Saturday, August 18, 2012

Moral Ambiguity

Lalanti was our house guest for a week, and quickly made herself popular by baking apple pies and cupcakes. She also got us a basil plant, and left it in my care. The plant is doing well, considering we have denuded it already on two occasions (for French toast and pesto).

Eschewing my usual policy, I have not given it a rhyming name: instead I have named it Rathbone. The Basil Rathbone.


This morning I was idly gazing at the plant, and wondering if it bears any similarities to its namesake. The two things I know about Basil Rathbone (the actor) are: (a) he played Sherlock Holmes and (b) he was a good fencer. My plant, in its short life, has failed to secure any Hollywood contracts, and basil plants are not known for their fencing skills. But Wikipedia says Basil Rathbone was known for playing morally ambiguous roles, and there, I believe, we have hit upon a similarity.

For when you come to think of it, what can be more morally ambiguous than a basil plant? There it sits on our kitchen-window sill, its leaves ruffled by a gentle breeze. Does it have ideals? Can it distinguish right from wrong, and does it believe they are distinct? Does it believe in the transmigration of souls, or the common ownership of the means of production? What gods does it pray to?

3 comments:

Tommy said...

So that's why the snake in A Clockwork Orange was named Basil. How better to exhibit ambiguity than to have a forked tongue? And not just two tongue tips, but--well, I'll let Wikipedia explain.

lalanti said...

I know I've made it big when I make it on your blog! You'll see a perfectly poached egg on mine soon enough.

Sroyon said...

@Tommy: I didn't know that about snakes. Amazing creatures, reptiles. In our college hostel we had a lizard with two tails.

@lalanti: You have a blog?! Send me the link!