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‘Probyn always surprises her reader, as she moves from analyzing eating as a social concern to eating as a new way of looking at power. This is an original and important book, one that more than lives up to what we have come to expect from Probyn.’ Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina ‘Probyn’s writing has never been more engaging, nor her ideas more original—Carnal Appetites marks an exciting transformation in the way we think through, and with, bodies that eat.’ David Bell, Staffordshire University What’s eating us? Investigating the current explosion of interest in food and eating, Elspeth Probyn’s book uncovers some of the deep and dark themes underlying our craving for the culinary. Popular representations of eating depict food as the last area of authenticity, of what is really real, testifying to a desire for something visceral. If sexuality has been the privileged arena for our understandings of truth and identity, the question of who we are and want to be is now being debated in the pages of gourmet magazines and in sexy food programmes. Is eating better than sex? The answer is that it depends on what you e While the book revels in the gloriously sexy intersections of the sexual and the alimentary, it also explores issues that trouble society, issues that are still not quite digestible: appetite, desire, greed, and pleasure. Going beyond a celebration of identity, either in terms of food or of sex, Probyn offers a different model of identity, and details the ways in which we digest ourselves now. We are ‘mouth machines’ that ingest and spit out bits of the local and the global, the familiar and the strange. Across a number of sites—funk food, McDonald’s, vegetarianism and
‘ethical eating’, food-sex, cannibalism, anorexia, bulimia, and fat politics—the book constantly jostles debates about identity. Neither celebratory nor nihilistic, what emerges is the deep affect of eating. Elspeth Probyn is Associate Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Outside Belongings (Routledge, 1996) and Sexing the Self: Gendered Positions in Cultural Studies (Routledge, 1993), and co-editor, with Elizabeth Grosz, of Sexy Bodies: the Strange Carnalities of Feminism (Routledge, 1995).
CARNAL APPETITES FoodSexIdentities Elspeth Probyn London and New York .
eBookstore. 2005. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Probyn. Identity (philosophical concept) I.tandf. or other means. New York.P635 2000 641'. without permission in writing from the publishers.uk. BD450 . now known or hereafter invented including photocopying and recording. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www. 1958– Carnal Appetites: FoodSexIdentities/ Elspeth Probyn. or in any information storage or retrieval system. Elspeth. NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group © 2000 Elspeth Probyn All rights reserved. mechanical.” Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street. Includes bibliographical references and index.01'3–dc21 00–029114 ISBN 0-203-36116-4 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-37372-3 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-415-22304-0 (hbk) ISBN 0-415-22305-9 (pbk) .co. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic. Title. London EC4P 4EE This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library. Eating (philosophy) 2.First published 2000 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane. 1.
restraint in excess Eating in black and white: the making of Mod Oz Eating disgust. eating ideologies Eating sex Cannibal hunger.CONTENTS Acknowledgements Introduction: gut feelings 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bodies that eat Feeding McWorld. feeding shame Postscript: eating—the new sensuality? Notes References Index vi 1 11 35 61 81 103 127 147 151 157 167 .
Adelaide. who endured more about food than may have been good for them. Pat Davies stands out for her exemplary alimentary style. and warm thanks to Les Back. They are all talented researchers in their own right. Several of my students have been incredibly supportive. To those interviewed who gave of their ideas and insights. I am grateful to the Australian Research Council. Concordia. London. Nikolas Rose deserves special thanks for his kindness and intellectual support. Gill Dempsey. Those who have directly influenced this book include Anna Munster (who came up with . I am extremely lucky to have a circle of friends who can think and eat at the same time. especially Robyn Durack and Adam Eldridge (even if he hates food). Rebecca Barden at Routledge has been great. Lancaster. I was fortunate to spend my research leave at Goldsmiths College. Suzanne Fraser also helped with interviews. Gretchen Poiner was central to the early stages. Natalya bore the brunt of the final stages. and patience. Vikki Bell. have been supportive. and I thank her for her ideas. In addition. Thanks also to my undergraduate students. and with whom I’ve shared great meals and conversations. and an editor who is a smart foodie is a wonderful thing to have. style. My thanks go first to the research assistants who worked with me over the years: Michelle Imison. and Paul Gilroy. I have benefited from invitations to present work-in-progress at several universities: including the Universities of Oslo. and Nikki Whipps came up with wonderful food examples. Megan Jones. and their insights and challenges have been invaluable. my deep appreciation. and Natalya Lusty.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have sustained me in the writing of this book. and especially in the Department of Gender Studies. and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada for research funding. North Carolina. and I thank those who invited me. and conducted interviews in her inimitable fashion. Griffith and Western Sydney. my colleagues at the University of Sydney.
. and Meaghan Morris. Jeannie Martin. my love to my family. Anna Gibbs.vii the idea of a cookbook for rhizomes). Zoe Sofoulis. Rosemary Pringle lived closely with much of the writing of the book. appetite and love. her patience. Wendy Brady had to contend with the final furlong: her generosity and help is lovingly acknowledged. Val Morrison. and I thank her deeply for her comments. As ever. ideas. Line Grenier. if for reasons of geography we rarely eat together. we have stayed together (proving the sagesse of my mother’s dictum). Chantal Nadeau.
given meaning through eating. disgust. at others it is just a drudge activity necessary to keep body and soul together. Australia. yet still colourful. into a research project. historical. but which is absolutely necessary to any cultural analysis. I was later to find that the food craze was certainly not limited to Australia. All of these disparate aspects of life are at different times touched by food. hatred. individuals and modes of living seem to register most forcefully at the level of the guts—something I unscientifically called ‘les tripes as research protocol’. relationships. sickness. my sister-in-law equipped me with an essential expression that I’ve yet to hear anyone use: ‘don’t come the raw prawn with me mate!’. leisure. however. Intensely social. obsession. desire. work. shame. at times eating seemingly connects to the very core of our selves. treated questions of national. The genesis of this project was not. boringly mundane.INTRODUCTION Gut feelings Things to do with clichés At the end of a previous book I mentioned the ways in which. family. simple or complicated. As is often the case. pleasure. More humdrum. fear. and. collective and individual identity in terms of eating and food. death. economics. birth—the list could go on and on. at certain times. more pointedly. connections between cultures. a trait that may at times be fickle. comfort. sex. is the . along the lines of ‘it’ll fine up’. Before I moved here. since then I have turned my experience. control. but curiosity. Love. and that foodism now seems to spill into every nook and cranny. There are fascinating regional and subcultural twists on food clichés: in Australia. My curiosity was first and foremost about how my adopted country. Any cursory investigation soon reveals that the language of eating and food pervades our cultures like clichés that coat the tongue. greed. my stomach and taste buds. ‘she’ll be apples’ is a sunny example.
While one could argue that such gestures reveal how far the supposedly intimate practices of anorexia and bulimia have penetrated our culture. The aim of this book is simple but . or even worth getting heated up about. There is after all something rather wonderful about the adamant admission of ‘I hate that’. Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825/1970) (‘Tell me what you eat: I will tell you what you are’). beyond academic storms in a teacup. encouraging other similar statements. But what is interesting about clichéd food statements is the ways in which they are normally sugar coated. The more usual clichés that one has to contend with are those that blend the often misphrased aphorisms of the French bon vivant. In this way. or the alimentary racism that seemingly naturally asserts what’s edible and what’s not. The usual ingredients of scholarly controversy may not incite the public— questions about whether ‘fusion food’ has gone too far. they slide down the throat. we are constantly bombarded with instructions about what and how to eat. I’m not sure of the reach of such analytic scavenging. it is clear that such images attest to a low-level yet widespread concern about intimate relations. ‘control food’ and ‘nasty food’ as offering more interesting social insights. the Valleygirl pantomime of the middle finger down the mouth: ‘gag me with a spoon’. Beyond the cooing of food editors. I am intrigued by the forceful nature of present proclamations about eating. or whether global feeding is killing off local cuisine. the repetition ad nauseam of ‘comfort food’ at times serves to camouflage widespread loneliness or disappointment in life. or at least can decorate our aspirations. with the home-spun admonitions of women’s magazines (‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’). perhaps we should think about ‘power food’. those about commensality have some basis in truth.2 INTRODUCTION gesture spawned from some TV show or film. At a time when seemingly nothing is sacred. Or. As with all truisms. there are profound concerns that the present food fetishism raises for the gastronome and ordinary eater alike. It’s hard to say which is more sociologically interesting: the sincerity of a white middle-class man as he cooks an intricate and ‘authentic’ Thai meal. eating examples and metaphors are often used to cover over the nasty bits: the hearty enthusiasm for ‘foreign food’ that is supposed to hide the taste of racism. ‘that’s disgusting’. in a different register. More up to date are the truisms about the pleasures of eating together slowly en famille or in the company of friends. Gut ethics At a simple level. However. At a general level.
eating has always permeated our everyday lives and thoughts—from the worry about what to put on the table. I am drawn by another question that is relatively straightforward even as it exceeds my grasp: what is all this foodism about? One of the fascinating aspects of the new food faddism is the way that it combines a yearning for authenticity with a recognition of its impossibility. what’s eating us now? Of course that is an impossibly large question. However. this is not a sociological study of food per se. indeed eat into ourselves. we grapple with concerns about the animate and the inanimate. There are obvious areas that I have not addressed. about whether we are eating or being eaten. Through the optic of food and eating. At the same time I am interested in the question of what’s bothering us. ways of living informed by both the rawness of a visceral engagement with the world. pleasures and worries. In eating. about changing familial patterns. to the obsession amongst the well fed about what goes in and comes out of our mouths and bodies. shame and disgust. While there has been much work done at an abstract level in terms of embodiment. it is seemingly impossible to avoid the television programmes and the food pages of newspapers or glossy magazines that promise a return to the real things of life through eating. Of course. is intimately involved with bodies. and in fact can question what we think we know of the body. Eating. I want to investigate how as individuals we inhabit the present: how we eat into cultures. Alongside these concerns. or wider environmental concerns. for instance the worries about genetically modified foods.INTRODUCTION 3 immodest. It is clear that eating has become for some. It is in this sense that eating allows us to rethink the ethics of bodies. I seek to use the materiality of eating. hopes. about colonial legacies of the past for those of us who live in stolen lands. But now it seems that eating brings together a cacophony of feelings. in some parts of the world. and a sense of restraint in the face of the excess. however. In more elaborated terms. of course. a matter of intensity. of fear. the realm of the alimentary brings these considerations down to earth and . I would like to be able to say that I have narrowed the ambit by solely focusing on matters of food. eat into identities. of excess. the more diffuse nature of what’s eating us that compels me: questions of appetite. as it orchestrates experiences that are at once intensely individual and social. sex and bodies in order to draw out alternative ways of thinking about an ethics of existence. In the face of this explosion of popular discourses on eating and food. about authenticity and sincerity. It is. about whether sexual and alimentary predilections tell us anything about ourselves. about the local rendered global.
eggs. she says. Lawson and countless others promote the realm of the kitchen as the place where time finds its own: she describes ‘a very simple orange and almond cake made by boiling oranges till they’re sodden and then lazily mixing them. and sugar’. 1999:154). make oneself the subject of solicitude and attention. but really all we talk about is what we eat’ (Lawson. If the term ‘ethics’ immediately denotes either a vast philosophical project. by and large. 1999:153). by the food media. 1988: 90). systems of injunction and interdiction—thou shalt do this or thou shalt not do that’ (Rose. As I argue across different sites. conduct oneself in the world of one’s everyday existence’ (Ibid. This experience. I am particularly concerned to map out the different sites of intensity and problematisation that frame modes of conduct. they argue that ‘What regulates the obligatory. are . here I am interested in smaller scenarios. and of timing.. produced and producing ourselves anew.. The interminglings of the cultural. As Nikolas Rose argues. in eating we find ourselves in various assemblages. diet and cook books). In this sense. in Foucault’s later writings ethics was ‘a general designation’ for investigations into forms of ‘concern’ for the self. or permitted interminglings of bodies is above all an alimentary regime and a sexual regime’ (Deleuze and Guattari. generosity. demonstrates ‘our growing equation of competence in the kitchen with ability to be part of life’ (Ibid. In addition to the practical advice (given. we talk.4 INTRODUCTION extends them. Some of the thematics thrown up by eating include greed. 1996:135). While the food media would like us to believe that eating now inaugurates an era of straightforward pleasures—eating simply and well with friends—other astute food writers realise that food and eating may be as tricky as sex used to be. In a self-reflective fashion. ethics is contrasted with morality: ‘moral systems [that] are. a generalised green politics. necessary. The pleasures of the kitchen. Nigella Lawson writes about the ways in which ‘We eat. hunger and a reversal of orders when it is no longer clear what is eating whom. While certainly there are forms of eating that fall into this strict codification. An idea from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus has guided me in tracing out the connections between bodies that. with ground almonds. any old how. the culinary and the corporeal suggest to me other ways of thinking about ethical behaviours and practices. when paired with food. 1996:135). Speaking of the ways in which bodies are produced. open up and connect in different ways. or. for instance. I am more interested in the rather nebulous ways in which eating can inform practices and ways of thinking that coincide with Foucault’s notion of ethics as a ‘domain of practical advice as to how one should concern oneself with oneself. in eating.
loving. the home cook gets her hands dirty while she watches the exploits of sexy television chefs. But what if alimentary representations and practices were an apéritif. As such. These writers all focus on the intricate ways in which eating. In this scenario. The joys of home cooking. But what of the idea that baking equates with the ‘ability to be part of life’? In Lawson’s description we have a rarefaction of one part of life into a guiding precept of how to live. rereading Foucault’s arguments in the second volume of The History of Sexuality made me wonder where we might find present-day examples of the principle and practices of combination that he finds in the world of the Ancient Greeks.Toklas’s cookbook. The long history of imbricating practical and ethical injunctions through eating can be seen in any number of different orders of texts. stimulating the appetite for questions about how to combine various parts of life? While it may be a bit of a stretch to bring together recipes and philosophical problems. For the Ancient Greeks the problematisation of pleasure was most clearly seen in the fact that ‘diet itself…was a fundamental category . all of these are instances of a new vaunting of sensual pleasure. such as exercise.INTRODUCTION 5 contrasted with what she calls the ‘denatured eating’ of expensive restaurants. Through the advice of practical texts. but were indeed practices to be governed by the sense of ‘the right measure’. It is clear that these were not abstract notions. the time to make a cake is probably one of the scarcest commodities. Attracted by such descriptions. writing and thinking can and must be brought together. sleeping. the kitchen is now sold to women as the new sphere of sensual liberation. and this both in regard to oneself and to others. and freed from the obligations of cooking. and perhaps now for us. Beyond the now tattered dream of liberation in the bedroom. Here eating becomes the end point. eating. It is then not surprising that across ages we find dictates to practise through eating ‘le juste milieu’: from Platonic dialogues. For the Greeks. for the affluent. to contemporary texts such as Alice B. and the erotic pedagogy of Dorothy Allison’s ‘A Lesbian Appetite’. the emphasis is on combining eros and eating in ‘the right measure’. sexual activity. they echo Foucault’s description of the alimentary regimen as the principle that brings together diverse practices. the focus on touch and timing—certainly. the appeal of hunky chefs. I nonetheless come to these pleasures at an oblique angle: what are we to make of them? Certainly. dietary regimens provided guidance in terms of how to relate to particular situations and circumstances. individuals constituted themselves as healthy and moral subjects.
rendering our explorations of the senses both exhilarating and problematic. after the endless discussion of sexual desire. the domain of eating is. 1997:228). or rather sex was not seen as a separate domain. we have ample reason to stand back from sexuality. or in less tragic terms the sheer banality of sexual representation. Indeed. Pre-dating the therapeutic model that has so dominated ethical thinking and care of the self. eating and the concern for the body was. drinks. From the food-porn novels such as Linda Jaivin’s Eat Me (1995). to . 1999:94). As Foucault argued. for the Greeks. or the ‘soft porn’ musical codes that accompany Delia Smith’s patient instruction. long flavours’. For instance. reintroducing concepts of pleasure into the realm of the popular. slinky ravioli with garlic chives…a bravura show of deep. 1986:3). 1994). Concomitantly. 1986:98). The Greek valorization of pleasure rather than sex meant that the Greeks encountered no other object than that of pleasure.. foods. of much more interest than sex. pleasure is for us a ‘virgin territory’ (in Deleuze. Viewers are now accustomed to seeing Nigel Slater in ‘real food’ orgasm sucking his chocolate-covered fingers. An ‘alimentary regimen as a mode of problematisation of behaviour…was a whole art of living’ (Ibid. in part so that we can ‘dwell on that quite recent and banal notion of “sexuality”: to stand detached from it. we are witnessing an experimentation with forms of pleasure that are not first and foremost sexual. ethical behaviour was an ongoing process produced through the exact conjugation of ‘exercises. The Use of Pleasure takes us into the intricacies of the development of the regimen. representations of sexuality are often paired with food as a way of exploring different modes of sensuality. I think. or John Lancaster’s exquisite deathly food philosophy in The Debt to Pleasure (1996). Faced with the continuing spectre of HIV. It characterized the way in which one managed one’s existence’ (Foucault.6 INTRODUCTION through which human behaviour could be conceptualized. bracketing its familiarity’ (Foucault. Certainly pleasure now comes in an explosion of tastes. In this way. The problem of pleasure In our own times. At the very least. sleep and sexual relations’. as Paul Veyne argues. 1986:98). slip into a local restaurant and you may encounter ‘sheer. ‘on tissue-thin discs of cucumber with tiny nori omelettes supporting delicate tuna tartare crowned with ethereal flying fish roe rubbed with wasabi’ (Durack and Dupleix. in the attention to food and eating. the sex of the partner remained indifferent’ (Veyne. It could even be said that we live with a scarcity of pleasure.
As I’ve written elsewhere. The intricacies of power. If much of cultural theory over the last decade has revolved around sex as that which secures identity. and of the circumstances in which they were consumed (whether the seasons of the year or the particular state of the organism)—was a great deal more important than sexual activity’ (Ibid. I also argue that food and its relation to bodies is fundamentally about power: ‘linked to the mode of production of material goods. Eating is therefore decidedly not merely metaphorical. gender and power are being renegotiated. 1997). the question of food and eating provides another perspective: one that Jack Goody sums up as both the simplicity and complexity of the fact that eating is ‘a way of placing oneself in relation to others’ (Goody. These bodies may be aesthetic and controlled (as in anorexia). pleasure offers itself to be problematised. This power is obviously exercised at the macro level of economics and class (and indeed the clearest exposition of ‘glocal’ economics can be seen in agriculture). feminist. 1986:114). mouths and bodies fascinate: small scenarios such as that revealed in a wonderful ethnographic study of the power wielded amongst elderly widows in a small Australian country town as they position themselves in terms of who makes the best scones (WalkerBirckhead. In eating. but it is also palpable at individual levels. 1982:37). 1982). a refusal I share with Mary Douglas and Arjun Appadaurai... As it brings our senses to life.INTRODUCTION 7 the high-cholesterol decadence of The Two Fat Ladies. what types of bodies it produces (Probyn. Here. 1985). its textures and flavour. we need to consider what power tastes like: where it is sucked. In a situation where politics (be they queer. individuals from a range of social . the current fin de siècle craze for food seems to oddly echo Foucault’s description of ‘the question of foods—considered in terms of their peculiar qualities. or shamed and rendered abject (as in colonial regimes of power). the analysis of cooking has to be related to the distribution of power and authority in the economic sphere’ (Ibid. hungry and restrained (cannibals). Along with Goody and others. left-or right-wing) are increasingly structured by ressentiment and a hierarchy of injury (Brown. it also forefronts the viscerality of life. My argument thus seeks to draw out the tangibility of power. A concern with what might be called the micropolitics of food-lines can also be clearly heard in the interviews conducted for this book. it seems to me that the sensual nature of eating now constitutes a privileged optic through which to consider how identities and the relations between sex. 1995). My contention is that the question of how to live today can be best seen at a ‘gut’ level. excessive and disgusting (the sight of other bodies eating).
It is here that we see glimpses of the types of intermingling of bodies that suggest other ways of inhabiting the world. This is to privilege the pleasures of restraint. and the sense of timing so necessary to both sex and food. inspired by some very inventive food enthusiasts. the natural and the cultural. Against arguments that see in eating a confirmation of a predetermined identity. Recipes for rhizomes Concretely.8 INTRODUCTION backgrounds connect what they eat with quite spontaneous reflection on who and where they are. I carefully examine their rhetoric of familial citizenship and glocalised caring. at the present time. and in stretching the senses. appeals to ‘the real’ operate as a way of covering over many of the massive changes in terms of families. While there is nothing wrong per se with authenticity and nostalgia. local and global economies. Rather than condemning McDonald’s. Chapter 3 examines the current hazing of food and sex. echoing Douglas’s assertion that eating is ‘the medium through which a system of relationships…is expressed… both a social matter and part of the provision for the care of the body’ (1982: 86). I seek to follow through on the ways that sex and eating intersect. In Chapter 2 I continue this mapping. 1985:104). Through eating. this time dwelling on the confrontation staged between the global feeder. yet in their rhizomatic logic are deeply intertwined. McDonald’s. they also seem to have corporatised the logic of rhizomes. The frame of eating juxtaposes the near and the far. we may refine the ethical and political impulse that initially propelled queer uses . I consider what happens when we think about ‘bodies that eat’. the individual and the social. To laud a return to the real in terms of eating misses the mark. While of course many of McDonald’s practices are unpalatable. what Foucault calls ‘that obscure desire…to become other than oneself (Foucault. In Chapter 1. Moving away from much of the literature that sees in eating a confirmation of identity. whereby eating and caring are rendered inextricably linked. much of the mainstream debate on eating signals a nostalgic return to authenticity. food and eating continually branch into areas that may at first seem unconnected. the point is to focus on the different forms of alimentary assemblages. As I have intimated. and the activists in the McLibel trial. I propose that in eating we lose ourselves in a wild morphing of the animate and the inanimate. the touch and feel of each element. the sites that I study bring into focus a number of issues. In the spirit of ‘what’s eating us?’. Beyond a simple celebration of gastroporn. gender and sexual orders.
poverty. geopolitical location. Conrad allows us to appreciate again the full power of hunger as the limit that divides the civilised (the cannibal) from the inhuman (the commodity traders). makes these categories matter again: it roots actual bodies within these relations. I suggest. Eating. Molly Nungarrayi. sexuality. the long racist history behind the circulation of the figure of the cannibal reminds the West of our implication in colonial regimes. wealth. it also may enable modes of cultural analysis that are attentive to the categories with which we are now perhaps overly familiar: sex. ethnicity. class and gender. in Australia. my argument is that eating sends us off in unexpected directions and orders alternative connections. gender. ethnicity. in Chapter 6 I examine the effectiveness of eating shame and disgust as a way of revitalising the politics of bodies. In one of the classic texts on colonial appetite. This is centrally to do with worries about the finitude of consumer appetites within a context of the excess of commodity culture. how. I argue that the widespread tendency of queer-inspired politics has been to render shame abject. Following Locke’s arguments about the necessity of ‘labouring the land’. and with whom we eat .INTRODUCTION 9 of sexuality. we really are what we eat. As eating reactivates the force of identities. we have recently witnessed within business circles a concern about the cannibalisation of markets. However. In this way. history. In Chapter 5 I examine the ways in which food has been used in Australia and other white-settler nations as a mode of power and control. 1995:94). but equally what. I am primarily interested in two facets of cannibalism that dovetail. puts it. Looking at the disgust engendered by the anorexic body. and class. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902/1983) uses the cannibal to represent the figure of restraint and civility. On the other hand. As an Indigenous elder. If this history bequeaths a mantle of shame. in contrast to the ravenous colonial traders. and indeed humanity. I also examine closely the workings of fat pride. by bringing the dynamics of shame and disgust into prominence we are forced to envision a more visceral and powerful corporeal politics. Eating then becomes a visceral reminder of how we variously inhabit the axes of economics. On the one hand. In Chapter 4 I follow through on the most obvious link between food and sex: the literal eating of the other that cannibalism represents. intimate relations. Following Douglas’s claim that ‘we simply do not know the uses of food’ (1982:124). ‘white men are hungry men’ (in Vaarzon-Morel. whites constructed influential images of ‘eating in black and white’: images of what and how the Indigenous eat are then the enduring basis for the impasse that reverberates between white and black Australians.
a luxury and a necessity. as it simultaneously brings us together in permutations of commensality. yet. As Bourdieu so famously argues. boring and stimulating. In the end. eating demonstrates our taste for change. . The overriding point is that eating is both pleasurable and painful. I move from an examination of what lurks behind the current celebration of eating and food to considerations of some of the more sinister thematics that arise in eating. solitary and needy. contra Bourdieu. it is the ways in which eating reveals us at our most vulnerable.10 INTRODUCTION radically bites into any stable and molar formation of identity. we are our tastes. hungry. As the synopsis of the chapters suggests.
by which I mean that the areas and examples I study cannot be overdetermined by a sole axis of investigation. disgust. staked out by influential authors concerned with proper anthropological. greed. by and large. appetites. They have left a legacy of truisms. Bombarded by critiques of identity politics. historical and sociological questions. sex. any cultural critic still interested in why and how individuals fabricate themselves must either cringe before accusations of sociological dogooding (and defend the importance of the categories of race. through the optic of eating and its associated qualities: hunger.1 BODIES THAT EAT Do we eat what we are. The momentum of my investigation is carried by a weak wager. interrogating identity through this angle brings its own load of assumptions and preconceptions. They are.? While the connections suggested by eating are diverse and illuminating. attracted to food for its role in securing social categories and classifications. or face the endless clichés that seemingly support the investigation of identity. gender and so forth). One of the more onerous aspects of ‘writing about eating’ is the weight of previous studies. do we confirm our identities. I want to shift slightly the terms of current debates about identity and subjectivity. class. etc. or are our identities reforged. It must be said that the question of identity and subjectivity has been so well trodden in the last few decades that the possibility of any virgin territory is slim. such as Lévi-Strauss’s oft-stated maxim that food is good to think with1 (Lévi-Strauss. shame. pleasure. ‘tell me . classes. The field of food is a well-traversed one. in eating. 1966). genders and ethnicities. and refracted by what and how we eat? In posing these questions. or Brillat-Savarin’s aphorism. or are we what we eat? Do we eat or are we eaten? In less cryptic terms. and suggest that the question of what we are is a constantly morphing one that mixes up bodies. My point of departure is basic: what if we were to think about identities in another dimension.
As we all live with and through these changes on a daily basis. to the worries about genetically altered food and horror food—mad cows. eating is seen as immediate—it is something we all have to do. and the changes in the gender and sexual order. it seems that there is a popular acceptance of the fact that identities are henceforth difficult. From the pictures of starving children staring from magazine pages. At a broad level. and it is a powerful mode of mediation—it joins us with others. where ‘users are met by a map of the world and every 3. a country flashes black signifying a death due to hunger’ (www.6 seconds. Increasingly the attention to what we eat is seen as immediately connecting us. As the site explains. What. re-formations of family.com. as the last bastion of authenticity in our lives. this can be as diffuse as the winds that spread genetically modified seed stock from one region to another. that we all eat. that we increasingly eat out and through drive-in fast food outlets (in the USA. Indeed.thehungersite. and our feelings are then galvanised into painless action. our bodies. and so on. and in the terms that guide this book. buffeted by the winds of postmodernism that have permeated public debates. Here eating is the subject of a double articulation: the recognition of hunger is presumed to be a fundamental capacity of individuals. In turn. From the image that has long haunted children told to ‘eat up everything on your plate because little children are starving in Africa’. 50 per cent of the food budget is spent on eating outside the home). theoretically and in terms of popular understandings. sick chickens. Each time a user clicks on the ‘hunger’ button. ‘Our sponsors pay for the donations as a form . 1825/1970: 13).12 BODIES THAT EAT what you eat: I will tell you what you are’ (Brillat-Savarin. Or it can be individually experienced in terms of the guilty knowledge that others are starving as we eat. to large social questions. unhinged by massive changes to modes of employment and the economy. To put it another way. exemplified in the Hunger Site. accessed 28 September 1999). we now progress to the spectre of hunger that is broadcast by the Internet. These can be grouped primarily around the notion that food is fundamental. eating continually performs different connections and disconnections. temporary. From family worries to environmental concern. scientific idioms meet up with the buzzing clichés that hover about food. to more evolved forms of vegetarianism and other ethical forms of eating. one of the sponsors donates a cup and a half of food. square tomatoes. food reminds us of others. fragmented. it is no wonder that food and eating has been popularly reclaimed as a ‘fundamental’ issue. how and where we eat has emerged as a site of considerable social concern: from the fact that most do not eat en famille.
in our supermarkets. which is to say that it is understood as immediate. that it is a basic human feeling. products that previously would have been the foodstuff of the élite. to the regions and nations in which they live.2 Eating continually interweaves individual needs. and bad (disrupting ‘the subtle connection between climate. In terms of what we can now eat.. does clearly undermine a close material relationship between the provenance of food and locality’ (Tomlinson. new opportunities and new risks.’ Here. ‘globalization. to products. the logic is that hunger is visceral. Of course the interlocking of the global and the local has been the subject of much debate over the last decade. 1999:128) . national culture become weakened’ (Ibid. say. John Tomlinson uses ‘global food and local identity’ as a site through which to problematise these terms. That advertising companies know that appeals to hunger can also be a profitable form of mediation. It is clear that changes in food-processing and transportation technologies have altered our sense of connection to the near and the far. Tomlinson points out that ‘the very cultural stereotypes that identify food with. desires and aspirations within global economies of identities. 1999:123). is but one example of how eating connects us in complex ways to other people. in his recent book on globalisation. These institutional and technological changes rework the connections that individuals have to their ‘local’. and in this case altruism (the site has been called ‘the altruistic mouse’). 1999:124). As Tomlinson argues.. from its early impact. expansion of cultural horizons and increased perceptions of vulnerability.BODIES THAT EAT 13 of advertising and public relations. As he further states. (Ibid. allowing us to routinely find. locality and cultural practice’). Dispersing the whiff of moralism that accompanies so much writing about globalisation and food. transforming ‘humans’ into consumers. the effects have been good (availability and variety). Tomlinson argues that these changes to how we eat are not typically experienced as simply cultural loss or estrangement but as a complex and ambiguous blend: of familiarity and difference. season. access to the ‘world out there’ accompanied by penetration of our own private worlds. to new formulations of identity. and that it connects us in an elemental way to other humans. For instance.
the gut levels revealed by that most boring and fascinating of topics: food and eating. . in the interviews that underpin this project. In this vein. I want to plunder the visceral. common expressions of individuals’ profound relations to eating. a visceral reaction to who and what we are becoming? In mining eating and its qualities. and the ways in which that immediacy is communicated. To take the most basic of facts: food goes in. I want to use eating and its associations in order to think about how this most ordinary of activities can be used to help us reflect on how we are connected to others. that basic ingestion forces us to think of our bodies as complex assemblages connected to a wide range of other assemblages. To see how they taste?’ (Jenkins. I think. In this quest to think through eating and culture. from ourselves. mediated and can be put to use in thinking about culture. the inner organs. For instance. playful or pleasurable articulations of identity. what if we were to go ‘into things tongue first. Comments such as ‘I eat it before it eats me’. 1999:5). ‘a guy thing stopped me from becoming a vego’. the diverse nature of where and how different parts of our selves attach to different aspects of the social comes to the fore and becomes the stuff of reflection. and every time this happens our bodies are affected. and can reveal new ways of thinking about those relations. the adjective ‘visceral’ returns again and again: ‘of the viscera’. I want to think about what bodies are and do when they eat. it comes out of the body. the painful. broken down. To take up the terms with which I started. In eating.14 BODIES THAT EAT In terms of my own argument. eating both confirms what and who we are. food het. to put it more strongly. to ourselves and to others. food tosser. are all. In turn. While in the usual course of things we may not dwell upon this process. might we glimpse gut reactions to the histories and present of the cultures within which we live? As Emily Jenkins asks. food wozzies (white Australians with ‘wog’ tastes). I’d argue that eating is of interest because of the ways in which it can be a mundane exposition of the visceral nature of our connectedness and distance from each other. and to large and small social issues. his attention to the increased sense of vulnerability is particularly important. and then. or the feeling of being schizophrenic when it comes to food politics. Indeed. and from our social environment: it throws into relief the heartfelt. some of the terms that have emerged to name alimentary subjectivities are: food wanker. In this sense. This is to attend to the immediacy of eating. Could something as common as eating contain the seeds of an extraordinary reflection.
