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  • The Pumpkin Paper Patch1A Monist Theoretical Quasi-Fiction of Sci-Fi Deepest Ecology Sung to a Mute Tune Composed by a Compost Heap
  • Richard Doyle (bio)

PATCH 1. n. A temporary addition to a piece of code, usually as a quick-and-dirty remedy to an existing bug or misfeature. A patch may or may not work, and may or may not eventually be incorporated permanently into the program. 2. v. To insert a patch into a piece of code.

The Original Hacker’s Dictionary2

Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown3

… indiscriminately valuing all life without any regard to species distinctions lands one in the same problems discovered by early Deep Ecology theorists: i.e., an inability to make distinctions, so that one is forced to end up valuing, say, anthrax as much as the cattle or humans that anthrax kills.

—Rob Mitchell4

Even in its caprices the usage of language remains true to some kind of reality.

— Sigmund Freud5 [End Page 311]

Clear eyed, rested, and, according to several peer review commentators, uncannily and unusually capable of differentiating between anthrax and a pansy—or a pumpkin and a human—the bioethicist took one last sip of green tea before stirring himself from a half lotus, stretching, and striding downhill to the garden.

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Figure 1.

Drawing by Alex Broudy, courtesy of the artist.

The pumpkin—a volunteer from a neighborhood Halloween prank of years past, a smashed, grinning and rotted jack-o’-lantern, hopped up on compost and energetically invading the zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, peas, and radishes that made up the fading summer crop and new fall hopefuls sneaking in before the first Pennsylvania frost—was blooming. Some blossoms the size of a fist, plucked and stuffed with grated Jack cheese and tomato, conformed to the general culinary rule that everything was delicious when it was fried and served on a stick. This did not present a conundrum to the Bioethicist, whose first published axiom declared that potato chips and beer were the very foundation of the Football State, and thus either to be defended at all costs or destroyed with malice, depending on how you sliced it.

The gridiron staged a theatre of inches and distinctions—“Did the ball break the plane of the goal line?”—and here the Bioethicist was in his element, even if he had preferred it to be metric. “It’s Up to You: Potato Chip Fanciers and the Biopolitics of Hopped Yeast” was now one of his most cited publications, second only to “On the Distinction Between Anthrax and Pansies, and Which to Kill,” which had rocketed up the charts during the Great Vegan Distress that ensued after the prestigious journal Plant Signaling and Behavior released [End Page 312] results suggesting that plants grown in bioethicists’ homes suffered from “asymmetrical stress disorder” when subjected to thought experiments fabricated entirely for the propagation of bioethical discourse, such as the choice between the killing of pansies or anthrax. Leaked peer reviews of the more statistically robust follow-up, “Asymmetrical Stress Disorder and the Marginal Cost of Bioethical Thought Experiments,” sent knowledge-backed derivative securities of Humanities Institutes (and their recidivist, repeat visitors) plummeting. Computer models of citation clusters and the Big Data of Natural Language Processing of Reviews indicated either that leaked versions of “Asymmetrical Stress Disorder and the Marginal Cost of Bioethical Thought Experiments” established once and for all that anthrax was not a breakfast food, or that more research was needed, depending on how you sliced it, and whether or not it was fried and served on a stick. “Asymmetrical Stress Disorder and the (Opportunity) Cost of Bioethical Thought Experiment” was officially due out in a few days, but there were still a few issues...


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pp. 311-322
Launched on MUSE
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