Episode 507: Geometry

On Overthinking It, we try to see the podcast for the trees.

Peter Fenzel goes Maple Sugaring, and he, Mark Lee, and Matt Wrather are led to consider trees as a discursive object. Are trees beings? Are trees a being? Are there poems as lovely as them?

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4 Comments on “Episode 507: Geometry”

  1. Random #

    I’m a little disappointed you didn’t get to the Class Warfare metaphor that is The Trees by Rush. Especially with your focus on Maples because in the song they are the ones to unionize. Imagine a worldwide Maple Syrup shortage because the Maple trees all decided to go on hunger strike. Maybe fear of that is the real reason behind Canada’s Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve.
    For reference: https://youtu.be/JnC88xBPkkc


  2. Lemur #

    I really dig the format of this episode, looking at the role of one of the fundamental archetypal symbols in a handful of interesting contexts/cases.

    An important thing about archetypal symbols, like The Tree or The Moon and so forth, is that they communicate productively by reference and suggestion. The mind can jump to all kinds of related images and make connections among different paths of thought.

    With trees, for example, you can pack a lot of meaning into a passing reference; even the meanings that go beyond what an author would have considered are “valid” and useful in analysis – which I suppose is the whole idea of Overthinking. So for example, in War and Peace there’s a scene where Prince Andrei is reclusive and dysthymic after being wounded in war and seeing his wife die. He drives past an oak tree in winter and it becomes a symbol of desolation and suffering. After he meets young Natasha Rostov and feels rejuvenated by her youthful vivacity, he drives past the same tree again in spring and is amazed at how it has been reborn with bright green leaves, and he decides that life is worthwhile after all. You can go into all kinds of symbolic connections from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis to Yggdrasil the world-tree in the Prose Edda.

    These kind of fruitful mental connections are, I suppose, what makes the densely symbolic pictures on Tarot cards interesting to people. There’s a card called The Tower which is associated with trees or the World-Tree (which is kind of linked to the Tower of Babel as the conduit between the world and the heavens). In the Sandwich Tarot, which I am in charge of, The Tower is associated with broccolini because of its resemblance to a tree.

    (The Sandwich Tarot is a game where you deal five cards from the Major Arcana and make a sandwich using the five ingredients associated with those cards, based on their connection to the primal symbol(s) on the cards. So, for example, the card of Death gives you mushrooms, the card of The World gives you egg, etc.)


  3. Margo #

    You mentioned the palm trees that bear coconuts. If memory serves, during the hurricanes that beset Florida last fall, this fruit became weaponized as flying coconuts were a genuine hazard to humans, cars, glass windows and other infrastructure. Can this be viewed as a metaphor for something?


    • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

      I’m imagining a romantic tragicomedy where a couple each drink way too many tropical beverages, accidentally mix up their hotel rooms, and sleep with other people. Then when they get home, they land in a storm, and each separately decide to walk to different transit to different places rather than go home together. And behind each them, cutting back and forth, you see a swarm of gale-force coconuts destroy the airport and the plane they arrived on.


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