Monday, 13 May 2013

Pop: What's the real difference between apples and pears?

An apple is round. It has dimples and lumps and bumps but ostensibly it’s a sphere.  But if I cut an apple, the shape changes. When I slice it down the middle with a knife it is no longer a sphere, but rather two rough hemispheres, which are arguably less like hemispheres than the original was a sphere.  In fact when I hold in my hand a half of an apple, it is difficult to believe that it could have once come from a spherical object. If I take the apple half and continue to cut it into pieces it becomes less and less like the original sphere which I held in my hand. Its shape, therefore is a temporary quality. If an apple can be destroyed enough that it becomes indistinguishable in shape from a pear, then there can be no true difference shape-wise between an apple and a pear, because the shape is clearly a transitory quality unconnected to the fruit. An apple is still considered an apple when it is cut into eighths, as is a pear despite them being potentially the exact same shape. 

A pear is green, apart from when it isn’t. If we leave a pear or an apple out for long enough the vibrancy of their hue will inevitably diminish and will often turn grey or brown. The apple and the pear can become exactly the same colour and so they can’t be defined solely by their shade. Even when fresh, both apples and pears can be a whole rainbow of colours yet we always know what type of food it is. Colour is also a transitory quality, so a pear cannot be defined by being green, just like an apple can’t be defined by being red. 

We define which one it is before we put it in our mouths so taste cannot be an important factor. But even when considered this falls victim to the same problem as the shape. When we break down a food stuff enough, it starts to taste like mush. And mush always tastes like mush. Everything we eat is formed from the same small group of elements, they’re just combined in a different way. Chemically therefore, an apple and a pear aren’t very different from each other. They both come from the same family of plants, which includes strawberries, peaches, raspberries, apricots and almonds. Even to begin with they don’t taste that different. 

So how do we know the difference between an apple and a pear? The answer is contained in the way we live. We are a society and in order to function together we must order and categorise. We all need to know that we’re reading from the same page. There are therefore as many realities in the world as there are people, plus groups of people. Every single group defines the world in their own distinctive way as a way of increasing their cohesion, and this covers everything from ideology to belief in the appearance and existence of objects and concepts. We all see things in our own distinctive way but when we attach ourselves to a group we are encouraged to take on their set of parameters for reality and the success with which we do this determines the success of our attempts to fit in. 

An apple is an apple because society dictates that it is an apple. Similarly it is different from a pear for no other reason than society says it is different from a pear. It is acceptable to refer to them by different names in different languages, as long as we accept the view of the global society that they are indeed different fruit and therefore the words in other languages will have a one to one, direct translation. If a country considered them the same, we would look very oddly on that country. If I went around in England declaring that they were the same fruit, no matter what evidence I could present to back this up, I would be put down as a madman. 

The act of growing up is the acceptance and understanding of the values of society. Our parents teach us what is right and what is wrong, but these too are entirely subjective concepts. It is not wrong to murder inherently, it is only wrong because it damages society and therefore society has turned against it. The set of rules that English society runs on declares that murder is evil and therefore we all believe it to be so or we get labelled to ensure other people know we aren’t proper. 

There are levels to reality and these have important implications for the meagre apple and pear. As far as global society is concerned, there is fruit. Fruit can look many different ways and be called many different things, but it refers to the sugary and generally brightly coloured food type that contains seeds for the tree that spawned it. For national society, we decide on set names for each fruit that we choose to define as such. Normality is maintained within society by forcing anyone who passes the border of the country to accept these arbitrary definitions of fruit. If we met a friendly alien from Mars who considered fruit differently, he would only be permitted to do so when outside the borders of the country and would be diagnosed with a mental condition if he dared to refer to it in the Martian way while here on our precious island. At individual levels we define our fruit by the group of people that we most strongly associate with. Nobody can control our minds (yet) but people feel very uncomfortable when they can’t identify themselves with somebody else. Our nature teaches us that it’s odd to be alone and that follows even into our minds, leaving us incapable of thinking truly for ourselves and leading to the pandemic of closed mindedness that we suffer under nowadays. An apple is whatever our most favoured group of society thinks an apple is. A pear is whatever our most favoured group of society thinks a pear is. The difference between them is only determined by how strongly or weakly we choose to connect ourselves to the reality that we are encouraged to see. 

Unicorns eat orange apples, martians don’t believe in the existence of pears and elves eat tiny apples that drop down from trees on spiders webs. The truth is that in the end, they’re all just the same grey mush. But while we're so busy searching for what's 'certain' and what's 'real,' aren't we losing connection with the beauty of the one ultimate undeniable truth, that we know fuck all about anything?

The fnarglewargles certainly think so.  


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