But that already sounds impossibly abstracted from the minute instances I have in mind. (Gatens and Lloyd.3 Most often. as it were. As Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd argue in terms of this idea: Each body exists in relations of interdependence with other bodies and these relations form a ‘world’ in which individuals of all kinds exchange their constitutive parts—leading to the enrichment of some and the demise of others (e. I dutifully munch on fortified cereal that provides large amounts of folate should I be pregnant. Consequently. But rather than taking the body as known. In the act of ingestion. we can turn such hypotheses on their heads. 1999:101) I am particularly interested in how individuals replay equations between eating and identity. eating involves the destruction of one body at the same time as it involves the enhancement of the other). From the lofty heights of theoretical argument. to order stable identities. . in fact we ingest them. it becomes harder to capture the body within categories. The most basic fact of eating reveals some of the strangeness of the body’s workings. I am assured that I will even lose weight by eating breakfast.g. I search out soy.BODIES THAT EAT 15 Of course we eat according to social rules. the ads proclaim. It’s all a bit much first thing in the morning when the promise of a long life seems like a threat. I begin to note petty details. especially with the addition of bananas. I follow the injunction to lead. In this vein. following the line of masculinity inwards. ‘Feed the man meat’. will stave off depression. like the fact of recently discovering breakfast. Spurred on by articles sprinkled with dire warnings about what happens to women in Western societies. linseed and other ingredients that will help me mimic the high phyto-oestrogen diet of Japanese women. strict divisions get blurred. This then forcefully reminds us that we still do not know what a body is capable of —to take up a refrain that has a long heritage (from Spinoza to Deleuze to feminist investigations of the body). Eating cereal. Washed down with yoghurt ‘enhanced’ with acidophilus and bifidus to give me ‘friendly’ bacteria that will fight against nasty Heliobacter pylori. From a diet of coffee (now with a milk called ‘Life’) and cigarettes. with the stomach. I am told. while others draw a line outwards from biology and femininity into ‘Eat lean beef’. as already and always ordered in advance by what and how it eats. the body that eats has been theorised in ways that seek to draw out the sociological equations about who we are in terms of class and gender.
But. 1977:34). a long history to the web of nutritional messages that now surrounds us. [we] might just live forever’ (Sydney Morning Herald. As the new battleground for extended enhanced life. it is an area of conversation reserved for our intimates. However. While the term has tended to be used rather . ‘to eat. we tend not to publicly air the fact that we all operate as ‘mouth machines’—to use Noëlle Châtelet’s term (Châtelet. To sanitise it further. complexity. Sue Thompson. There is. Gut-level intimacy indeed. a consultant dietitian. A more acerbic take on this lampoons the notion ‘that by eating tasteless gruel and exercising like maniacs. and the ways it brings together the physical fact of what goes in. eating is intimate. the terms of the contract between me and the cereal makers are thin: that such and such is ‘believed to be beneficial’. on top of.16 BODIES THAT EAT The myriad of printed promises of the intricate world of alimentary programming serve as an interesting counterpoint to the straightforward statements on cigarette packages—‘Smoking kills’ versus the weak promises that eating so much of such and such a cereal ‘is a good source of soy phytoestrogens (isoflavones) that are believed to be very beneficial’. and the symbolic production of what comes out: meanings. 1997). 1997) is just too much. the idea was that food was bad for you. In her potted teleology of food messages. is to connect…the mouth and the anus’ (Ibid. eating takes on fortified meaning. 20 September 1999). but the idea of discussing the ways in which you ‘are reducing the bacterial toxins produced from small bowel overgrowth’ (Thompson. To be blunt about it. 1986:64). ‘It became a time of “Don’t eat” and “bad foods”. ideas. Apart from the unpronounceable ingredients (do you really want to eat something that you can’t say?). with good reason. Awed by the enthusiasm. Stuart Hall’s now classic definition states that ‘Articulation refers to the complex set of historical practices by which we struggle to produce identity or structural unity out of. Then in the 1970s and 1980s. I want to think of the mouth machine as a metonym for the operations of a term that has been central to cultural studies: ‘articulation’. We would.’ Now. ‘we are moving into a time of appreciating the health benefits of food’ (Thompson. I am also somewhat shocked by the intimacy of detail. I can handle descriptions of sex. 1977:34). normally in terms of presumed anorexia. writes that in the 1960s. So let us stay for the moment at the level of the mouth machine.. the slogan was ‘you are what you eat’. happily. strangely enough. of course. difference. except for the effusive health gurus and the gossip about the eating habits of celebrities. rather not think about this. In her words. statements. contradiction’ (in Grossberg.
1992:54). Grossberg elaborates on the term. sympathies and antipathies. they come into their own when paired with eating. we eat into culture. in mundane ways we also shift the lines that connect what we eat with who we are. spreads its shoots outwards. a rhizome is a wonderful entity: it is a type of plant. The mouth machine takes in.. While in some cases there is a direct equation between eating and being. In real and theoretical ways. Basically it refers to how individuals relate themselves to their social contexts and histories. the rhizome allows us to think about other types of connection. penetrations and expansions that affect bodies of all kinds in their relations with one another’ (Deleuze and Guattari. of unities out of fragments. continually oscillating between primary. we consume and ingest our identities. Rather than simply confirming who we are. This then reveals a view of the subject as a fluctuating entity. simultaneously. Elsewhere. the products of the integration of past practices and structures. bridge and connect ourselves to practices and contexts in ways that are new to us. such as a potato plant or an orchid. We are then ‘articulated’ subjects. eating conjoins us in a network of the edible and inedible. an agent who is both “subject-ed” by power and capable of acting against power’ (Ibid. alterations. new identities for ourselves. disconnecting and reconnecting with different aspects of individual and social life. In other terms. instead of having tap roots. Used as a figure to map out social relations. In Deleuze and Guattari’s terms. arguing that ‘Articulation is the production of identity on top of difference. the animate and the inanimate.BODIES THAT EAT 17 indiscriminately—theorists wildly ‘articulate’ this or that—its precise terms are useful. this offers ‘a nonessentialist theory of agency…a fragmented. as. nor overdetermined. of structures across practices’ (Ibid. While we are all in some sense the repositories of past practices. we are also always ‘articulating’ subjects: through our enactment of practices we reforge new meanings. this reveals ‘a precise state of intermingling of bodies in a society. the individual is constantly connecting. where new roots can sprout off old. we continually shuttle between practices and meanings that are already constituted and ‘the real conditions’ in which we find ourselves. decentered human agent. 1986:65). As Lawrence Grossberg argues. through our actions we ‘articulate’. If these terms of analysis have in some ways been the staple of cultural studies. but it also spits out. natural and necessary acts. 1988:90). amalgamations. including all the attractions and repulsions. As individuals. neither totally voluntaristic. Grossberg joins the theory of articulation to Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of rhizomes. the human and non-human. In these actions. Beyond the . that..
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arboreal, tap-root logic of, say, the family tree, which ties me in lineage to my forefathers, the rhizome spreads laterally and horizontally: as Deleuze puts it, the rhizome is anti-genealogical, ‘it always has multiple entryways’ compelling us to think of how we are connected diversely, to obvious and sometimes not so obvious entities (Deleuze, 1993a:35). For Grossberg, the appeal of joining a theory of articulation with one inspired by rhizomes is that it combines the ‘vertical complexity’ of culture and context with the ‘wild realism’ of the horizontal possibilities that connect us outward. To use another metaphor dear to Deleuze and Guattari, this is to think about the ‘lines of flight’ that break open some seemingly closed structures, including those we call our selves: ‘lines of flight disarticulate, open up the assemblage to its exterior, cutting across and dismantling unity, identity, centers and hierarchies’ (in Grossberg, 1992:58). In this way, bodies are assemblages: bits of past and present practice, openings, attachments to parts of the social, closings and aversion to other parts. The tongue, as it ventures out to taste something new, may bring back fond memories, or it may cause us to recoil in disgust. As Jenkins writes, this produces a fascinating ‘contradiction—how the body is both a prison and a vehicle for adventure’ (Jenkins, 1999: 4). It highlights the fact that the ‘body is not the same from day to day. Not even from minute to minute… Sometimes it seems like home, sometimes more like a cheap motel near Pittsburgh’ (Ibid., 1999:7). As we ingest, we mutate, we expand and contract, we change—sometimes subtly, sometimes violently. The openings and closings of our bodies constantly rearrange our dealings with others. As Jenkins writes, the body’s ‘distortions, anxieties, ecstasies and discomforts all influence a person’s interaction with the people who service it’ (Ibid., 1999:4). In more theoretical terms, this produces the body as ‘an articulated plane whose organization defines its own relations of power and sites of struggle’, which ‘points to the existence of another politics, a politics of feeling’ (Grossberg, 1986:72). As a politics of feeding, it is clear that food and eating is as much marked by pleasure as it is by power; in fact, it gestures to the pleasure of control, the desire revealed in constraint. These theoretical considerations begin to illuminate the interest and the complexity of bodies that eat. The mouth machine registers experiences, and then articulates them—utters them. In eating, we may munch into whole chains of previously established connotations, just as we may disrupt them. For instance, an email arrives, leaving traces of its rhizomatic passage zapping from one part of the world to another, and then to me. Unsolicited, it sets out a statement from a Dr Johannes
BODIES THAT EAT 19
Van Vugt in San Francisco, who on 11 October 1999, National Coming Out Day in the USA, began an ongoing ‘Fast for Equal Rights for persons who are gay, lesbian and other sexual orientation minorities’. Yoking his fast with the teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Dr Van Vugt says he is fasting to ‘call on you to choose love, not fear, and to do something about it’. The email also reveals that he previously fasted ‘to raise awareness and funds for African famine relief for which he received a Congressional commendation’. While personally I don’t give much for his chances of getting a second commendation, this is an example of how the mouth machine, while closed, still operates to articulate identities and politics to wildly diverging sites. While there is something of an arboreal logic to fasting for awareness of famine, the connection between not eating and anti-homophobic politics is decidedly rhizomatic. Whether or not it succeeds in its aim—and one of the tenets of a rhizomatic logic is that the points of connection cannot be guaranteed in advance—it joins the mouth with sex with mouths that regurgitate homophobic statements. There is then a sort of ‘wild realism’ at work here that, through (non)-eating endeavours, attempts to set up new assemblages of bodies, mouths and politics. From fasting to writing, what of the body that writes of the body that eats? In Grossberg’s argument, the move to a rhizomatic field of analysis promises to return cultural theory to a consideration of ‘the real’. He argues that such a theory must be ‘concerned with particular configurations of practices, how they produce effects and how such effects are organized and deployed’ (Grossberg, 1992:45). However, it is crucial to remember that these practices do not exist in a pure state in culture, divorced from their representations or those of the body that analyses them. The type of ‘wild realism’ that Grossberg calls for, as in Deleuze’s ‘new empiricism’, is both a way of seeing the world, and offers it anew, illuminating in other ways its structures and individuals’ interaction with them. Following the line of the rhizome means that we must ‘forcibly work both on semiotic flows, material flows, and social flows’. Guattari goes on to argue that there is no tripartition between a field of reality, the world, a field of representation, the book, and a field of subjectivity, the author. But an arrangement places in connection certain multi-plicities taken from each of these orders. (Guattari, in Grossberg, 1992:48)
20 BODIES THAT EAT
In terms of this body that writes of bodies that eat, this project h caused me to reassess the arrangements of subjectivities, representations and realities, including my own. For instance, my early experience of anorexia left hard-wired lessons about the importance of eating and food, and the immense power that food, eating and non-eating can wield. I have found that asking people to talk about their eating habits leads into the most intimate of subjects. The seemingly innocuous question ‘what did you have for dinner last night?’ can inaugurate reflections on domestic arrangements, requiring individuals to articulate how they feel about themselves and others. While in terms of sex we are now used to the supposedly private being aired in public, the general tenor of popular representations of eating still tends to privilege the safe terrain of the non-intimate: ingredients and recipes, or the tragic and pathologised: reports on anorexia, or weight-loss programmes. But listen carefully to the new generation of television chefs, and one will hear them tiptoeing along a fine line that threatens to collapse into terrifying public intimacy. The way in which, for instance, the British food personality Nigel Slater is often shown alone at the end of his programme shovelling down his food, gestures to the fact that at the end of the day we are alone, and that eating is still that most radically solitary and subjective of acts. The mouth machine is central to the articulation of different orders that go beyond the division of public and private: the tongue sticks out, draws in food, objects and people. In eating we constantly take in and spit out things, people and selves. In what follows, I sketch out different ways—theoretical and popular —of thinking about the orders that are rearranged through food and eating. The use of ‘order’ deliberately recalls Foucault’s The Order of Things (1973). In a much more modest manner than the scope of that book, I seek to consider the ways that ‘Frontiers are redrawn and things usually far apart are brought closer, and vice versa’ (Foucault, 1973:x). I have always loved the way in which Foucault begins The Order of Things. At the outset of an argument that will change how we think about the orders of knowledge and experience, we hear Foucault’s laughter: This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought’ (Foucault, 1973:xv). He is referring to Borges’s citation of ‘a certain Chinese encyclopedia’ that divides animals into wonderful categories: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the
may also slightly disturb the geography of our syntax. and ‘eating-idols. Some of Borges’s playfulness can be found in a wonderfully inventive book called Funk Food Generation: esskultur/00 (‘eatingculture 00’). For instance. (i) frenzied. that combines wild realism with corporate sponsorship: the book was produced through funding by corporations. cut-outs. to divide them into classes. The writers in the book are centrally concerned with reworking the categories through which and by which we eat. but don’t seem improbable. Here. (Ibid. (j) innumerable. Here food and eating form a new fertile ground zero that feeds creative possibilities. The subtitle refers both to the notion of eating as ground zero.BODIES THAT EAT 21 present classification. (n) that from a long way off look like flies. 1973:xv) As Foucault says of this description. David Bosshart (1998) separates ‘the baby boomers” search for ‘real reality’ (der wirklichen wirklichkeit) from ‘the . stuck on brand labels and holograms.. a sort of wild collage of Polaroid photos of drunken parties. to group them according to names that signify their similarities and differences’ (Ibid. and many of their predictions for the ‘menu of the 21st century’ have already come true. and reportage of eating experiences around the world in a mixture of languages. it forces us to question ‘what is it impossible to think. and prepares us for how food and eating may quotidianly inform us in the new millennium. websites. (1) et cetera. 1973:xvii). and what kind of impossibility are we faced with here?’ In a much less spectacular way. and Compaq computers. eating and food are the ways in which we perform identities and produce realities. (m) having just broken the water pitcher. Funk Food Generation combines what the writers call ‘instant photography’. including the largest Swiss food retailer. It is a nice example of an argument about eating that absolutely refuses the dichotomy of authentic and unauthentic. ‘cooking as hobby: the new popular sport of intellectuals’ self-realisation in the kitchen’. It is also an example of the twenty-first-century cottage industry of eating and writing. Migros. (k) drawn with a very fine camel hair brush. and strange food categories.. As a replay of Deleuze and Guattari’s figuration of the network within which a book is constituted. I nonetheless hope that a consideration of bodies that eat. to put them in order. for instance the idea that ‘by 2003 Nestlé will have bought the world rights to drinking water’. the new pop stars of tomorrow’. with strange recipes. break up the ‘tabula that enables thought to operate upon the entities of our world. Some have yet to happen.
and second. Sloan was thinking of automobiles. In clear distinction from the search for the really real that food writers now hype. drink food. ‘the variations and style are seemingly endless. but the idea has caught on with food (Bonnano et al. consolation food. but in 1971 it was a major breakthrough. sweat suit food. DNA food. dry food. and ‘hyperfake’ (which is ‘so bogus that it threatens the idea of the real’) (Bosshart. this may seem obvious now.22 BODIES THAT EAT kids’’ (Gen-Xers’) love of the ‘fake-factor’. we also find wellness food. sections celebrate high points in alimentary innovation. Funk Food Generation takes the play of alimentary identities seriously. media food. bio food. It was also a brilliant move in the ‘sloanisation’ of food. fake breaks down into the subcategories of ‘real fake’ (‘the classical fakeness of Elvis c.’ The brainchild of Cello Rohr. Most appealingly.. speaks to everyone—hunger as a state of mind. religion food. these funk foodists challenge the solemnity that food is acquiring in the sphere of popular culture. hunger as an existential condition’ (Ibid. they find the universal statement of the twenty-first century in the idea of Nissin noodles: ‘just add water’. Just don’t forget to add the water. As categories such as ‘romance’ or ‘consolation’ food redistribute affects and emotions on to what we eat. atomic food. trash food. tailored by continent and region’. Next to the breathless sincerity of statements about the ‘fundamental’ nature of food. romance food. prolo food. they deadpan that ‘in the funk food era. In homage to great culinary inventions. Zapping from Zürich to Tokyo. a Gen-X chef. 1998: np).’ As the writers remind us. 1998: np). Be hungry. they invent new slices of identity. there is a . non-food. 1970’). ‘fake fake’ (or ‘the merely bogus’ evidenced in ‘The Flying Elvises’). 1994). trend food. sloanisation refers to the idea that all we need are four basic models that can then be accessorised endlessly. digital food. Nissin’s slogan is direct: ‘be hungry’. figuring out how to dehydrate noodles in 1958 (allowing you to “recook” the noodles in under three minutes). These include: gender food. For Bosshart. techno food. brand food. brilliantly combining the package and the dish in the form of a styrofoam cup. which they say ‘is even better. ‘Hungry? Good. colour food.. In the extended list of 58 categories. 1998: np). With appropriate awe. restaurant owner and graphic media artist. Bosshart focuses on the new hyperfake food categories. virtual food. they recount the history of the instant noodle: ‘first. swimsuit food.. Hyperfake finds its apogee in food. For instance. we are never nostalgic for reality…we’ll eat our plastic with our organic but why the hell not?’ (Ibid. snob food. In terms of noodles. Named for Alfred Sloan.
Another sings the praises of Philadelphia Cream Cheese™ and memorialises the moment when in 1872 Mr Lawrence ‘gave birth to industrial cheese’. Frank Mort strongly argued that ‘the cultures of consumption are the point where the market meets popular experience and lifestyles of the ground’ (Mort. appetite. 10 Ritz Crackers™. socialist politics were ‘amazingly quick to expose the cultural politics of the 80’s as sham and sell-out’ (Ibid. As an example. In a spectacular way. non-human and human into the realm of the obvious. distinctions between eater and eaten. As we can see. Mort’s argument intervened in the then rather predictable ‘left’ debate about consumerism and identity: in Mort’s words. Reworking and playing with ‘branded’ food.BODIES THAT EAT 23 festschrift to ketchup. which proudly carries the registered trade mark for Tabasco™ sauce. Funk Food concocts identities as gleaming surfaces of stomach. funk foodists point to interesting new twists on consumer identity. Alimentary identities . the video game Super Mario™ meets Miracle Whip™ in a shrimp salad that imports the logic of the game into food preparation: the salad proceeds through seven levels of complication. screen and body. high and low culture. the sort of bodymachinations produced by PlayStation™ and video games. olive oil. The recipe is a simple number: pork medallions. of course. including those that intone that there is no truth. eating and being become mutually interrogating categories. subject and object. 1988:223). or ‘cold cooked lemon beef slices’. the writers in Funk Food offer up a more interesting view of the body. lots of ketchup. Here.. They glory in promoting cross fertilisations between supposedly unconnected objects. The moralism that saturates the usual élitist discussion of junk food versus good food is displaced. are blurred. but instead of founding an ontological truth. and. and the ingestion of identities. what we are is resolutely un-nostalgic for any of the great truths of our times. not in small part by the care evident in the recipes. starring a recipe for ‘American fish cordon bleu’ that combines mozzarella. Doc Martens™). olive oil and Phillie. an egg. 1988:215. The writers push arguments about the cyborg meeting of techno. In Funk Food. a topic that has preoccupied cultural studies for the last decade. We eat what we are. mouths and local ingenuity. The pretensions of ‘mod cuisine’ are parodied and shifted in recipes for ‘Coca-Cola rum jelly with lemon sauce’. In his study of the marketing of masculine identities in the 1980s (Levi 501s™. brand-label food is central here. Top Man. In shifting the focus from clothing to food. italics in original). multinational capital. This reworks the preparation of food as a kinetic interaction. Brylcreem™. jamòn de serrano.
the logics of PlayStation™ and computer games. you get hungry…but after a while the hunger disappears. as well as other strange food sites that pop up like mushrooms in a damp room. In fact. Describing the unreal experience of g(r)azing upon Japanese plastic simulacra of food in Kappabashi in Tokyo. they cite the fact that ‘certainly when you eat a chicken McNugget. ‘are you ready to eat? Your food is. Another clever trick is to put your cigarette out in your half-eaten dessert. Two Fat Ladies also begs to be read and used as ironic fodder in the analysis of emergent alimentary subjectivities. putting an end to picking (Vogue UK. I want to mine their insights. they compel us to look not downwards into the body for a kernel of truth. you’re consuming the TV ad.. But ‘what does it mean?’ The funk food gang quickly decide that ‘only a middle-aged French philosopher would get too excited [about simulacra food]…only someone without a sense of irony’. but the elements that compose and de-compose them are brand labels. ‘cooking is a contact sport’ (Ibid.’ . of who is eating whom: ‘Hungry? Your food is. ‘the cliché is that the difference between plastic food and real food may not be such a big one’. they wonder at the way in which ‘first. As I discuss in Chapter 3. exemplified the fact that as the funk foodists put it. you forget what hunger feels like’ (Ibid. in a very different manner. The body here becomes a morphing entity in which all of these and more mutate.. but rather to skate across the surface of the alimentary. And what to make of a recent Vogue article about a new diet that entails ‘spoiling food’? The idea is to douse whatever you like to eat in massive amounts of Tabasco. or does it point to food’s agentic qualities? There is here a complete blurring of who is in control and who is controlled. the poster and the packaging as much as you are actually eating chicken’ (Funk Food Generation. The funk foodists’ reply to this state of affairs is. 1998: np). 1998: np). You begin to feel empty. now sadly reduced to the singular. the mixture of childhood foods and grown-up vices. January 1999). 1998: np). As an antidote to some of the saccharined statements about food that are now common.24 BODIES THAT EAT are elementary. As an example. thus ensuring that you won’t be tempted. The ladies. These intrepid food thinkers inspire us to go beyond the question of ‘what does it mean?’. As they say. Does this betray a total lack of control and agency on the part of the eater.’ This figuration lends new meanings to consumption as ingestion and incorporation.
and in general. and bizarre eating habits. a fad of the old. the past of food is as elastic as the past of any style.. Bangers and mash. In his study of ‘the new sincerity’. Sydney Morning Herald. casseroles and roasts. But the old still has to be hyped as new. and bread-and-butter pudding) was a celebration of nursery food. This new fad is posed as a fad against faddism. Italian or even British like shepherd’s pie are the result of fusion’ (Ibid. The 1980s notion of comfort food (the expensive bowls of mashed potatoes and melted cheese. Authenticity’. cookbooks and television shows now emphasise the fundamental nature of food. the primordial nature of food (‘we all eat’). . The taste of nostalgia is obviously powerful. and the onslaught against tradition supposedly heralded by ‘fusion’ food. Food. the reality of fundamental changes in the production of food is detailed. Jim Collins argues that sincerity as a mood seeks solutions to post-modern woes and yearns after ‘a recoverable purity in an impossible past’ (Collins. or especially. social harmony (as in Jill Dupleix’s argument. Ripe regales with apoplectic statements from British food writers railing against ‘gastronomically dyslexic’ food: ‘Rim food makes me want to reach for the Toilet Duck’. 1999:78). even. in an explicit yearning for yesterday. Ripe Enough (1999). on the one hand. provide fodder for alimentary conservatism. much theoretical and media portrayal of eating tends to cluster around the poles of. As Ripe calmly points out. as is the reactionary nature of the ‘new traditionalism’. will do more than merely provide comfort. 1999:78). Of course. this necessitates a constant reinvention of the past. The category of ‘real food’ is given extra weight by the worries about genetically reworked food.BODIES THAT EAT 25 Sincere food In contrast to the wit of the funk food writers. Now ‘childhood’ food has become a food genre rather than a passing whim. good relations with your children. Countless articles. and in the heated-up recycling of food fashion. as in Dupleix’s new Old Food (1998). and the revival of 1970s bell-bottoms and platform shoes is accompanied by the return of shrimp cocktails and steak diane. In her chapter on ‘Fusion v. the role of food in securing systems of strict social classification. This new ‘food sincerity’ dwells on the supposedly simple pleasures of cooking. we are now told. 1992:149). In material terms. 9 February 1999). and on the other. sticky date or rice puddings. it is the fuel and fodder of happy marriages. In Cherry Ripe’s insightful book. ‘we stay together for the sake of our stomachs’. says one unnamed critic (Ripe. ‘in Europe many of the dishes that we now think of as quintessentially French.
‘Someone should point out to those British pundits that it is not innovative chefs who are gastronomically incorrect. for instance. where a sleight of hand produced Mod Brit from the kitchens of Mod Oz and Kiwi chefs (such as Peter Gordon of the Sugar Club). where he argues with force that ‘Well before food is a cultural indicator. authentic mode. ‘jingoism has become an unwelcome intruder in the normally apolitical domain of the kitchen’ (Ibid. for instance. In these ways and others. worries about the excesses of post-colonial food are evident. In clear terms. 1999:80). It is. which he sees as . more worrisome to find the same trends in the field of food sociology. it is physical nourishment’4 (1998: 4). Sticky categories These food debates hint at large and hard questions about just who we think we are. 1999: 82). the appeal to food’s authenticity is not as innocent as it might first appear. the rescue of the cook is as much about establishing the boundaries of the proper investigation of food. and chili are all imports from the New World doesn’t stop the food conservatives from demanding a return to ‘authentic’ cuisine. As Ripe puts it. postcolonialism and even post-feminism. In France. food writers by and large serve up static social categories and fairly fixed ideas about social relations. In Britain. be heard in Michael Symons’s account of cooks and cooking. 1999:83). It soon becomes clear that in Symons’s book. post-industrialism. however. He argues that Treating food as communication tends to reduce cooks to panderers’. the tirade against anything not ‘traditionally French’ supported Jean-Marie Le Pen’s racist campaign to defend the superiority of the French model of civilisation over ‘that of those tribes which are trying to colonise us’ (cited in Ripe. A move to re-establish a new culinary fundamentalism can. corn. where the establishment of the proper way to study food meets with a certain reification of food as a proper sociological object. The battle against fusion is unfortunately not as harmless as a quarrel amongst chefs and foodies might appear. As Ripe pithily puts it. It is they who are historically challenged’ (Ibid. The ‘authentic’ is placed against the apparently artificial and non-indigenous formations of identity...26 BODIES THAT EAT That potatoes. and tradition conjures up images of the little housewife preparing the family roast. as it is a social history of the role of the cook. food is represented as a respite from the realities of postmodernism. The Pudding That Took A Thousand Chefs (1998). tomatoes. In its sincere. blissfully unaware that the family itself has undergone major changes.
by seeking in the structure of the social classes the bias of the systems of classification which structure perception of the social world’ (Ibid. since taste is the basis of all that one has—people and things—and all that one is for others. The survey results reveal differences across occupation in types of food consumed: it is now well recognised that the further one moves up the economic scale. dried vegetables and fatty . Distinction (1979/1984). From his survey of over 1000 French individuals. Bourdieu’s opus. and it classifies the classifier’ (Ibid. In part because of its interdisciplinary immensity. then Simmel. Harris. Symons follows a long trend in defending the contours of food as a sociological object.BODIES THAT EAT 27 part of the ‘category of put-down [operated] under the banner of sophisticated social and cultural studies’ (1998:101). Douglas. Stephen Mennell. the lower the consumption of bread. Anne Murcott and Anneke van Otterloo rehearse the field: if Marx. they are ranged in terms of functionalism.6 Debatably. it is Bourdieu who dominates discussion of food. In making his claim that ‘Cooks are not mere victims of social forces. Bourdieu’s study is. Based on voluminous. It is clear that the terrain of the alimentary is a demarcated and even policed field. Bourdieu seeks to show how different occupational groups perceive the consumption of food and alcohol. an analysis of the embodiment of structures of class. This follows from Bourdieu’s maxims that social structure is always structuring and structured. properly speaking. The Sociology of Food (1992). Mintz and Mennell are all positioned as marking out the field. Elias. In turn. and that taste ‘classifies. 1979/1984:56). Goody.. Blumer. 1979/1984:xiv). the field of food5 is deeply invested in staking out the boundaries of the proper study of food and eating. in their useful book. structuralism.. Engels and Durkheim are mentioned for their lack of consideration of food. and now dated.7 Bourdieu defines his objective as the ‘immoderate ambition of giving a scientific answer to the old questions of Kant’s critique of judgment. any intervention must pass through the reiteration of proper names. but intimately involved in recreating them’ (1998:103).. Whilst not a sociologist of food per se. It is a grand ambition that Bourdieu sees as ‘the only rational basis for a truly universal culture’ (Ibid. and certainly taste. whereby one classifies oneself and is classified by others’ (Bourdieu. data collected from questionnaires in the early 1960s. and developmentalism. Bourdieu. 1979/1984:xiv). Seemingly. Lévi-Strauss. Fischler. 1979/1984:6). For example. has made the question of taste into something of a sociological cliché: ‘taste distinguishes in an essential way.
a relatively light dish marked by connotations of knowingness about regions. 1979/1984:187). along with small employers. however. And indeed. in general. that is embodied. It is an incorporated principle of classification which governs all forms of incorporation.9 The typical and somewhat obvious critique of Bourdieu is that his categories of analysis (mainly class.. ‘Bourdieu’s preoccupation with the reproduction of culture from generation to generation makes his theory appear rather undynamic’ (Mennell et al. (Bourdieu. 1979/1984:190) As Bourdieu puts it: it follows that the body is the most indisputable materialisation of class taste. physiologically and psychologically. a class culture turned into nature. suggest that eating and taste are more fluid than Bourdieu gives credit to. In Mennell et al. and perhaps for this reason associated with the idea of “eating out”’) (Ibid. fish and fresh fruit (Ibid. helps shape the class body.. choosing and modifying everything that the body ingests and digests and assimilates. is static. 1979/1984:180). executives and professionals chose bouillabaisse. it does. 1992:12). to a much lesser extent.. key to the notion of the habitus that Bourdieu takes from Marcel Mauss (1934/1973).. 1979/1984:190) .8 It also points to the need for more contemporary mappings of taste. defined by the amount of economic and symbolic (mainly educational) capital of which it disposes’ (Ibid. in Western societies the poorer are more likely to be fatter. the informants responded in determined class ways: farm workers preferred meals like pot-au-feu and andouillettes. and.’s judgement. and his interpretation of how individuals experience them. also chose coq au vin (‘a dish typical of small restaurants aiming to be “posh”. We also know that.28 BODIES THAT EAT foods and the greater the consumption of expensive meats. This is. for Bourdieu ‘each individual is assigned from the beginning to a class position. in turn. The fact that these dishes are now the fare of up-market bistros in France and elsewhere doesn’t necessarily nullify Bourdieu’s arguments. (Ibid. In Bourdieu’s argument: taste. 1992:12).. When asked to choose favourite dishes from a range of possibilities. and manual workers. gender). In contrast.
