Janet (j4) wrote,

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Plants: moon: minds: killing: pain

Questions (and answers) from marnameow. I'm gradually getting round to all these, honest.

1. What's your favourite sort of plant? Trees or flowers or herb or bushy green things or brambles or grass or something else entirely? What's your mostest flavourite plant? And your leastest? What do you love/hate about them?

Hmm, not sure I have a favourite plant or type of plant. Lots of types of plant that I like though.

I like wild plants, the ones that spring up in the lawn and in the hedgerows, and get ignored or have weedkiller sprayed on them. Daisies, buttercups and dandelions flaunting themselves in the middle of neat green lawns; chickweed, speedwell, scarlet pimpernel mingling with the long grass; shepherd's purse and groundsel growing up between the flagstones; dead-nettles with their deceptive leaves (I can't quite bring myself to like stinging nettles). Ragwort and dock and rosebay willowherb springing up at the side of the garden where it's getting really overgrown; cow-parsley in the hedgerows. Plants my mother taught me to recognise and name.

I like celandines when they carpet the floor of the woods with emerald leaves and, later, gold flowers. Bluebells drooping delicately, shyly, in the half-darkness beneath the trees. (I like the trees as well, but more for the cool shade they produce and the dappled effects of light pouring through them than for the trees themselves.) Violets, missed by most passers-by. Plants that thrive in the cool dank half-light.

I like flowers that herald the seasons. Snowdrops and crocuses, the beginnings of spring; lily-of-the-Valley, my birth-flower, tiny and white and delicately scented. Daffodils and tulips, big bold primary colours of flowers, the sunniest days of spring. Flowers with huge heavy scents, hot and thick and slow like summer air.

I like trees that are strong enough for me to climb them. My parents have a sycamore tree which has two parallel branches at just the right height for me to leap up and grab one branch, swing my legs up to hook my knees over the other, and thus drag myself up into the tree. I used to sit there and think about things. A lot of my clothes ended up covered in green tree-moss.

I like plants that you can eat right where they're growing, without any preparation. Peas and beans straight from the pod, raspberries and redcurrants and blackcurrants and gooseberries plucked from the plant, blackberries picked from the brambles at the side of the recreation ground, earned by the scratches on arms and legs. Bilberries gathered on the Roaches, the tiny fruit hiding beneath the pale green leaves, our hands turning black, and only one berry making it into the basket for every six that make it into our mouths. Wood sorrel, cool and slightly bitter, picked from the moist dark soil. Alpine strawberries, tiny dark bursts of sweetness hidden under spreading leaves.

I like the bits of plants that I'm probably not supposed to eat. Apples picked from the tree when they're not quite ripe, because my sister and I are impatient. I stop short of picking up the tiny crabbed windfalls from the floor and eating them; she doesn't. The base of blades of grass, when you slide the end of the stalk out of its sheath and there's a tender, tasty bit of greenery at the end, and you know you can't digest grass but it still tastes nice. Ears of wheat stolen from the edge of the cornfield, peeling the papery husks away and chewing the hard brown grains.

I like gentian and edelweiss, but mostly because if I saw them I'd be somewhere at the top of a mountain, which would be good for other reasons.

Plants almost always look good in large quantities of the same plant. Fields of flax and poppies; hosts of golden daffodils (for all that I'm heartily sick of the Wordsworth poem). Wisteria cascading over Cotswold stone warmed by the sun. Huge swathes of fronded ferns. Sheaves of reeds by the riverside. Even crocuses planted on city roundabouts in a desperate nod to nature -- they do their bit to redeem their surroundings.

I can't think of any plants I really don't like, except the ones that irritate my skin (nettles, goosegrass, some spiky conifers). There are quite a lot that I'm indifferent to, though. A lot of the big fancy flowers that they put in posh bouquets just leave me cold. Not too keen on flowers that look very artificial.

2. What would you do if you could be on the moon (with automagical breathing and other life-supporting stuff) for twenty four hours? What would you leave there behind you? What would you take away?

