Native Son: Geoponic Ritual of the Snaxet
I recently visited the “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” exhibit at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which got me to thinking about how we view other cultures…and how they might view us. In that spirit, the following is inspired by Horace Mitchell Miner’s article, “Body Ritual of the Nacirema,” originally published in the June, 1956 issue of American Anthropologist magazine. I was first introduced to the article back in 1975 by my high school Anthropology teacher, Jan Carl, and will readily admit that it greatly influenced my perceptions of all peoples, particularly me.
I recommend that you keep your tongue firmly embedded in your cheek as you read it. And since we’re all friends here, I’ll give you the secret: when you see a word you don’t know, it’s spelled backwards.
There is a culture of people named the Snaxet, inhabiting the lands between the rouge waterway and the creek of exaggerated value known as Saxet, who, while priding themselves on their hale and hearty dispositions, practice the ancient arts of tillage and geoponics with such arduous rigor and folly that I feel compelled to record their rituals so that future generations might gain insight from their often bizarre and convoluted acts of vegetative cultivation.
While blessed with a wide variety of environmental ecosystems and substrates, upon which can be cultivated many wonderful types and species of flora, Snaxet people appear to be obsessed with the concept of importing, usually at great financial burden, flora most unsuited for their region of this great land. Naturally, as the pricey flora fades into a state of misery, the emotions of the landowner follows suit. Distressed beyond rational consciousness, the landowner inevitably shows up at the digital doorstep of the horticultural shaman known as Yrreps Lien. Now, “Lien,” as he affectionately referred to when the grass is green, has vast knowledge of malady abatement, and readily shares this with all who will listen. He even collected his scholarship into a modern literary codex to aid the Snaxet people! But, for many in the Snaxet culture, the allure of the exotic and the unsuitable is simply too strong to resist.
It is a widely recognized fact that, no matter where in the great land of Saxet the Snaxet resides, he or she contends that they have the most undesirable soil on Planet Htrae. Too sticky, too sandy, too clayey, too shallow, too steep, too fertile, too full of wildflowers…too something. Endless, impassioned, and resonant discussion often ensues between geoponicists which, while it may be entertaining to the participants, could actually prove fatal to other Snaxet people nearby…from excessive throat-clearing, exuberant eye-rolling, or the internal pressure build-up caused by stifling the expression, “Just shut up and add some compost!”
Many geoponic practitioners attempt to alleviate their soil frustrations by poking, prodding, beating, yelling at, threatening, and introducing various curative potions into…themselves. Research has shown that this is of little long term help, but the potions may provide a temporary sense of satisfaction.
Other geoponic practitioners seek solace in the collection of an arsenal of weaponry, colloquially known as “gadgets.” From upside-down tomato tubes to ratcheting pruners to steam-powered weed eradicators, from whipper-snipper-cut-all-clippers to thirty-pattern sprayers to nuclear gopher traps and caps with flaps, there is simply no end to things designed to assist geoponists with problems they never knew they had…and deftly separate the Snaxet people from their shekels. Many geoponicists maintain their collections in mint condition, never opening the plastic clam-shell packaging, in hopes they will someday become as valuable as their collection of rare and exotic “Beanie Babies.” Many Snaxet treasure them so much that they will leave a $50,000 automobile exposed to the elements rather than risk harm to $400 worth of ingenious gadgetry.
There is a specialized clan within the Snaxet culture known as “Srenedrag Retsam.” Spread all across the sacred lands of Saxet, they seek to impart magical wisdom from the god “Umat” throughout the land. Some of this clan are quietly secreted among the civilian population, content to modestly aid and abet those with cultivative aberrances and maladies. Others seek to disseminate the magical wisdom from special platforms equipped with a speaking stick. Still others utilize a magical digitalized device to communicate with others far away. But what is most amazing is that they gather regularly year round, at sanctified locations, for special quasi-religious ceremonies. These ceremonies include breaking & preparation of the soil, introduction of flora into that soil, ceremonial plucking of flora deemed unworthy, mitigation of excessive shrub growth, and a ritualistic baptism of the aforementioned by the liberal application of the chemical Dihydrogen monoxide. In midsummer, this ritual baptism often induces temporary delirium and merriment in the priest holding the magic wand, who is compelled to include other Srenedrag Retsam in the inundating saturation. They often conclude this deeply religious ceremony by ingesting complex carbohydrates in a rite of passage known as “Hcnul.”
Perhaps one day, we will achieve a greater understanding of the mysterious Snaxet culture, and their fascination with chicken-fried steak, Blue Bell ice cream, and the expression, “Bless your heart.” And maybe, just maybe, we will discover the inexplicable reason why they need to have the word “Saxet” used 57 times in a 30-second truck commercial. Remember the Omala…
I need a road trip! I’d love to come out and speak to your group. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and I’ll go just about anywhere…no city too big; no town too small. Just e-mail me at email@example.com and we’ll work something out.
Come see me at Chandor Gardens! Call 817-613-1700 or go to www.chandorgardens.com for details.