However. Halligan pays back her father.’ Her ‘strong will’ held and ‘it was beautiful. In his terms. Bourdieu also argues that eating is ‘the principle of the division of foods between the sexes’ (Ibid. Writer upon writer notes the ‘discovery’ of garlic or olive oil. who maintained ‘a typical English taste for the bland. 1979/1984:178). After all. produced by conditions of existence which rule out all alternatives as mere daydreams and leave no choice but the taste of the necessary’ (Bourdieu. the mild.. The old castor-oil days swept over me. The ineluctable line of taste then structures the body: ‘Taste. we can learn to appreciate foods that our parents wouldn’t touch (in my family. we frequently venture beyond them.BODIES THAT EAT 29 On a common-sense level. ‘From Castor to Olive in One Generation’. Proust’s madeleine gone bad. For instance. 1990:211–212). ‘stinting themselves…they derive a sort of authority from what they do not see as deprivation’ (Ibid. by slipping olive oil into his meals—how sweet is the taste of control and power. in Australia it has become commonplace to chart the changing sophistication of Australian Anglo-Celtic taste. and that garlic was a foreign abomination. and gives thanks to the influx of migrants from Southern Europe who saved Australia from its Anglo culinary fate. and are firmly nationally inculcated. and to the fact that we do change. While the roots of taste are clearly informed by class.’ If class powerfully determines taste. he argues. we might agree that the taste or distaste for certain foods is both the hardest thing to change. ‘Taste is amor fati. Here he is on rather slippery ground. ‘the catch-all.. later in life. At a Tuscan oil tasting she ‘shivered and held the spoon poised. which left me dreaming of deep-fried garlic). designed for medicinal purposes—wiping babies’ bottoms or getting chewing gum out of hair’ (Halligan. Marion Halligan remembers that in her childhood ‘There was olive oil in the house. 1979/1984:192). Women are portrayed as ‘satisfied with a small portion’. The oil of choice in the Halligan household was castor. 1990:203). The emphasis on the ways in which ‘biological differences are underlined and symbolically accentuated’ is at first at odds with his insistence on . cure-all’. a class culture turned into nature. Halligan’s memories attest to the enduring legacy of early experience. arguing that women ‘don’t have a taste for men’s food’. the choice of destiny. the sweet’. It is hard to reconcile Halligan’s epiphanous overcoming of her childhood hatred of oil with Bourdieu’s definition of taste. but a forced choice. a tiny ancient rancid bottle of it. In her essay.. and also the most visible index of the capacity to change. They are. a perfect pale green idea of grass’ (Ibid. 1979/1984: 192). It had a pale green taste of grass. my father thought that fried foods were ‘lower-class’.
On the one hand. The body as habitus is the demonstration of the position that the individual occupies within social structures.. feel and think are then incorporations. The attention to class is undeniably important. a social product which is the only tangible manifestation of the “person”. perceive. Bourdieu makes of it the proof of the transubstantiation of structure into reality. which…tends to reproduce in its specific logic the universe of social structure’ (Ibid.30 BODIES THAT EAT the socially produced body. 1934/1973:74). yet it remains strangely inert. tend to define the study of alimentary identities. the individual and the social. the body emerges as a principle that follows the orders of its past. On the other hand. But as Mauss puts it. While following in the footsteps of Mauss. subjectivity and objective social regulation. if not idealised. Bourdieu tends to flatten out Mauss’s more delicate distinctions. but in the rush to establish his vast theory. practices and structures. the ‘producer of signs which are physically marked by the relationship to the body’ (Ibid. Mauss examined the notion of the ‘techniques of the body’. 1979/1984:193). Bourdieu’s analysis of eating habits brings together the two extreme poles. is commonly perceived as the most natural expression of innermost nature’ (Ibid.. In terms of the eating body. 1979/1984:192). The attention here is to the body thoroughly informed by structure that individuals mistake as their own: ‘The body. body. act. as I argued earlier. is at the heart of Bourdieu’s enterprise. which. The body that eats is in the end eaten by the overdeterminations of culture. Alimentary assemblages Thus the body is subsumed as the principle of classification. leading Bourdieu to argue that ‘one can begin to map out a universe of class bodies. 1979/1984: 192). In a paper originally given in 1934. ‘to really get beyond the artificial opposition that is established between structures and representations’ (Bourdieu. ‘there is perhaps no “natural way” for the adult’ (Mauss. The body is ‘sign-bearing. But the desire to find and define the hinge between ‘the interior’ and ‘the exterior’. sign-wearing’. The ways we eat. the play of identity is stayed by the overwhelming attention to the eating body as evidence of the power of social categories.. there is something really real about eating— it is a demonstration of the genesis of the social structuring of individuals. especially in regards to the primacy of the habitus. the empirical truisms construct a rather obvious. Dotted with . Due to Bourdieu’s efforts to avoid the twin perils of objectivism and subjectivism. In this way. 1979/1984:150).
BODIES THAT EAT 31
his ethnological observations from diverse societies, Mauss argues that ‘In every society, everyone knows and has to know and learn what he has to do in all conditions’ (Mauss, 1934/1973:85). While ‘naturally, social life is not exempt from stupidity’, Mauss finds in the social nature of the habitus telling evidence of the structured idiosyncrasies of human behaviour. How the French use spades, how Maori women walk, how English boys hold their elbows at the table, the walk of American girls, or how Australian soldiers squatted at the Front, all illustrate his point about acquired body techniques. For Mauss, these are all ‘the techniques and work of collective and individual practical reason’ (Ibid., 1934/1973:73). While Bourdieu is to echo this, Mauss introduces important complications, like stupidity. He cites as an example the way in which he was taught to swim: ‘swallowing water and spitting it out again…swimmers thought of themselves as a kind of steam-boat. It was stupid, but in fact I still do this’ (Ibid., 1934/1973: 71). Analogous to this example is the way in which we eat things that will make us feel sick: stuffing ourselves with sugar, or in my case salt, we know that we will feel horrible later, but does that stop us? Mauss’s appreciation of the connections and interconnections of learned techniques, of imitation, and of the interplay of biological, psychological and social, focuses on ‘the modes of life, the modes, the tonus, the “matter”, the “manners”, the “way” ’ (Ibid., 1934/1973:78). Mauss then allows for the past to re-enter the present, but without unilaterally determining us. The biological, the psychological, the social, are constantly reworked in terms of how at any moment we live our bodies. These modes of living are temporal and spatial, highlighting the adaptation of learned behaviour and context. Crucially, he argues that ‘we are everywhere faced with physio-psycho-sociological assemblages of series of actions’ (Ibid., 1934/1973:85). All of our bodily actions are ‘connecting cogs’ within this ‘enormous biological and psychological apparatus’ (Ibid., 1934/1973:85). Mauss, like his subsequent followers, seeks to find order in this world in which, he acknowledges, elements ‘are indissolubly mixed together’ (Ibid., 1934/ 1973:74). But instead of rendering the habitus of our body actions, perceptions, tendencies, and repetitions as the space of containment as Bourdieu does, Mauss’s description makes it seem more like the principle of Borges’s Chinese encyclopaedia that I cited earlier. In Foucault’s take on this system of classification, ‘things are “laid”, “placed”, “arranged” in sites so very different from one and another that it is impossible to find a place of residence for them, to define a common locus beneath them all’ (Foucault, 1973:xvii-xviii). There is then an
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order to the assemblages, but one that, instead of predicating a ground, questions it. Taking from this, I want to rethink the alignment of tastes, food, and class that threaten to colonise the body in fixed identities. In contrast to the assemblages that the funk foodists see in terms of bodies, ingestion, economics and serious play, alimentary subjectivity in Bourdieu’s model can only be enacted in terms of the past. Food is unidirectional here: it can only go in to meet up with its referent in terms of class or gender markers of the social. Put simply, food can only confirm identity; it cannot open up new avenues. It cannot answer back, it can only repeat. Mauss’s notion of physio-psycho assemblages suggests a way out of this circle. Noëlle Châtelet’s (1977) discussion of culinary bodies extends the Maussian assemblage into the realm of Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘desiring machines’. Just following the route of food opens up obvious, if not often remarked upon, connections. The idea, she says, that everything we absorb (air-sustenance-water-sperm) entirely traverses us to come out later transformed (gas-excrement— urine-baby) never ceases to amaze us and the astonishment increases when we consider the fact that matter not only metamorphoses in another reconstituted matter, but also in energy, intelligence or stupidity, in short in a series of social and affective gestures which we perform forgetting (or pretending to forget) that the spaghetti and the rosé eaten the night before serve a function. (Châtelet, 1977:33) For Châtelet, Deleuze and Guattari offer ‘the most objective, the most serene but also the most frightening’ description of digestion. The body here is an assemblage of machines, ‘Real machines that turn, function, grind, pound finally producing external objective things—machines productive of partial yet interconnected flows’ (Ibid., 1977:34). These flows then connect in ‘all directions’, and are most exemplified in the fact that ‘to eat, is to be connected’ (Ibid., 1977:34). If, in much food commentary, the principle remains the unilateral ingestion of the social into the body, Châtelet’s project is to go beyond a bilateral movement, beyond either in or out. She admits that she was at first stymied by the ways in which, as soon as food is paired with the body, a tripartite division seems to descend. No matter how explosive may be our understandings of ‘the body’, when it eats, in theory, in
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practice, it becomes colonised under the linear order of indigestion, digestion and excrement. This, she realised, is the problem of placing one object, the body, alongside another, food. This is the problematic structure that rules much commentary on the eating body. As we eat or are eaten by the social, the body is either placed before food, and eating confirms its status, or eating is superimposed upon the body as a separate structure. Châtelet writes that she finally understood ‘that I wasn’t engaged in the battle of the body with an object [food], but in one with multiple possible bodies and multiple culinary objects, entangled to the point of being no longer detachable the one from the other, inextricably knotted in an infinite variety of poses’ (Ibid., 1977: 8). From this realisation, she could ‘no longer render necessary the distinction between the interior of the act of eating from the institutional and imaginary networks, and their modes of entwinement’. In the corpsà-corps culinaire (the culinary body-to-body), ‘thousands of bodies express themselves’ (Ibid., 1977:8).10 What emerges from these considerations is a sense of the ways in which food and eating question bodies and identities. To return to LéviStrauss’s maxim, food is good to think with. But this alimentary cliché pushes at other clichés about identity. Eating refracts who we are. Food/ body/eating assemblages reveal the ways in which identity has become elementary, and that its composite elements are always in movement. As alimentary assemblages, eating recalls with force the elemental nature of class, gender, sexuality, nation. But beyond these monumental categories, eating places different orders of things and ways of being alongside each other, inside and outside inextricably linked. Beyond any facile celebration of authenticity, sincerity or conversely of the simulacra and artifice, alimentary identities reveal a mix of the primal and the hyperfake. But what is of interest here is the ways in which this extends our understanding and appreciation of the rich complexity of living in the present. While the funk foodists revel in the imbrication and incorporation of the inanimate and the organic, other responses exemplify the threads of the ethical and the political that wend their ways through our body/social assemblages. These cannot be categorised in that catch-all question of ‘what does it mean?’. Rather, they point to ironic and lived ‘small ethical scenarios’ (Rose, 1996). For some, this means wearing one’s stomach on one’s sleeve: thinking about where food comes from, or how core identities are now ingested as multicultural ways of being in the world. As such, these alimentary identities are ways of reworking the categories that once defined us. Now, beyond a model of inside and out, we are alimentary
34 BODIES THAT EAT assemblages. mouth machines that ingest and regurgitate. what we eat and what eats us. . articulating what we are. bodies that eat with vigorous class. ethnic and gendered appetites.
For children and teenagers now. I consider the thematics of eating and caring in a world where the local and global are intermeshed. or at least have become publicly worried over. We especially cared about the world not having enough to eat.2 FEEDING McWORLD. EATING IDEOLOGIES When I was a child. and the family and close bonds of caring are rendered ‘glocal’. as we also learn about micro practices of power. the world is much closer. the solid sons and daughters of farmers marching through the drizzle with eyes set firmly on the horizon of doing something good for those people in far-off places. the family is where we are supposed to learn about care through eating together (the early experience of commensality). If in Chapter 1 I examined some spectacular forms of eating identities. many of us became vegetarians in the hope that food resources could be more adequately distributed if we all ate vegetable protein. Or so it must seem with access to images from across the planet and even the possibility of falling in love in cyberspace. As we made our own (indigestible) bread. the world appeared to my friends and me as something beyond our reach. At a very general level. in fact its very unknown qualities may have enhanced our capacities to care about that which we did not know. here I want to focus on more mundane articulations of food and place. forms of close-in relationships may be more fragile. we wore our stomachs on our sleeves. In particular. but marriages and families were almost without exception intact. That didn’t stop us worrying about it. At my rural high school. as a general statement. What are the effects on the family and food when the family eating together is broadcast as a global figure? Here I am drawn to McDonald’s as the most obvious instance of glocalism. . and calculated the different kinds of legumes that should go together. With no cable. We went on countless walkathons for charity. none of it foreign and certainly no Internet. not much television. However. the world seemed very far away. Later. many came from unhappy homes. of course.
eating and the global communities. wherein we are all interrelated in our love of McDonald’s. the image of Paul Preston. In a fundamental . slightly sweating in his suit. and at the same time urge us to think about the global implications of what we eat. In McLibel.1 the documentary film of the most famous libel case of recent times. but I want to consider them through a slightly oblique angle: the rhetoric of care carried through images of eating and commensality. and concern about the effect of advertising on children. While they are touted as worlds apart. smiling and somewhat nervous face of capitalism versus the sincerity of ‘Dave Morris.36 FEEDING MCWORLD. the recent confrontation between McDonald’s and a pair of environmentalists raises some challenging questions about caring. EATING IDEOLOGIES and as an instance of a multinational’s appeal to a family that encompasses the globe. as we will see. the arresting image of a plump American CEO and two English environment activists telescopes many widely discussed issues. indeed as family itself. McDonald’s is incredibly savvy in portraying itself as caring. the court upheld that some of their allegations about McDonald’s were factually correct. Underlying this image are crucial issues about what and who we are in terms of eating. both McDonald’s and the environmentalists trade in romantic notions. of course. and alternative moral and ethical systems of eating. comfortable in their anoraks. and Steel and Morris are the two English activists who were taken to court by McDonald’s who alleged that they had libelled the company’s name in leaflets listing the company’s failings. The McLibel activists counter this vision with the facts about the production of McDonald’s food. ethics versus profit. While the case centred on the issue of free speech. Preston is an American and the President of McDonald’s UK. In the longest trial in English history. single father’ encapsulates a moral battle pitched between the bad guys who provide the food that everyone eats. While I am uninterested in moral condemnations of McDonald’s. The bland. Steel and Morris defended themselves against the QCs retained by McDonald’s. In the end. important issues. In the McLibel trial. McDonald’s offers a complex vision of an intercalated local and global. These are all. and both want us to think about eating in terms of being caring citizens of the world. As I’ll describe in detail. and the good guys who provided the facts about McDonald’s that captivated everyone throughout the trial. As I’ll argue. and Helen Steel and Dave Morris. including the effects of global and transnational capital on workers and animals. perfectly conveys the film’s subtitle: ‘Two worlds collide’. the fact of everyday fastfood eating encounters an idealised vision of eating.
McDonald’s is represented as the embodiment of evil. The McLibel documentary focuses on the sneaky ways in which McDonald’s tried to infiltrate Morris’s familial space.FEEDING MCWORLD. there is little critique of the activists’ infantilising of the average consumer of McDonald’s. Behind the painted smiles of Ronald. Have environmentalists abandoned the idea that ordinary individuals can demonstrate some agency? Or is it only within a clearly delineated moral frame that people are considered capable of reflecting on the implications of their actions? While the trial raises a number of fascinating images. and is opposed to the image of concerned individuals who do battle for the greater good of us all. as someone who obviously cannot think for him/herself. Watching the film in a local independent cinema. where the Big Mac preceded the Internet in bringing us all together. and the portrayal of how the six years that Morris and Steel were in court had made it hard for him to be a proper father to his son—to find time to eat together as a family. with no control over his/her appetite and actions. Through their promotion and advertising rhetoric. McDonald’s seeks to personify and humanise an interconnected world. But the question of who this ‘we’ is isn’t broached. the Third World and the environment. Much of the affect of the documentary came from Morris’s constant references to his son. EATING IDEOLOGIES 37 way. it was the scene that showed McDonald’s sponsoring a summer ‘funday’ at Morris’s son’s playgroup that drew gasps from the audience. In the film. here I want to take up that moment of confrontation between these two images of ‘family’. This was framed by an interview with a former Ronald McDonald who renounced his job. workers. both of which revolve around connotations of commensality and the common good. and supported by the long Christian tradition of Jesus offering redemption through giving us his body to eat. On the one hand. the family meal is where togetherness is blessed. In opposition to this. while McDonald’s is vilified for duping us. and on the other. likening McDonald’s promotional literature to ‘the propaganda of the Third Reich’. Grounded in the myth of families eating together in communion. there is the single father battling the giant. McDonald’s has turned the idea of the family that eats together into a complex articulation of a global . visions of family and an ethos of caring inform both sides. Morris and Steel embody a certain political line that is exemplary of the type of connections that a certain form of political vegetarianism has long performed. connecting McDonald’s hamburgers to the exploitation of children. the multinational defender of ‘good citizenship and family values’.
38 FEEDING MCWORLD. 1998:22). only produces simulated concern about others. While some articulations may be more palatable. Through the media. As many have argued. on the one hand. McDonald’s stitches us all together through our stomachs. a politics that directly equates the desire for a burger with the destruction of the rain forest. who wants us all to ‘come together’. 1992:181). and creating its customer as a globalised familial citizen. have been massively rearranged in terms of proximity. e. I am thinking particularly of certain forms of vegetarianism. While it is usual to condemn McDonald’s out of hand. and now the Internet. families and circles of kith. this mediation. local world of our everyday lives’ (Shields. Community and family float as common figures in very different ideologies. the types of spatialisation brought about by globalisation produces a paradoxical closeness. As Richard Rorty has argued. and the ways in which we come to know the world. part of our communities. as well as ones about ethics and care. and he sees the world sinking under the weight of ‘the combination of ethical hedonism and resurgent parochial self-interest’ (Smith. In David Smith’s argument. when. where the “us” means something smaller and more local than the human race’ (cited in Smith. but also of the familial paradigm of care that has been translated from academic argument to become central in both progressive and conservative government platforms. For instance. and on the other. we are daily faced with questions about how we care for others who are not ‘one of us’. I want to argue here that the example of McDonald’s creation of a global family can be used to problematise those practices that are seen to be transparently good and ethical. and the exploitation of workers and children. For some writers. ‘Two worlds collide’ in terms of a vision of care.g. and by the ethical arguments of vegetarianism where the Western individual is asked to think about what happens both elsewhere and at home were s/he to eat a hamburger. particularly to strangers and foreigners who bring the far-off and exotic into the cosy. EATING IDEOLOGIES family. The question of ‘how far do we care?’ is answered in very different ways by McDonald’s. 1998: 36). they all connect with a . extending an ethics of care into the realm of global capitalism. Rob Shields argues that this is ‘a mediation in our relations to others. the world as we know it. For others. and the changed relations between what we consider the local and the global. it is easier to care for our near and dear: ‘our sense of solidarity is strongest when those with whom solidarity is expressed are thought of as “one of us”. This prompts questions about the connection of food and families. the answer to the question of ‘how far do we care?’ is: not that much.
and at other times. ‘grandmothers are the symbols of our yearning for life as it was once lived. Sydney Morning Herald. The nostalgia for eating and togetherness epitomised by the family. and family violence directly tie in with modern dietary patterns. EATING IDEOLOGIES 39 romanticised vision of togetherness that is posed in opposition to a disjointed. For instance. 1999). In different ways these models fail to allow for a recognition of the ambiguities and the contradictions of living in an interconnected world. For others. If indeed we want to encourage caring through our stomachs.FEEDING MCWORLD. This is to recognise the widespread searching on the part of individuals to find some means by which they can understand what is happening to them and to the world. the theme of eating and families conjures up a wide swath of connotations. In terms of food clichés. we need to go beyond the flatness of existing frameworks. separation. of the earth and the seasons’ (Jill Dupleix. fragmented world. As one food writer says in her review of a best-selling book of grandmothers’ recipes (Carol Field’s In Nonna’s Kitchen. The slide from mother’s milk to a cuddly idea of nurture and care is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it is not surprising that it is continually reproduced in everything from certain forms of feminism . Naturally this doesn’t deter the type of guilt-mongering of which women are often the objects in terms of cooking in order to keep the family together. ethical forms of eating tend to give a blueprint for conduct that place individuals within strict moral systems. and sometimes. and throws up contradictions in abundance. indicate in different ways the need for some sense of human connection in a wired world. carried by the desire for something that is dependable and unchanging. the family meal still has an amazing capacity to make us nostalgic for the ideals of a simple life. the oft-commented-upon connection between femininity and food is habitually expressed in the idea that we were all fed by our mothers. sharing and care. as I argued in Chapter 1. 1999). 2 November 1999). the mere mention of food is met with reminiscence of how awful ‘mum’s’ cooking was. Responses to this vary: while McDonald’s offers a cosy standardised world. a leading macrobiotic spokesman firmly argues that ‘problems such as divorce. and the concern to eat ethically. the idea of eating together as a family immediately brings forth happy memories of intimacy. The fact that families don’t eat together any more is a major factor in family separation’ (Esko. For some. how dreary and constrained were the obligatory mealtimes en famille. If. the connections between a naturalised identity and food are increasingly going awry. For instance. deeply rooted in the connections of family and food.
as I watched a recent ad campaign for McDonald’s. as is sometimes said by the plaintive cook whose food is not appreciated’ (Ibid. have just been so clearly demarcated. beyond the idyllic vision lies the fact that. resist her. Perhaps in revolt from her own family’s onerously slow dinner rituals. force-fed in the morning. While Giard’s informants are implicitly heterosexual and traditional in their family arrangements. The claustrophobia of being cooked for and being fed is an important undertow beneath the bucolic images of eating together. In turn. by refusing [the meal]. 1998:189–190). and the son is left to make his own and then presumably eat it by himself in front of the TV. the power of mother and father over the body of the child’ (Giard. As the flip side to comfort food. As this woman bluntly says. and in various permutations of a familial arrangement. like. 1998:189). A memorable ad for ‘Bird’s Eye’ frozen stir fry™ features a young boy who comes home late and tries to scoff his parents’ meal. EATING IDEOLOGIES to ads for frozen dinners (which need a heavy dose of the warm and fuzzy to make them appealing). the child learns early that ‘he or she possesses a major trump card that. they interview a 37-year-old lesbian on her experience of eating with past partners. They also refer to the aversion that many have to the idea of caring through feeding. This ad awkwardly combines the nostalgia of ‘home cooking’ and Mum’s place in the kitchen with an acknowledgement of the more common reality where parents and children eat when they can. The signature line. the power-plays that structure familial eating and the ideology of the family-that-eats-together have been largely under-theorised. He is sternly told by his mother that if he wants to eat there is another package in the freezer. the downside of feminine caring is when a partner tries ‘to mother you with food. as Luce Giard argues. 1997:85). perhaps in order to explain to us why we were eating bangers early while my parents sat down later . thanks Bird’s Eye’. he or she can hold the mother in his or her power.. the familial dream and actuality. homes and eating. For instance. seems a little out of place when the divisions between adults and children. as she takes the meals to her husband. David Bell and Gill Valentine report on the guilt that many feel if they do not or cannot reproduce this happy ideal. ‘many family meals are a forum for a fierce power struggle. ‘Thanks Mum. with worry”. Even when families actually eat together. in that their idea of taking care of you is feeding you… I’m. Husband and wife have a romantic dinner. which is a dreadful way of viewing it’ (Bell and Valentine. Indeed. in their study of non-traditional arrangements of families. I was reminded of something my mother used to say. worry her.40 FEEDING MCWORLD. “kill her with grief.
by which he means that there cannot be a local that is now untouched by global forces. and still accelerating. He goes on to say that we are living in the ‘first global society’. together with its reverse. what are the effects of McDonald’s ‘glocalised’ family? The term ‘glocalisation’ has been used by several theorists to highlight the foldings and imbrications of local and global cultures that are producing supposedly new experiences of the local in the global. the phrase she used was: ‘a family that eats together soon breaks up’. EATING IDEOLOGIES 41 to steak and a good bottle of wine. ‘This extraordinary.. 1994:58). and on the other. This mix of rhetoric and economic changes has reinforced the appeal of ‘the ideology of home’. the influence of global orders over individual lives. 1995:35). when the whole world supposedly eats together. transnationalization. even the most intimate aspects of our lives’ (Ibid. If this sounds rather scary. 1994:95). a word favoured by everyone from cable companies to eminent sociologists.FEEDING MCWORLD. or rather is dialectically related to. arguing that in order ‘to comprehend the “how” rather than the “whether” we need to attend more directly to the question as to what is actually “going on” ’ (Robertson. subnational localization—to which the vocabulary of marketing has responded by inventing the term glocalization’ (Buell. 1995:26). What happens. In Geraldine Pratt’s words. ‘the awful term’ describes ‘the seemingly paradoxical process of promoting local differences in a globalizing world’ (Pratt. Roland Robertson also uses the term as a descriptor of contemporary reality. 1998:93). In Frederick Buell’s argument. Against rootlessness we have an insistence on connection. Like many. which affects. While the world is indeed breaking up on a daily basis in terms of the countless wars continually being waged. in his argument about post-traditional societies ‘Globalization is an “in here” matter. connectedness between everyday decisions and global outcomes. ‘glocalization’ is a commercial term produced out of the tensions between ‘on the one hand. forms the key subject-matter of the new agenda’ (Giddens.. which is in turn ‘partly in response to the constant repetition and global diffusion of the claim that we now live in a condition of homelessness or rootlessness’ (Ibid. I wondered. Giddens argues that what we consider to be intimate in our personal lives has been created out of globalisation. For Anthony Giddens. Some of the features that Robertson identifies include individuals’ expectation of uniqueness that has become institutionalised as the result of the micromarketing construction of differentiated consumers. Giddens has a touching belief in the progressive . Rather than placing intimacy on the side of the local. at the nth viewing of McDonald’s ‘It’s MacTime Now’. 1998:549).
For instance. and wait for the chance to become millionaires. John Tomlinson takes up and extends Giddens’s argument. So as the family eats Thai take-aways. sponsored by a Japanese car manufacturer and a Dutch airline. 1999:115). and a promo for a programme about children lying and a lie detector test ‘for your kids’. 1999:113). and he uses it ‘to grasp the novelty of the contemporary transformation of place’ (Ibid. Tomlinson’s term to designate the experience produced out of the movement of the glocal is ‘deterritorialization’. they also ingest images of a body carved up in graphics previously reserved for science. The programme is brought to us by Mitsubishi. He is at pains to point out the mundane nature of deterritorialisation.. especially in regards to the supposed novelty of this situation. Mexican honey. Tomlinson cites Raymond Williams’s 1980s example about a thoroughly glocalised couple who live in London. which costs $7000 plus hospital expenses. EATING IDEOLOGIES effects of this situation: if we live in a ‘world where no one is “outside” the reach of globalisation’. 1994:97). McDonald’s or KFC. and those who like Giddens are enthusiastic about the new possibilities. The images of the ‘before and after’ female body are produced by ‘Animated biomedical graphics’.42 FEEDING MCWORLD. and on any night eating in front of the tube we may engage with routinised versions of the interconnected world. presumably to be able to afford the body . which he likens to Michael Billig’s argument about ‘banal nationalism’. and is followed by the Lotto draw. get about in foreign cars and eat a meal of ‘New Zealand lamb. This experience is now thoroughly banal. but that mutual interrogation is possible’ (Ibid. and travel provided by KLM. French cheese and Spanish wine’ (in Ibid. and as an afterthought the mail address for ‘those not yet online’. 1999: 113). 1999: 108). The viewer is given the website address. cited in Tomlinson. work for multinationals. conjoining proximity and distance in ways that have few parallels in prior ages’ (Giddens. globalisation heralds a new order: ‘the very tissue of spatial experience alters. In his review of the literature on globalisation. for Giddens this opens the possibility that ‘not only [does] the other “answer back”. we go from a segment about the new suburban boom created by the Olympic Games in Sydney to graphic detail about an operation to lose weight through ‘sculpting’ flesh. He cites the way in which. watching a programme called Our House (featuring DIY in suburbia). for Giddens. Tomlinson groups together those who tend to bemoan the loss of authenticity of the local.. and ‘the routine reinforcement through the steady tempo of everyday life of images which attach the citizen’s identity to the nation-state’ (Ibid. To remind us that this has been going on for some time. Californian carrots...
’ His sardonic answer to this situations is: ‘let’s give the starving millions television sets so they can enjoy our petfood commercials and those wonderful cuisine programmes that pour from the screen…who’s going to say grace? Delia Smith or Geoff Jansz?’ (Phillip Adams. and the factory conditions of the animals it uses. in which the advertising firm DDB Needham quite brilliantly brings the world together over the distinctive red box of fries.FEEDING MCWORLD. which are basically the same all over the world although made from locally produced ingredients. Indeed. 1993a:30). or McDonald’s-world-fill in the blank. in terms of the actual food products. its triumph as global food ensures wholesale condemnation on the part of its critics. ‘One half of the world sits eating their evening meal in front of the set watching the other half starve to death. In a less sensational manner. Italian-Australian. it seems that the advertising minds have been busily reading some of the theorists I have cited. Perth and outback Australia. organizations of power. A clear instance of this can be seen in a series of ads. In addition to McDonald’s dubious claims to ‘good food’. 1999). The Australian. For countless food critics.g. Vancouver. McDonald’s takes up the trend towards hyphenating ethnic identities (e. It’s certainly not far-fetched to think that the figure of the rhizome might guide them: burgers and fries ‘ceaselessly establish connections between semiotic chains. While there are several versions of the ‘It’s MacTime Now’ ads. as is often the case. in terms of its glocalised consumer. Tomlinson demonstrates the mundane experience of ‘the post-traditional society’ with a lengthy and seemingly obligatory reference to how food is now divorced from the local conditions of both eating and growing. even as they up the ante on globalisation arguments. Performing a rhizomatic mapping of the world. 2 November 1999). McDonald’s represents the epitome of evil in eating. Mexico. Moscow. the fries are shown erupting in Rome. In the acerbic terms of a television reviewer. And its food is glocal in two major ways: firstly. much has been written in gloomy tones about ‘a global cuisine’ (Mintz. In terms of food. Of course. ChineseCanadian) and trade-marks hyphenated identity: McDonald’s-worldAustralian. McDonald’s is one of the major forces in the promotion of glocalisation. and circumstances…like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts’ (Deleuze. they all seek to articulate a hyphenated local-global ‘space-time’ community . and secondly. EATING IDEOLOGIES 43 sculpting and a lie detector for their children. These ads represent McDonald’s as the agent who hyphenates different locales into a global vision of one big happy family—a sort of global school-dinner monitor.
