Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cabbages and neanderthals

click photo to enlarge
It's good news about the neanderthals, don't you think? The University of Bristol's discovery that they used make-up and fashioned jewellery (of sorts) suggests that there may not have been the gulf between them and homo sapiens that has long been thought to have existed. Their lack of brain power and the consequent inability to compete with early modern man are shown to be judgements that need reviewing in the light of these revelations. Then there's the pejorative connotations of "neanderthal" which these artistic accomplishments undermine. Dictionaries will need revising, and people will have to stop throwing the term at anyone who doesn't measure up to their own intellectual standards.

As I was photographing this section of a red cabbage it occurred to me that it isn't only neanderthals who have had a bad press and need to be re-assessed in light of the evidence. So too do cabbages. And turnips. Why, among all the varieties of vegetables, are they used as synonyms for brainless and stupid? What qualities do they possess that makes them a more suitable term of abuse than, say, a parsnip, a leek or an aubergine? They are just as tasty, and every bit as visually appealing. Looking at today's photograph I'm tempted to ask what vegetable is more brain-like than a cabbage? If I cropped this shot to show the top half, and converted it to black and white, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish it from a section through the average human's grey matter: not that I'm suggesting anyone should do what is necessary to make that photographic comparison. But it is a fact that cabbages have every right to feel aggrieved about the way they are misrepresented. So strongly do I feel about this that I'm tempted to found a movement for the support and re-appraisal of these slighted vegetables. I've even got a snappy palindromic set of initials (acronym if you will) for this organisation, ingeniously crafted so that it wouldn't matter if dyslexic cabbages and turnips (and their supporters) wrote it backwards: Trust Against Cruelty To Cabbages And Turnips (TACTCAT) - I think it's a winner.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/2
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0EV
Image Stabilisation: Off