The 1/8 of Fruits

Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Quince, 1602

Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Quince, 1602.

Writing about French socialist and philosopher Charles Fourier‘s (1772-1837) utopia of the Four Movements and the General Destinies, Roland Barthes points out that in any of Fourier’s classifications, there is always a portion that doesn’t add up. There are various names for it: passage; composite; transition; neuter; triviality; ambiguity; supplement; the 1/8 of any collection; the legal margin of error. It is, in short, the class in which everything that attempts to escape classification is swallowed up. Examples of such composite, transitional objects include

the nectarine, which damps the opposition of prune and peach, and
the quince, which forms a passage between pear and apple.

Barthes gives us the following list of transitory phenomena:

There are ambiguities in every series: the sensitive, the bat, the flying fish, the amphibians, the zoophytes, sapphism, pederasty, incest, Chinese society (half-barbaric, half-civilized, with harems and courts of law and etiquette), lime (fire and water), the nervous system (body and soul), twilights, coffee (ignominiously ignored for Mocha for 4,000 years, then suddenly the subject of a mercantile craze, passing from abjection to the highest rank), children (the third passionate sex, neither men nor women); the albino; the taste for feathered fowl; Death.

See Roland Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola (1971)

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