The Apple in my Eye

Apple picking.  You can’t do it at very many orchards anymore.  Now I know why.  We’re why.  Apple baseball, apple basketball, apple golf, apple Frisbee,  apple explosion…  those rotting apples under the trees didn’t stand a chance.

It got me to thinking about the element of fun inherent in destruction.  It’s why kids like to knock down big brother’s block tower, why we revel in throwing cards all over the room in 52 pick up, why we scatter anything everywhere and have a grand time doing it.    Of course no one has fun actually picking up the cards or the pillows or the Cheerios.  There is no complementary  inverse “fun” in cleaning up all the junk we love to throw down.  When is the last time you saw your child enter the Legos ground zero  and beg to clean and organize them by size and color?  No, the fun is in hitting an apple home run and seeing the bits fly everywhere.

As  many of our “players” got the timing right and could connect bat to apple I swear I heard our national anthem crescendo in accompaniment to their demolicious  joy.  As the kids made one grand slam after another it seemed to rain applesauce, and we had chunks of apple sticking to our hair and clothes.  My favorite:  throwing a particularly rotten apple to my unsuspecting son and watching the explosion of applesauce detonate so near the bat as to effectively paint said son.   Unfortunately I was laughing too hard to take a picture.

We moved on to pumpkins.  We found a pile of them rotting peacefully in a corner; it was a frontier too wonderful to pass up.  Some kids treated their pumpkin as if he were a work of art, tastefully and lovingly carving  grins and eyes with sharp sticks.   Other kids used them for athletic purposes: kicking and tossing them about.  Pumpkins can even be used for therapy.   If you stab them repeatedly, they resembled throw up.  All gourds were further on in the cycle of decay and renewal after our time together, and we pushed their remains back into a semblance of their original pile when we were finished “playing” with them.   Serious fun.  No one was hurt, not counting pumpkins.

In the garden of Eden Adam named the animals (classified them essentially) and organized the garden by tilling and working the soil.  I don’t picture him manically hacking at his fruits to make their juice explode all over the place.  So this destructive creativity probably is not something we’ll be taking to heaven.  Still, I know that  fruit explosions can be beneficial– I have tomato plants who testify, from their odd and unplanned locations, that last year’s tomato wars can yield something unexpected and wonderful.  God won’t be mocked.  They threw tomatoes everywhere in the yard.  Now I have extra tomatoes for salsa.

Destruction and art are cousins.  Often one proceeds the other.  One often IS the other.   I admit I can’t always tell the difference.   Maybe that’s the problem.  With me, I mean.   I would never be so brazen as to insult modern art.

In trying to find someone authoritative (and famous, and preferably long-dead) to agree with my supposition that art is about tearing down as much as building up, I found this:

Die Lust der Zerstörung ist zugleich eine schaffende Lust!

(The urge for destruction is also a creative urge!)

Michael Bakunin, Russian revolutionary & anarchist (1842)

Think about that next time you have art class.  I just had a breakthrough.

That’s why, when my minions so sweetly ask for permission to “make” something, I gulp.  The relationship between creativity and destruction Bakunin explained hundreds of years ago plays out in my dining room every time we “make” things.  It ends with me, picking up thousands of paper scraps and hundreds of crayons and broken crayon pieces, scraping glue and sparkles from the seats, table, floor, and walls.  When I say “yes” to art, I’m saying “yes” to anarchy and “yes” to an hour or more of scrubbing.  That explains my aversion and general anxiety about “art” inside the house.   And I thought I was just no fun.

Which brings me back to the apples and pumpkins.   I defer to Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible:

“There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven…a time to throw stones (or apples) and a time to gather stones (or pumpkins)… I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it.”