We next turn to Moscow with the introductory shot of a grandmother who carries with her the significations of the trauma that Eastern European Communism supposedly wrought on its suffering citizens. I’ll turn now to the ‘MacTime’ ads. Moscow is immediately followed by a shot of mother and child framed by palm trees. The scene finishes with hands again reaching for fries atop the post box. An old man smiles. nuns. In order to emphasise the change of world order. Massey’s concern is to examine ‘the highly complex social differentiation’ that quite often is overlooked in the macro descriptions of the time-space compression of global capital. again con fries. As they are ‘stretched out over space’. Postcard-like vignettes show the ideal types of Mexico: grandfathers sitting outside restaurants and close-ups of big-eyed kids filmed in sepia. 1993: 156). the ways in which individuals relate to each other and create different senses of place and community also change. Following this argument. I want to consider the ways in which McDonald’s actively rearranges the relations of proximity between corporate entities and local/global identities. This is a clear example of Doreen Massey’s argument about current power relations. 1993:154). in unison they . and kids flash by until the shot of a red ‘poste’ box with hands reaching for a box of McDonald’s fries punctuates the scene. From there we segue into a shot of two Diggers in front of a war memorial. and then morphs into a shot of a young mother and family. the fries serve to connect us in an immediate way—hands reach out and grab.. As she says.44 FEEDING MCWORLD. As an example of McDonald’s articulation of who and where we are. statues. They then give way to a night view of Moscow’s historic buildings and then a shot of the Red Star against a deep-blue night sky. Framed by a brilliant blue sky. In the visual syntax of the ad. the camera pans past brightly painted houses and we arrive at a turquoise-blue post box. and our ideas about who we should care for. images of the Colosseum. reach and touch. we next have joyous soldiers careening about in Red Square. or what she calls ‘a kind of power-geometry’ that is played out through ‘a mutual relative positioning rather than “absolute” location’ (Massey. juxtaposed with a pan-shot past an empty-looking department store with two rather downtrodden women shoppers. Moving swiftly from the stoic state of the new Russia to a warmer Mexican scene. In one of the versions we start with. EATING IDEOLOGIES that resolutely carries McDonald’s stamp. ‘It’s MacTime in Roma’. Counterpointing this. the point is that ‘the geography of social relations is changing’ (Ibid. the next shots feature a blue post box with the fries and a child.
Aboriginal kids playing in a 1956 Olympic Pool. a sports team. Following this montage. For Soysal. ethnicity and age. 1994:137). 1994:100). peoples. these ads demonstrate McDonald’s rhetoric of caring. as agricultural sociologists concerned with the specific ways in which globalisation is actually rearranging the world. several scenes morph together old men.. global citizenship through images of families and community. social identities are freed to regain localistic. As they represent individuals in recognisable locales. some component of localism is always involved’ (1994:8–9). a family. Olympic rings and the McDonald’s M. From there. nobody answers back. While this may not quite replicate Rorty’s ideal of a ‘cosmopolitan conversation of humankind’ (cited in Giddens. virtual meeting place has thus taken over from modernist institutions such as the League of Nations and the stressed United Nations. time and space. two old guys coming out at us from the red desert and then a red Australian post box filmed against a stormy sky. over which an Aboriginal man reaches up. contrary to actual practices. they argue that ‘In this formation. ‘The postwar era is characterized by a reconfiguration of citizenship from a more particularistic one based on nationhood to a more universalistic one based on personhood’ (Ibid. McDonald’s as the post-modern. McDonald’s updates the ideal of the Family of Man into a vision of a community of families seated around the global dinner table where. as a result. the McDonald’s Australia logo looms up with the Australian flag. In an obvious way. two young white girls.. The full McDonald’s ‘It’s MacTime’ logo provides the finishing flourish. familial and other specific attachments and are increasingly influenced by globalization trends’ (Bonnano et al. McDonald’s plays on the interconnectedness of regions. In rapid succession we are then shown women bowlers in front of the Kalgoorlie Bowling Club. . But. As the human face of the cyber network. Alessandro Bonnano and his colleagues remind us of the ways in which ‘food and consumption take place in specific geographic locations and that. EATING IDEOLOGIES 45 lean into the camera to tell us ‘It’s MacTime in Australia’. Akin to Soysal’s argument about the importance of a localised personhood in discourses of universal citizenship. only to be replaced by a white hand lifting the fries from the top of the post box. seemingly the only thing that holds these fragmentary communities together is a common and universal love of McDonald’s.FEEDING MCWORLD. DDB Needham’s ‘It’s MacTime Now’ campaign provides a glorious depiction of the joys of what Yasmine Soysal calls ‘a postnational model of membership’ (Soysal. In contrast to the modern nation. the ads seek to articulate a community that transcends regions and nations. 1994). two surfers. class. As such.
apparently played by actual citizens. Other objects stereotype essences of nationality..m. the idea of ‘featuring “real” people with a multinational flavour’ was because he wanted ‘to demonstrate the breadth of the McDonald’s experience… ordinary people “seemed more genuine than actors” ’ (Horton. Vancouver. everybody’s going out’ is counterpointed with high female voices singing ‘It’s night time now all around the world’. The sound-track interweaves clocks ticking and a solo female voice singing ‘It’s why everyone at breakfast time keeps saying… it’s why everywhere around the world keeps saying It’s MacTime Now’. Mexican fireworks. the executive creative director of the advertising firm. universal familialism and food is.m..45 a. For those trained in the economy of time change and date-lines— those who regularly go through the rituals of trying to figure out from the Southern Hemisphere when to call family and friends in northern parts of the world—the morning sequences are dizzying as one tries to figure out what time it is in Vancouver if it is 5.46 FEEDING MCWORLD.m in Perth. To emphasise the local.05 a. If the actual hour is arbitrary.. Moscow. a Canadian cowboy. According to Ted Horton. trendy Romans.m. Mexico at 8.00 a. which are also saturated with notions of tradition: the Maple Leaf forever. Perth. Vancouver at 7. Visually the ad works by fading one night scene into another: a woman in front of a Russian mural of an astronaut. precisely what DDB Needham has done for McDonald’s Australia: across the very particularised sites of Rome. McDonald’s Canada has the distinction of being the first ‘international’ McDonald’s .05 a. The temporal narrative is given local and seasonal colour by shots of autumn leaves and a Maple Leaf flag. These ritualised objects are then given new movement in the pacing of the ads. Moscow at 9. Morning moves into evening with a segue into male voices drumming out a heavy beat of ‘Everybody’s going out’. the universality of McDonald’s emerges. The insistent ‘Everybody’s going out.m. of course.m. and Mexico. the choice of countries is less so. the Red Square as a reminder of Communism.45 a. and an Aboriginal family framed by a war memorial and red sky. the McDonald’s AM cuts between shots of Rome at 6. EATING IDEOLOGIES 1994:5). Featuring many of the same locations and characters seen in the previous ad.. the Holden as the quintessential Australian car.10 a. stereotyped characters are deployed. old guys in the outback. The central and driving paradox of the universalistic and the particular is brought out in another version of the ‘It’s MacTime Now’ ads that temporalises narrations of McDonald’s world time-space. and Perth at 5. The highlighting of the attraction of localism. 1996). an ageing drag queen couple in Perth (echoes of Priscilla).
of the interlocking and the non-interlocking. Mexico stands in for a ‘Mcmodernisation’ of the Third World. As Massey argues. which then leads into an Italian street strewn with hanging laundry. EATING IDEOLOGIES 47 (to the extent that Americans recognise Canada as international). as Massey puts it. there is a shot of young children’s hands enjoined. the local and global come together as McDonald’s extends and configures world peace and harmony. Russia recalls the fall of Communism and memorialises the hamburger as a catalyst of political change.FEEDING MCWORLD. moreover. and then we cut back and forth between images of a young blonde girl in front of a microphone. and it replayed the very American Olympics as a celebration of global unity. Using the Beatles’ song. The street opens into a plaza where a young boy is playing with a soccer ball. ‘Come Together’. kids in Moscow. the white girl . 1993:156). the incredible complexities. The next shots segue from young men in Moscow to a couple of Japanese guys in wet suits standing on a Japanese city corner with surf boards to two blond and bronzed surfers in the Australian outback. white and black together. As the refrain ‘Come together over me’ crescendos. Using some of the characters—places and individuals—from the ‘It’s MacTime Now’ ad. and Australia can be mined for striking vistas of a vast land. All the countries are singular examples of the tensions between the temporal and spatial effects of globalisation. this ad was broadcast in Australia during the 1996 Olympics. 1993:156). and as an event sponsored by McDonald’s. and show the picturesque ways in which the local and global coincide. This produces the simultaneity that the ‘It’s MacTime Now’ ads capture and portray so well. a simultaneity ‘which has extension and configuration’ (Ibid. This is followed by a line of quick shots as we move to Russia and then Italy: these include shots of a young woman hugging an older man. it opens with an old guy walking up to the camera from the outback. a young Aboriginal girl peering into the camera. it is.. This then leads into a shot of a young Aboriginal girl in front of a colonial and authoritarian-looking building. He throws it up and we follow it to a scene of a veiled bride in white standing on a car as the airborne trajectory of the ball turns into that of her wedding bouquet. ‘“Space” is created out of the vast intricacies. and the network of relations at every scale from local to global’ (Massey. yet more Russian soldiers happily fleeing what looks like the Kremlin. Accompanied by the crescendo of ‘come together’. This is followed by an African runner. dotted with tourists and Indigenous inhabitants— the tyranny of distance collapsed within McDonald’s world. which in turn lands in a shot of the Australian outback farmer. In another ad.
and they have certainly picked up the lingo of their new home. there and here. In the ‘It’s MacTime Now’ ads. McDonald’s has extended into spheres quite unconnected with its food products. McDonald’s articulates a supranational citizenship where we are all joined in celebration of our place in the world. 1995:8). everyone belongs to some tribe. The screen fades to black at the end of her speech and the McDonald’s logo of the Australian flag. wherein ‘Jihad pursues a bloody politics of identity. everyone is a consumer. and tells the story of how it came to belong. In particular. It is a localised space and a globalised place. This is extended in its promotional literature. However.’ This leads Barber to argue that ‘Belonging by default to Me World. where you can buy burgers day or night. McWorld’. according to Soysal. He sums this up as ‘Jihad vs. Redolent with images of . McDonald’s wants us to understand what and who the ideal citizen is in this new glocal order. ‘McDonald’s and Australia have become the right combination’. it took a while for the now ubiquitous Golden Arches of McDonald’s to comfortably define themselves in Australian culture’ (The Australian. as both systems send offshoots into every sphere of social activity. McDonald’s especially takes to the masculinised figure of the battler. and in fact becomes the battler. As the promo puts it. however. it is McDonald’s. For Benjamin Barber. the word ‘tiMe’ with the arches. But no one is a citizen’ (Barber. seeking a repository for identity. Barber’s grim depiction misses the fact of the affect that McDonald’s deploys in its construction of a deeply interconnected world. In a special promotion called ‘Beyond the Arches’. and it produces this construction of glocal citizenship on two levels. and where the simultaneity of time-space structures like McDonald’s extends and reconfigures social relations: family and friends are here and there simultaneously. 10 August 1996). Me World a bloodless economics of profit. EATING IDEOLOGIES exhorts us that ‘It’s time for hope/It’s time to dream/It’s time to come together/It’s Olympic time’ (this girl was in fact ‘the secret ingredient’ in Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympics). McDonald’s shows itself as an embodied and locally responsible citizen. In true rhizomatic fashion. where. This is then a post-national world where time is folded into the immediacy of space. the lead-in states ‘Like many other newcomers settling into a new country. Of course. In the ‘Come Together’ series.48 FEEDING MCWORLD. ‘PROUD SPONSOR AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC TEAM’. with overt references to Australian national mythology. ‘the boundaries are fluid’. the Olympic rings. and the statement. the logic of McDonald’s is congruent with that of Islam. where McDonald’s places itself as an immigrant.
Of course if it really were a good Aussie son. This would not be a surprise to those who lived through Thatcherite Britain. A letter to the editor of a Sydney newspaper points out ‘that while McDonald’s is a guest in our country it is free to peddle its wares. the text is filled with lines such as: ‘the company had to survive several battles early on’. ‘Banks made it difficult for franchises to raise money and the company had battles with the Foreign Investment Review Board. McDonald’s can exactly date when it truly felt it belonged as Australian: ‘About 1985 we ceased being perceived as an American organisation and became an Aussie icon… when Australians nickname us Macca’s we are here to stay. Recently. It has. and. The ‘battler’ (and its close cousin. and is used extensively in the Conservative arguments for commitment to community and to the family. where the notion of citizenship had little to do with community in the sense of Gemeinschaft. it must show respect for our heritage and our traditions’ (Sydney Morning Herald. with absolute control over the ingredients. working-class blokes trying to make a fair go of it. this ‘redefined citizenship through consumerism tied to moral conformity’ (Evans. But McDonald’s is obviously not that interested in the hero on the battlefield.’ However. based on a very limited menu. . been used by both Labour and Conservatives to support their respective ideologies. Recently. however. for instance. In John Howard’s successful election campaign for Prime Minister of Australia in 1995. EATING IDEOLOGIES 49 struggling farmers. the battles paid off. the battler has become central in the political battles for the family.FEEDING MCWORLD. unlike most immigrants. The particular tradition to which the letter writer is referring is that of Anzac in reference to McDonald’s plan to open a restaurant on Anzac Parade in Sydney. 1993:7). ‘in those early days Australian McDonald’s had a different menu—battered fish and chips and chicken were prominent’. in this narrative of national belonging.’ Ironically this occurred after McDonald’s had rectified the mistake of not directly importing the ‘proven concept’: as the text puts it. As David Evans (1993) argues. one of the prominent slogans was ‘Family and Enterprise’. and has a history of being taken up by radically opposing camps. This is very much a masculinised version of the family centring on the breadwinner. Which is to say that they succeeded when they faithfully returned to the American recipe for success. McDonald’s would have known that tampering however remotely with the Anzac legend was bound to lead to trouble. 22 October 1999). McDonald’s is finding that belonging in/as Australian is perhaps harder than they imagined. and everything to do with Gesellschaft: the consumer-citizen. ‘mateship’) is considerably more flexible.
the ‘active citizen underpins the social policy of ‘the diffusion of power. civil obligation.. Here the citizen is located physically and ideologically within the family. 1993:6). Mike Love was apparently Thatcher’s agent. 1993: 5). EATING IDEOLOGIES The dominant Conservative argument at that time in the UK was that ‘citizenship is about our responsibilities—as parents for example. as well as entitlements’ (Conservative Party document cited in Evans. Gabriel documents case after case of racism (Ibid. Thus. thus reuniting women and the family. We believe that to repay that trust we have to establish that these allegations are untrue’ (interviewed in McLibel). As Bea Campbell remarks. During the McLibel trial. A McDonald’s manager comments that people rarely stay long in the job: ‘It’s the . In his study of racism and economics. it was “unfettered by British traditions and prejudices” ’. 1993:5). he proclaimed that ‘over one million customers a day in the UK enjoy coming to McDonald’s and trust us. this vision of the citizen and family comes together with McDonald’s corporate strategy. Not surprisingly. ‘The modern citizen’s prime rights are to have the freedom to make a well-informed choice of high quality commodities and services in public and private sectors’ (in Evans. Thatcherism was concerned with something bigger than both of them: the family as the anchor of the new right’s anti-statism and economic liberalism’ (in Evans. a study conducted by the Transnational Information Centre found that. Before he became the Head of Communications for McDonald’s UK. ‘Rather than waging an ideological offensive to consign women to their separate sphere within the home. Certainly the UK has been good to McDonald’s as compared with the USA. 1994:99). which is understood as a bastion of obligation and voluntary service. regulation or other forms of state interference’ (Gabriel. policy. In the Thatcher Conservative Party’s rhetoric.50 FEEDING MCWORLD. 1994:98). Despite McDonald’s claims that EEO programmes are unnecessary because ‘unlike other UK firms. where they are legally required to implement affirmative action guidelines. 1993:4). as in John Howard’s ideology. contrary to the vaunted benefits of McDonald’s ‘flexible working conditions’. and voluntary service’ (in Evans. part-time workers are expected to work overtime at the basic rate. And one can hear something of the ringing tones of the Iron Lady in Love’s defence of McDonald’s. Moreover. he was drawn to ‘the particularly aggressive and selfcongratulatory way in which it presented itself as an egalitarian employer and service provider…[and] its claim that equality is more effectively realised in the absence of any attempt to promote it through law. John Gabriel states that whilst McDonald’s may not be worse than other corporations. or as neighbours.
of course. 1994:113). But they obviously want happy families—an ideal that is encouraged by such competitions as ‘The Aussie of the Month designed to encourage good citizenship by rewarding school children for outstanding school and community spirit. McDonald’s is there for you. papers were filled with extraordinary detail about McDonald’s operations. This programme is ‘open to all children between the age of three and six years who raise a minimum of $300. a promotion tells us. 1997). the McLibel trial produced the worst PR ever experienced by a multinational.FEEDING MCWORLD. Throughout the trial. This is why. Even when the family breaks up. During the trial. the renewed emphasis on the family and community in both government and corporate rhetoric operates as an antidote to the commonly experienced social and economic realities of the glocal.2 million hits during the week of the verdict. Training in good citizenship starts early in Queensland. appearance. as Deleuze says. And. For instance. awful pay and it’s a degrading job—having to clean tables and scrub floors in front of customers—and always having to smile’ (cited in Gabriel. Or at least. The children are judged on personality. Faced with this precariousness (which it helps to reproduce). 10 August 1996). but care McDonald’s does. EATING IDEOLOGIES 51 pressure. charm and manner. as I have argued. heavy hours. McDonald’s prominently wears its mantle of care for the glocal family. concern for others and generosity’ (MacPack: The Answers to All Your Questions about McDonald’s). kindness. it continually . so it tries to persuade us. where one can compete in the Tiny Tots Endeavour Program. which provides support for people in Queensland with intellectual disabilities. It may well be that.’ So. And the global fast-food provider had to contend with the global information provider. providing quality time for families through ‘flexible’ working hours. as in the plan to have places where divorced parents can exchange kids. to providing a place for their divorced parents to meet and exchange the children in custody arrangements. McDonald’s endlessly repeats that it cares: statements about caring for the community. 1990:245). which many thought was an act of stupidity on the part of such a savvy media performer. it is the most terrifying news in the world ‘to be told that enterprises have a “soul” ’ (Deleuze. The McSpotlight website had 2. The McDonaldisation of the workforce is obviously part of the climate of ‘labour precariousness’ that now characterises the economy (Cass. McDonald’s provides a space where ‘for some families it’s the only time they have to sit down together’ (The Australian. from ensuring that tiny tots will be charming. and strengthening the family unit through competitions and charity fund-raisers.
to the altruistic Ronald McDonald (the confidential ‘Operations Manual’ states that ‘Ronald loves McDonald’s and McDonald’s food…children exert a phenomenal influence when it comes to restaurant selection.52 FEEDING MCWORLD. animal welfare. Of course union organisation is deemed ‘Gross Misconduct and as such is a summary sackable offence’ (McSpotlight. McSpotlight publicised quotes from the authorised McDonald’s biography (Love. destruction of the environment. EATING IDEOLOGIES offered information on ‘the most carefully manicured. to animal welfare (the UK President also stated that ‘hens kept in batteries are better cared for’ and that cages are ‘pretty comfortable’). exploitation of children through advertising and workers through low pay’ (McSpotlight. it parleys the symbolism of its . to the environment (the UK President asserted that he believed dumping McDonald’s waste ‘to be a benefit. saying ‘the reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is because they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for two thousand years…if we eat McDonald’s hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years we will become taller. although of course the optic through which we are all united is McDonald’s itself. empty gravel pits all over the country’). But first. All in all. our skin whiter and our hair blond’ (McSpotlight. Highlighting the inanities of McDonald’s battler rhetoric to which I referred earlier. On the ground. and in terms of employees and trade unions. otherwise you will end up with lots of vast. 16 February 1996). They revelled in pointing out the inconsistencies in McDonald’s discourse on everything from nutrition (an expert testified that CocaCola™ is nutritious in that it is ‘providing water and…that is part of a balanced diet’). 12 February 1996). If this all seems inexorable. although they ‘couldn’t actually pay any lower wages without falling foul of the law’. 16 February 1996). Its advertising fosters a sense of connectedness. the UK Vice President stated that he didn’t think that McDonald’s employees were underpaid. defensive and possibly the most arrogant corporation…[with] at its heart diet and illhealth. This is followed by a quote from the president of McDonald’s in Japan. I now want to consider what possible alternatives can be offered in the face of Me World. This means you should do everything you can to appeal to children’s love for Ronald and McDonald’s’). I’ll draw together the argument so far. It is clear that McDonald’s is highly successful in creating a world-wide family with roots in the local. 1986) about the ‘fundamental challenge of establishing beef as a common food’. More importantly. it seems that the McDonald’s corporate family is ruled by the iron hand of the paterfamilias. it attempts to integrate itself through rhetoric of belonging and glocal familialism.
These programmes aim at constituting civicness. even though they apparently have to eat McDonald’s food while in the hospices. In addition. McLibel and common sense tell us that beneath these good deeds lurks a vast operation whose goal is profit. its continual exhortation to come together and its promotion of world harmony soon pall. which has actively slashed day care. EATING IDEOLOGIES 53 glocalism into programmes located in actual communities. However. but are always operated through the medium of McDonald’s. and indeed turn them/us into one big family. foster the institution of the family. While not as virulent as the Conservative government of John Howard. This corporate good citizenship presumably aids some: while kids can probably have fun without the help of a McDonald’s-sponsored ‘funday’. The gender politics of McDonald’s and many governments are equally shaky. real women find that their burdens of care are greatly increased. the Ronald McDonald Foundation does help parents and sick children. it also needs to be pointed out that even the ‘feel-good’ governments of Blair and Clinton have done little to help women’s workload in the family. Moreover. to single out McDonald’s as the evil empire may be missing the point. the ethics of care it articulates is a bizarre amalgam of Judaeo-Christianity (coming together over the body of McDonald’s). It also begs the question of what can be offered as an alternative to McDonald’s. and so forth. Ronald McDonald homes and the like. I’ll turn to some . at the level of material detail. and the aggressive Conservative tactics of transforming citizens into consumers. or rather. as the programmes are all designed to assure the loyalty of customers. except that is as the unnamed who will take care of the community. Blair’s famous ‘third way’ has very little to say about women. McDonald’s has created a motherless family. its construction of happy families eating together is at odds with life as we know it. Moreover. As social rights are displaced from the state into Tiny Tot programmes.FEEDING MCWORLD. Its logic is perfectly congruent with ways in which present governments (be they Conservative or Liberal) are using the family as a major means for redirecting social welfare back on to the family. and its claims to care about the environment are dubious. The bitter irony here is the fact that women are inconsequential to the McDonald’s family. femininity and the family. In the final part of this chapter. This is of course not pure philanthropy. McSpotlight. Given the conduct of democratically elected governments in this regard. McDonald’s replaces women with itself in the traditional triangle of food. and other programmes that aid women and minorities. there is something slippery about the ways in which McDonald’s describes itself. Indeed. As I’ve argued. in a game of substitution.
‘if we had to choose to save the life of a normal human being or an intellectually disabled human being. incapable of any decision or responsibility. as infantilised members of the McDonald’s family. nonetheless we need to think about what individuals who are concerned about their societies may do. While I do not want to buy into the Conservative argument about the ‘responsible’ individual who acts as the alibi for the wholesale dismantling of state programmes. How can we act on our stomachs and consciences? Faced with the more distressing facts of industrial farming (of course not limited to McDonald’s but nonetheless an important part of their food production). philosophers of vegetarianism are scathing about those who abstain from eating animals for health reasons. and neither is it ‘the I don’t eat red meat because it’s better for me’ version. These comments begin to intimate the ways in which his system of prohibitions is based on strict moral lines. fries and milkshakes—and for the ways our kids turn into brats (through McDonald’s secret weapon of ‘pester power’). For example. one obvious answer would be to become vegetarian. 1990:21). While there are many versions of vegetarians and many rationales. In the terms of the McLibel trial. I do so even as I recall the ways in which many opponents of McDonald’s implicitly construct individuals as basically incapable of action. EATING IDEOLOGIES examples of alternative systems of morality that are or could be proposed in opposition to McDonald’s. Singer’s classic essay . As he argued in Animal Liberation. we would probably choose to save the life of a normal human being’ (Singer. that is.54 FEEDING MCWORLD. malleable half-subjects. Singer is a well-known ethicist who has recently got himself into trouble in the USA for suggesting euthanasia for children born with incurable deficiencies. we were to eat a diet composed only of hamburgers. While I engage with the feminist arguments of Carol Adams and the politics of meat and sexual difference in Chapter 3. 1990:20). His argument follows that ‘when we consider members of our own species who lack the characteristics of normal humans we can no longer say that their lives are always to be preferred to those of other animals’ (Ibid. or get sick—if. The type of vegetarianism that I am interested in is not the fuzzy ‘how could you eat cute little lambs?’ type. here I’ll consider the ideas of the guru of vegetarian moralism. Peter Singer. here I want to focus on vegetarianism as a moral system in response to McDonald’s presumed amorality. In any case.. Morris and Steel argue that McDonald’s is liable for the ways in which we drop our McDonald’s garbage on the street. the McLibel crew seems to think that as McDonald’s customers we must be brainwashed.
becoming a vegetarian is a sensible choice. and has been reprinted several times. In terms of practical ideas. without hypocrisy. dripping with blood. EATING IDEOLOGIES 55 ‘Becoming a Vegetarian’ is included in Animal Liberation. At the conclusion of Animal Liberation. In Singer’s formulation of moral vegetarianism. this provides a . first and foremost is the boycott of meat. In many ways. 1992:181). and this means that. and some of Singer’s arguments are convincing. it soon begins to putrefy and stink’ (Ibid. common-sense arguments and strict moralism. Of the various methods by which we can overcome speciesism. and oppose them elsewhere’ (Ibid. you should try to eliminate speciesist practices from your own life. his argument for free-range chicken farming has been vindicated by the fact that freerange birds and eggs are now available in many supermarkets (they are of course more expensive). attempts to escape from the source of pain’. on the basis of low evolution. as in his suggestion that oysters don’t feel pain. 1990:6). which he defines as ‘a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species’ (Ibid. Singer’s central point is about speciesism. ‘no basis remains from which you can. this is manifested in our afflicting pain on other species. if you take morality seriously. criticise racism or sexism’. it was possible to eat some forms of animal life.. The practical aspect soon bleeds into the realm of moral argument. In some ways.. Overall. he argues that he relies solely on rational argument.FEEDING MCWORLD. then ‘you must recognise that speciesism is wrong. And he finds that everything ‘writhes. The stakes in choosing that hamburger are high. But. Singer claims the moral highground. For Singer. the ambiguities of life are stripped to a bare minimum. With this remark. Singer is adamant that vegetarianism is a form of boycott. He then adds that without doing this. and where there are doubts. he questions ‘how far down the evolutionary scale shall we go? Shall we eat fish? What about shrimps? Oysters?’ (Ibid. 1992:174). To which he replies that ‘the only legitimate boundary to our concern for the interests of other beings is the point at which it is no longer accurate to say that the other being has interests’ (Ibid.. Previously Singer had argued that. 1992:187). however. by the 1992 reprint. arguing that ‘the moral obligation to boycott the meat available in butchers’ shops and supermarkets today is…inescapable’ (Ibid. 1992:181). 1990:244). The image that hangs over Singer’s text is ‘the centrepiece of our dinner…comes to us from the slaughterhouse.. Untreated and unrefrigerated.. utters cries. he nonetheless advocates avoiding them.. he oscillates between practical. however. stating that unless one can refute the fact that ‘pain is pain’.
The corollary of the view of McDonald’s customers as individuals helpless in the face of advertising. His argument does. more often than not. Much more interesting than either Singer’s moralism. released from home and family. Of course. My point here is not to condemn the ways in which individuals take up his practices. The bottom line is that many if not most people. planetary ecology is equal to personal health and ecology’. This is also clear in a definition of veganism by a leading proponent of macrobiotics. I do. For instance. for devotees there is a sense of eating as a blueprint. To whom or what we are being responsible is more nebulous. is Singer’s logic that individual human desires must be strictly controlled within a grid of rules and admonitions. but. ‘they’re really the same thing’ (1999). EATING IDEOLOGIES secure basis from which to navigate the world. this is rather instrumental. In some ways. What is clear is that the decision not to eat meat is for many a carefully considered one. and ‘addicted’ to fat and sugar. and organises societal problems under the sole rubric of meat eating. want to highlight the limitations of a politics that sets out blanket norms. are the ways in which individuals try to grapple with the question of how to be responsible. one of the interviewees debated the difference between being a vegan and a vegetarian. Cloaked in omnipotence. wherein ‘Planetary health. Edward Esko. are faced with the sometimes daunting question of how to order their existence. and entails a regimen of rules. Given that the result of his system is to provide care for other species. however. the decision to take up a vegetarian lifestyle can be seen as one way to control the vagaries of life. at some level. have contradictions. it seems that he has a rather grim view of human capacity for caring—which is in fact mirrored in his own rather brutal consideration of those humans who are not ‘normal’. In a paradoxical way. do care about how to live their lives. or my critique of it. who. In Esko’s terms. It’s also clearly a way to impose order. In a focus group of vegans and vegetarians. some of the bound nature of the vegan universe became clear. the very insistence on the centrality of non-humans renders the human individual as the allpowerful pivotal point. the human individual’s act is central to planetary salvation or destruction. As a way of caring. with all the options and all the ramifications pre-ordained. however. His decision to be a vegetarian rather than a vegan stemmed from a suspicion of rules: . This may be particularly true in the case of young adults. in practice it is quite different.56 FEEDING MCWORLD.
