The rind and the fruit.

In D.H. Lawrence’s writings, he describes the rind and the fruit as metaphor.

When one peels the rind, therein the fruit is tender, retaining its juices and seeds. Within is life, the bursting seed awaiting implantation into the soil and the redolent waves of the sun nurturing it into budding. The rind merely peels away. It is discarded. It becomes mold in the earth.

Lawrence writes of the rind in Women In Love after Anna and Will marry. They enjoy honeymoon bliss in a little cottage, absorbed in each other. All is soothing and complacent to compassion. They are, for lack of a better word, complete. Will is born anew:

He surveyed the rind of the world: houses factories, trams, the discarded rind; people scurrying about, work going on, all on the discarded surface. An earthquake (the marriage) had burst it all from the inside. It was as if the surface of the world had been broken away entirely: Ilkeston, streets, church, people, work, rule-of-the-day, all intact; and yet peeled away into unreality, leaving here exposed the inside, the reality; one’s own being, strange feelings and passions and yearnings and beliefs and aspirations, suddenly become present, revealed to the permanent bedrock, knitted one rock with the woman one loved.”

As Will slips into blissful dreamland, Anna plans a tea-party which throws Will into a tizzy.

The wonder was going to pass away again. All the love, the magnificent new order was going to be lost, she would forfeit it all for the outside things. She would admit the outside world again, she would throw away the living fruit for the ostensible rind. He began to hate this in her.

This reveals the differences between the two. She longs for outside things, the rind; he, for the living fruit that is them. It is not the tea-party per se that becomes the issue, but that the trifling matter becomes portentous of their future.

Lawrence’s metaphor of the rind is a tool for his philosophy.

This goes on within the rind. But the rind remains permanent, falsely absolute, my false absolute knowledge of good and evil. Till the work of corruption is finished; then the rind also, the public form, the civilization, the established consciousness of mankind disappears as well in the mouth of the worm, taken unutterably asunder by the hands of the angels of separation. It ceases to be, all the civilization and all the consciousness, it passes utterly away, a temporary cohesion in the flux. It was this, this rind, this persistent temporary cohesion, that was evil, that alone was evil. And it destroys us all before itself is destroyed.”

Lawrence’s “rind” is the origin of evil. It is the hope one settles for after glimpsing the rainbow, but instead takes refuge in the “rind of the world.”

Whatever form the rind appears, it must be dismantled or diminished in order to reach the fruit of the matter.

It became at last,” writes Lawrence, “a collective activity, a war, when, within the great rind of virtue we thresh destruction further and further, till our whole civilization is like a great rind full of corruption, o breaking down, a mere shell threatened with collapse upon itself.”

Then …

And the road of corruption leads back to one’s eternity.

Lawrence indulges in the fruit, where the wet pulp and soft seeds are rapacious with the sweet and bitter pulp of destiny and promulgation.

It is in his poem, “Pomegranate” that he declares:

You tell me I am wrong.
Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?
I am not wrong.

The fleshly seeds of the pomegranate are matters of truth that remain obstinate in the light of falsity.

Or when Lawrence writes in “Figs”:

Folded upon itself, and secret unutterable,
And milky-sapped, sap that curdles milk and makes ricotta,
Sap that smells strange on your fingers, that even goats won’t taste it ;
Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman,
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen,
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from the light ;
Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it’s finished, and you’re over-ripe, and you burst to give up your ghost.

The cloying sweetness, its feminine essence overpowers the senses. It is all that it should be. The fruit is declarative and profound. We are righted by its righteousness and journey. The fig’s rind is peeled away and the pulp opens up sweetly with its ferment. It rewards the tongue with its truth. It rewards the soil with its seed.

The crux of the matter lies in the fruit, not the rind. The rind is the world, that binding shell that colludes the real fruit of the matter. It is rioting in Charlottesville, it is nukes in North Korea, it is the pettiness of everyday squabbles, and earthly battles we pursue instead of the living fruit of who we are and what we contain. It is this Lawrence warns of … where “the tiger rises supreme, the last brindled flame upon the darkness; the deer melts away, a bloodstained shadow received into the utter pallor of light; each having leapt forward into eternity, at opposite extremes.”

What is your rind? What is your fruit?

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this insightful look into D.H. Lawrence’s writing! To me, the rind is also the mask we wear for the outside; on one hand, we need different “masks” in order to be functioning members of an ordered society–one mask for one situation does not fit another situation. But this comes with a cost: the mask can be taken too far to the point of inauthenticity, or used as a means to gain control. Don’t you ever just want to say what is on your mind, to utter the horrors of human truth, when someone asks, for example, how you are doing? What if we all laid aside our masks and were honest, if just for a day? I wonder what D.H. Lawrence would have to say of social media…

    Liked by 1 person

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