BY Alexandra Kleeman in Features | 21 AUG 19
Featured in
Issue 205

Alexandra Kleeman Imagines a World Where Nothing Is Lost

A Series on the Senses: Touch

BY Alexandra Kleeman in Features | 21 AUG 19

The Peachoid, Gaffney, South Carolina. Courtesy: Discover South Carolina

Touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell – these are the five traditional senses. In this specially commissioned portfolio, five writers – Chloe Aridjis, Fernando A. Flores, Diana Hamilton, Alexandra Kleeman and Madeleine Thien – complicate our individual and shared experiences of these ‘outward wits’, as they were once known, in pieces of short fiction and non-fiction. They do not limit themselves to any one sense; instead, they draw on our ‘inward wits’, which the 16th-century British poet Stephen Hawes, in his ‘The Pastime of Pleasure’ (1509), identified as common sense, imagination, fantasy, instinct and memory.

It’s hard work, working at the fruit factory. Each piece of fruit must be made by hand. The workers use tools. They use a pair of pliers on a pile of fruit stuff and, a few minutes later, they’ve made a strawberry. They take a very narrow stick and poke 200 tiny holes into the strawberry. Then they position a single seed in each hole. They glue each strawberry to a strawberry plant, so that someone can harvest it later.

Where once there used to be dozens and dozens of different kinds of pineapple, now there is only one: the best one. It is perfectly symmetrical, like a shape cut out of a folded piece of paper and then opened back up.

When you rotate our pineapple on a motorized platform, it looks as though it is not moving at all. When you hold it up to a mirror, it looks like there are two of them. When you cut it open, you experience a powerful sense of déjà vu.

Many years ago, our market research team discovered that, even as they took pleasure in their fruit experience, customers felt a subtle but ineradicable guilt at destroying a piece of fruit that was one-of-a-kind. They didn’t want to be the ones responsible for removing a fruit from circulation when it was clear that nobody would be providing an exact replacement.

Our new fruits solve your problem: they are one, but they are many. You can sit on your chair at home eating a crisp slice of melon while looking at that same melon, intact on the table before you. You can do the same thing with our pineapple and our peach. In fact, any of our fruits are capable of being watched and eaten at the exact same time.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 205 with the headline ‘Fruit Factory’.

Alexandra Kleeman teaches at the New School, New York, USA, and is the author of the novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (2015).