Monday, November 29, 2010

The Philosophy of Fruit

A short time ago through Twitter I found a blog called What Shall I Draw? It's pretty self explanatory: you send the author a message or a comment and ask her to draw something for you. Then she draws it!

I wanted her to draw something for me, well, my main reason for asking her to draw was to see if she would actually do it. I also loved the idea of someone drawing something for me and also I loved the thought of someone doing it publicly. I could have asked her to draw a picture of me (from my blog, or something I could send her), a flower or something abstract. I wanted something unique. Something that maybe no one else had ever drawn before, something to which she had little to no reference except he imagination. An idea popped up right away, an event, but I imagined the real thing happening, not an artist's rendering of it.

I asked her to draw me a picture of an orange trying to peel itself. I don't know where that idea came from, though I was in the kitchen so maybe I had spotted the bowl of clementines or had eaten one earlier. I can't remember. It doesn't really matter; I'm just glad I thought of it. I thought about what an orange would look like, trying to peel itself. I didn't imagine a face. I didn't imagine there would be evidence of strain or apprehension because of the profound task at hand. I didn't even consider why an orange would want to peel itself, a concept particularly important when you consider that we peel oranges to eat them. If I had thought of that, I probably would have wondered why an orange would want to self-destruct. I would want to know if the orange was a sadist or a nihilist: maybe the orange felt its life was pointless without a purpose because its purpose means its demise, or that it had no purpose because its purpose was to be destroyed. Maybe the orange realized its desires were meaningless anyway because it could not enjoy the fulfillment of its purpose because it would be dead, assuming the orange wouldn't expect life on the other side. An atheist orange.

Maybe the orange felt it would have some sort of rebirth as stomach acid or human waste or if the orange knew about toilets and sewers, it imagined them as heaven. Maybe, since our bowels and sewers are the lowest parts of each system, the orange anticipated a kind of hell. Maybe the orange hoped that by peeling itself it would tantalize a human's appetite or pity at the reality of it soon spoiling, ensuring its consumption and the fulfillment of its purpose. The orange accomplished its purpose. This is important if the orange felt it would not find the other side (heaven or reincarnation) if it rotted instead of being consumed. Peeling itself was a quest for an eternal survival. Or maybe the orange peeled itself to hasten its demise, depending on what you believe the orange wanted. This is all assuming that the orange successfully peeled itself and was eaten instead of rotted and/or thrown away."Felt," "imagined," "anticipated," "successfully" -- I'm imagining this stuff actually happened! Poor orange. Such a complicated life. Wait, no. Poor me!

The prospect of an orange trying to peel itself is absurd in that it can't happen and won't happen because an orange doesn't have a brain, claws. What it does have, though, is ways of protecting itself. Notice that if you peel an orange and leave it out for a while, the outside of it will harden, creating a kind of protective shell. An orange doesn't have hopes, dreams or will, does it? In a way, the orange wants to live, so I guess I have my answer about whether an orange would try to kill itself. Well, maybe some oranges would. But this protective shell isn't really a desire to live, anyway, but actually an evolutionary advantage. Unless you're in the creationist camp and you think God has enabled oranges to protect themselves because he wants our sustenance to be protected. Ah, Ashley stop!

I promise you I don't get so philosophical, logical (if you can think logically about an orange trying to peel itself) and analytical about silly ideas as I think them or watch them, partly because I'm naturally a silly person and I have few inhibitions. That's why I think silly thoughts and say silly things. It's why I can watch Spongebob Squarepants and laugh without questioning how Spongebob and the other characters can walk fine without floating or waving, how the characters can pour themselves drinks or, perhaps most important of all, why a sponge has legs and a face, wears pants, lives in the sea, is friends with a crab and a squirrel and a starfish. But as you can see, I am fully aware of the absurdity of the show. Still, I can enjoy it, probably because when I experience art, I am able and willing to suspend my disbelief.

I was delighted when the girl at What Shall I Draw wrote a response comment, saying she liked my request and would draw it on the weekend. Then she did today! She also linked to my blog. There is so much goodness in this: she took the time to respond to me publicly and privately; she liked my request; I challenged her creativity and she spent time doing something, not necessarily for me, but because she wanted to; she spent time with my idea. It brightened my second consecutive emotionally difficult day. I love how art and interactions with great people do that.

