rice rot just by being horrible to it. He literally yelled abuse at some rice and it began to decompose.
His main thing, though, is water. Emoto argues that H2O is deeply connected to our individual and collective consciousness in his books Water Vols. I, II and III; The True Power of Water; The Secret Life of Water; and like eight more books with "water" in the title.
In one of his studies, Emoto separated water into 100 petri dishes and assigned each a vibe: good or bad. Emoto said nice things to the "good water" and scolded the "bad water" for being shit, and the petri dishes were frozen. Lo and behold, the bad water made "ugly" crystals. He even got a team in Tokyo to transmit their thoughts to some water in California in a double-blind study. The results? Exactly the same.
Emoto continued studying this phenomenon in various ways, eventually concluding that our vibes – our thoughts, words, intentions and sounds – can affect the molecular structure of water. Here, have a look at him talk about rice:
The bottom line: if this is what bad vibes can do to water, imagine what they are doing to our human bodies, which are made up of over 60 percent water.
This idea is highly seductive to me. The new age school of thought is a bit like a trendy religion for young people with commitment issues, AKA me. I read my horoscope weekly and check my shit moods and paranoia against the movements of planets. I've watched the whole of Spirit Science, an animated series that explains the basics of new age philosophy. I am ready for and receptive to any mystical bullshit that might elevate my existence beyond being a meaningless bit of flesh destined to die on a hunk of rock. I am nothing. I need guidance.
But seeing is believing, as they say. And if I was to believe in Emoto's vibes-are-power philosophy, I needed to see cold hard facts. So I decided to carry out a little experiment of my own.
I found an experiment inspired by Emoto's work online: the 25-day apple experiment. You smack-talk one apple and give the other loads of love, and after 25 days one should be mouldy and rank, and the other less so. Plenty of bloggers and do-gooders have tried it, and they all claim it's legit. So I bought an apple and cut it exactly in half, dropping each half into labelled jars so I could keep track of where to aim my magical mind powers.
Before locking the apples up in their little cells, I thought I'd throw some vibes in there, just to kick things off. I blew the love apple kisses and gave it my very best dirty talk.
Next, in this highly scientific experiment, I screamed so hard at the other half of the apple that I probably also got quite a bit of spit on it. Then I left the jars behind the editorial desk, ready to rot.
To kick things off, I read the hate apple some mean comments from the VICE Facebook page. "Bunch of fucking hipsters I hope you all wake up dead," I screamed at it. I thought I saw it shudder.
Every morning before I sat down to start work, I channelled all my hatred and negative vibes into the hate jar, and all my self-love into the love jar. The hating was, unsurprisingly, very easy. I thought about press releases that describe a designer's new collection as "brave"; I thought about passing my physical peak at the age of 18 years and nine months; I thought about the people who sit in the aisle seat and put their bag on the window seat on a busy bus. Fuck you, selfish seat pinchers. Fuck you.
The loving, though, became a chore. "You're so fit," "You rock," "Go apple!" blah, blah, blah. But I did it every day.
(I know what you're thinking: 'You didn't keep it up. You thought you could get away with doing a photo article and not actually talking to the apples every day, you lazy little cheater. But I honestly did do it every day, bar this one day I came in late and got stressed and then just forgot. Go easy. We're all human.)
Early days, and already bad news for Emoto. Somehow, the hate apple remained relatively unscathed, with only a thin film of green mould across its surface, while the love apple was getting really quite horrible. Almost overnight it had sprouted some wet moustache hairs so long they touched the wall of the jar.
I decided to step things up a notch. I showed the hate apple my exes' profile pictures and read it some more Facebook comments. "[You] seem like a mega cunt," was one of them. "Fuck off you shit cunt," was another. Really nasty stuff.
By the third week it was getting hard to look at the love apple and say positive things. It absolutely stank. Every time I picked it up, a wave of an acrid-sweet vomit scent wafted upwards. It was brown and infected, white mould caking the sides of its sagging wound. It looked truly evil. And yet there was the hate apple, ever enduring, still marred only by a thin, fuzzy layer of green stuff.
At this point I was bored and looking forward to the end of this experiment. So was everyone else. Our office manager told us the apples had to be removed from the building for health and safety reasons. We said no: we must hold out until the end.
And then, midway through the week, this happened:
The love apple had created its own moisture, making a sweaty little terrarium. There was something almost self-satisfied about it, stagnant behind the clouded glass. What that condensation was I'll never know. A violent, wet reaction to my words of positivity? It was winning and we both knew it – and by "winning" I mean "an apple wasn't obeying an arbitrary set of rules I read on a blog somewhere".
The photo above is the love apple in its final stage of metamorphosis. I have nothing to say about it. I can not fake my emotions any longer. It's over between us.
On the other hand, look at the hate apple. With a quick scrape, that'd be almost good to go:
Our European editorial director left these Post-Its out for me. And she was in luck, because the day I discovered them was the same day this shit was finally over.
Now all that was left to do was take the apples out the jars and throw them in the bin.
With prudence, I opened the love jar.
I had opened a world of hate. If there was any doubt as to which was the more rotten of the two, the fact I haven't eaten an apple since smelling the rancid love apple should settle things.
In comparison, the stench from the hate jar was minor. No worse than my younger brother's bedroom; tangy, damp – unpleasant, but not completely unpalatable.
I wish Emoto's theory had worked. I wish the hate apple had been withered and deadly and I'd been able to take a bite from the still-crisp love apple, and been nourished by the positivity, love and light instilled in each of its cells. But it hadn't worked out that way. From the second week it was clear that it didn't matter whether I was screaming at an apple or making out with it through glass – the natural process of decomposition could not be prevented.
Hot take: I still believe deep down that positivity is good and negativity is bad. For society; for one's own mental health and wellbeing; for not being an unbearable dick to be around. But that did not reconcile with the results.
So did we learn anything from the burden of this four week-long experiment? Yes, we learnt that hatred from Facebook commenters fuels us, gives us life and makes us slightly less mouldy than we would be otherwise.
Call Hannah a cunt at @hannahrosewens
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