In a very thoughtful description of that process she remarks: If I’m pushing my anorexia issue away like. this more sort of strict way of looking at the world. who I live with’. through using veganism.FEEDING MCWORLD. I like want to be really flexible and think all ways of thinking. however. The decision to be either vegetarian or more especially vegan is not taken lightly. just so that I could relax my thinking about food because I was so uptight about everything I put into what I could eat. this more fundamentalism. For others though. One of the striking aspects that emerged in both this focus group and in interviews with ex-anorexics is the number of mainly young women who move from anorexia to either very strict vegetarianism or veganism. As one woman put it. and there is clear consideration about how it is both political and a lifestyle. This. only lasted a short time before she became vegan. how I live. very unlikely to fall for a meat-head. habitually expressed in the ideal of growing one’s own food. And so I started eating meat again. ‘cause now I think of all the food I eat that’s good. One young woman recounts how as a teenager she was a vegetarian and also deeply anorexic. what I buy. The ways of spreading their message varied. this woman also comments that ‘by the same token I don’t like putting a label on myself. given the extent to which veganism informs her identity. being a vegan ‘affects where I shop. with some arguing that by being with animals one is compelled to rethink eating them. This extends to ‘who I see as far as who I make my relationships with. In a somewhat slippery analogy.’ Strangely enough. EATING IDEOLOGIES 57 I can’t bring myself to impose that rule on myself…so I was always kind of suspicious of vegans because I thought these people are just more. Because I’m very. the point was made that being with animals was like ‘falling in love with . the connection between different politics and their veganism was central. and I don’t do that separation of good and bad food then maybe that’s not completely healthy but at the same time um… The central theme that emerges from these individuals’ considerations of their diet is a desire for self-reliance. In a poignant way she remembers deciding to ‘get better from anorexia’: I decided that I wasn’t going to put any restrictions on what I could eat.
would want to claim this high moral ground. EATING IDEOLOGIES someone. and ‘feeding the starving millions’. rhizomatic and wired . The world in which we live is already composed of hectic. A very strong and non-moral consideration emerges in Lisa Heldke’s work. but rather on the types of connections that may be forged through alternative forms of eating. Without belittling the commitment of these individuals. This then creates a stark moral universe in which the individual measures him or herself against a set of strict guidelines. the measure of goodness tends to be the fact that others who eat meat are considered bad. It would be wrong to construe all vegetarians as more interested in morals than ethics. In Pierre Machery’s simple definition. not necessarily an ethical person. the subject is the result of a process of transformation that constitutes him or herself.58 FEEDING MCWORLD. However. ‘the moral subject must conform to a pre-existing law …a universal’ (Machery. we face the fact that we are connected. where ‘the interrelations in which food involves us provide powerful examples of the fact that our relations with others are not optional’ (Heldke. For some. or even which species we want to privilege. or to a universal’ (Ibid. One person made this very clear when he stated that ‘when I talk to a lot of other people who have got different values and morals and aspirations for themselves. 1992:320). 1988:92). and there is an important body of literature which precisely focuses not on the morality of the decision not to eat meat. it is clear that their choice allows them a vantage point from which to view others. In contrast. say a Negro or whatever and realising that “oh they’re like us”’. not eating meat means that ‘I have better morals than they do and ultimately I think that’s what’s important’. 1988:92). they’re really empty’. in behaving ethically. ethical behaviour produces ‘a form of relation to the self which cannot define itself in reference to pre-existing laws. For him. Here it is neither a question of benevolence nor self-satisfaction that propels eating ethically. rather it is the very mundane nature of our interrelations with others that is highlighted. veganism is a form of eating and living that privileges the eater as a ‘good person’.. or vegans and vegetarians in general. Succinctly. While certainly not all of those interviewed. there is a noticeable move away from concerns about other individuals. In ways that recall Tomlinson’s description of the glocal world. Against a morality based in prohibition. what this produces is a moral subject. they’re all. And those connections cannot be sorted into neat bundles according to who eats what.
we can begin to compare the open-ended nature of the glocal with his system of thinking about animals. To return to the opening of this chapter. As Heldke writes. Against this. Morris and Steel seem to think that if people are provided with the facts. let’s review the confrontation between McDonald’s and the activists Steel and Morris. EATING IDEOLOGIES 59 connections between the local mediated at a global level. Left to ourselves. given the right impetus. 1992:320). eat too much fat. but [to] enabl[e] me to live out my relations with others honestly. On the one hand. the McLibel crew seem to think that unless we are ruled with strict moral laws. we can come together. and the far-off rendered close. may be another of its effects. the example of McDonald’s is important in terms of the affect that it appeals to and reproduces in its articulation of an interconnected world. both sides appeal to romanticised notions. they have little belief in the capacities of ordinary individuals to act ‘on their own’. however. and the ways it produces the individual enclosed within a universe of pre-existing rules. As I’ve argued. To put it simply. While neither of these options is appealing. strict forms of moralism begin to seem claustrophobic. they will act in a moral manner and rectify their behaviour. we need to attend to how this world works and what effects it has. we may be able to take from McDonald’s a recognition of the world as ambiguous. this works to actually cut individuals off from (meat-eating) others. the point of being reflexive and ethical in one’s eating is not to give ‘me clean hands and a clean conscience. It would be perfectly fair to question my use of McDonald’s in this context. At the same time. but its methods of mobilising affect cannot be ignored. we will do nothing. created through points of contact with different local sites.FEEDING MCWORLD. and does ultimately harm the environment. as . We may objectively know that McDonald’s is only motivated by profit. recognising that I can never be “good” all alone—that in fact “being good” may be an inappropriate goal toward which to aim’ (Heldke. Being a good person. the point is not to ask ‘What does it mean?’. and let our brainwashed children rule us. Thus instead of the question of ‘What does McDonald’s embracing of the glocal and interrelated world mean?’. as we’ve seen. To take up the questions that Deleuze and Guattari pose in Anti-Oedipus (1977). but rather ‘How does it work?’ or ‘What effects does it have?’. let alone for others. we will litter. On the other. And in terms of Singer’s arguments for moral vegetarianism. and occupying the moral highground. yet. McDonald’s gives us a caring family. If McDonald’s thinks that.
and ethics than either McDonald’s or political vegetarianism. but unfortunately this has become common sense for the ‘bad guys’. eating. paying close attention to the sensuality of eating—the very queerness of sex and eating—may allow us to think about other forms of living ethically. ‘the alimentary-sexual’ offers a more palatable recombination of affect. One way of furthering a politics that begins at the recognition of popular sensibilities. the multinationals. As I will argue in the next chapter. we need to ask why it is that multination als can mobilise the affect of caring. He adds that we ‘need to re-establish a connection between ideological difference and affective identity…if we are to understand what it feels like to be alive…we need to construct a politics of everyday life that begins with popular sensibilities’ (Ibid. As Grossberg argued some years ago in terms of the postmodern. . 1990:238). and its possibilities within the glocal. Returning to the ruling image of the family that eats together. His points now seem like common sense. EATING IDEOLOGIES mundanely interconnected. 1990:237).. and even with whom we can or cannot eat.60 FEEDING MCWORLD. we need to recognise a popular sensibility that ‘dictates both generally and specifically that not everyone can exist within the same affective economy’ (Grossberg. Somewhere between the two lies the possibility of hijacking McDonald’s trade-marking of commensality. To recall Deleuze’s phrase. and still seems radical in terms of the ‘good guys’. is to encourage ways of eating ideologies that upset both certain forms of moralism and McDonald’s affect. while serious forms of eating philosophies are still content to tell us how we should be eating and why.
tells us that ‘we are all now gastropornographers’. a senior editor at Random House recently declared that sex is ‘so not interesting’. bursting stamen. however. that moment of confusion—when the cookbook instructs me to check whether the flowers are male or female. After all. it became legitimate to wonder whether this scandal constituted the last gasp of the reign of sex. Rather. Practices of preparing and eating food are. and the exigency of thinking about restraint. her point about eating is well taken. would you?). or mostly disbelief. it is the recognition of excess and pleasure. She argues that ‘it makes perfect sense that in our puritanical age the last allowable excess should be gastroporn’ (Lawson. of course. In this chapter.3 EATING SEX It seems like a strange time to be arguing that the primacy of sex may be passing. the world has watched in horror. In more clinical fashion. through which I’ll investigate the possibilities and limits of eating sex. control and the taste of power that eating provokes for me. as Bill Clinton’s concept of sexuality was disclosed. covered in buttery crumbs. and enfold the flower’s organ. when is eating sex? The British celebrity food writer/ chef. Apparently. up the open orifice (you wouldn’t use a spoon. 1999: 153–154). is it eating? Conversely. cleaning squid necessitates . and as the sex-non-sex definitions were aired. Think about stuffing zucchini flowers: with batons of cheese. The more mundane stuffing of a chicken may bypass the question of its sex. cheese with petals twisted. Nigella Lawson. How to ignore that flash of power. If oral sex isn’t sex. and not to use the latter. As commentators (perhaps especially outside the USA) constantly complained about being bored with sex. and concluded that Bill Clinton has ruined sex for America. highly sensual and sometimes sexual. I do not want to pursue her in a celebration of gastroporn. While I’d query her idea that sexuality is covered by Puritanism. but nonetheless intimately involves the cook thrusting her hands. rub alongside the full.
Given that I want to encourage alternative queer subjects. insides and outsides. ‘much depends on dinner’ ). the corporeal experience of sex also joins us with other bodies as it reworks aspects of our own relations to ourselves. etc. sympathies and antipathies. be said of sex. drawing out the plastic-like backbone. smells. To repeat Deleuze and Guattari’s argument. past and present.62 EATING SEX sticking fingers into the unknown. The same could. I’ll hazard that sexuality currently risks becoming theoretically stale. delicious or disgusting meal. alterations. Here. in a different vein. At a basic sensorial level. we recognise that we have a different relationship to our bodies after a large. My hope is that thinking through eating may allow us to extend the insights that have resulted from studies of sexuality. at times. To pry open this idea further. 1988: 90). Obviously. sexual and alimentary regimes produce bodies in various states of intermingling: creating and regulating ‘all the attractions and repulsions. penetrations and expansions that affect bodies of all kinds in their relations to one and another’ (Ibid. amalgamations. past its use-by date. In the spirit of ‘it depends’ (or. Deleuze and Guattari (1988) remark upon their collaboration. Margaret Visser’s phrase. 1990). the ingredients. ink. Is food better than sex? The answer to that impossible question must be: ‘it depends’ (on the person. The list of such experiences could go on. it would be foolhardy to categorically privilege the one over the other. of course. what we know of the body and our bodies at any one time will of necessity result from a recognition of our enactments of corporeal practices. past experiences also flock to accompany the savouring of the moment. feeling a sack of eggs. textures. The simple point is that the hands-on encounter with food connects us with surfaces. tastes. or a pristine laboratory. in a manner which coincides with Judith Butler’s notion that sex is a category produced through our various performances and citations of it. In their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus. bodies cannot exist in a hermetic unchanging state (Butler. saying that ‘since each of us was . where they disconnect. in eating we experience different parts of our bodies: from the physical reaction as we bite into something. Moreover.. the timing. Working from this premise. And as I will argue. or sometimes the remnants of its last dinner tickle the tips of digits. the point is to go beyond a mere hyphenating of eating and sex. we need to search out the interconnections of food and sex and try to trace where they join. To return to a central idea of Deleuze and Guattari’s about the intermingling of the sexual and the alimentary.). this cannot be done as if sex and eating existed in a vacuum.
This continues Deleuze’s themes of the double and the importance of the fold in constituting subjectivity. what was closest as well as farthest away’ (Ibid. the unexpected. the banal. Elsewhere he elaborates on this in his interpretation of Foucault’s work. which in turn touches off and connects with others. is loosely contained within each act. segmentarity. The same principle is at work when we consider closely the corporeality of eating or sex.. Deleuze reads Foucault’s insistence on the technologies of subjectification in the second and third volumes of The History of Sexuality in order to draw out a way of mapping and diagnosing the present. You eat and feel parts of yourself moving at different speeds: ‘as in all things. the point of which is the opening up of the body to reveal a multitude of surfaces that seek out contact with other surfaces near or far.. 1988:3). movements of deterritorialization and destratification’ (Ibid. that the entity we call ourself is equally always in motion. All of this. its surface connects with experiences near and far: here its flesh is dusted with cayenne. Bodies are produced as intermingled through the doubled force of the sexual and the alimentary. the mundane. as the mango is turned inside-out. 1998:127). Certainly tactile experiences and texture come to us as surface. of unexpected conjunctions.. 1998:127). This multiplication continues exponentially: ‘we have made use of everything that came within range. memory. strata and territories. is at once merely technical. necessity or appetite? Cutting into a mango. sight. a diagram ‘produces subjectivity.. there was already quite a crowd’ in the writing of the book (Ibid. The point of this somewhat dense description is that the lines of force that regulate and actually produce us are always in motion.. In his book Foucault. of acceleration and rupture’ (Ibid. but it can change its webbing and its movement according to the flow of circumstance in order to shift emphasis in its relation with the social order it is designing’ (Ibid. As Tom Conley writes of this idea. on the contrary. 1988:3–4). but also lines of flight. there are memories of a lover who fed you mango in a tropical bed. of improbable continuums’ (Deleuze in Conley. the familiar. but what of the surface of smell. in all things there are lines that produce ‘phenomena of relative slowness and viscosity. the thrill of the exotic rendered prosaic. 1988:3). 1988:3–4).EATING SEX 63 several. In Deleuze and Guattari’s argument. slicing squares into flesh. for instance. and the manner in which they produce ‘points of emergence or of creativity. but. Mapping and diagramming involve ways of analysing the interrelations of different forces. fantasy. there are lines of articulation. or. It follows that our ways of comprehending these forces will always have to be renewed: as .
the most egoistic. Food here is both what we all share and forms the absolute limit to any commonality.64 EATING SEX Conley argues. thus signalling an important difference between a Greek conception of ethics and sex. how. whereas food and diet continued as the way in which one cared for oneself. As a way of defining ‘the uses of pleasure…in terms of a certain way of caring for one’s body’. and break open the impasse that threatens studies of sexuality. and how the ensuing history of Western thought and practice would deal with sex. This is at the heart of Foucault’s argument in The Use of Pleasure. As many have argued. the vector of food leads into other areas. Simply put. exercise. thinking sex through food is compelling for the ways that it focuses our attention on the interrelation of various corporeal dimensions: that constituting oneself as an ethical subject involves conjugating the forces of sex along with those of food. Simmel writes that ‘what the individual eats. sleeping. oddly enough. 1998:126– 127). 1994:346). the intricate ways in which food and sex intertwine may help to extend our ways of thinking sexuality. writing and thinking. Like a rhizomatic line that always turns into something else. diet. Thus. Without subscribing to either of these generalisations. no one else can eat under any circumstance’ (Ibid. If one were interested in generalisations of history.. when and where one eats ‘characterised the way in which one managed one’s existence…a mode of problematisation of behavior… Regimen was a whole art of living’ (Ibid. and the most unconditionally and most immediately linked to each individual’ (Simmel. where he is interested not in sex per se but rather in the conception of corporeal ethics that the Greeks practised. It is precisely this which is. and following its line we soon arrive at the blurred boundaries between food and sex. Georg Simmel argues that eating encapsulates the paradox of absolute individuality and complete universality: ‘Of everything that people have in common. In this chapter I take up Foucault’s ideas about the interrelations of practices and forces that constituted the dietetic regimen. ‘diet’. food has a propensity for hazing the frontiers of categories. one could say that sex became the object of what Foucault describes as the Christian motif of ‘knowing oneself. Foucault argues that regimen was dietetic not therapeutic. 1994:346). what. For instance. new circumstances ‘require new maps to be crafted according to styles and modes of control’. 1986:97).. or the notion of the regimen was central (Foucault. And these new arrangements produce ‘“other ways” of living social patterns’ (Conley. 1986:98). the most common is that they must eat and drink. Simmel thus gestures .
Mary Douglas quite rightly warned against the propensity to make an overly symbolic reading of food. 1994:346). a meal is a physical event’ (in Symons.EATING SEX 65 to what we might call the brute physicality of eating: as the morsel is going into my mouth. the peculiarities of what and how you are eating and the connections to who or what you are soon get lost. in short. 1981:507) The problems that arise from either ‘a metonymie hazard’ or a ‘metaphoric convenience’ are especially troubling when it comes to eating and sex. ‘food has a constant tendency to transform . equality. as I argued earlier. as Roland Barthes has argued. Appadurai qualifies the rush to celebrate food’s innate universal qualities by arguing that the cultural notion that food has an inherently homogenizing capacity…is itself converted from a metonymie hazard into a metaphoric convenience in the contexts where sharing. In a similar fashion. solidarity. you cannot be anything more than a witness. If food statements commonly contain a metonymie connection (‘you are what you eat. eating seems to possess inherent tropic qualities. eating takes us into a hugely powerful system of values. of course. from metaphor to materiality. As that which both viscerally segregates us and radically brings us together. stating that ‘Food is not only a metaphor or vehicle of communication. my little cream puff). a system of representation that hides its nature in appeals to immediacy and nonmediation. 1994:339). within limits. and the chances are that any sociological specificity will be lost.. It constantly shifts registers: from the sacred to the everyday. Food moves about all the time. Arjun Appadurai argues that ‘Food may generally possess a special semiotic force because of certain universal properties… But this special force must always remain tacit until it is animated by particular cultural concepts and mobilized by particular social contexts’ (Appadurai. and communality are. As Appadurai reminds us. 1981:509). This is. mon petit choux’. In the face of this fundamental alienation of one from the other. eating lends itself to easy metaphor. As it spills into every aspect of life. perceived as desirable results. it is only ‘the shared meal [that] lifts an event of physiological primitivity and inescapable commonality into the sphere of social interaction’ (Ibid. it is the most common and elusive of matters. and. and then sliding down on its route to digestion and finally defaecation. without doubt. regulations and beliefs. pricking up my tongue and taste buds. (Ibid.. not ‘natural’ to food.
. but always consists of practices that foreground how we relate to ourselves and to others. 1961/1979:171). ‘to learn from and strengthen these. How might eating and sex come to constitute the outlines of another way of thinking and feeling. and on the other hand to engage with them as they mark us. Rather. and for what’s feasible at any time or place. and second. In this sense. a way too of acting and behaving that at one and the same time marks a relation of belonging and presents itself as task’ (in Rabinow. 1997:xxvii). restraint and good timing. The promise of thinking eating/sex is that it requires attention to what Foucault calls ‘attitude’: ‘a way of thinking and feeling. It was a hazy summer evening in the fashionable enclave of Potts Point. and then focus on the ethical possibilities that eating and sexuality offer when practised with care. 1961/1979:171). it enjoins us to seek out the singularities marking our present. sympathy highlights an ethical practice. While I realise the enormity of this task. I use these somewhat random examples to diagram and map some of the possibilities that eating offers in rethinking the limits of sexuality deployed as the privileged object within the theorisation of identity. then the task of thinking ethics will necessarily be a doubled one. I want to extend the reach of theory by looking first at the way that sex now spills on to food. here I take Foucault’s fairly simple if demanding line as he instructs us to concentrate on modes of living already in existence. 1997:xxxi). For the ingredients themselves. and which I have myself used. I will now turn to several sites that highlight the scrambling of sex. and around the corner from the flesh pots of Kings Cross. 1987:24). not to discover or “invent” others’ (Rabinow. If ‘ethics’ cannot be reified as an object. I will first sketch out certain overdetermined ways of constituting food/sex. one that is fuelled by what the novelist Antoine Laurent calls ‘sympathy’?: ‘Sympathy for where she is. revealing the fact that ‘a representation of contemporary existence is implied in the consciousness we have of the function of food’ (Ibid. In what follows. not a passive acceptance of life. come with me to Sydney in order to experience the sights and smells. This is not a polemic against those theories (queer and feminist) that have centred around sex. For as he states. the people she’s cooking for. On the one hand. food is always ‘bound to values of power’. all play a part’ (Laurent. for who she’s with.66 EATING SEX itself into situation’ (Barthes. Food chic To start. . at accounts of eating that compel us to think about an ethics of living—other ways of being. gender and eating.
In terms of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras™. Manfield is part of the new breed of chefs as ‘sex pots’. 1998:29). digestive fodder in between the sumptuous courses. 1999). the editor of Marie-Claire Lifestyle. go ahead’. who has recently added to his career options by starring semi-starkers in ads for milk. a beautiful pink and white ice cream triangle. cookbooks are the new pornography’ (1998:26). he breathes heavily. In an only slightly tongue-incheek manner. explains that ‘different professions are sexy at different times. food writer John Newton interviewed another sexy Sydney chef. The real star of the night was Christine Manfield who.’ (Newton. Guillaume Brahimi. ‘sex on a plate’. or more likely in a trendy restaurant. Manfield said grace. Karen McCartney. Leave the lid on and take it off at the table—owwww!’ He howls with ecstasy: ‘Food is the sexiest thing. we were to share. In Sydney. it seems that food has become more exciting than sex. Newton quotes Brahimi who says that ‘real sex comes from food’: ‘The truffle’. As Wendy Harmer writes. in true commensal fashion. In turn. ‘Chefs are the new rock ’n’ roll stars. In an article entitled ‘Flesh Pots’ (Newton. along with her lover Margie Harris. telling us ‘to eat the words that you are given and if you want to go down. the kitchen. The pièce de résistance was Manfield’s signature dish. ‘a nice thick pasta with parmesan and the truffles shaved in at the last minute. the ‘slice of pride’. which. I love it! I think about it all the time. The buzz spilled on to the pavement as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Australian powerqueers sipped a concoction called ‘passion pops’. ‘Creaming Cock’. The event had gay and lesbian writers squashed in like mere membranes of a mille-feuille. As a case in .EATING SEX 67 things were getting hot and sticky at the Paramount restaurant.. The mistress of ceremony introduced her as ‘the dominatrix of the kitchen’. was the hottest ticket and sold out in minutes. 1999). owns the Paramount. a queer fiction and food fest. and described one of Manfield’s famous dishes. You get the heightened awareness about food. ‘Eat our Words’. 1999) If ‘the ’90s is the decade of the chef. which compels the eater to go down on large tulle cones with apple-ginger custard and Tokay caramel. In the boudoir. she concludes that ‘When the difference between a boring Saturday night alone and an evening of mind-blowing erotic adventure is a backlit picture of a chargrilled eggplant…you’ve got it made’ (Ibid. the media feeds the public on the topic’ (in Newton.
although the gay male fetishisation of Delia Smith is certainly perverse. ‘Testosterone in the kitchen only became an issue when the Brits learnt how to cook. Replace the motor show dolly birds with a plate of stuffed squid draped over the car bonnet and see what happens’ (Sydney Morning Herald. Blue. such as Marco Pierre White and the whole gang’ (in Newton. replacing girlies with sexy and expensive food has resulted in a doubling of the sales of MGs. and produced chefs who smouldered rather than simmered. who apparently owes her girth to a destroyed thyroid brought about by an excess of gin. tomato and rouille’. An ad campaign for the Cuisinart Vita-Mix™ blender featured several naked chefs wielding kitchen gadgets over their privates. raspberry sauce. these chefs are constantly photographed and fawned over: Marco Pierre White was photographed torse nu in The New Yorker with a shark in his crotch. to be found at the end of an episode clutching cigarette and gin and tonic. it certainly has heated up in the past decade. The most unlikely sexy superstars are the delicious Two Fat Ladies. these ‘chunks’ tend to be men. the Sydney Morning Herald recently instructed that we should ‘Forget sex sells—these days food sells. nipple rings. While some might say that London was a slow entrant in the sexy food mecca stakes. ‘MC Garage’. starring the decidedly upper-class Clarissa Dickson Wright. While one can only agree with Manfield’s motto that ‘Life’s too short for bad food. the scenes were pretty tame. As the ‘90s media gods. bad sex or no sex at all’ (in Karpinski. with a rather sweet looking Manfield in black lurex and spikes. In their first series. With rare exceptions like Manfield. published a display of the popular Manfield doing ‘rude food’. this featured an S/M scene with two models in meringue. The article focuses on the new smart restaurant in Sydney. In actual fact. and ‘plenty of black leather’. which start at $45. The sexy chef brigade is a peripatetic gang whose influences crosspollinate across various metropolises. Food also seems to sell queer mags. which offers ‘extravagant petrol heads a sportscar as a side with their octopus …snapper and mussel stew with saffron.000. now very sadly reduced to one. 1998:88).68 EATING SEX point. and the worldly Jennifer Paterson of the long red nails. In food journalist Paul Levy’s estimation. According to a breathless newspaper report. the two large ones regaled us with tales of derring-do amongst the landed gentry of . which led Newton (1999) to coin the term ‘chunks (chef hunks)’. 9 February 1998). The tale of the phenomenally successful BBC2 series is legendary. Apparently. 1999). her recipes and food are in fact a lot sexier than the photos. The Australian gay glossy.
This smacks of American selfflagellation. Having watched every episode. drink her beloved red wine and whisky and tell us to be suspicious of vegetarians whom she considered a miserable lot’ (Daily Telegraph. political correctness and plastic surgery’ The obituaries that flowed after Paterson’s death reveal something of her influence. one of the ladies plunges her beringed fingers. flirting with boy scouts. The articles that followed her death from lung cancer piece together a hodgepodge of fact and urban myth. 10 August 1999). 12 August 1999). the pair whizzed through four series. and her friend Prince Charles sent her vanilla ice-cream and organic tomato soup. but that she did not have high regard for vegetarians. ‘toothsome meat’. In the light of this. a fact that enraged many groups. The delicious irony must have pleased her: being lauded solely because she was fat in a country . and went from cult to superstar status. given the fact that Clarissa ‘holds the home of the hamburger responsible for everything that’s wrong with the modern world—including fast food. In between titbits about cooking testicles in Benghazi (in cream of course). In one it is said that Paterson ‘would smoke while she cooked. and we learn that ‘panAsian’ is really Australian. instructions to wrap your meatloaf in bacon so it looks like a Union Jack. or musings about their ‘kitchenalia fetish’. it seems bizarre that they were popular in America: as the BBC obituary put it. Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle. The conversation is peppered with remarks about ‘real faggots’ (meatballs). the other passes scathing remarks about vegetarians. In hospital she received jars of caviar from her hoards of admirers. In their trade-mark Triumph Thunderbird motorbike and side-car (registration plates. and odd refrains of songs: ‘The playing fields of Eton have made us frightfully brave’ croons the one. I can attest to the fact that she never smoked whilst cooking. Of course. In their third cookbook. N88 TFL—bingo parlance for two fat ladies). into a bowl of raw mince and egg. ‘The duo built up a following in the US—where over 55 per cent of adults are overweight—and were hailed as a potent weapon in the fight against “body fascism” promoted by Hollywood and TV programmes’ (BBC Online. 1998:7). hamming it up with the members of a girls’ school lacrosse team. This is all lubricated with asides about ‘slap up meals’. as the other declines Latin verbs.EATING SEX 69 Scotland. and playing at being Annie Oakley on the moors as they shoot small birds. complete with long red nails. microwave ovens and supermarket-bought chicken. we’re told that ‘the whole of the USA seemed to have developed Fatladymania’ (Paterson and Wright. she did have a well-deserved fag and a drink after the meal was served.
The milieu is rustic and provincial. As an Australian television reviewer remarked of the series. 3 November 1999). This was life being enjoyed’ (Daily Telegraph. as only the English of a certain class can do. allowing both for hearty food and snarky remarks: ‘do you think they do garlic up here?’ remarks Clarissa. as another obituary put it. ‘frightfully rude. We also find out that the originator of the dish. This of course provides them with ample opportunity for lots of jokes including a nearly complete rendition of the Monty Python skit. With more refrains of ‘I dress up in girlie clothing just like my dear papa’. and in fact had to be accommodated on opposite sides of the island when they were filming in Jamaica. to which Clarissa replies. which provides the occasion for comments about ‘shoving the Pope’s nose in. there is a wistful air to their banter. ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK… I dress in girlie clothing and prance around all day’. As the TV critic comments. and where people eat the most atrocious things because they are 99 per cent fat-free. wanted every peasant to have a chicken in the pot. ‘what we liked about them was their robustness. In the penultimate episode. an urban rumour has it that Clarissa was spotted in Sydney with Paterson’s replacement. while Clarissa points out that with power tools they don’t do that much heavy work. but who in the terms of many of the obituaries still appears to be ‘larger than life’. As they whisk yet more butter into the beurre blanc. ‘Sometimes it seems that they’re amusing each other more than the rest of us. frightfully rude’. . the no compromise manner. humour and lots of talk about the weather. the two go off to Scotland to cook dinner for some lumberjacks. and a mixture of camp. ‘fans will have to watch. they talk about their nannies. This may or may not be the case—despite her oft-repeated remark that she wouldn’t carry on without Jennifer. But. Oil and lard were used in abundance.70 EATING SEX where smoking is policed even outside. This is the last of the Two Fat Ladies forever’ (Sydney Morning Herald. The fact that Paterson died halfway through the filming of the fourth series has resulted in the weird experience of watching someone who is dead. and was ‘killed by a crazed vegetarian’. nursery food. 12 August 1999). They were funny and served up dishes that gave no concession to kilojoule-counters. Jennifer is rather disappointed that ‘the lumberjacks aren’t as big and brawny’ as they used to be. it is classic Fat Ladies: the distillation of a middleupper-class Englishness.’ Given the rumours that the pair had fallen out. the disregard for anything low-fat. but which bit of rude?’. Jennifer cooks poulet au feu. Henri de Navarre. but the overall effect is endearing.
4 November 1997). the article describes vegetarians as ‘sort of. Emerging chrysalis-like from their earth-brown shirts. At her funeral. Friday 20 August 1999). From sexy chefs to the gloriously queer ladies. it seems that the food media has replaced the personals as the site of titillation and innuendo. glamorous. 4 November 1997). Attitude (November. lang. food writer Jill Dupleix turns sexologist. Sydney Morning Herald. For example. no doubt many would be offended if Paterson is summarily replaced. and very fond of men. However.EATING SEX 71 While not quite on a par with the public’s outrage against Charles remarrying after Diana’s death. GuardianUnlimited Archive. Compared to her own restraint. 1997).d. Jennifer’s arch comments belied a Cowardesque inclination (her immediate advice to the young female producer was ‘to find yourself a nice poof). gave them the cue to show off that they are as queer as a bent sixpence in a rich fruit loaf. one newspaper recently outed vegetables with the headline: ‘Look what’s crawled out of the crisper: glam veg’ (Sydney Morning Herald. Nick Taylor. A. But as they drooled over the young boys from King’s College Cambridge. Citing that chic vegetarian. I had quite honestly never thought of double-peeling broad beans. they would only admit to vegetarian-phobic. this excess and extravagance was why many found this show decidedly queer. Certainly. their pronounced taste for all forms of flesh continues to tantalise. the new vegetarians match sauvignon blanc with their asparagus…and get terribly upset if the chef hasn’t double-peeled their broad beans’ (Jill Dupleix. While the interviewer. remarking on the fact that the white ruffles around the singers’ necks make them ‘look like deliciously edible little lamb chops’. had them pegged (‘Eccentric.Wilson delivered this eulogy: ‘When staring death in the face. well. k. without selfimportance and without self-dramatisation’ (in Julia Hartley-Brewer. the headlines of ‘Fat Lady Jennifer Bowed Out Eating Caviar’ seem a little over the top. As vegetables oust lesbian chic. And the banter of the two ladies was the closest television has come to giving us glimpses of a female homosociality. comforts us with a thought that could have been lifted from any number of sex . and alongside a scrumptious recipe for oysters. ‘Farewell to the Fat Lady’. but it soon becomes addictive: popping alien green little beans from their blanched coats stills time while the mind wanders to other revealing acts of exposure. Being centrefolds in the British gay mag. she did so without flinching. shameless and unmarried? They’re clearly lesbians’).N. albeit a mellowed version of the edgy homoeroticism rampant in private girls’ schools. where she was buried with her favourite crash helmet.
Total surrender. etc. miss the insights that the current popular cultural food scene provides. or permitted interminglings of bodies?’ (Deleuze and Guattari. and a cucumber avocado salad. what matters is how they enable precise connections to be thought and enacted. opens up. Whether it be food or sex. national. Alice Waters. what is this eating sex fetishism all about? Could it be simply that food is now replacing sex as the ground of identities. The conflation of food/sex can be simply convenient (the use of easy metaphors). or a doubled reconfiguration of both. 1994:100).—that have privileged sex in one way or another as either constituting the very truth of ourselves. like food. then cheese on toast and a nice cup of tea are going to work just as well’ (Dupleix. collective or individual? If this is so. the cook as cheesecake. She is clear about her mission: ‘partly to break down the puritan ethos…all I want from people who come to Paramount is total surrender’ (in Newton. Following the cue of the Californian doyenne of food as philosophy. or those that have invested in endlessly deconstructing that supposed truth? While it is tempting to categorically proclaim that sex is dead. is only of interest so far as it allows us to see new connections between individuals and collectivities: to ask what sex and food allow and disallow. restaurateurs and critics alike now are on a crusade: ‘For me food is a totally painless way of awakening people and sharpening their senses’ (Waters. queer. demonstrates some of the limitations of the dominant uses of sex. I want to wager. what disturbs. Either way. She comments that in matters of sex. psychoanalytic. happy and loved. post-colonial. For surely. The current celebration of food as sex and sex as food. 1999). Following Deleuze and Guattari. large lady frenzy. ‘What regulates the obligatory. what happens to the purchase of all those theories—feminist. 1988:90). this is not only hasty. lesbian. oral orgasms over tempura. ‘Just remember…that your mood is even more important than your food. I think. relaxed. how can we rethink corporeal practices? Eating and sex provide the opportunity to go beyond a model whereby the body is an . long live the chef as queen. If you are feeling warm. or sloppy (the type of inversion that makes meat equal masculinity). gay. these appropriations of food miss their mark. certain examples of food porn forcefully reveal the limits of thinking in terms of transgression. be it about food or sex. and rearranges the different parts of ourselves? Like that classic ad for Heineken™ (‘the beer that reaches parts that others can’t touch’). but would. For instance. Manfield relates how ‘a very straight man’ reckoned he’d had an oral orgasm after eating her tempura of tuna wrapped in nori with wasabi. oral sex as eating.72 EATING SEX manuals. necessary. be they gendered. 1982: xi). sexuality.