I'd wander around, explore, look at the scenery. Probably spend a fair amount of time just sitting and staring, to be honest. I'd look at the earth, too, of course. I love looking down at houses and fields and suchlike from high up, from the top of mountains or from in aeroplanes -- I look at them and think that if a house looks so tiny, then a person will be even tinier, and a person's problems must be tinier still. I know it doesn't really work like that, but it helps to get things in perspective. Although I wonder if seeing the earth from space would be just too much, like the Total Perspective Vortex or something.

I don't think I'd leave anything permanent or concrete behind. ("Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.") Just knowing I'd been there would be enough. Although -- I don't know what the surface of the moon is really like, but if there were any dusty/sandy bits, I might try to make a sandcastle, or the nearest to it. I wouldn't know if it would survive, or if other moonwalkers would find it in years to come, but it'd still be there. A sandcastle beside the Sea of Tranquility. That would be good.

I might bring back a rock. Or I might just take photos. If I did take photos, though, I'd probably look through them once and then never look at them again. I'm like that with photos of places. So a rock might be better. Then it could sit on my shelf and gather dust, like all my other souvenirs. I like the fact that they just sit there and get dusty. That's more or less what memories are supposed to do.

Oh, and being a helpful kind of person, I'd ask the sciencey kind of people if there was anything they wanted/needed. "I'm just nipping to the moon, can I get you anything?"

3. If you could be inside the mind - ala _Being John Malkovitch_ - of any one person, who would it be, and why? How long would you like to be in there for?

Hmmm. I forget how it works in BJM -- does the person whose mind you're in know you're in there? Do you think you're them, or do you know you're you (but in their body), or what?

I think I'd like to be in my own mind, actually. ("jaffa jaffa jaffa jaffa jaffa jaffa".) I'd love to know how it looks to see through my eyes when you're not used to it. Seeing myself through a stranger's eyes, that kind of thing. Is that terribly self-centred? Probably.

If I couldn't be in my own mind, I'd probably want to be in the mind of someone close to me, so I could understand them better. Probably sion_a, because I really don't understand how his mind works at all.

How long for? Er... not too long, probably. A few days maximum. More than that and I think I'd forget how to be me.

4. Could you kill someone? If your life depended on it? If someone you cared about's life was at stake?

Possibly. Probably. I don't know.

I think I'd be more likely to do it if somebody else's life was at stake than for my own sake. I'm not sure, though.

I hope I never have to find out the true answer to this question.

5. Would you rather be forever free of physical pain or mental anguish?

I've thought about this one a lot, and I think the answer is "No".

The closest I've ever come to being "free of mental anguish" for any protracted length of time was when I was on ADs which basically flattened out all my emotions. I didn't feel any mental anguish -- nothing so interesting. But it was horrible. It was like being dead, or asleep, all the time. I went looking for physical pain instead just so I could feel something, anything. I wouldn't want to live like that.

I think a lot of happiness stops being so meaningful if you don't have the unhappiness to contrast it with. I know that sounds like the sort of thing that pretentious middle-class goths say when they've never experienced any real "mental anguish", but I really don't think I'd be able to relate to people at all if I never felt emotional pain of any kind. Perhaps if I could free everybody else from mental anguish as well? But that would be so unlike being human as we know it, I honestly have no idea what it would be like.

I suppose if I had to choose one I'd choose being free from physical pain, then. Physical pain is often so arbitrary; sure, sometimes it's a warning from the body, but sometimes it's just random aches and pains, or illnesses that hit for no reason, or whatever. At least mental anguish is usually connected to feelings/actions and I can learn from it. And I don't think being free of physical pain would stop me being able to relate to people, though I suspect I'd soon get tired of being told "You're so lucky!" ... and also tired of people punching me to prove that I can't feel pain, as if I was some sort of freakshow.

On the other hand, I like some kinds of physical pain, and I'd miss the effect it has on me if I couldn't feel it. Or does it not count as "pain" if you like it? Anyway, I don't think this is really relevant to the question you were asking. Just a little sidetrack at the end.

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