Avocado Chronicles: 3 the chemical formula

Selling avocados in Santo Domingo DR:

(#1)

H2O KT is a play on Sp. aguacate ‘avocado’, treating it as:

the chemical formula H2O for agua ‘water’ + ca, the letter K /ka/, + te, the letter T /te/

that is, as la formula química del aguacate ‘the chemical formula for the avocado’. The joke isn’t quite perfect: K is indeed a symbol for a chemical element, potassium, but there’s no element T (though there is Te, the metalloid tellurium). (There is a compound potassium telluride, K2Te, but I don’t know how it interacts with water.)

The joke will lead us to the demotivational industry (with a penguin interlude); to snark and Mad magazine; to color blindness; to egg and avocado dishes; and to a sexually suggestive cartoon and its gender ideology.

Background. Previously in this series, the 7/13/19 posting “The Avocado Chronicles: 3 etymology and etymythology”, about the tangled history of English avocado. Where it’s noted that the Dominican Republic is a major source of avocados (second in the world, after Mexico).

Now to cartoons.

The demotovational industry. A photocartoon version of the joke:

(#2)

From the desmotivaciones.es (‘demotivations’) site, a Spanish source of demotivational items, designed to combat the motivational industry through snark and humor. In the US, we have the Demotivators® site despair.com; from that site:

MOTIVATIONAL PRODUCTS DON’T WORK. BUT OUR DEMOTIVATOR® PRODUCTS DON’T WORK EVEN BETTER.

When we started Despair, we had a dream. To crush other people’s dreams. But we knew, given our goal, we’d be in for a fight. After all, the Motivation Industry has been crushing dreams for decades, selling the easy lie of success you can buy. That’s why we decided to differentiate ourselves – by crushing dreams with hard truths!

In posters like this one (with penguins!):

(#3)

Like Mad magazine (now come to an end), the demotivational sites trade heavily in aggressive snark (though their deeply idealistic and humane motivations often show through in sweetly funny streaks). From the NYT on-line on 7/12/19, in “The World According to Mad Magazine: Grown-ups who worried it was a subversive influence on America’s youth were 100 percent correct” by Tim Kreider:

it had a comedic sensibility, a view of the world as a hilarious cavalcade of hypocrisy and folly … [which it attacked through the] distinctively adolescent form of humor we now call “snark” — irony, sarcasm, satire and parody.

An attack designed to strip away the hypocrisy, cant, and folly to affirm values like honesty, acceptance, and respect for others.

One more cartoon from desmotivaciones.es. This charming love story (also available in English on other sites, but I came to it first in Spanish):


(#4) In paraphrase: sometimes love is blind; other times, only color-blind (the lion shall lay down with the lamb, and the wrinkly green with the smooth white)

But the Spanish doesn’t directly say ‘only color-blind’; it says instead ‘only Daltonic’. From NOAD:

noun daltonism: another term for protanopia, a form of color-blindness. ORIGIN mid 19th century: from the name of John Dalton, + –ism.

And on Dalton, from Wikipedia:

John Dalton (6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist. He is best known for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry, and for his research into color blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honour.

The avocado and the egg. A love pairing in #4, which would be reflexively understood by most viewers as a male avocado coupled with a female egg (even in the absence of conventional signifiers, like a bow in the hair for the female) — because the avocado is bigger and darker. Subconscious gendering is very hard to avoid.

Suppose I tell you that both members of this couple are male (well, aguacate ‘avocado’ and huevo ‘egg’ both have masculine grammatical gender in Spanish). You will probably then reflexively take the avocado to be the dominant, or t, partner, and the egg to be the subordinate, or b, partner (see my postings on b/t roles) — perhaps muscle daddy and twink boy, respectively, perhaps top and bottom, respectively, in intercourse, etc. (As I’ve noted, that’s just heterosexual gendering translated into the homosexual domain.)

In any case, #4 shows avocado paired with egg, and (whatever the sexual politics might be) that’s an excellent culinary choice. Many sites offer recipes for baked eggs in avocado, as here:


(#5) From The Incredible Egg site: Dude’s baked avocado eggs

Less elaborately: avocado slices on fried eggs, avocado slices inside egg sandwiches, avocado chunks added to scrambled eggs, hard-boiled egg and avocado salad, avocado toast with egg, and so on. Lots of avocuevo deliciousness.

One more avocado cartoon. On Amazon, a “You Complete Me” mouse pad, designed by LKCD:

(#6)

Oh my, where to begin? The gendering is overdetermined, through the use of conventional female signifiers, the bow in the hair and the long eyelashes. But the left figure (with its protruding seed) is presented as insertive, the right figure (with its concavity) as receptive, so the pair are already marked as male and female, or as t and b, respectively.

And then of course, the two figures literally complete each other: placed together, they make one whole avocado. Thus embodying the ideology of two genders as complements of one another.

2 Responses to “Avocado Chronicles: 3 the chemical formula”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I note that, whether or not one interprets #4 with the avocado as “top”, in #5 it’s definitely the egg that’s on top.

  2. H.S. Gudnason Says:

    The chemical formula makes me think of the Bergman parody De Düva, where the characters speak a mixture of Swedish-sounding English and Yiddish. The word for water is H20ska.

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