Her musings set off others: in French. flesh confuses the limits of what we are and what we eat. 1992). human and vegetable flesh. we make a fine distinction between flesh. La chair equally refers to animal. As she writes. The word “fleisch”. reveals much about the colonial imagination as well as the constitution of the discipline. 1979). or both..EATING SEX 73 inert entity that passively accepts what goes into it. I also want to question what types of ethical bodies the intermingling of sex and eating might produce. provokes me to an involuntary shudder. which is usually alive and typically human. what or who we want. flesh encapsulates the quandary of whether the body in question is edible. voluptuous. dark or white meat. it is ‘a question no longer of knowing if it is “good” to eat the other or if the other is “good” to eat…One eats him regardless and lets himself be eaten by him’ (Derrida. As we are broken into parts that relate to each other following different logics. buxom. or a sweaty sexy entanglement of limbs? Angela Carter’s early feminist critique of the function of sex in Sade mines the possibilities as well as the limits of flesh (Carter. where food and sex intersect. or again in the superbly evocative French adjective. not wish to enter into young fresh flesh? . of an ample poitrine. 1991:114). 1979:137). In a bare manner. As I discuss in Chapter 4. and firm young flesh is seemingly of necessity exemplified in the dictionary as ‘aimer la chair fraîche’. which is dead. In French one dives into the expansiveness of flesh. the long tradition within anthropology reminds us that eating has also functioned as a privileged way by which we know and categorise the other. and more generally in the West. for indeed how could anyone not aimer entrer dans les chairs fraîches. ‘Eating the other’ is a metaphor for imperial violence (hooks. The moral of the flesh Of course. fertile. Breast or thigh. la chair evokes the delicious intermingling of species as well as the variety of human form. In the English language. shaggable. inert. animal and intended for consumption’ (Ibid. rounded. Either way we are faced with the elemental fact of the flesh. different speeds. I would rather think that they are practices that open ourselves into a multitude of surfaces that tingle and move. the preoccupation with cannibalism within anthropology. in German. As Derrida so famously states. ‘plantureuse’—copious. describing penetration as ‘entrer dans les chairs’. lavish. and meat. but also always brings to mind the image of a woman bien en chair. but it is also the point where knowing the self and caring for the other merge.
Against either celebration or simple condemnation. strawberries. desire loses its troubling otherness’ (Ibid. is in the supermarket. When sex is a cerebral. at least. stuffing different kinds of fruit inside herself. 1979:146). by extension. 1979:138). He then stuffs her with a banana. In other words. of certain modern understandings of sexuality. Simply put.. For all his physical exertion. ‘where desire is a function of the act rather than the act a function of desire. Instead of being the will of the fusion of bodies that confuses their limits. not productive of other directions. sex as meat becomes the principle to reintegrate. In Carter’s argument. In the opening story. when she proposes that Sade provides a model of sex that in the end is devoid of complication. 1979:145). Carter writes that the bed is ‘as public as the dinner table and governed by the same rules of formal confrontation’ (Ibid. In a wonderful line. knowing act of transgression. She then reciprocates with a Lebanese cucumber (which is smaller than an English cucumber). sexual pleasure through transgression produces a sovereign position for the transgressor and serves only to reinforce the inward-looking. In a recent example of transgression as inversion. It becomes a way of reterritorialising the subject rather than sending it into lines of flight. this model of transgression fundamentally reterritorialises the body in sex. grapes. Linda Jaivin’s best-selling novel and soon to be film. representations of sex combined with food are not per se transgressive or. It is the very principle of containment. Her argument constitutes an early warning against an overvalorisation of sex as transgressive. isolated and alienated subject. and. She draws out the ways that a mechanics of transgression based solely in the inversion of body and meat is at the core of Sade’s work. Carter shows how his mania for sexual transgression as inversion was fundamentally uninteresting. Carter’s reading of Sade clarifies for me why I find much of the current food-porn boring.74 EATING SEX Carter uses the semiotic slides between body-flesh-meat to give a compelling critique of Sade. Eat Me. with sex as ‘nothing but a private and individual shock of the nerves’. The store . before the store detective stops her and is ordered to eat her out. it does not modify the subject’ (1979:144). To be more precise.. one of the heroines. ‘Sade is a great puritan and will disinfect of sensuality anything he can lay his hands on. uses eating and food to disguise the ways in which sex is rendered as the very principle of normalisation. ‘sexual pleasure is not experienced as experience. sex is rigidly compartmentalised and serves to confine the leakages between categories.. therefore he writes about sexual relations in terms of butchery and meat’ (Ibid. As such. Ava. figs. and a kiwi fruit.
What emerges from Jaivin’s novel is the sense that sex on its own is no longer terribly interesting. “Usual time. women and animals are the ‘voiceless’ victims of patriarchy. Indeed the issue of ‘sex on its own’ is implicitly raised by ‘the ampersand problem’ of sexual politics. as they leave. usual place?” “You bet. the vitality and virility of meat eating’ (Ibid. but may have instead aggravated. a problem that ‘queer’ was supposed to fix by its expansive inclusiveness. If we no longer say ‘no’ to sex. is not to be found in merely adding on another bit. But surely the queerness of sex. it doesn’t seem to matter whether it is animal or a woman that is the object of consumption because ‘Meat eating is the re-inscription of male power at every meal’ (Ibid.. send lines out to seemingly distant realms and bring other worlds into dizzying proximity? When sex becomes content merely to be queer. To use Carter’s argument.” answers Ava’ (Jaivin. 1995:1–7). in neither does the combination of food and sex fulfil the capacity of the flesh to . she is not alone in this regard. The repressive hypothesis of meat Within certain cultures of eating. aggressive behavior. In her book. This yields a direct equation of the terms meat and men. and indeed eating. Taking a radical feminist anti-porn line into the realm of eating. Carole Adams is a leading proponent of a supposed feminist vegetarianism. it turns out that this is a regular routine: ‘“See you next week. in some articulations of eating ‘no’ is the way to go. and. Strangely enough. And.. it also seems that the repressive hypothesis is well and truly alive. she equates S/M and butchery in a sort of weird reversal of Sade. She reiterates endlessly that ‘Eating animals acts as a mirror and representation of patriarchal values’ (Adams. territorial imperative. it seems sexual difference can explain everything. to be fair. When it comes to not eating meat. 1990:187). 1990:187). Adams’s unreconstructed rad-fem analysis of sexual politics is similarly structured to the wannabe ‘bad girl’ Jaivin’s heterosex orgy of fruit and veg. honey pot?” asks Adam. In fact. she seeks to queer it by hyphenating sex and food. 1990:189).EATING SEX 75 closes. which then can be inverted at will: ‘The killed and slaughtered animal yields…imagery of ferociousness. While Jaivin’s account is fundamentally about heterosex. sweet pea. armed hunting. The Sexual Politics of Meat. we need to question whether sex can really explain everything. is it possible that it may actually hinder our capacities to make connections? Posed as the answer. but rather lies in the way in which food or sex compel other combinations.
we hear not ethics but the maintenance of strict and determined boundaries. worse. Angel and Sofia concentrate on the excess of his representation in order to elaborate a feminist rethinking of the ethics of eating and sex. and the addition of vegetable and fruit merely serves to enforce this knowingness. The Cook. and reterritorialised. food captures and closes down sex. or at least the limited possibilities of an ampersand model of theory. using the figure of the cannibal to carry his contempt for the lower middle-class rich. It is perhaps inevitable that human practices will take on the force of stratification.1 In these scenarios. in the other. as she puts it. surely the point is to lose oneself. His Wife and Her Lover.76 EATING SEX rearrange any certainty or. which produce ‘an extraordinary mobility and confusion of organs and spaces and the things that go in and out of them’ (Angel and Sofia. To recall Deleuze and Guattari’s point. In Jaivin’s story. in the one. sexual difference captures and restricts eating. and then require a change in attitude in order to open them up again. not to mention downright messy. those ‘bad’ vegetarians who eat fish. As Foucault argued throughout his work. You will recall that Greenaway fuses food and sex. And. in a congruent fashion. 1996:479). Arguing against the phallus as that which secures meaning—be it in eating or sex—they plunder the surplus generated around anal and oral eroticisms. the measure of inclusion and exclusion. I want now to turn to ways of putting the doubledness of sex and food to work: to use their enfolding as both analytic vectors and as sites of ethical becoming. the ‘fusion to confuse’. An example of both the stultifying weight of concepts as well as the positivity of freeing them can be heard in Maria Angel and Zoë Sofia’s wonderful reading of Peter Greenaway’s film. and. any assortment of practices can be captured. This produces the politics of eating and sex as complex and ambiguous. to see oneself rearranged through sex or thinking or writing. In her rage against meat-eaters and. it is clear that the author knows what sex is. What is particularly striking about the examples of Jaivin and Adams are the ways in which. and then require other actions to free them up. These examples show up some of the limits of sex. the importation of food into sex tends to close down the troubling possibilities of sex—as well as those of eating. We are however increasingly faced with the question of whether sex can disrupt us when it is transformed into an object. The Thief. From the various food- . whereby addition doesn’t alter the other term. Following these considerations. Lines of flight will always be reterritorialised. Adams wants to police the troubling fusion of flesh eating flesh.
For example. excitement and fear. and volunteer organisations that coordinate individuals who cook for homeridden HIV sufferers. who have grown up in the shadow of HIV. eating sex is the catalyst for reflecting on ways of being in the world. but in this instance and others. My wager here is that. through eating. it seems to me that those that work. Of course. In fact. we may begin to formulate an ethics of living that works against the logics of categorisation that now dominate much of the politics of identity. it brings home the practical. those that send off new lines and beg new connections. one cannot lay too much hope or weight on what was. Here it does not make sense to say that eating is more important than sex. for gay communities ravaged by years of HIV/AIDS and scaremongering about sex. the connections set off from their conjugation may offer a way of retraining the ethical and political impulse that propelled much of queer theorisation: the wish to make connections between our sexualities and our lives. friends and lovers coexists with the wilder sexual manifestations of queer life.EATING SEX 77 sex sites I have touched upon. it seems that queer eating may allow for other ways of thinking identity. considerations of conduct not usually associated with ‘queer pride’. the connection of eating and sex makes possible other vectors. Eating sex offers a way of returning to questions about pleasure . an event for the relatively affluent. In small ways. and the equally impressive imperative not to be subsumed within moral equations of sex. At the event of words and eating that I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. it seems that Manfield’s cooking sparked off minute new lines of connection. it provoked reflection on questions that are all too often separated out from those of sexuality per se. after all. In the break between courses. are the ones motivated by what makes cooking. The women present demonstrated restraint: none of us pointed out that the boys were stumbling on well-trodden feminist ground. the poor. and for whom in fact sex has always been tinged with grief. For these men. I want to be clear that eating cannot simply supersede sex. placed within a network that includes charity dinners in aid of People Living With Aids. young gay men talked about the cooking of their mothers. However. or vice versa. embedded and corporeal nature of thinking ethics. eating and sex all potent. or an etho-poetics of food and sex. the fact of eating ‘queer’ food set off a chain of connections as they struggled to speak about the violence that their mothers had experienced in the confines of the homes and kitchens of their youth. it is important to remember that this practical caring for strangers. In a spontaneous way. But. done in a certain way.
and love. This produces fabulous bodies that are opened up. Milieu designates simultaneously ‘surroundings’. Beyond her renom for a piquant version of brownies. Coincidentally. In culinary terms. Bodies eating sex are thus connected rhizomatically in different permutations. her book is completely informed by. le juste milieu…the golden mean. is what makes…not only good cooks but good critics of food’ (Ibid.Toklas Cookbook embodies a sort of caring. It also returns our attention to the forces that regulate our everyday lives: in short. Toklas tells us that ‘the only way to learn to cook is to cook’ (Toklas.78 EATING SEX within restraint. As such it is crucial to the ways in which they understand the workings of the rhizome within the coming together and breaking apart of assemblages. It has neither beginning nor end. Along with being very good. translated as practical advice. war. politics. ‘what is at question in the rhizome is a relation to sexuality— but also to the animal. we glimpse through them the intermingling of bodies. her desire to train the palate reverberates with the wider themes that I have been discussing. to a very practical figuring of an everyday ethics of living. Toklas’s use of le juste milieu. bodies and touch. Nevertheless.. and instructive of. surfaces prepared for the touch of other surfaces. recalls the importance of milieu in Deleuze and Guattari’s argument. ‘It is composed not of units but of dimensions. but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills’ (Massumi. Her golden rule is ‘Respect for the inherent quality and flavour of each ingredient’ (Ibid. the role of restraint. her recipes are suggestive of a certain conduct. One of my favourite mistresses of the ‘alimentary-sexual’ as a guide for life is Alice B. 1987:21). ‘medium’ and ‘middle’ (Massumi. memories. As she roams over decades and constantly eddies around the love of Gertrude Stein. and good critics like Stein had independent means. The Alice B. As they argue. and through those connections attract yet more surfaces. producing bodies with ‘multiple entry ways and exits’. as a way of conveying the type of restraint she advocates. sympathy understood as a means of respecting the situatedness of lives and identities. In her eminently sensible way. as in others. the . nations. the world. 1987: xvii). Of course.Toklas. 1995: 37). the vegetal. To replay Deleuze and Guattari’s definition.. one can object that she and Stein were the products of a certain time and class. this comes from considering seriously the qualities of each element before they are combined: ‘This restraint. when good cooks had maids. not to mention the company of the adoring Toklas. 1995:4). 1995:5). or rather directions in motion. In this way. we can rethink practices of eating and sex as rhizomatic.
Reflecting on this experience. While ‘A Lesbian Appetite’ strikes me as a great deal more erotic than some of the current food-porn. 1988:156). With a scrumptious list of meals. for politics. eating opens in several directions.. pride. 1988:151–2). watery-eyed. cooking. Thinking of the limits and possibilities provoked by this. it is also a deeply pedagogic tale of the ethics. Allison refuses to conflate sex and eating. she remembers her girlfriends by what they ate together. the line of poverty acts to fissure any easy celebration of queer eating. In Allison’s story. for sex. it is as if we always start in the middle. women are hungry for other women. that food and sex can forge. for chocolate. ‘homosexuality…is an historic occasion to re-open affective and relational virtualities’ (Foucault. as he argued. things natural and artificial…all manner of “becomings”’ (Deleuze and Guattari. the modes of living. bacon and greens. Lest one . Later. Her text strangely revives Foucault’s argument. and then recombines them in suggestive ways.. 1988:156). the sense of timing and movement so essential to eating. steal it if we must’ (Ibid. family. 1988:163). in Allison’s tale. 1988:21). loving and being. I’ll conclude this chapter by drawing on another representation of the sexual alimentary that flays food and sex into their composite dimensions. and gives us a profound understanding of the connections between eating. We drank spring water together and fought a lot’ (Allison. each ingredient. with these images Allison draws out the meaning of food within poverty. she will describe both the girls and the meals. beans. Like salt on an eggplant. for remembering (Ibid. affective and relational possibilities are embodied in the slow caress given to each detail. shame and love. Other lines are clear and distinct in her description of the shame experienced in childhood.EATING SEX 79 book. 1989:207). We didn’t last long. branching off in multiple dimensions. If. for real Southern barbecues. As many will remember. coleslaw and hush puppies. A teacher instructs her that ‘the children of the poor have a lack of brain tissue simply because they don’t get the necessary vitamins at the right age’ (Ibid. Recalling Deleuze and Guattari’s idea. She remembers that as a young girl she was deeply worried that she and her cousins were not getting enough vitamin D. big-headed. but I couldn’t think what to do with her when the sex was finished. Dorothy Allison’s wonderful short story ‘A Lesbian Appetite’ opens with a homage to biscuits. pork fat. and stupid’: ‘We will drink milk. The sex was good. The child is horrified by the image ‘of my cousins. buttermilk. but first she writes of the ‘one lover who didn’t want to eat at all. Rhizomatically. which then intersects with the lines that set off in sex.. Here.
and what we are becoming. sex and eating. how and with whom we have sex. cared for. The point is to make of eating sex a multiplication of all the ways in which life is enjoyed. food is the opportunity to explore the tangible links between what we eat. touched (‘get those hands in there’). what I have tried to suggest is that thinking through eating to sex may make us ‘infinitely more susceptible to pleasure’. ‘this was life being enjoyed’.80 EATING SEX think that this is only possible in an avowedly lesbian text. . enquired after (who has grown it and can we go play with it on the hoof?). are all about breaking up the strict moralities which constrain us. Pleasure and ethics. Let me be clear that if I have argued that certain representations of food and sex belie the limits of sex as the sole optic through which to elaborate an ethics of existence. bodies: an ethics of connection and disconnection between the various assemblages we inhabit. this exploration of timing and touch is also what makes the Two Fat Ladies so suggestive: food here is something to be felt. it should also be clear that I am not advocating the wholesale replacement of sex by food. sex. who we think we are. On the contrary. What we have here are descriptions of the lines that can be wound between food. As one of the obituaries wrote of Jennifer Paterson. and ultimately eaten with appreciation. In short.
which replays the story of a family of settlers in America. this film graphically displays widely held ideas about cannibals. starring in reworked genres of horror films. The cannibal also lurks in other corners. where a young officer (Guy Pearce) throws up at the sight of his fellow officers gorging on slabs of rare meat. the film lurches between cannibalism and vampirism. Carlyle’s character reflects on the changes wrought by eating human flesh. It pits evil against presumed innocence. There are too many places that jumped on the bandwagon of the successful operators and cannibalised the market by offering identical operations’ (Sydney Morning Herald. take to eating each other. In this version. From the moment of starvation he recognises ‘the smell of meat cooking and thanked the Lord’. This behaviour has also spread to up-market restaurant areas: an owner complains. In the food pages as well as the business pages of newspapers we now read about restaurant strips being ‘cannibalised’. he then realises ‘that things got out of hand and our hunger got different… . The figure of the cannibal has returned to haunt Western societies. of course. Silence of the Lambs immediately comes to mind. cannibals in the person of Robert Carlyle are represented as suave. A more recent release is Ravenous (1998). a vehicle for the actor Robert Carlyle. From the opening scene. caught out in the mountains for the duration of the winter. who cross the Sierra Madré. and. with the urbane Hannibal the cannibal Lecter. from which. to his unceremonious end in a mortal embrace with Carlyle in a bear trap. Here.4 CANNIBAL HUNGER. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS Who’s eating whom? Amidst the explosion of the current obsession with food and eating lurks a strange figure. 10 August 1999). Often this refers to the phenomenon whereby fast food outlets eat into each other. it originally came. ambitious and desirous. cruel.
Popular representations of cannibalism remind us of how forceful human hunger is. The extent to which we could be driven by hunger may be shocking for those of us in the West who have little notion of starving to death. The act titillates: Would you? Could you?. but it also marks out the point at which we stop being human. ‘barren’. and indeed portray hunger as the great life driving-force. focus on eating dead people as an act of survival. However. hunger brings with it a swath of symbolic connotations that are central to life as we know it: ‘strong desires’. even as it makes us ponder how far we would go in order to live. as well as designating the limit beyond which humanity is thought to cease. I want to consider the ways in which the figure of the cannibal emphasises the most human of attributes. and who have to live on substandard nutritional fare. It is probably fair to say that most of us have never truly experienced hunger in an extreme form. to which the cannibal replies that ‘morality is the last bastion of the weak’. ‘greed’. He is portrayed as a weakling that Carlyle must devour. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS savage’. In a twist that recalls the colonial history of the use of cannibalism. ‘eagerness’. More often than not. the film about a soccer team lost in the Andes. and a Native American character who reminds us that ‘whites eat the body of Christ’. this questions the very limit of human-ness: to consider eating another human is to realise how fierce the will to live is.82 CANNIBAL HUNGER. At one point it becomes clear that the young officer has indeed tasted human flesh. In Ravenous. and he is taunted by the more experienced cannibal. . In the West. The evocation of hunger therefore acts as an impossible limit which we cannot quite physically comprehend. the film is part of a renewed fascination with cannibals. but to directly die from starvation is rare: perhaps the only individuals to do so are anorexics or political prisoners. there are certainly many who are hungry. The officer is adamant that one must say ‘no’ even while he is consumed by the desire for more. beyond the phenomenological realm. ‘cravings’. we extrapolate from the grumbling stomach into the completely unexperienced realm of real hunger. who also extols the health properties of human meat (basically a cureall for anaemia and a stressful life). and ‘poor’. In this chapter. These tend to be greeted with a mixture of revulsion and understanding. Implicitly. To make the point that whites are basically murderous. Guy Pearce contends with flashbacks to a battle when he was surrounded by corpses: his body squashed in amongst a stack of dead bodies like the jam in a sandwich. Whilst not a great work of art. eating human flesh makes men into superhumans. it is the white man who is savage. Stories such as that portrayed in Alive.
Hunger brings out connotations of human rapaciousness: a visceral questing that operates at the level of food. desires and inclinations. As a threshold figure. the cannibal brings together competing aspects underlying Western identity: its analogy with capital and consumer society is congruent with fears that our appetites have no end. it would seem that we are hungry for difference. it whispers the words of Montaigne: ‘I thinke there is more barbarisme in eating men alive. As a monstrous example the figure of the cannibal reminds us of our inhumanity. If. more often than not understood in terms of ethnic difference. the present preoccupation with cannibalism and appetite may indicate that we are hungry for other modes of understanding everyday life. the cannibal recalls in an elemental way that we desperately need alternative modes of organising ourselves and our relations to others. capitalist and sexual appetites. affinity. it also signals a very basic restraint. ‘the “non-ethnic” experience is. to mangle by tortures torment a body full of lively sense…than to roast and eat him after he is dead’ (in Kilgour.CANNIBAL HUNGER. just as it carries a yearning for a limit to the seemingly endless appetites of consumer society. sex and money. In a world of flattened difference. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 83 and then it is closely linked to appetite. cannibalism today has the appeal of the unthinkable. as an object of fascination. If the figure of the cannibal reminds us of hunger. As Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs have argued. In this way. it is because we have made him so. whiteness is increasingly seen as a ‘state of incompleteness’ that needs to be supplemented by ethnic difference. While we may have lost a visceral experience of hunger. Moreover. but doesn’t. ‘a longing after. But in our moral exhaustion. than to feed upon them dead. In a situation where nearly every taboo has been flaunted and aired. If the cannibal is barbarous. At one level. it questions what we may be becoming. what exactly are we hungry for? In the arguments of several cultural theorists. cannibalism is strongly evocative of the general conflation of concerns about colonial. barbarism lies in the killing not in the eating. the cannibal emerges as strangely honourable. it is perhaps not surprising that at the end of a century of spectacular slaughter. He is an omnivore with a sense of occasion. a . In terms of these debates. the cannibal is a paradoxical figure: at once the emblem of excess. the simplicity of the cannibal should appeal. for Montaigne. the cannibal fascinates because he could eat non-stop. In addition. the cannibal returns to mock our pretensions of morality. eagerly desirous’ (Oxford English Dictionary). 1998:243). by implication. Reminding the West of its past atrocities.
the ingestion and the incorporation of difference adds life to white consumer subjectivity. 1992: 31). via exchange. the figure of the vampire might be more apt here—we feed off a body. more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling’ (Ibid. as well as the behaviour of her Ivy League male students who seek to sexually consume the other. 1992:21). Historically. and indeed identity as commodity. Authentic difference now seems a thing of the past. By ‘eating the other’. In this argument. a condition of containment and death’ (Ibid. American commodity culture’s ingestion of difference allows whites to ‘counter the terrorizing force of the status quo that makes identity fixed. static. only occasionally mourned by Marxists and . In some ways. In hooks’s account. in hooks’s argument. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS negative. have become banal and accepted notions both in terms of consumer practices and academic arguments. 1998:98– 99). As with ethnic cuisine.. 1992: 22). by a consumer cannibalism that not only displaces the Other but denies the significance of that Other’s history through a process of decontextualization’ (Ibid. whites can then add colour. But. Bloody metaphors aside. Analysing fashion-spreads. ethnicity becomes spice. where a white hankering after racialised difference is expressed in alimentary terms: ‘The commodification of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight… Within commodity culture. This plays on the paradoxical nature of consumer culture: for all its consumer choice. not much of an experience at all’ (Gelder and Jacobs. so to speak. turning it into a vampire and thus lose a source of food. a little bit of difference adds piquancy to a white diet of the same. through those processes of ingestion. in some ways the commodification of difference. as cannibals we destroy the very difference that we crave. whites are cannibals hungry for difference. This promotes the idea that a little bit of difference makes for ‘more intense. it is clear that we are at a point in Western capitalism whereby difference is just another commodity.84 CANNIBAL HUNGER. ‘Eating the Other’. a lack. 1992:21). arguing that the ingestion of difference nullifies difference: ‘the commodification of difference promotes paradigms of consumption wherein whatever difference the Other inhabits is eradicated. and hooks goes on to further connect consumerism and cannibalism.. This is the argument in bell hooks’s essay. The consumption. the consumption of which can make whites feel better about themselves. seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream culture’ (hooks. what’s on offer has become stultifyingly homogeneous. hooks argues that American mainstream culture presents racial difference as a commodity. and the ingestion of identity is commonplace. to their/our existence..
blasé in the face of yet more choice. recounts his adventure up the river into the Belgian Congo in order to retrieve an immense amount of ivory from a station manager. with its particular articulation of the hunger of the cannibal. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902/1983) is a key reference here. and worse. Quite simply. Kurtz is the vanishing point. desire and envy also returns a palpable sense of the limit of existence. although Roeg’s critique of racism is somewhat less nuanced than Conrad’s.. This indicates a widespread anxiety about the oversaturation of markets. The bare facts of life The interest in cannibalism therefore conjugates questions about markets and late-stage capitalism with issues about basic human existence. To be more precise.. gone native. Within business circles. which in its articulation of fear. Kurtz has apparently gone mad. and a critical vision of social relations that goes beyond a general condemnation of consumer appetite. all powerful in his absence. Kurtz. while it has spawned many adaptations. is deeply relevant to our present concerns. It is in this sense that I will investigate the figure of the cannibal. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 85 radical nationalists. the story revolves around the racism of the Belgian company. 1998:236). who draws us onwards up the river. imperial expansion and capitalist greed. which. she highlights the ‘entrepreneurial obsession with a failure of consumption’ (Ibid. 1998:209). It also alludes to the paradox of companies cannibalising each other in attempts to revive consumers’ jaded appetites.. where a sea captain. ‘Consumerism. In Conrad’s text.CANNIBAL HUNGER. In Crystal Bartolovich’s fascinating article. I’ll return to Conrad’s text later to argue that he gives us a way of thinking about restraint in the midst of excess. The cannibal signifies the limit ‘beyond which further expansion of consumer appetite is deemed impossible’. Nicolas Roeg’s 1993 film adaptation is fairly faithful to the original. and then Marlow to find Kurtz. A pivotal moment . Heart of Darkness is an incisive critique of the conjuncture of colonialism. Marlow. the use of cannibalism flags ‘a recognition and an attempt to contain a crisis in appetite’ (Ibid. In Roeg’s version. 1998:235). allegedly indulging in cannibalism and parading as a ‘white god’. 1998). or the late logic of cannibalism’ (Bartololvich. the reemergence of cannibalism flirts with notions about what constitutes the threshold beyond which we cease to be human. ‘contemporary capitalism evokes more appetite than it can satisfy’ (Ibid. It follows the basic structure of Conrad’s tale. and as I’ve already intimated. which employs first Kurtz.
who is speared by natives presumed to be cannibals and under the control of Kurtz. the journey up the river in the film leads to the brilliant Colonel Kurtz gone mad. prior to his murder. and in fact. As an allegory of America’s position in the world. the moral gang’. Eating is a dominant theme in the film. the greatness and the ultimate folly of the white man. He distinguishes Kurtz from Marlow. he had asked that any of the natives killed by the white men be given to him ‘so we can eat them’ (said with much spittle and clenching of teeth). This particular reading of Conrad’s text focuses on the foibles. Kurtz tells Marlow that ‘there is no more empty nor detestable creature in nature than the man who runs always from his demon’. he instructs Marlow ‘to think with your entrails as well as your brain… it’s the only way a man can reach great heights’… ‘I know. It’s clear that the black man. One Belgian company employee remarks that ‘men who come out here should not have any entrails’. the greed. For instance as he caresses his pet monkey. Apocalypse Now is an eloquent testimony to seemingly insatiable appetites. Kurtz himself is portrayed as quite cognisant of the limit-role he occupies. These concerns are also central to the more famous film adaptation of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. whereas Kurtz is ‘the ethical genius…the lilywhite protector of the dark hoards’. saying to Marlow ‘You belong to the new gang. ‘Kurtz is an illuminated man’. When we get to Kurtz. Again following the basic structure of Conrad’s text. played of .’ If it is unclear whether Kurtz has eaten the entrails of men. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS is the death of a black man on board. In the famous death scene. is also a cannibal. as he simultaneously exemplifies what happens when that line is breached. casually breaking its neck.86 CANNIBAL HUNGER. with guts and thinking frequently paired. which we can take to mean that Kurtz refracts images of ourselves. John Malkovich has a marvellous time with his lines. Hearts of Darkness. and as he dies. the horror…’. his awareness of the brutality of human existence is constantly in focus: Kurtz knows ‘that it is dangerous to look into the abyss of our true selves’. he sighs ‘…the horror. in Roeg’s Heart of Darkness the figure of Kurtz serves to demarcate the limit beyond which man should not venture. Against the greedy colonials. Certainly the making of the film became a moral crusade for Coppola. shedding light on our collective behaviour. 1 In Francis Coppola’s vision. I have tasted it. In the fascinating documentary made of the filming. As one of the dissolute Belgian officials remarks. lucidly commenting on his ‘isolation and the despair of truth’. is America’s twilight zone’ (cited in Hearts of Darkness). the film-maker’s obsession comes to mirror Kurtz’s. Mafumu. ‘Kurtz’s twilight zone is our twilight zone.
