The Secret of Haiku
It’s 2006 and people are eating more apples and
less oranges. What does this mean? I suppose it means at the very least
that lunar knowledge is now again our pursuit and there for the eating
(theory 1, henceforth: a quest for knowledge). Let us look at the evidence
for the opening statement.
iii) It has been a bumper year for apple harvests, throughout the length of mainland Britain. (Figures for outlying offshore lands such as the mysterious Summerisle are currently unestablished.) Carrier bags full of apples are being handed round as freebies. Bags have reached this author from as far as the Esk valley in North Yorkshire, a distance covered of several hundred miles. Offers of bags have come from latitudes roughly equal to that of Kodiak Island, Alaska. With no frost yet recorded in this author’s vicinity (these data from late October), there are still apples on the tree, within a five mile radius of this author.
A second possible meaning that could be gleaned from all this, then,
is that people are returning to homegrown food (theory 2). This could
herald the kick-starting of a drive for a reduction of ‘food miles’.
Earlier this summer, in supermarket dinosaur Tesco (of ‘sell everything,
and shave pence off competitors in all fields by squeezing suppliers’
ethos), the only organic apples being offered for sale in all branches
examined came from either Argentina or South Africa. I, Judas, bought
instead organic French pears.
A question arises, relating to the old Genesis mythos: Are we losing
the tree of life, in our taking from the tree of knowledge? (The sun
fruit, the orange, being the solar life-giver, compared to the lunar
‘knowledge fruit’, the apple.)
Is such a defeatism and expectancy of death sweeping through us? Are we choosing to leave the fruit of life uneaten because we don’t think we have long left now anyway? Have we got no appetite for the last supper? Do we thirst, for the cloth dipped in poison?
Perhaps in real fruit terms a diet of apples doesn’t leave room for much desire for oranges. Perhaps, though, we can survive survive perfectly well on apples. The idea of a dichotomy between lunar apples and solar oranges need not be so rigid. Evidence: In Yeat’s poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus, the protagonist, after fishing for a fish-of-knowledge-style ‘silver trout’, yearns to pluck ‘the silver apples of the moon’ and ‘the golden apples of the sun’. Here, then, is a heavyweight daring to apply both poles of the sun-moon dichotomy to apples. Apples can be golden as well as silver. In reality of course, apples are more gold than they are silver. Moonlight is just reflected sunlight (reflected off black rock). There is no dark side to the moon really: as a matter of fact it’s all dark, and, as is rarely added, it’s the sun that makes it light.
So, perhaps we can live perfectly well on apples, if we don’t crunch the pips. Without an impressive ‘newbuild’ of greenhouses for orange-growing, this will greatly reduce food miles for the UK.
On Cream classic, As You Said, Jack Bruce sings that ‘the sun
is out of reach’.
Jung reports the frequent dream symbol of a dark tube or tunnel reaching up to the sun. Man goes blind staring down telescope! In Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, the alien spacecraft is a vast long black hollow cylinder, which finally travels into the surface of the sun (for refueling before leaving the solar system). The sun is blotted out by a crow!
In a Tintin story, centring around the awaiting of an earth-collision-trajectory asteroid, there is a frame showing a telescope image of a giant spider filling the whole face of the sun. It is an amazing B-movie image akin to the 1999 logo of the millennium bug; a mischeivous computer chip insect on yellow background. Comparisons are possible with the batman symbol. In the story, the giant telescope spider turns out just to be an ordinary spider in the lens of the telescope. Two readings are possible of spider in the telescope, as with island in the sun.
This avenue of enquiry leads on to consideration of the symbol of the maggot or worm eating into the heart of a fruit. Consider Hamlet’s ‘something rotten in the state of Denmark’. We could here include the idea of the Bad Seeds; the arsenic in the apple. In the story of Snow White, the fruit is poisoned, to send the girl into a long sleep: Snow White in a little ice age. In Labyrinth, the fruit given to the heroine induces forgetfulness (we get to see not only the rotten core of the fruit, but also the maggot/worm eating away inside it). Sarah forgets her whole quest into the goblin kingdom. A good case could be constructed for viewing Labyrinth as the true sequel to 2001: A Space Oddity. Her mission is to track down David Bowie, who is of course Dave Bowman. While she is seeking him to find her young brother, Heywood Floyd, in 2010, is seeking him to recover the spacecraft discovery and examine the strange monolith portal, in the far reaches of the solar system. Both seekers are clearly spurred on by their fascination with David Bowie/Bowman. They both seek secrets about the self, and about life and death. (Of course another true form of Oddessey 2 is Ashes to Ashes.)
Sarah manages to shake off the sleepy forgetfulness, cast upon her after eating the fruit proffered by the goblin king, primarily by realizing that all the everyday oldworld façade bedroom walls and possessions offered to her are just so much fake bullshit. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s poppy field slumber leads her also towards forgetting the mission and drifting into sleep.
It is easy to argue that memory loss is the only real kind of death. If a generation passes all its knowledge and wisdom and mission statements onto the generation following it, then nothing of much real import is lost through bodily death.
Whether the fruit of sleepy forgetfulness is a good fruit poisoned, or ever a fruit in its natural state, it would seem that the forgetfullness fruit is the exact opposite of the fruit of knowledge. Following the argument mentioned above, the fruit of forgetfulness could be seen as the only real ‘death’ fruit. If so, then it would look like also being the exact opposite of the fruit of life.
The is seemingly a contradiction now in viewing the apple as the fruit
of both knowledge and death. The dual role is possible, however, if
the situation is as follows: The fruit is eaten, imparting great knowledge,
followed swiftly by forgetfulness of that knowledge (death). After meeting
Pan in the magical twilight, Mole forgets the whole encounter immediately
after. This is the basic plot of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, in
Wind in the Willows. One forgets. There is nothing more to death than
that. Without it, perhaps, we would struggle to live, under the burden
of such knowledge as may be. And certainly, without it, we would generally
have less fun, being a bit stuck in our ways and doddery. Supposedly,
new dogs are needed to learn knew tricks. Unless the great old dog is
reborn with amnesia.
On putting up a big sheet on the fence next to Faslane main gate, the first thing I thought to put on it was Dylan’s “you’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled; fear to bring children into the world” with a picture of the dark prow of a submarine rising up in fiery waves from the waters. The first thing drawn on it by a kid was a bright yellow smiling sunshine.