Figs & Toilets

Is eating fruit a perversion? If you're bored, it's a cheering thought. While picking figs the other day, I heard it articulated like this: "these trees must be so unhapppy--they spent all this energy putting on fruit, just to have us flush the seeds down our indoor plumbing." The assumption is that trees produce fruit for a purpose: to reproduce. This seems obvious, but it is also untrue.

Evolutionary thought, oddly, seems to undergird this assumption of fruit's purposiveness, in the same way that the tired image of basket weavers and hunters is mobilized to naturalize the most thoughtless gender prescriptions. I do have to assume that fruit evolved because trees that grew fruit begat more reproducing offspring than trees that did not. However, the accidents of evolution--canny as they might be--do not assign or come from any purpose whatsoever. (A tautology--but honestly, do you want to read an argument that evolution is accidental? Suffice to say evolution is a misleading term, because it's not a system.) Fruit just happened.

Besides, if trees are people, then who are we to say they insist on the reproductive use of their fruit? And even if they insist that their detachable flesh only be chewed for the furthering of the race, who is to say they don't enjoy wantonness for exactly the same reason?

I know, I'm reaching. But when I heard it said matter-of-factly that figs are "like balls" the train of thought was inevitable, wasn't it? No, actually--that's my point. I think you'll agree that just because I heard that statement and now I'm writing this post, this post was not its purpose. Yet I am enjoying this particular use. Because it is excessive, or just because?

On the same outing, as we exerted ourselves jumping to and climbing on branches, I posited the dreariest view of food imaginable by saying that we certainly were not doing this for the calories. Of course not. If you have the chance not to, why do something out of necessity?

So no, eating fruit is not a perversion, flush toilet or no, because there isn't one thing fruit are made for in the first place.

It's not as if anyone is all in a tizzy over orchards (all those "virgin" trees). Then again, isn't this exactly what pastoral beauty is all about--the sublime channeled into production?

The fruit does fall, and I must admit I looked away from the figs smashed into the ground, and I hesitated yet was excited by the squishy give of the overripe. The fallen (that word cannot be an accident) figs stuck unpleasantly to our shoes. Importantly, figs will not sprout in this climate. Whether I think so or not, it appears I'm uncomfortable with flesh not trained to produce or reproduce.

11 October 2012