Filmed during the height of protest about Vietnam. and Coppola’s own quest for the truth. ‘charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indie 500’. For Coppola. which of course only matches the ways in which Vietnam constituted America’s first drug war: as Coppola reports. The idea of murdering a colonel for murdering. This is then taken up further as the actors testify that ‘something is happening to us…we felt weird. The film returns again and again to the question of what makes a man. and what makes him inhuman. Predominantly the film works as an extended metaphor about the . and Coppola’s inner life to the point where we no longer know which is which.CANNIBAL HUNGER. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 87 course by a rather debauched Marion Brando (who. Coppola had to set up his own studio to make the film. when the name of the game was murder. The film itself took years to complete. ‘to not answer the story’s question would be to fail’. As Willard says later of his mission. and intersperses ‘real’ life. we felt out of it’. had never read the novel). the scene of Coppola directing a documentary and urging Willard and his men ‘to keep on fighting. it turns out. is shown as patently crazy. one which became his own as he ‘hacked inch by inch…like a great war’ (in Hearts of Darkness). Captain Willard describes the enclave of French colonialists that the soldiers stumble upon in the jungle: they were ‘floating loose in history…hanging on with their finger nails’. the novel was a ‘metaphor for a journey into the self. and there are numerous references to the drugs and alcohol consumed during the filming. Kurtz is to be taken out (‘terminated with extreme prejudice’) by Willard because he has murdered several officers. In part this is because they were. ‘So were we but we had more finger nails. forget the cameras’. and. As he says at the outset of the documentary. the movie. The documentary captures the spiralling and out of control nature of Coppola’s journey. The opening scene shows Willard reduced to a bloody foetal position following his frenzy of self-destruction as ‘kill. which is emphasised by the interspersing of real film footage of the war. in the film. This then becomes an unstable reference point in a film that depicts the world as fundamentally floating free from reason.’ The image of floating loose from history matches the image of floating loose from reality. As the protagonist/Marlow character. He adds. kill’ is intoned on the sound track. ‘it was a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll war’ (in Hearts of Darkness). as none of the major movie companies would touch the project. In this version. It then becomes the tale of America’s madness in the war. and Coppola hawked his own assets to make what was touted as a ‘20 million dollar disaster’ (which went on to make over $150 million).
on the other hand.’ The senselessness of the American presence is juxtaposed to this focus of will: the Americans water-ski with Wagner blaring. and at the heart of the film is the fact that they cannot locate the line that might separate them from inhumanity. Willard’s or Kurtz’s. The question that interests me here is how collectively we imagine or figure that moment when man becomes inhuman. But the question of humanity is represented as a personal journey. shown in terms of sexual appetites and hunger. the soldiers come upon a massive stage lit up in the night like a mirage.’ Apocalypse Now thus tackles some ‘big’ questions. the previous invaders. But we also know that the war wasn’t mere happenstance. ‘I am beyond their timid morality therefore I am beyond caring. and undoubtedly it is a magnificently grandiose film. Kurtz’s will is shown to be crystallised in his insanity: as Kurtz writes to his son. is explicitly compared with the enemy: in a voiceover Willard remarks that ‘Charlie only had two ways home— death or victory. are well-trodden themes in Western philosophy. the . Certainly. they bomb coastal villages so that they can surf. It was more aptly an excessive move to establish power and to control American interests. Foucault argues that ‘modern man is an animal whose politics calls his existence as a living being into question’ (cited in Agamben. are shown in the film to have taken the country to their heart—dining in elegant fashion they acknowledge that they have nowhere to go. By replacing the cannibals with the rudderless soldiers on a mad mission. A USO show features Playboy bunnies adorning helicopters as sexfrenzied privates storm the stage. be it Coppola’s. This excess. If the enemy forces are focused in their purpose to survive. and in general they mark out time that has no reason. In other words. Following Nietzsche. Apocalypse Now portrays a world that is empty. and the excess of America. which it surely was. The American mission. Apocalypse Now depicts Vietnam as insane. If Apocalypse Now uses the crazed soldiers of Vietnam to make this point. the magnitude of Vietnam as an ethical issue is turned into a personalised morality tale. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS madness of Vietnam. With its emphasis on the dehumanising experience of this battle. In contrast to the Americans. a wrinkle in humanity’s unfolding.88 CANNIBAL HUNGER. In a telling scene. the French. what makes a man. 1998:3). has no pretence of civility. In a recent book. and neither was it a matter of personal choice and self-discovery. The seeming senselessness and the excess of American culture are spectacularly displayed. Coppola’s translation of Heart of Darkness loses the precision of Conrad’s critique of appetite. and the question of man’s inhumanity.
.. 1998:3).CANNIBAL HUNGER. and yet who functions to excuse this exclusion: he stands apart. What does it say of man if bare life is thought of as that which will be superseded and brutalised by social relations? Agamben’s central argument is that this simultaneous exclusion and capturing of bare life is ‘the hidden foundation’ of our political system. The question that Agamben pursues is how we are to recognise this bestialised man.. The ground of distinction has traditionally been that of political life versus ‘bare life’: the Greek distinction between bios and zoe. Agamben argues that ‘a society’s “threshold of biological modernity” is situated at the point at which the species and the individual as a simple living body become what is at stake in a society’s political struggle’ (Ibid. Agamben’s primary example of inhumanity is the Holocaust. who can say that they have not been shadowed by the homo sacer? And in fact Agamben cautiously concludes that we are all now homines sacri. cited in Agamben. the figure of the homo sacer brings the actual constitution of humanity into focus. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 89 Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben investigates this in terms of what he calls ‘the homo sacer’: the spectral figure that is produced when. What he allows us to see through his exclusion is not a pretty sight. What. ‘is the relation between politics and life. 1998:8). of its capacity to be killed)’ (Ibid. The homo sacer is then the figure of the man who is excluded. the basis of our arrangement of life together. Citing Foucault. And at that very moment in the exclusion of what is thought to be sweet about man. the homo sacer is an ‘obscure figure of archaic Roman law. we cross the threshold that habitually divides the human and the inhuman.. as both the principle and reminder of the effects of sacrificing bare life. as a society. As Agamben explains. if life presents itself as what is included by means of an exclusion?’ (Ibid. 1998:7). what type of figure serves as an alibi for this new type of power? If modernity heralds the colonisation of ‘bare life’ by political power. ‘Biological modernity’ thus stipulates that human life can be stripped to its bones: ‘what follows is a kind of bestialization of man’ (Foucault. From this long philosophical tradition. in other words. Agamben interrogates the ways in which social. political life is based on inclusion and exclusion. that our bodies are ‘always already caught in a deployment of power’ (Ibid. Drawing on Robert . 1998:3). in which human life is included in the juridical order [ordinamento] solely in the form of its exclusion (that is. 1998:187). he asks. If habitually zoe is thought to precede bios—to represent the sweeter side of human existence— Agamben argues that ‘we must instead ask why Western politics first constitutes itself through an exclusion (which is simultaneously an inclusion) of bare life’.
no nonvalue) other than life. Sydney and New York represents the complete colonisation of bare life: the canary squawking prior to a . and at the same time.. For Agamben. The cannibal reminds us of that which cannot be included in the polis. Agamben argues. of bare life. this then connects explicitly with our present political apathy: ‘it is likely that if politics today seems to be passing through a lasting eclipse. bare life.90 CANNIBAL HUNGER. it revealed the most striking example of inhumanity. an aporia that will continue to justify the inhuman violence that marks modern humanity: Today politics knows no value (and. Yet its very exclusion serves to define humanity. 1998:3). In our increasing inability to feel any emotion except through the mediation of consumer goods. It may also be the case that the food frenzy taking place in metropolitan centres such as London. To twist the terms of the argument. consequently.. 1998:10). 1998:10). It should be emphasised that bare life is not to be confused with pre-social existence. rather it is to be understood as the ground zero of humanity. this is because politics has failed to reckon with this foundational event of modernity’ (Ibid. in the most fundamental way the Holocaust laid the grounds for what it was to be a man. Nazism and fascism—which transformed the decision on bare life into the supreme political principle—will remain stubbornly with us’ (Ibid.. This. In other words. it may also be that the very spectral nature of the cannibal as it revisits Western society is a testimony to our collective concern about our present tastes and appetites. I want to argue that the figure of the cannibal now replicates the functions of the homo sacer. by biopower. taunts us with the possibility of simple. Does the cannibal then function as an index of the visceral separation of bare life from political life? Following Agamben’s argument. signals anxieties about the cannibalism of bare life through consumption. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS Antelme’s testimony about the conditions of life in the Nazi camps. is the bloody basis of our political system. Agamben argues that ‘what the camps taught those who lived there was precisely that “calling into question the quality of man provokes an almost biological assertion of belonging to the human race”’ (Ibid. the return of the figure of the cannibal within the current food fetishism (the alimentary version of what he calls ‘the perfect senselessness to which the society of the spectacle condemns’). and until the contradictions that this fact implies dissolve. it seems that the homo sacer. the social life of man. like the cannibal. For Agamben ‘the biopolitics of both modern totalitarianism and the society of mass hedonism and consumerism’ are our present examples of the penetration of the body. the very limits of being-human.
although facile. Nonetheless. Food is now simultaneously a deeply fetishised commodity—the last difference? —and. single mothers. 17 September 1998). and more generally of ‘Cool Britannia’: ‘Can you graft your conscience onto capitalism?’ (The Guardian. Of course. and define how we perceive reality. 1998:8). as a worrying coincidence. food has become something to be scared of. the tentacles of food reach every part of our inner worlds. appetite and capital: ‘the boundless appetite of capital…in fact shows explosively the absurd irrationality of this system’ (Amin. and other up-market stores. for whom one of life’s ironies is that obesity increases with diminished wealth: ‘fat cats of commerce’ are more likely to be slim than the poor. Amin describes the present in these terms: ‘One hundred and fifty years after The Communist Manifesto was put forth we are once again in one of those moments when the gluttons hold their orgy’ (Ibid. the present alimentary and economic conjuncture is bewildering. 9 September 1998). as I have argued. As we buy ‘comfort food’ to secure the love of a family that no longer eats together. Amin’s energetic attack on neoliberalism and its proponents is striking for its food rhetoric. As we know from Marx.CANNIBAL HUNGER. In order to convey the currency of Marxism. the only thing that is held to be really real. or spend large amounts in order to lose weight. The . As Stuart Hall has asked of Blairism. In these terms. the old.. They are also overwhelmingly more likely to practise ‘ethical eating’ and pick their way through the organic aisles of Sainsbury’s. the financial slump in Asia coincided with ‘a series of food scares involving chicken (bird flu). 1998:8). Moreover. we are told that eating cannibal cows and sheep will ensure a very nasty death. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 91 truly cataclysmic economic and social crisis. coli)’ (The Guardian. 8 September 1998). While some foodstuffs will only slowly kill us. to see the current foodism as analogous to Marie-Antoinette’s infamous slogan tossed to starving French peasants. continues a long tradition of conflating hunger. In terms of what Harvey Levenstein has called ‘the paradox of plenty’. it is contradiction that fuels the commodity system. In a recent book. seafood (cholera) and beef (E. the idea that capitalism is inherently contradictory is hardly new. Neither is it novel to use food analogies to describe that contradiction. Samir Amin. It’s tempting.2 the paradox of food is more than a conundrum of choice for the unemployed. or increasingly for the lower middle class of Western capitalism. the Senegalese Marxist economist. being scared of food is bad for you (‘Food Scares Can Harm Health’ was a headline in The Independent. or wildly mix food and sex together as a synthetic and unappealing combo. If mad cows weren’t worrisome enough.
For instance. Amin’s prognosis of the present economic situation is simple: ‘the current slump. presumably in order to force his readers to feel the presence of capitalism and the possibility of revolution. to gorge themselves on even more extra helpings from the table. 1998:185). given the frenzy of finding new ways to eat old things. as ‘dead labour. 1998:14). 1998:22). who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain’ (Marx in Phillips. it is a wonder that someone hasn’t come up with a theme restaurant dedicated to Marx’s metaphors of consumption. we find an echo of Marx’s own deliciously purple prose. the associations with cannibalism and ingestion serve to render the analysis as well as the experience of consumption ‘more intense. The Independent.. it . Marx was fond of rather ghoulish turns of phrase. Brazil. only lives by sucking living labour.. to take whatever drugs they hope will relieve their indigestion’ (Ibid. 1998:184).92 CANNIBAL HUNGER. According to business analysts. This is precisely the concern of the business world in terms of the cannibalisation of markets. If some of the elements are new. like all others. Amin concurs with them: ‘the social contradiction immanent in the capitalist mode of production has involved a permanent tendency of the system to “produce more than can be consumed”’ (Ibid. 15 September 1998). Amin’s language and his terms of analysis are remarkably faithful to those of Marx. Blood and guts imagery appears in many of Marx’s descriptions of capital. that vampire-like. he is not very far from business writers who are now arguing that the crises in Russia. but they nonetheless laud the trend in business psychology towards the ‘new sobriety’ (Hamish McRae. 1998:7). that ‘blind and measureless…insatiable appetite for surplus-labour’ (in Phillips. is expressed through surplus capital unable to find sufficiently profitable outlets’ (Ibid. Conservative economists may be less catastrophic than Amin. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS archetypal capitalist swine ‘repeat the same orgiastic spectacle of gluttons falling over each other to grab even more riches. Capital is described in terms of blood-sucking. From a different perspective. and Japan are inherently linked. To recall bell hooks’s argument. only after the revolution will ‘human progress cease to resemble that hideous pagan idol. Amin is optimistic that we are now experiencing a crisis of the system. more satisfying’. and lives the more. In this. even in the rather overblown metaphors of consumption and capital in terms of ‘gluttons feasting themselves’. not merely one within the system.. the more labour it sucks’. If the name of the American restaurant chain TGIF (‘Thank God It’s Friday’) explicitly signals the boredom of the wage-slave’s work week.
was contemplating cannibals. Pauline Hanson’s comment that Aboriginals were cannibals was particularly offensive. which physically dominates the City. For a ‘recession-defying £285’ without wine. While the ‘new sobriety’ may change things.’ (The Independent. A business article in a British paper. crippled either by bankruptcy or indigestion is. Flagging appetites While the London restaurant reviewer ate ‘dry human meat’. 8 September 1998). noted that the restaurant opened and ‘the world’s financial markets immediately plunged into chaos’. this time in the heart of the City. the restaurant trade is currently in the throes of a colossal bull market. as we’ve seen. the leader of the racist and xenophobic Australian party. and in expensive sports car outlets. restaurateurs are tripping over each other in a frenzy to get in on the right restaurant scene. for instance. a hemisphere away from the centre of Euro-capitalism. Yet this spectacular consumption of food should also warn us that we may need to reframe the ‘paradox of plenty’ in terms of the question of whether we are at the limits of our capacity to consume. In London. In terms of the immense amounts spent on restaurant meals. Of her many truly strange and violent fantasies. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 93 would be a surer bet than most other commodity investments. Distended consumption by the rich may well produce ‘stagnation [a]s the chronic ailment of capitalism’ (Amin. In Sydney the prices are somewhat more reasonable. One Nation. 12 September 1998). it is claimed that ‘Aborigines living in the Palmer River area of north Queensland ate their own children and killed their older women “like livestock” ’ (Sydney Morning Herald. but the ostentatious now eat in converted banks (often misspelled as ‘Banc’). Amin’s analysis doesn’t sound too far off. off the menu. for the time being it seems that foodism has become the surest way to create new markets within a saturated economy. In her ghost-written book. It is now worth £23 billion and is predicted to rise by 24 per cent over the next four years (The Independent. a journalist. Tracey MacLeod. Even restaurant critics in London seem fazed by yet another upcropping of new expensive restaurants. for the moment. 23 April 1997). she ate a cold poached egg and ‘dry human meat in washing-up water’ (The Independent Magazine. concludes that ‘as the British business appetite for eating gets more and more ravenous…the possibility that we may finish up poor and obese. Not . entitled ‘Feeding Frenzy’. 8 September 1998).CANNIBAL HUNGER. 1998:14). Supping badly at Terence Conran’s new Coq d’Argent. And. Pauline Hanson: The Truth (1997).
became convinced that he was destined to be the main course for the guests’ (Arens. It also caused Eric Rolls. In Hanson’s case. the former chippie’s propensity for being photographed wielding cooking tongs in front of cauldrons of boiling fat evokes images of the archetypal cannibal scene. Peter Hulme writes that the counter-narrative to the omnipresence of the cannibalistic other is that ‘it was a calumny imposed by European colonisers to justify their outrages. and concluded that ‘Cannibalism should not be a sensational thing’ (Sydney Morning Herald.’ He added that ‘Cannibalism among all races has been so widespread that you could be quite certain that Pauline Hanson’s antecedents were cannibals’. Stock & Barrel’. these comments and others (including accusations that Aboriginals ate Chinese miners) were greeted with approval on the part of the extreme right-wing. cannibalism is the white ‘cultural construction which refers to the inordinate capacity of the other to consume human flesh as an especially delectable food’ (Obeyesekeve. 1998:63). Perhaps. The trope of calling the ‘other’ cannibal has a long history. [and that] it had its origins in the disturbed European psyche. who ‘praised Ms Hanson for bringing attention to the “reverse racism that has applied in Australia in the last 20 years” ’ (‘Lock. quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald. The Man-Eating Myth (1979). based on the ways in which whites constantly talked about cannibalism. Hanson’s accusations of cannibalism are but one element in her project to encourage hatred and to reproduce a small-minded. If most cultural critics now prefer to consider cannibalism’s metaphorical reach within colonial regimes. In Gananath Obeyesekeve’s terms. Historically. 1979:12). 23 April 1997). it is a tool of colonial history’ (Hulme. 5 May 1997). thus neatly sidestepping . The anthropologist William Arens writes of ‘an African acquaintance who admitted that. 1998:5). as Rolls intimates. Following in the path of Arens’s famous treatise that attempted to show that there have never been any instances of cannibalism. after being summoned to the British District Commissioner’s House. and in fact it has been central to the construction of the non-European as other. many non-whites have worried about the white man’s perverse desires for human flesh.94 CANNIBAL HUNGER. dangerous and mean version of the now mythic white Australia. a historian and food writer who had been misquoted by Hanson. many have wondered why cannibalism was so important to Europeans. to state that ‘Pauline Hanson is more savage than any cannibal that ever lived. her accusations of cannibalism reveal more of her own tastes. Hanson’s charge of cannibalism is therefore not very original. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS surprisingly.
.CANNIBAL HUNGER. Bucolic visions of Australia (‘this country of ours has the richest mineral deposits in the world and vast rich lands for agriculture and is surrounded by oceans that provide a wealth of seafood’) are contrasted with the ‘$190 billion in [foreign] debt that is strangling us’ (Maiden Speech. it stops making sense to eat humans who can now be persuaded to consume commodities other than human flesh. Indeed. Hanson places the blame for family breakdown on foreign debt. In addition to advocating a ban on immigration from Asian countries. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 95 what might be its practical aspects. the Aztecs ‘chose the nutritional benefits of human flesh over the wealth-producing potential of human labor’. Asian or homosexual). the cannibal can be used to scare people about both difference and sameness. which is merely the flipside of the fact that farmers would not eat their own hogs as they would be cannibalising their wealth-producing source. they ate them. the economic arguments about cannibalisation can be heard in her isolationist economic protectionism. As Harris puts it. Thus. which would be humdrum if it were not for the nature of the commodities circulated and consumed. the anthropologist Marvin Harris plunges straight to the ‘costs and benefits’ of cannibalism. 1986: 232). For Harris ‘meat-hunger’ is the fundamental drive within human societies. Harris’s is a rather straightforward economic rationalist analysis. because their prisoners were not needed as human labour. ‘the Aztec solution was grim but cost-efficient: they treated their captives the same way as Midwestern cornbelt farmers treated their hogs’ (Harris.’ What we see here is an inside/outside doubling of hatred for the insider (the Aboriginal who cannot be told ‘to go home’). in Harris’s argument. her fear of difference was almost comically expressed in her fantasy about a cyborg-lesbian-Asian President of the United States of Australasia. He argues that the Aztecs suffered from a lack of efficient sources of animal protein and. it is clear that the re-emergence of the cannibal marks the intersection of political. cultural and economic turmoil. 10 September 1996). investment companies and big business people. In her hands. he estimates that anywhere between 15. The cannibal condenses Hanson’s hatred for the other within Australia (Aboriginal. world bankers. Beyond her sexual dreams. she is explicit about who exactly is responsible: ‘financial markets. Further on. Reviewing the infamous example of the Aztecs.000 and 250. international organisations. and fear of the outsider (in terms of foreign capital). To return to Hanson. With the rise of modern capitalism.000 humans were eaten a year.
This soon becomes twisted: in a world where business needs difference. Hanson wants sameness. for historical and structural reasons. but cannibalism threatens his own person. Indeed. and politics of an achieved social distance.4 Hanson’s use of the term therefore betrays fear of difference. as in her denouncing of special status for Indigenous Australians. as is exemplified in her proposed tax policy. psychological. Hanson’s rhetoric is perfectly consistent with a use of cannibalism that expresses this doubledness: as a term of abuse it serves to designate the other as beyond the pale. more ‘natural’ time. the fear that the term is used to conjure up derives from ‘an exotic mythology of the dangers proffered to the “universal” subject— dismemberment. The ‘Easy Tax’ proposes a flat 2 per cent tax on everyone. regardless of income or indeed company profits. ingestion. the measures of a bestial appetite’ (Phillips. it evokes fears of being absolutely engulfed in the other. at the same time. In terms of Agamben’s (1998) argument. as it operates as a term of nostalgia for a simpler. White societal fantasies of rape and miscegenation affect the possessions of the white man. Central to her appeal is the way in which she has created white ‘middle Australians’ as the victim. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS Hanson’s use of cannibalism condenses both economic and psychic conflicts in the conjuncture of a discourse that seeks to nostalgically recreate a white Australia freed from the pressures of global capital. which singularly reveals…dependence upon the philosophical. 1998:184). This repeats other terms of racism (notably. castration.3 And certainly Hanson is a mistress of ressentiment. will never attain that sameness.96 CANNIBAL HUNGER. the figure of the black man sexually preying on white females). as not human. racist and moral outrage. and . Her use of the cannibal closely coincides with Jerry Phillips’s argument that ‘the charge of “man-eating” functions as an “ideologème”. it means never having to say you’re sorry to those who. and. equality means sameness. In this way she demonises the other and then safely transfers the historical brutality of colonialism on to the figure of the colonised as cannibal. but it does so with an added charge. It is little wonder that these different aspects of the cannibal should be redeployed by Hanson as she endeavours to argue against difference. Hanson’s use of the cannibal as insult reveals her impotence in the face of the impossibility of living outside of the global economic market. This operates simultaneously with the reassertion of sameness in terms of a homogeneous white Australia distanced from Asian neighbours. Hanson’s charge of cannibalism thus serves to fuel economic. what might be called the territorialisation of ressentiment’ (Phillips. For her. 1998:183). Hanson uses the cannibal to support her brutal racism.
It is then not surprising that a category of ‘affectionate cannibalism’ exists in which there is ‘a confusion of desire and hatred’ (Eli Sagan. 1998:10). Hulme argues that cannibalism functioned as a form of reintegration. In the desire to completely consume the other it is easy to slide from loving to eating. 1998:184).CANNIBAL HUNGER. 1974. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902/1983) establishes the figure . Like the homo sacer. ‘The notion of modernity as a project of transcending the limitations of nature. it reappears as a front against the other. to people who eat one other). In terms of a critique of appetite. and in fact. different forms of cannibalism have had distinct functions in societies. but. with a view to the attainment of the ultimate civil polity has long provided the context for deciding the morality (and reality) of cannibalism’ (Phillips. greed. or the ritual ingestion of dead family members. In the belly of the modern It is clear that the figure of the cannibal is enfolded within the processes that we use to consider ourselves human. that exclusion serves as an alibi for her more cruel propositions of how we should live together. wanting and having sex with the other are deeply enmeshed. Here we can hear the echo of the homo sacer: the cannibal as that which must be excluded. It is. Conrad’s image of the cannibal which most forcefully recalls the power of the homo sacer. In Hanson’s case. Eating. however. In Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary. alphabetically ‘antropofages’ follows ‘amour’ (moving from people who kiss each other. In terms of endo-cannibalism. In more psychoanalytic terms. 1998:247). in Kilgour. when we fear drowning in a sea of sameness. As many have argued. As many have pointed out. cannibalism and incest operate as our society’s psychic ground zero. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 97 a yearning after sameness: cannibalism as ‘a form of nostalgia. and in that exclusion it tugs at hopes for a simple life. 1998:246). historically. as we’ve seen in moments of crisis. Cannibalism is then a deeply ambivalent term. Maggie Kilgour argues that cannibalism recalls ‘a deeper. hunger and civility. if ambivalent desire to recover a time before the emergence of modern individuated subjectivity’ (Kilgour. offering a restoration of social wholeness’ (Hulme. it gestures to more humanity than Hanson seems capable of. It floats in our consciousness as a vague historical term. In Phillips’s argument. It is a term deployed to stake out the fragile frontiers of a modernity always in peril of being engulfed. as I’ll argue. the cannibal stands on the edge of our awareness that simple life must be excluded to allow for political life.
my river. my —” everything belonged to him. for Conrad. here Kurtz cannibalises his own commodity: having made the possessions of the natives into his own. Coppola comes to completely identify with him. the corporeal symbol of an utterly amoral desire to incorporate all within the province of exploitation’ (Phillips. as we have seen. we understand that the objective of the voyage is ‘to tear treasure out of the bowels of the land’ (Conrad. In ways that are much more subtle than either Coppola’s or Roeg’s modern translations. As Marlow tells us. The ever-receding nature of this desire is personified in the figure of Kurtz. Kurtz comes to resemble and incorporate the commodity that he steals from the natives: ‘You should have heard him say “my ivory”… “My Intended. For many commentators it is Kurtz who commands attention. and his drawn-out death. he then self-devours in an ecstasy of greed. In its doubled valency.98 CANNIBAL HUNGER. my ivory. 1902/ 1983:99). “cannibalistic” principle of colonial expansion. science and progress. is used to depict ‘capitalist anthropology (the promotion of homo economicus) …as necessarily tied to the obscenity of capitalist anthropophagy (men and women devoured as expendable commodities)’ (Phillips. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS of the cannibal as a privileged threshold term of modernity. Through the calm voice of Marlow. 1998:189). 1998:189–190). who. my station. which wends its way from the heart of modernity and commercial trade (London and Amsterdam). 1998:188–189). Conrad provides a devastating picture of the violence of colonialism and capitalism. When Marlow finally meets Kurtz in person. is central. who knows that difference is created out of the white man’s desire and then necessarily destroyed. seems at first to embody the ‘unselfish idea of empire’: ‘an emissary of pity. the . demonstrate the ferocity of the colonial capitalist endeavour and provide a glimpse of its possible finitude.’ Kurtz then descends to become ‘the irrational. And clearly Conrad’s analogy of the insatiable appetites of homo economicus’ selfinterest. and. Kurtz is therefore central to the representation of the inherent ambivalence of appetite. he not only owns everything but he is his ivory: ‘It was as though an animated image of death carved out of old ivory had been shaking its hand with menaces’ (Conrad. 1998: 188). by extension. in Phillips. and the becoming-cannibal of Kurtz. Kurtz’s appetites. Heart of Darkness is a beautifully structured tale. In terms of the current business understanding of cannibalism. as Conrad writes. and up into the nether regions created and spoiled by those merchants from ‘the heart of darkness’. cannibalism.’ (in Phillips. of hunger and greed.
. so impenetrable to human thought.. He electrified meetings… He would have been a splendid leader of an extreme party. Marlow contemplates casting Kurtz’s memory to ‘an ever-lasting rest in the dust-bin of progress.. Thus is Marlow faced with ‘a soul that knew no restraint. It soon emerges that. compared to the natives. He bitterly wonders whether Kurtz was equal to the black man who died in their trip up the river: ‘I am not prepared to affirm that the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him’ (Ibid. Even in his awe. 1902/ 1983:107). figuratively speaking. exposing ‘the horror. As Marlow remarks.’ ‘What party?’ asks Marlow. 1902/1983:94). it is clear that Marlow has doubts about Kurtz.. so pitiless to human weakness’ (Ibid. Marlow’s self-avowed terror is distinctly of Kurtz. by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions…[that] had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations’ (Ibid. However. and replays a white fear and equation of the jungle and the native other. The description of Kurtz is also uncanny in its foreshadowing of the horror of Hitler. 1902/1983:87). in focusing on Kurtz.’ says Kurtz of his work in eradicating native customs.. 1902/1983:115). the horror’ of the capitalist and colonialist regime. 1902/1983:108). ‘the heavy. ‘All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz’ (Ibid. 1902/1983:87).. The horror of Kurtz is of a being who has no moral or ethical ground: ‘that I had to deal with a being to whom I could not appeal in the name of anything high or low … There was nothing either above him or below him… He had kicked himself loose of the earth’ (Ibid. all the dead cats of civilisation’ (Ibid. However. In these descriptions Marlow alludes to the idea that Kurtz has participated in cannibal practices.. and. A visitor describes Kurtz to Marlow in these terms: ‘heavens! how that man could talk. Marlow considers Kurtz to be not quite human. At one point. to which the visitor replies ‘Any party… He was an—an— extremist’ (Conrad. and no fear. his fear of Kurtz is not mere transference. we risk glossing over other parts of the tale that illuminate the contemporary paradoxes . In Marlow’s mind he becomes merged with the jungle: ‘so hopeless and so dark. 1902/1983:107). It is undeniable that the figure of Kurtz draws the reader into the ‘darkness’. mute spell of the wilderness—that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts. no faith.CANNIBAL HUNGER. yet struggling blindly with itself (Ibid. not of the supposed native cannibal. Kurtz is clearly a messianic figure: ‘By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded. to a lesser extent. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 99 contradictions of modernity. 1902/1983:86). the appeal of Hanson’s racism. amongst all the sweepings and.
with no reference point. the moral quandary that Kurtz represents. . we have a full description of the humanity of the natives. 1902/1983:75). Marlow emphasises the plight of the natives on board. the structure of Conrad’s text inexorably takes the reader into the downward spiral down the river. But Marlow describes their hunger in terms of the ship company’s greed in not providing them with proper provisions. desire and hunger. As opposed to the whites. who. the blurring of time and space.. In a key passage. as indeed suffering acutely from what Harris calls ‘meathunger’. Most particularly. against the possible cannibalism of Kurtz it is the ‘real’ cannibals that are of interest. The central and defining feature that emerges to distinguish the natives (presumed to be cannibals) from Kurtz and his mad colonialism/cannibalism is their hunger and restraint. for all their hunger. To further emphasise this point. for Marlow. Conrad’s brilliant exposé of appetite depicts the cannibal as displaying civility and restraint in ways that clearly are opposed to the rapaciousness of the white exploiter. Hunger. the natives present ‘Restraint!’. Yet. Then. and in the face of which they are shown to be dignified and restrained. and depicts the white pilgrims on board as ineffectual flotsam. It’s really easier to face bereavement. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS of appetite. Marlow ‘saw that something restraining. the very limits that define us as human: ‘Don’t you know the devilry of lingering starvation. are shown to be morally and actually lost. In their refusal to eat their fellow humans on board. one of those human secrets that baffle probability.. the physical fact that ‘they must have been growing increasingly hungry for at least the past month’. Marlow wonders ‘Why in the name of all the gnawing devils of hunger they didn’t go for us—they were thirty to five—and have a good tuck in’ (Ibid. of river banks that cannot be seen. This realisation that they could have been eaten but were not reaffirms the emerging portrayal of the whites on board: they are so ‘unappetising’. They are presented as meat-eaters. and how one deals with it. its black thoughts. constitutes. dishonour. its sombre and brooding ferocity?’ Above all else ‘It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. and the perdition of one’s soul—than this kind of prolonged hunger’ (Ibid. Throughout the descriptions of fog and mist. Marlow’s attention focuses on the behaviour of the natives on board.100 CANNIBAL HUNGER. 1902/1983:76). had come into play here’. ‘brought to the test of inexorable physical necessity’. its exasperating torment. by contrast the natives really are hungry. in a passage which is central to the ambivalence. While the white colonialists are metaphorically hungry and are consumed by their greed.
at the other. As I argued in Chapter 3 through the example of Alice B. and goes far beyond such a reading. That was his restraint’ (Ibid. . welfare. of governments that urge fiscal restraint and responsibility as they cut back education. and had not the slightest doubt he was sincere. with Kurtz at one extreme devoid of any restraint and therefore of civility. directed at the poor by the rich. turned into an issue of morality: a way of wearing poverty ‘decently’. the white passengers on board display only pretence. What emerges in this reading of Conrad is the fact that it is the cannibal who represents restraint. who demonstrate civility in the face of the most extended circumstances—hunger. whereas the supposed ‘real’ cannibals are the only ones in the text to act with restraint. greed. 1902/1983:77). In terms of the tensions between cannibalism and civility. lacking the brilliance of Kurtz and the humanity of the natives. In his introduction to the novel. 1983:24). this is strange to us now but also may be helpful in working our own way through the ambiguity of present appetites. and the consumption of people—actual and metaphorical. Restraint has therefore traditionally been seen as a normative charge.. Toklas. perhaps in metaphor. perhaps in practice. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 101 Compared to this restraint practised in the depths of hunger. Other appetites Conrad’s text is both a very powerful description of the confusion of appetites. Who indeed? Of course. The other whites are merely shown to be fodder for Empire. telling the rest of us to tighten our belts. Perhaps more surprising. it is clear that the white capitalist becomes a cannibal. As Marlow says of one of the pilgrims on board. restraint is a politically loaded term. It comes to us with images of ‘fat cat bosses’. The problem is. as Marlow finally saw it. who has the necessary restraint to “tackle” it?’ (O’Prey. it seems to me that the use of restraint here is extraordinarily powerful. the natives. Paul O’Prey concludes that ‘The darkness. is all around us and also inside us. and a way of clarifying the conflation of capital. that most impossible of modern attributes. While Marlow’s awe of the cannibal could be understood as yet another categorisation of the ‘noble savage’. their noses in the trough (to mix the bestial metaphors of anti-capitalism). one of the few areas in popular cultures of consumption that lauds restraint is in the realm of cooking programmes. and. Along with the emphasis on hunger. conversely. ‘I looked at him. or. He was just the kind of man who would wish to preserve appearances. Conrad sets up a narrative and moral structure.CANNIBAL HUNGER. child care and other social services.
