Friday, September 08, 2006
All We Are Is Dust In The Wind, Dude
I never really understood the cop-out phrase "like comparing apples to oranges." The idea is that you can't talk about the two things being discussed in any sort of critically analytical way because they are, like apples and oranges, just too different. Which is crap. To me, I accept the invocation of "apples and oranges" as a de facto surrender. It says "I cannot think of anything directly to dispute what you say, so I will conjure instead images of fruits to confuse you as I make my escape through this unlocked window." Plus, the eagerness use of fruit in this case as an analogy, I think, is also a marker of latent homosexuality. We all know what "fruit" is slang for. As a straight American Christian, it is my duty--when confronted with possible gayness--to first punch you in the face and then systematically to deny you several basic human rights while still happily collecting your tax money. Just be prepared.
Besides, it's actually pretty easy to compare apples to oranges. Oranges come from southeast Asia (communist), flourished in the Middle East (terrorist) and have been a magnet for foreigners to come to places like California and Florida for hundreds of years (illegals). Politically, I find the existence of the orange unconscionable. Plus they're kind of soggy and messy and hard to peel with the seeds just floating around, random and chaotic, inside.
Apples on the other hand come from Europe (democracy, white people) and are closely associated in several ways with the United States and its greatness--apple pie, Johnny Appleseed, alcohol you can get sorority girls to drink, etc. Organizationally speaking, we're talking about a thin, edible peel, firm pure-white flesh around a core of well-behaved seeds bundled around a strong, authoritarian center so well organized they even make a pretty star shape when cut the right way.
In a pinch, you can chuck an apple at someone and expect to do a reasonable amount of damage. With oranges you pretty much have to put seven or eight of them in a sock and get up close to hit someone with it. What's more un-American than that? When it comes to combat, we're clearly more of a missile-culture, although the oranges get credit for inflicting pain without leaving too many marks. But that's just us using the terrorists' own fruit against them.
The next time someone says to you "that's like comparing apples to oranges" you can just say to them "I agree, it's no fucking contest, you commie terrorist homo" and then stab them with something sharply poetic like an apple corer.
I think if we need to compare two things that are kind of similar but really have very little in common, I like to say "no, you can't compare those two things, that's like comparing gravy and frosting."
I think you'll find the analogy is more than apt.
Gravy and frosting, when you think about it, really provide the exact same function: they go on top of stuff in order to make them taste better. Neither is really suited to be an independent hand-food. You can eat gravy or frosting out of a jar or can, but would you grab a handful with you on the way out the door in the morning to eat on the subway? Of course not. Seepage can be a real problem. One is generally savory and the other sweet but really, that's where the similarities end.
Gravy acts as a lubricant for otherwise dry or pasty foodstuffs, but also as a bonding agent to bring disparate parts of your meal together in one harmonious family of saucy, saucy gluttony. What would green beans and meatloaf have to say to one another without the commonality of a giant pool of gravy? I ask you.
Plus, gravy is necessary. Someone brings you mashed potatoes. Question #1: Gravy? I'm not eating this giant mound of cementy, carb-y goodness without something to slick it up a bit and fool me into thinking I'm eating meat, thanks very much.
Frosting, on the other hand, merely sits on top of what it is added to. It adds a layer of stratification. It is by definition a separator, a marker and enforcer of layers. Frosting is all straight-lines and segregation.
Frosting is also, unlike gravy, totally optional. Cake without frosting? Not ideal, but surely edible. You're going to drink a big fat glass of milk with it either way, so I'm sure you can force your way through it.
What I don't get is why frosting and gravy are treated so similarly linguistically. Think of this sentence: "I'll learn the drums and Mikey will learn the guitar and Barry is fat, so he can play the bass. We'll get really good, write a couple of songs, get some gigs and go on tour. Groupies will want to bang us and people will totally give us beer and pot for free. Hey, if we make any money at it along the way, that will just be _______."
We could go with "gravy" in that blank. Or just as easily "icing on the cake." Which is just so wrong. It's that kind of linguistic inexactitude that brought down the Roman Empire. Anyone who's ever taken a Latin class knows what I'm talking about. Five hundred year debates about the proper use of gerunds and the next thing you know, Visigoths are raping your sisters and burning your city to the ground.
I realize that this cause is mostly a lost one, however. The effects of blogs on society are clearly more limited than they get credit for. There are thousands and thousands of people who wander around, posting comments only to be pain-in-the-ass nitpickers about apostrophes in its/it's or the proper employment of there/they're/their and yet still 90% of what is written online looks like it was typed by especially stupid monkeys. With hammers. We are, sadly, but single voices and the world, alas, is just too large. Trying to change the way language works in this manner--however correct we are--would be like... uh... like... um...
You know what, I'm not really that good with metaphors.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.2