Sunday, August 30, 2009

Apples and Pomegranates and the Wild Pagan North


By Ellipses

This is a continuation of the "Rich Tapestry" series.

Take a spin through Genesis and notice the absolute absence of the word "Apple." Everyone knows the story... Eve talks to a snake and then convinces Adam to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, thus precipitating the fall of man and condemning us to an eternity of strife and requiring the death of Jesus to bear the sins of man and yadda yadda yadda. But there's no apple. And nor should there be... you'd be hard-pressed to find a Macintosh or Granny Smith at the time or place the creation myth was being recorded. That would be like Native American's saying that the great spirit rode through the desert on a kangaroo.

Chances are, the "forbidden" fruit would have been a pomegranate. It makes loads of sense in light of both the geography and the tendency to cling to all things Greek when constructing the Christian Quilt.

Let's look at what the apple means... Consuming the fruit is a physical act, a tangible manifestation of the triumph of the serpent over the creator's creation (man). Upon consumption, man is fallen. The eating of the fruit causes a descent. The decent of man from divinity to mortality has far reaching implications, obviously. It instills in man an inherent badness, thus setting the stage for a redeemer (Christ).

Not to get too far ahead of myself, but that stage setting is referred to as a Felix Culpa, or "fortunate folly" and is beautifully encapsulated by this poem.

Anyway, back to the fruit salad... There is an almost identical analog to this whole scenario in Greek mythology... Persephone, daughter of Demeter, catches the eye of Hades who plots to abduct her and keep her in the underworld for himself. When Persephone is abducted, her mother, Demeter, goes into a crazy-deep depression and ceases her duties of providing favorable growing seasons and the earth falls into a cold, dark, barren wasteland.

Demeter finds out that it is Hades who has taken Persephone and sets out to bring her back. Hades gives in, and agrees to release Persephone, under the condition that she suffer as Demeter did (Demeter is Hades' sister) by forgoing food and drink. However, Persephone sneaks three pomegranate seeds, and Hades demands a compromise. Eventually, it is agreed that Persephone will descend into the underworld with Hades for part of the year and return to earth the other part. Demeter, apparently, gets all post-partum every time that Persephone has to go pay the piper, and thus we have seasons and transitions. Summer is the happy shiny time that Persephone is up here with her mom and Winter is the time she is being Hades' bitch.

It's really not difficult to see the parallel between the descent of man (caused by eating fruit) and the descent of Persephone (caused by eating fruit).

So why an apple? Well, if you are trying to sell your story to someone who has no idea what the hell a pomegranate is, you might want to substitute a familiar fruit in its place. Such is the case of specifying the fruit to be an apple as Christianity spread north into Pagan Europe... a land devoid of pomegranates, but full of people apt to latch onto a new magic tale. Hey, if those fur-wearers insist on knowing what kind of fruit tree it is, tell them it's that damn apple thing that they have growing all over the place up there so that it sounds relevant to them! Sphere: Related Content

17 comments:

Cylinsier said...

The Christian version is more apt to analogy though. Adam and Eve, representing mankind, come to know of their mortality and therefore succumb to it. This is metaphorically represented by the eating of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge." The serpent is logic and god is hope. Eventually, hope must give way to truth and we all die. Genesis has come to represent the introduction of evil to mankind but really its a philosophical fable about the inevitable tragedy that comes with being self-aware. You gain so many things but you must also lose them one day. Taken in that sense, woman is the more adept of the two sexes, probably because she is also the bearer of life; she is the one who truly understands the full cycle.

Ellipses said...

Like I've said before... beautifully rich story...

Completely fictional and contrived... but a great narrative.

If only some could see the metaphor from the matador... that doesn't mean anything, I just kinda wanted to say matador.

MJ said...

Don't look now, E, but your worst nightmare arrives at midnight...

http://postgazette.com/pg/09243/994501-455.stm

Cylinsier said...

I hope that works out for them.

Ellipses said...

Notice the content focus?

It will be interesting to see how this works out for them... I would have suggested the first 30 days be open to the public to get people addicted to the interaction...

Thanks a LOT Jonesie... I will follow this closely.

MJ said...

I agree completely. They dropped this bomb at 4:11 p.m. without any warning. You'd think we could at least get a trial run before dropping 36 bucks on this stuff. I'm going to see what I lose in content before cutting them a check.

I am also suggesting that newspaper subscribers should get a free membership.

Cylinsier said...

I'm predicting now that it doesn't work out. Newspaper's attempts to charge a fee for content have failed repeatedly for a reason.

Ellipses said...

Yes... that's a good point, too... it says that it will be open to an introductory tour... so we should take a spin on that tomorrow and see what that entails...

I could be completely wrong... but I can't fathom this taking off... Don't get me wrong, I WANT it to work... I WANT it to be this simple... I WANT this type of interaction and content to be THAT compelling that someone would be willing to pay for it... I just can't see it, though...

MJ said...

You obviously don't know how addicting the PBC Blog can be. I just posted about the change on my own blog, so I welcome your reaction.

Ellipses said...

I checked out that PBC blog... I guess I don't like baseball as much as I try to convince myself that I do :-)

Ellipses said...

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Cylinsier said...

I do hope it works for their sake. But the internet is the wild wild west. No one is going to pay for something that they feel like they can get for free and there are hundreds of bloggers out there. Any store broken within the plus section is going to surface elsewhere. Crossing my fingers for them though; any formula that they can come up with to make some money is good for news agencies everywhere.

MJ said...

I hear ya, but I think professional journalists offer something more. They can sit in on press conferences, off-the-record interviews and inside information. Then they pass it onto the rest of us. I think newspaper blogs - if done right - can offer more information that is well worth the money.

scott said...

i seem to recall learning in my Christian formation classes that the earliest extant ecclesiastical reference to an apple as the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of G&E is dated to the early middle ages. Prior to that it was variously referred to as a pomegranate, a grape, or an olive.

Ellipses said...

Agreed... at least on the "more to offer"---

But at the same time, I can read blogs by WORLD FAMOUS people for free on Huffington Post and Daily Kos... I am sure that there are right wing aggregators, too...

That model (huff post, kos, etc) SHOULD work regionally... If you could get once weekly submissions from 14 uber famous local folks... plus a large number of talented no-names... support it with an ad model that works (yet to be invented for online advertising, imho)... and viola!

Hey, if you can sell it, sell it... I just see the internet as being very, what's the word? Free :-)

Hell, make it hip enough to sell merchandise! You can Bill O'Reilly mugs, glenn beck butt plugs, and rush limbaugh pill boxes... You should be able to get a bread line bread box or an elliptical press elliptical so you can have sexy ripped abs and legs like me :-)

Ellipses said...

Scott... Yes.

:-) sorry... couldn't think of anything else to say

scott said...

np, e. You & Cy both rock.