Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Kentucky Chainsaw Massacre

Guy Davenport, The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature and Art (Washington: Counterpoint, 1996), p. 59:
Just around the corner from my house in Lexington, Kentucky, there stood for well over fifty years a pear tree and an apple tree that had grown around each other in a double spiral. In the twenty years I have walked past them daily, they have always got into my thoughts, and always benignly. They were a husband and wife, as in Ovid's poem in which an inseparable couple become trees side-by-side in an eternal existence. They generated in my imagination a curiosity about the myths our culture has told itself about apples and pears. Apple is the symbol of the Fall, pear of Redemption. Apple is the world, pear heaven. Apple is tragic. A golden one given first as a false wedding gift and later presented by a shepherd to a goddess began the Trojan War and all that Homer recorded in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The apple that fell at Newton's feet also fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and is right now embedded in thousands of bombs mounted in the heads of rockets, glowing with elemental fire that is, like Adam and Eve's apple, an innocent detail of creation if untouched and all the evil of which man is capable if plucked.

The day before yesterday this intertwined apple and pear were in full bloom. In every season these trees have been lovely, in autumn with their fruit, in winter a naked grace, in summer a round green puzzle of two kinds of leaves; but in spring they have always been a glory of white, something like what I expect an angel to look like when I see one. But I shall not see these trees again. Some developer has bought the property and cut down the embracing apple and pear, in full bloom, with a power saw, the whining growl of which is surely the language of devils at their business, which is to cancel creation.
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