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Nondefinition #6

Mangel-wurzel. (Not to be confused with the Wurzel mangle, formerly a kind of laundry machine, or manglewurz, the condition in workers now and then emerged from the Wurzel mangle.) A kind of gigantic beet, resembling a turnip, formerly much used for livestock feed. As watermelons are to bullets, so mangel-wurzels once were to swords: a vegetable stand-in for a human enemy. And as the watermelon blown to bits is a promise to our enemies, so the mangel-wurzel neatly sliced in two by a stroke (or draw cut) of the saber was (some of) our ancestors’ promise to their own enemies. Which raises three questions. One: do all warlike peoples have their particular enemy fruit or vegetable? Did the Romans learn their ferocity in the fight against cabbage? Was the battle of Waterloo won in the pumpkin fields of Surrey? Two: are these fruits merely convenient objects, or do we have some inborn fear of them to work out – were our ancestors the victims of shambling, formless, boneless things – is every watermelon we execute an instinctual way of exorcising the memory of Shoggoths? Three, does every fruit have its associated weapon? Does the tomato sleep on the shelf through nightmares of the day when the raygun will find its fated victim?