Saturday, March 13, 2010

Field Guide to Forbidden Fruit: The Pomegranate

I imagine that even if Yaweh hadn’t forbidden Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit--which we are assuming for the purposes of this post was a pomegranate--they would have gotten about three seconds into an attempt at gnawing their way through the leathery rind before ditching the high-maintenance nosh for something sweet and easy like, oh, say, apples. But the myth of the matter is that it was forbidden, special--somehow hyper-symbolic of both the simple knowledge of good and evil and the knowledge that makes gods. 

If you’ve ever gotten into the lengthy and often frustrating process of getting the good stuff out of a pomegranate, you will likely already know that, high symbolism aside, at the very least it takes God-like patience just to endure the process of getting into the thing. I mean, honestly--who ever heard of waiting ten to fifteen minutes for about a half an ounce of snack? But even beyond that, there are a few other things in the preparation reminiscent of godly knowledge

First of all, you’ve gotta lose the crown. If you are ever going to get to the fruit or that higher place, any sign of pomp or pretension must go. No divas here, no royalty. No vestiges of the flower of the life that was. No crowns for comparison with the crowns of others. Simple, title-less, humble and ready--that’s how you start.

Next is sectioning--scoring symmetrical partitions into the rind--making order out of it, breaking it down into graspable pieces--cutting, wounding deep enough that the transformative water can get to the deepest part, but not so deep as to destroy the whole--at least not yet. 

Then submersion. I know, I know--about nine hundred and twenty-three baptismal allegories sprang to my mind too, but let me stick to just this one--water makes the fruit pliable. it makes the sections come away one at a time and loosens the sweet seeds from the bitter flesh. 

Now pulling the sections apart the treasure comes in clumps, clusters, and sometimes single grains. And every now and then you pop one into your mouth using your palate’s delight at the tart, uncommon flavor to drive you forward into finishing the separation--letting it whisper yes, it is worth it.

Finally, you strain the water and last bits of clinging flesh from the seeds, leaving them wet and sumptuous in the bottom of the bowl. You are hungry now, after the work, but the sensual burst of each tiny seed  has you sated quickly. En masse these seeds don’t keep well in the dark, so you save a few for when your hunger rises again and the rest you plant  to  ensure future harvests. 

If, as some suppose, the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit, this  intimate and intensive process of extracting the sweet essence buried deep in the bitter body had to be the “benefits” side of the serpent's infamously irresistible sales pitch. 

This is the knowledge that makes gods--humility, submission, order, cleansing, release, joy, eternity. 

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