Well, I've kept you in suspense long enough. See it for yourself! Maybe you should ask her to draw something for you. I'm sure she's game for anything. I'm sorry if I ruined Spongebob or oranges for you....


  1. Ha, that was great! Very creative of her, I would have had a hard time coming up with something that difficult.
    I hope you are feeling well, it appears so, but the frequency of your posting lately!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I thoroughly enjoyed drawing it for you. This made me and my husband laugh out loud. Cheers!

  3. It was a hilarious idea! haha, and a cute picture. The orange looks like he's enjoying it.

  4. Very cute! I think she did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed the preamble to the great reveal.

  5. That's a pretty awesome picture. I think the orange should take comfort in the fact that he's is going to be eaten. Fruit exists to be eaten. The alternative is to fall from the tree and rot. Is that what the orange wants instead? No orange lives forever.

    And the good parts in oranges stay with us. The Vitamin C, the water, the seeds are excreted, usually uselessly, but originally, the seeds would have found their way back into the soil to make new orange trees.

  6. Joe - Thank you! Yes, her interpretation was creative and funny! I'm doing okay thanks. Asthma's kicking in as well as the usual stuff, but I'm fine.

    WhatshallIdraw - No problem! I'm glad you enjoyed drawing it so much. It's nice that you and husband laughed out loud! Thanks for everything!

    The Tsaritsa - Ha ha. Thank you! I actually think the orange looks like he isn't enjoying it, but determined nonetheless!

    Bossy - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed both my post and the drawing.

    Yvette - Wow, I hadn't thought of it like that before! You described this cycle of life beautifully. Thanks for your thoughts! I'm sure oranges come to accept their mortality, if they think at all. No one wants to eat an orange with an invincibility complex.

  7. I enjoyed this post so much! It made me laugh. :) And her interpretation came out great.

  8. Flow - I tickles me to hear you enjoyed this and laugh! Thanks for letting me know. Yes, I agree her picture is great!

  9. OK, I tried to go to the link and got a page not found error!!!

    Anyway, you reminded me of two things. When I was a kid I wanted to draw cartoons. I had much to say in drawings. I do not have the talent. Instead, one time, I wrote what I saw in my mind, the thing I would have drawn were I able. It was almost decent.

    Secondly, I wrote a short story (about 20,000 words) a couple of years ago about a man who found a lemon in the park and slowly personified it.

    Thanks for the memories, my friend.

  10. John - Thanks for letting me know and I apologize for the inconvenience. The URL seems to have changed again. I have corrected it now. I think it's a great challenge to write what you see in your head.

  11. That was excellent, just excellent.

  12. Its an interesting question as to why the orange would want to peel itself. Maybe it is some exhibitionistic impulse. Or maybe it's juices had begun to ferment and turn to a liquor, and so it had become inebriated and didn't even know what it was doing until it woke up naked the next morning with a hang-over. But, I favor a species survival impulse here. The only way the orange could foster offspring would be to undress and release its seeds to the ground in hope of having sprouts.

    I enjoyed your writing, and the drawing it inspired!

  13. John - Thanks so much! I'm flattered.

    Anonymous - You shouldn't be anonymous. If I had a comment like that, I would want everyone to know it was mine. I totally hadn't thought of your exhibitionist idea, but it seems likely, especially as I recall the drawing. And inebriation? Hilarious and imaginative! How about we say that the orange was both an exhibitionist AND drunk?
    Thanks for your compliments! I hope you come back again, especially as a real person because your comment was a real treat.

  14. Yes. Its me. Mr Anonymous! Did you know that orange trees aren't really orange? I'm not kidding, here. Have you ever tried to peel an goes on and on and on...pretty soon it makes you cry!

    I am a realist. I don't believe in magic. But the other day, I actually saw this guy walking down the sidewalk, and all of a sudden, HE TURNED INTO A GROCERY STORE!!

    Good to make your acquaintance!

  15. Myth - Ah, I can sleep well tonight knowing who that anonymous poster was. Well, I might not sleep with my mind so preoccupied about how a man could turn into a grocery store and what such a phenomenon would look like.

    After your bit on onions, I may never look at them the same way again. Now I know why they make me cry.