THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION

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PART I
Still reeling from the title? The sci-fi series “Lost in Space” kept its writers humming for three years with the twin constraints of tight deadlines and low budgets. One day the muses could not be persuaded to give out and the writers took the campiest and shakiest script ever to Irwin Allen for approval. It was an infamous episode where a planet of intelligent plants attacked their human invaders, under the leadership of a giant carrot. Yes, you heard me.

I was having a similar moment with this blog, but I remembered Sigmund Freud’s advice that sometimes a carrot is just a carrot. Instead I went back to an idea that has always fascinated me, one that chased the veggies back into the produce section, nothing less than mankind’s separation from nature. Oh, but you’ll pardon me if I retain the title—it’s just so “out there”.

In ancient times, the rhythms of nature were respected and even worshiped. The Pharaohs used to make offerings to the Nile for its annual flood that covered scant arable land on its banks with a yearly gift of fertile mud. Admittedly this was a chaotic process, and farmers had to erect large carved stones to recognize their own property after the waters settled, but it sustained one of the world’s greatest early civilizations. Now the modern Egyptians look to the Aswan High Dam to “control” nature—which is code for “do what we want you to do when we want you to”—and never mind that the mud now has to be dredged out from the base of the dam where it is a nuisance rather than a blessing.

Ever since men started controlling where and how plants grew and turning wolves into poodles to “improve” them, progress has been associated with distance from nature and its “frightening” irregularities. And this has been nowhere more manifest than the way humans view and control their own sexual expression.

By the Victorian period, the body was tamed and broken like the pony at the carnival that gave up walking in a straight line to keep carrying kids around the circle. Our natural odor was suppressed and substituted with the essence of herbs and flowers (Hey, maybe the vegetables DID win!). “Wind pills” kept us from passing gas. High tea kept our viscera from making rude noises. Every part of our body not approved for public display was covered in layers of impractical and uncomfortable clothing. And most importantly, our manners were refined to the point where sexual attraction had to be carefully and subtly telegraphed to our prospective mate under the watchful eye of a host of chaperones.

There you have it…the pinnacle of human civilization. We used to turn wolves into poodles, then turned our own inner wolf into a powdered, cloth-clad Fi-Fi. Of course something had to give—and it did with the greatest of reluctance. In came the science of Psycho-analysis, and with it the “Flappers” and “Sheiks” who were the first younger generation of many to horrify their folks.

The problem with these new no-holds-barred pleasure seekers is the same problem the hippies would have decades later. They were amateurs. They had overthrown the Victorian order for anarchy. Nature—more to the point HUMAN nature—is anything but anarchy. In fact, under analysis, nature is far more complex in its structures, rhythms, and dependencies than anything mankind has ever created.