Jul 06

they are wise men = they eat bananas

FT + Proven By Science2 comments • 1,041 views

Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and natural scientist, 372 to 287 BCE, retells a legend about wise men who sat under the shade of the banana tree and ate some of its fruit. In the time of the legend the banana plant was given the botanical name that translates as “banana of the sages.” Though the botanical name is now obsolete, it makes good story telling.

Is there a name for this kind of failed tautology? Actually a double failed tautology, because this is not a good story. It has the seeds of one, like those vestigial palimpsests found, but not felt, inside the pulp of our yellow friends, but their fecundity has been bred out somewhere along the way. Perhaps in the comments someone can, using the same method on which banana trees now rely for their reproduction, graft a good story on.


  1. 1
    tracerhand on 24 Jul 2006 #

    Not a grafting but here is a better story:

    The northern Manchurian warlord, Wu Chüsheng, had been invited to Peking to attend a banquet. At the end of the meal, a bowl of fresh fruit was set in front of him; and he selected a banana and ate it, peel and all. His host, wishing to offer a tactful hint, also took a banana and conspicuously peeled it before eating it. Wu, now aware of his error but not wanting to lose face, took a second banana and said that he always ate these things with their peel on, and he took another and ate it the same way.

    The Manchurian Larry David then. The fact the Google returns zero hits on any aspect of this story lends it a certain … mystery

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 24 Jul 2006 #

    I have been considering this, in a Just So story regarding bananas seeds. And so I present to you: How The Banana Lost Its Seed

    In the jungles of the Phillipines lived Ba the Monkey. Bogar was yellow-haired, greedy baby monkey and his family made sure that he could never get all the plantains, as he would eat them all up, and there would be no seeds left to plant and they would starve in the future. Ba did not understand and just wanted to fill his own tummy.

    One night when the moon was full Gascar the leopard was prowling around the camp. He attacked Ba’s mother and ate her, and the other monkeys ran away. As Ba was so small he was not found. Ba very frightened, but all of that went away when he saw all the plantains unguarded. Without thought for his own safety he ate up all the fruit, seeds, skin and all. And the other monkeys did not come back.

    The next day Ba felt sick and laid on his bed. The next day he felt fine. And the next day he was hungry. But there were no plantains or any other fruit, and none in the trees. And there were none the next day. Or the next day. Faint with hunger Ba his in the groves waiting to die.

    And then, he could not believe it, the other monkeys came back. Leading them was Ba’s grandmother riding Gascar the leopard. Ba was frightened but was too weak to run. “Why are you not afraid of the leopard?” Ba asked.
    His grandmother replied.
    “If he ate up all of the monkeys, who would have the baby monkeys for him to eat next year. If he lets my greed overcome him, how will he survive? Instead we have struck a deal, that he will guard our grove until he needs food.”

    Bogar then sobbed and told the other monkeys of his greed and what he had done with all the plantains and their seeds. He was very sorry and they were very angry. However his grandmother who was very old with wrinkled skin, knew of the ways of when the world was new.
    She took Ba and kissed him, and took the last seed from him.

    Ba’s grandmother walked away, and buried herself in the soil to die. And where she died a new tree grew. But these plantains were sweet, like Ba’s grandmother, and the fruit turned from green to bright yellow – just like Ba’s grandmothers hair. As a sign of respect the monkeys would not eat the skin of the fruit, as it reminded them of the wise old monkey – but when it was peeled there were no seeds as it was grown from a woman. But Ba’s grandmother had told him to take a cutting from her tree to grow new ones, and so the plant was saved.

    And that is why the fruit is called BaNana, and why it has no seeds.

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