The cannibal as a mythic figure is exemplary of excess: he is after all the only human being who can eat everything. as we have seen. but does not satisfy. but who practises restraint. It suggests that an ethics and practice of restraint is only possible. is placed against the modern white capitalist who would sell his grandmother. as a nostalgic image of social harmony. return thought to its practical calling’ (Agamben. historically. As a historicised spectre of Western appetite. 20 September 1998). The restraint that I see as central to Conrad’s figuring of the cannibal is. the hunger that the cannibal experiences. and ends with an exhortation to spoon in a ‘handful of restraint’ (Observer Life. but draws the line at eating her. the cannibal. 1998:4–5). As a historical fiction. the horror’. In this way this figure rearticulates a way of being within the increasingly senseless production of identity as the cannibalisation of difference. I think. the homo sacer survives in modern life as the reminder of the ways in which bare life and political life are enmeshed. how far this actually goes is questionable. Like the figure of the homo sacer. And again. . and at the same time. the figure of the cannibal has been deployed as a racist alibi for the violence of colonialism. the cannibal presents us with a visceral sense of restraint performed in the face of hunger.102 CANNIBAL HUNGER. and that it may be the only possibility. in Conrad’s tale. Only a reflection that interrogates the link between bare life and politics ‘will be able to bring the political out of its concealment. RESTRAINT IN EXCESS cooking can highlight the pleasure of restraint. In attending to the ways in which the cannibal is deployed we need to heed its message of restraint as it reminds us of the limits of our humanity. This is not to ignore the ways in which. and as a warning about the finitude of capitalist appetites. can be seen in marked distinction to the darkness. to be found paired with an acknowledgement of the excessive. But the predicament of how to practise restraint in a culture of ‘more’ is precisely what needs to be addressed. ‘the horror. I want to wager that this figure can be made to operate as a limit term in revitalising thinking about ethics and appetites. within a culture of excess. the cannibal continues to condense a number of elements that cannot and must not be erased. Of course. of the modern world. a world in which it is evident that there are no checks on consumption. who is truly omnivorous. Even the unctuous Nigel Slater intersperses his recipes with cries against ‘today’s greed-led standards’. As Agamben argues.
and.’ A taste for diversity of food does not always accompany a taste for tolerance. at last our food is being accepted’. 1998:24). In this chapter I will discuss some of the insalubrious aspects of the history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in terms of the particularities of eating in Australia. as Roberts explained. For instance.’ She continued with the observation that ‘In Australia. it is time to discuss the question of what makes eating in Australia so intense. In part. While I have littered my arguments with copious examples taken from the local food scene. food and culinary delights are always accepted before the differences and backgrounds of the origin of the aroma are. Swinging the Billy (1998). along with some great recipes for tinned food. numerous books now vaunt the delights of bush tucker. ‘Now.5 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE The making of Mod Oz When the Director of the Aboriginal Festival of the Dreaming. an advertisement for Qantas shows a koala in first class. she remarked on the connection between taste and tolerance. opened a recent literary luncheon with the theme of Aboriginality and the Australian republic (which is yet to eventuate). it was inspired by the way in which in her family ‘In the old days. the country and the nation’ (Palmer. While many would baulk at eating roast koala. In his book. my references to Sydney’s food scene are easily explicable: it is . Rhoda Roberts. who tells us that ‘Qantas uses only the freshest produce’ as he is served a nice pot of eucalypt leaves. The event was called ‘Tuck into Culture’. and. as Roberts pointedly commented. Kingsley Palmer argues that ‘Non-Indigenous people are now more aware of the enduring and rich cultural heritage Indigenous Australians contribute to the bush. but ‘are we? Will it take another decade?’ Certainly. representations of the food of Indigenous Australia are commonplace. political discussion was the norm at the dinner table—as children you observed Elders debating many issues and then asked questions.
the proximity to Asia and the concomitant fusion of east and west. one doesn’t need to go further than the renovated pub on the corner to dine on wattle-seed mash and corn-fed chook. for stealing a loaf of . south and north. The signs of food enthusiasm are everywhere. Chinese and other Asian cuisines. the historical features of this specific mix are striking for the ways in which food features. bus shelters feature glossy posters of different varieties of fish. and conversations are dominated by the two themes beloved of Sydneysiders: food and real-estate. As visiting chef after visiting chef enthuses. Civic chauvinism aside. belying Palmer’s optimism that bush tucker can harmonise black and white Australia. the quality of ingredients available in Sydney.104 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE where I live and where I write from. the tales of convicts who. the acknowledged ‘brashness’ and innovation on the part of relatively young chefs. for the middle class eating well is relatively affordable (compared to the other food meccas). However. to Cabramatta’s feast of Korean. or rare rump of kangaroo. The enumeration of Sydney’s alimentary delights could be endless: from the Grower’s Markets where rural producers sell home-made lillipilly jams. Sydney has been recognised over the last several years as one of the world’s foodie meccas. then recedes again to the collective background. have all produced an incredibly vibrant food culture. At a basic level. who invaded and sometimes starved within the land of unrecognisable plenty. alongside New York. During the ‘Good Living Good Food Month’. this acts as a sort of bass-note to our present celebration of eating. Paralleling other white-settler nations. ‘pink’ milk-fed lamb. Roberts’s comments about the continuing lack of recognition of Aboriginality in Australia remind us that there is a darker underside to this cornucopia of good food. In terms of the inner-city suburbs. London and even Paris. the taste of the past at times threatens to come to the fore. This is undoubtedly true. Hard to detect. and boutique marbled beef. hunger and violence within the particular articulation of Australia’s post-colonial becoming. the site of a working fishing industry. I’ll hazard that beneath all the attention to food lies a nagging remembrance of the past. and to eat at Neil Perry’s Rockpool on a beautiful summer’s eve in December is to combine quite exquisite food with proximity to a harbour which is touted as amongst the world’s most stunning. encouraging the masses down to the large fish markets which feature as a tourist destination. I’ll argue that there are several discourses or narratives of the past which enfold eating. and where ‘ordinary’ people go to pick up shrimp to throw on the barbie. More to the point. Malaysian. In cooking terms. From the first whites. the multicultural population.
I want to raise some of the ways in which the history of eating operates in the present. its connections to the land and its histories may highlight the (im)possibilities of coexistence. I think that writing off ‘eating of the other’ as mere liberal pretence is too facile. In this telling. yet I think that the very attention to eating can disrupt any complacent view about Australian tolerance. ‘Delightfully exquisite… It was like nothing he had ever tasted before and far superior than the dull. However. convicts and the Aboriginal people shared their knowledge of the crops . and. starvation and rationing. In the spirit of ‘what might have happened…’ he envisions the First Fleet arriving in Sydney Cove. alimentary associations may help us better understand the stakes at hand. While there are countless studies of the history of Australia. by the phrase ‘the making of Mod Oz’ I refer both to the now celebrated Modern Australian cuisine. David Liddle performs a nice reversal of history. I’ll argue that the discourses of Mod Oz threaten to bring historical relations forward. on stretching their legs from a long voyage. one of the crew members meets a young Aboriginal boy who gives him a dozen brown-green berries the size of grapes. Eating naturalises colonial. and within the overall project of reconciliation between white and Aboriginal Australians. racialised and ethnic relations in present-day Australia.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 105 bread. In general terms. and pushes them to the background. Certainly. this past reverberates in the making of Mod Oz. or witjuti (witchetty) grubs is going to make a jot of difference to the material well-being of ‘the other’. I wouldn’t argue that whites eating a curry. I want to attend to the different tensions and forces at work that make eating within this invaded nation so intense. 1999:1). in thinking about the historical present and the exigency of living well and responsibly within it. the settlers realise the value of the Indigenous food and ‘Farms were established where the new settlers. were sent across the world. eating. My argument will look back to certain tenets of colonialism which were crucial to the constitution of Australia. and a few of the history of eating in Australia. he turns the founding tale of the 1788 invasion on its head. While much has been written of the ways in which ‘ethnic food’ functions within post-colonial nations as a way of rendering ‘tolerance’ more palatable. In his article ‘You Are What You Eat’. Writing that ‘Australia’s Indigenous foods are arguably the best in the world’. In other words. dry oranges and lemons on the ship’ (Liddle. and to the construction of the modern Australian citizen. In particular. to the brutality that white regimes inflicted on the Indigenous people in terms of poisoning. and to highlight our colonial past as a thing of the present with which we must now live.
a Major in the Australian Army who conducted research for the military on survival resources.. The story continues with treaties being signed and the acceptance of coexistence. by which man was commanded to go forth and people and till the land’ (Letter to Lord Grenville. At the time of Phillip’s pronouncements we should recall that in general the whites ate extremely poor rations. Clearly. the First Governor. even he is somewhat surprised at the lack of imagination on the part of the early settlers when it came to harvesting Indigenous food. cleared the land of trees and Aborigines and put their cattle on top of it. In a classic colonial twist. The noted Aboriginal scholar. However. 1999:2). upon arrival. However. It’s clear that Hiddens is much more interested in the heroic tales of the early explorers. writes Liddle (1999:3). 1990:266) referring to the Indigenous foods that have made him famous.’ The story does. Hiddens has been known to say that ‘he wouldn’t eat that shit’ (Soukoulis. it is still fairly rare that it is told in the terms that were so crucial. The Bush Tucker Man. In the terms of Phillip.’ Phillip continues. Marcia Langton. and what whites think Aboriginals eat. under the divine authority. which is to say through the lens of what whites think that whites should eat. end of story. was nothing more than that of emu or the kangaroo.106 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE and the land it came from’ (Ibid. whites were not sure about whether they should eat the food of the other. . much was made of what an appropriate cuisine would be for the new colony. of course. As I will discuss later. plays on the abundance of native foods and white ignorance of them. ‘A nice little story.’ The land was cared for. the white man translates Indigenous knowledges for other whites. This was founded not only on the conceit of the ‘empty land’. but also on the idea that the Aboriginals didn’t. and indeed served as the basis for bonds between all Australians. ‘Soon the new colony had a thriving monopoly worldwide on Australian foods. couldn’t or wouldn’t labour on the land. more often than not they were fitted into the mould that came from England. ‘This vast country was to them a common—they bestowed no labor upon the land—their ownership. Off-camera apparently. The Bush Tucker Man’ is Les Hiddens. ‘What really happened was the new settlers came over. continue and continues to be told. The great absence in Hiddens’s tale of Indigenous plenty is the historical myth of terra nullius. their right. ‘the British people took possession…and they had a perfect right to do so. And while early cookbooks show that Indigenous ingredients such as kangaroo steamer were popular. but it’s not the truth’. One of the classic texts of Australian television. medicines and kangaroo meat. 17 June 1790).
just as pressing as the famine was the possibility that this posed ‘a serious security problem should the Aborigines learn of the state of affairs’ (Ibid. Jean-Paul Bruneteau. as we’ll see. it also connected with the conundrum posed by the concept of equality as it was expressed in The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789). was defined by Locke as ‘any land that is “uncultivated” or “unimproved” by labor: that is. in 1790 the Sirrius was shipwrecked on Norfolk Island and the colony began to starve. consider a cluster of extremely influential texts. It was deeply informed by ideas of the time concerning property and colonial conquest. the influence of John Locke’s theories about land are pervasive: ‘Locke draws the immensely influential conclusion that Europeans are free to settle and acquire property rights to vacant land in America by agricultural cultivation without the consent of the Aboriginal people’ (Tully. 1996:8). Governor Phillip’s statement about the vast unlaboured land was unfortunately more than a passing sentiment. and. By and large.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 107 writes that it was common in the 1780s to kidnap Aboriginals in order to effectuate a doubled strategy: it informed ‘a few captives of British language and customs by having them forcibly live amongst them in the colony. ‘Since first settlement. however. learnt how to recognise and identify these foods and devise methods to process. and continue to form an impediment to the coexistence of Australians. or vacant land. 1993:200). What could be called the troubled knot of history is formed by the interconnections of land. agriculture and equality. plum pine and warrigal spinach. the Indigenous language groups lived with over 60 varieties of meat (including seafood). 1993:200). As James Tully argues in terms of the context of the colonisation of America. given their early abortive attempts at agriculture.. In the words of the French-born chef and bush tucker enthusiast. and a wide range of plant foods. Australian Aborigines have. The infamous notion of terra nullius. especially following the Mabo case. store and cook them with their own regional diversity’ (Bruneteau. I won’t enter into a discussion of the legal ramifications of the notion of terra nullius. with the attendant problems of spoiled food or shipwrecks. which have constituted an impossible nexus for Indigenous people. while walking through this vast paradise. The irony of the situation is that when the whites invaded the land that was to become Sydney. which have been extensively discussed. at the same time to ascertain from them the food and economic resources’ (Langton. where ‘“labor” is defined . such as burrawang seeds. figs. land used for hunting and gathering is vacant’. 1994:159). For instance.1 I will. lillipilly berries. the settlers lived off supplies from Britain. However.
As Tully argues. 1994:165–166). and provides more opportunities for work and labour. Every Nation is therefore bound by the law of nature to cultivate that land which has fallen to its share’ (in Ibid. the terms of Locke’s reasoning about the superiority of the European system are familiar: it uses land more productively.. 1994:165). should come and occupy part of their lands’ (in Ibid. One of the crucial aspects that Tully draws attention to is the amount of effort that Locke expends in justifying the European seizure of Indigenous lands. the fish they catch.. anyone in a state of nature is free to appropriate land without the consent of others’ (Ibid.. Vattel argues that labouring the land is not only the precondition for ownership.108 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE in terms of European agriculture and industry: cultivating. it produces a greater quantity of ‘conveniences’. His argument relies on the notion that all civilisation goes through set stages of development. Locke had to overcome the earlier principle of consent which. the deer they hunt. Tully cites the case of Emeric de Vattel whose The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law (1758) was widely cited. 1994:162). or what touches all must be agreed on by all’ (Ibid. he points out. tilling and improving’ (Ibid.. That said. From this. the Indigenous peoples are said to have ‘limited and fixed desires for property... too confined at home. Unlike citizens in political societies. and thus produce for the sake of subsistence rather than surplus’ (Ibid. and the corn they pick. In this manner. Concomitantly. it follows that for Locke the Aboriginal peoples ‘have property rights only in the products of their labor: the fruit and nuts they gather. It goes without saying that Locke’s arguments circulated widely.. and found echoes in other texts. and places the ‘pre-political’ Aboriginals in the first age where ‘there is no established system of property or government’. In it. but is also ‘an obligation imposed upon man by nature. 1994:159). 1994:160). ‘Locke explains that justification of appropriation without consent is the problem he sets out to solve’. A familiar moralism creeps into Vattel’s argument: ‘Those who would still pursue this idle mode of life occupy more land than they would need of under a system of honest labour. 1994:160). subduing. the amount of justification is surprising. and they may not complain if other more industrious nations. is also the oldest principle of Western law: ‘“quod omnes tangit”. 1994:172–173). Accustomed as we are to popular notions of the past depicting the cavalier theft by Europeans of Aboriginal land. he repeats on at least two occasions that he has solved the problem (Ibid. and as evidence of his concern to demonstrate that he has done so. wandering Europeans are free to grab whatever they come upon: ‘when .
1759/1977:328). Snidely. In a much less entertaining form. he was placed there ut operaretur eum. Voltaire has another character instruct those present: ‘Let us work without theorizing. Tully’s central argument is that these justifications in terms of agriculture and land ownership have been taken up to such an extent that the early acknowledgement by Europeans of the necessity for consent is obscured. those who do not ‘cultivate their gardens’ are condemned: ‘the lawless freedom of hunting. which proves that man was not born for idleness’ (Voltaire. In Kant’s formulation.’ This they do. Pangloss the philosopher. the fact that Aboriginal peoples had complex political organisations and understandings of their land as property was recognised by the colonists in America. This in turn led them to negotiate treaties ‘on the presumption that the Aboriginal people had some sort of prior claim and . His objective is to excavate that prior ground. and Candide’s sweetheart. and the ways in which non-Europeans are somewhat enviously depicted as non-deserving of their lands. They till the land so that they can eat their own candied citrons and pistachios. this theme continues to reverberate. nonetheless proves to be a very good pastry cook. to which Candide replies ‘ ’Tis well said…but we must cultivate our gardens’ (Ibid.. ‘All events are linked up in this best of all possible worlds’. given its articulation of man’s supposedly natural duties. fishing. There are numerous echoes of this articulation of the necessity of tilling the land. One of the more entertaining is to be found in the memorable line in Voltaire’s Candide that ‘we must cultivate our gardens’. and to examine examples of where in fact it had been put into practice. As Tully argues. and herding of all forms of life…is without doubt most contrary to a civilised constitution’ (in Tully. At the end of their own wild travels. As Tully argues. to dress it and to keep it. Locke’s arguments about the necessity of agriculture and commerce are also to be found in Kant’s theories. while there are differences between them. who has become immensely ugly. 1994:166). even as he lampoons Europeans rushing around and claiming ‘unlaboured land’. published in 1759. states that the injunction to cultivate our gardens stems from ‘when man was placed in the Garden of Eden. they may lawfully take possession of them and establish colonies in them’ (cited in Ibid. 1994:167). a character in the novel. It is hardly surprising that this text was widely invoked. Cunegonde. 1759/1977:327). is instructive of the tenor of the time. In the conclusion of the tale.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 109 the Nations of Europe…come upon lands which the savages have no special need of and are making no present and continuous use of.. Voltaire’s story.
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that consent was thus required’ (Ibid., 1994:169). For Tully this previous ground of consent constitutes the condition of possibility of another mode of negotiation in terms of Indigenous property. This is an extremely important point, although, as we will see, it does not extend to the Australian situation. Basically, Tully argues that the common-law system allowed for recognition of Aboriginal claims to their property, and by extension was capable of operating in conjunction with Aboriginal systems of property recognition. Importantly, the gradual development of the common-law system provided the basis for negotiations on ‘a nation-to-nation basis’ (Ibid., 1994:170). Tully argues that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 provided the normative framework for over five hundred treaties. Even before this Proclamation, a Royal Commission in 1665 ‘repudiated the “agriculturalist” argument that land in North America was “vacant waste” and stated that it belonged to the Aboriginal people: “no doubt the country is [the Indians’] till they give it or sell it, though it be not improoued [sic.]”’ (Ibid., 1994:171). More often than not these treaties have been violated or simply ignored. However, Tully’s central point is that these early negotiations provide a framework for present-day thinking about Indigenous and white coexistence. As he concludes, the fact that common-law and Aboriginal systems regarding property were not incompatible allows for ‘two peoples bound together by relations of trust by means of treaties, the Aboriginal traditions, governments, and property systems continue through their negotiated relations of interdependence and guardianship over time’ (Ibid., 1994:178). While this may be an overly rosy picture, at a conceptual level the implications are compelling. Tully includes a stinging critique of political philosophers who have taken either the Lockean or Kantian framework as their starting point, ‘thereby effacing the preexistence of independent Aboriginal government, property and traditions, and assimilating Aboriginal peoples into this Europeanderived framework’ (Ibid., 1994:168). It may be somewhat optimistic to consider the common-law way of negotiation as leading to a fully fledged hybrid of European and Aboriginal conceptualisations of property, but Tully has an important point. This becomes clearer when he argues that in terms of current ways of thinking about citizenship, the tendency is to ignore or misrecognise Aboriginal claims to their land as ‘claims for some sort of minority status’, or as ‘demands for the recognition of difference within, again, some overarching framework of non-Aboriginal institutions and modes of argument, not as an independent system of property and authoritative traditions’ (Ibid.,
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1994:169). In terms of Aboriginal arguments, some leaders, such as John Ah Kit, now argue that we should be working ‘towards a situation where the sovereignty of Aboriginal peoples is marked by control over our lives, lands and communities through a dynamic approach to commercial enterprise through a serious engagement with capital’ (Ah Kit, 1997:53). Moving away from claims based on a ‘minority status’, Ah Kit sees in recent negotiations about land rights and mining (the Mount Todd agreement), ‘a fundamental shift in the ways that Aboriginal groups and commercial interests can coexist for mutual benefit’ (Ibid., 1997:56; see also Ah Kit, 1995). What emerges here is the way in which questions about the land and what is done to it constitute the limits of thinking about the coexistence of white and Indigenous peoples. More often than not the symbolic value of the land is tied to what it provides materially or can be made to provide. In simplified terms, this then results in a dichotomy, whereby European systems of using the land in an instrumental fashion are opposed to Aboriginal conceptions. In turn, we can only seem to make sense of Indigenous ways of thinking the land if they are separated off into a realm of special claims. This can become the basis for a racism of ‘them’ versus ‘us’, which seethes with resentment that somehow equality is being undermined by any special consideration of Aboriginal claims. Conversely, this also allows for the white romanticisation of Aboriginal spirituality. In Australia, the project of understanding Aboriginal culture is also deeply shadowed by the role of white scientific experts, who have taken it upon themselves to explain Aboriginal systems to Aboriginals themselves, and who have also either explicitly or implicitly set the terms for who is a ‘real’ Aboriginal on the basis of skin colour and on the grounds of land knowledge. In this way, ‘real’ Aboriginals are seen to be those who live in a traditional way on the land. This paternalism threatens to stifle Aboriginal organisations’ attempts to rectify the ramifications of their earlier disenfranchisement from the land. If the idea that Aboriginal Australians could have survived over two hundred years of contact and yet remain in a pristine state on the land is self-evidently flawed, it is in part because in Australia the terms that Tully describes in North America were never set in place. Yet, in an ironic twist, even if Aboriginal Australians were not to benefit from the logic of treaties, other European texts and events have had a deep impact. A year before Phillip wrote that the Aborigines could not lay any more claim on the land than could the kangaroo or the emu, at the heart of another empire, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
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(1789) stated in its first article that ‘Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can only be founded on common utility.’ The Declaration is of course hugely influential, but here I only want to pick up on what Etienne Balibar (1991) calls its central aporia. Balibar’s argument draws out the deep contradictions entailed by its articulation of equality that can continue to be felt in terms of the land and its uses. He cites an anonymous writer in 1789 who understood what the Declaration entailed: ‘If anyone is not a citizen, then no one is a citizen. “All distinction ceases. All are citizens, or must be, and whoever is not must be excluded”’ (in Balibar, 1991: 45). Key to Balibar’s argument is the fact that ‘“nonequality” is developed on the basis of equality itself’ (Ibid., 1991:50). This is not the same thing as inequality; it is the radical basis for an ensuing division of equal and non-equal. Those who are not free are more (or rather, less) than merely not citizens; they are nonentities, non-subjects and indeed non-human. Recalling the revolutionary phrase, ‘all are citizens, or must be, and whoever is not must be excluded’, Balibar argues that equality cannot engage with the fact ‘that formations of the imaginary or subjective formations are not the reflection of economy or politics, but rather their psychic material—a material that cannot be manipulated at will’ (Balibar, 1995:163). As we saw with Phillip’s statement, there is a long history of equating Aboriginals with the flora and fauna of the land. Simply put, in the face of the idea that all must be equal or else be excluded, one way to deal with evident inequality is to construct those who trouble notions of equality as the abject category of the non-equal. In addition, we can use Balibar’s argument to understand some of the difficulties that the land as excessive in both material and psychic terms will pose to Western equations of identity. This yields a situation whereby the deep interconnections and meanings of the land and Indigenous peoples have to be ignored, and the Indigenous human inhabitants are rendered as simply another species of wildlife. In this schema, Aboriginals do not live with the land, they simply exist on the ground of the land along with the emu and the kangaroo. And, as we will see, this encouraged white administrators to herd Aboriginals from one spot to another, with results that extend into the present. As Danielle Gallegos and Felicity Newman have recently argued, the founding tenets of white occupation of the land continually intersect with conceptions of eating. Their term to convey this is ‘Terra Australis Culinae Nullius’ (Gallegos and Newman, 1999:2). As they argue, the image of the empty land is still replayed within histories of eating in Australia. They are particularly critical of Michael Symons’s conception
the idea was to instil normative ideas about eating directly transposed from white experience. This is a rather stunning comment when one considers the importance of soil and land in historical conceptions of the nation.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 113 of eating and cooking in Australia. on the one hand. Rowse presents the history of assimilation through rationing: ‘the non-Aboriginal practice…of providing food. For instance. a Walpiri woman and elder from Lander River who sums up the violent regimes that she experienced in one crucial phrase: ‘white men are hungry men’ (in Vaarzon-Morel. The instrumental and institutional feeding of people is. At a material level. and black modes of eating.C. It also reproduced powerful ideas about white manners of eating. While. rationing entrenched the idea that Aboriginals eat differently from whites and need to be trained into white ways of eating.Spencer and E. Tim Rowse (1998) examines the ways in which the rationing system was a key mode of governing and modelling ideas about the relations between white and Aboriginal Australians. Symons’s thesis is that Australia never had a peasant base and consequently has evolved an ‘industrial cuisine’: This is the only continent which has not supported an agrarian society… Our land missed that fertile period when agriculture and cooking were created. 1982:10). historical accounts starkly portray the gulf between whites and Aboriginals. questions continually oscillate about whether the Indigenous can be made to be like ‘us’. At the same time. 1995:94). of course. which ignores. In a striking account of the land and food’s importance. clothing and other goods…to Indigenous people [created] a variety of expectations about the mentality and behaviour of recipients’ (Rowse. white power’.Stirling: ‘they were much exercised by whether it was possible to feel empathy with .B. both the role of women and the fact of Aboriginal foodways. This is powerfully captured by Molly Nungarrayi. The practices of rationing constituted an unsubtle but effective mode of governing the Aboriginal population. 1998:3). on the other the history of rationing provides an intimate picture of white control. From its first inception to the fully developed model of rationing and control. throughout this history. reviewing the 1894 Horn expedition into the centre of Australia. the question of the disparity between whites and Indigenous is acutely raised. as they say. As Rowse describes it. one of the most effective ways of infantilising ‘the other’. Rowse characterises the quandary of W. The title of Rowse’s book succinctly sums up a crucial mode of control: ‘white flour. constituting them as that abject category of the non-equal. There has never been the creative interplay between society and the soil’ (Symons. Reviewing documents from the 1880s to the 1960s.
1998:26). Writing of the sight of Aboriginals eating. even to the skin. As Nungarrayi recalls. in 1913. after more or less baking in the ashes’ (in Ibid. 1995:87). at other moments Stirling’s comments about the Aboriginal people he met reveal his suspicions that ‘they’ are not quite like ‘us’..114 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE Aboriginal people as human beings…rationing made the native seem normal and convivial’ (Rowse. is not allowed to spear the cattle’ (in Ibid.. and must give them something in return.. If. This recalls something of the sentiments which in Tully’s . the blackfellow. and all we can do is to improve their conditions according to our own way of life’ (in Ibid. in general. They only gave us soup and bones’ (in Ibid. remarked that ‘We are occupying their country..Stretton. the Aboriginals ‘had. Rowse draws out the structuring ambiguity about the status of the Indigenous people that has formed the base line throughout Australian history. their disposition being just like that of lighthearted children who have no idea of anything beyond the enjoyment of the present moment. 1998:21). For instance. the Chief Protector of Aborigines.G. This is echoed in the more abstract ideas about reciprocity. 1995:87).. 1998:29). he states that ‘it formed an uninviting spectacle which need not be described here. ate the leftover parts: the intestines. one can also hear white worries about being on Aboriginal land. He argues that this can be seen in the ‘endemic anxiety’ about rationing: ‘that the “privilege” of receiving rations…might be misconstrued as “rights”’ (Rowse. ate. secured the parts not wanted by the white men’ (in Ibid. ate. forelegs. Everything possible is eaten. 1998:19). remarking on the fact that when a bullock was killed. intestines and marrow. it was also strange that they were only given the parts of animals that whites wouldn’t eat. as usual. ‘we only ate. His colleague Spencer is somewhat more sympathetic. hindlegs and skin of the bullock’ (in VaarzonMorel. In terms of Aboriginal accounts. (in Ibid. 1998:16). He goes on to muse that it must have been ‘exceedingly strange to the blacks that whilst the white man can shoot down the emus and kangaroos he. W. 1998:19). 1998:19) If this is a blatant example of infantilisation. In Stirling’s terms: so long as food is plentiful they [the Indigenous] are perfectly happy and contented.. this anxiety was contained within ‘the colonial representation of rationing as ‘recipients’ weakness and givers’ strength’. She gives a clear account of the situation: ‘we’d lived here for a long time with stingy whitefellas.
might they also risk becoming non-equal? The question of pastoralist and Aboriginal relations came under greater scrutiny in the 1960s with the moves to legislate the entitlement of Aboriginal stock workers to the same Industrial Award as white workers. a comparison of the ‘apparent generosity of the pastoralists to the exploitative practices of white store-owners’ (in Vaarzon-Morel. some of the tragedy of black and white relations can be seen in the desire to represent practices clearly skewered by power as ‘better’ than what was to come.. which. this is attested to by the Aboriginal people who lived through the transition from rationing to a cash-based economy. 1998:123). Recalling the previous discussion. for instance. While the Indigenous people were disenfranchised from their land. On the other side of the equation. 1995:95). 1998:43). to some extent. as Annette Hamilton argues. there was to be no system of treaties in Australia. has ‘nothing to do with relative need…you give because it is the right thing to do’ (in Ibid. And. The reasoning behind Rowse’s argument about the connections put in practice by rationing lies in the ways in which pastoralists and Indigenous lived together on the land. there are also reports about the ways in which whites recognised and empathised with the Aboriginal concern and knowledge of the land. as we know. In Molly Nungarrayi’s account there is. Rowse’s central argument is that rationing constituted a set of practices between Aboriginals and pastoralists that hints at forms of coexistence between white and black Australia. indeed. But this then became the site of concern in the eyes of the administration seeking to ‘modernise’ the land.. These were obviously far from equitable. 1998:123).EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 115 argument would lead to the acknowledgement in America that some sort of consent was necessary to justify white occupation of Indigenous land. we can appreciate how deeply worrisome this would be: if whites lived like cattle. when in 1948 he criticised pastoralists’ ‘indulgent treatment of Indigenous people’. This threw up a flurry of white . In terms that threaten to put the whites in with the Aboriginal in terms of ‘letting the land and themselves go’. he writes that some of the whites were ‘as much part of the open range as their cattle’ (in Ibid. We can hear the disdain with which an urban officer views the situation. and one that was totally at odds with Aboriginal ideas about reciprocity. and indeed the only reciprocity was to impose ‘our own way of life’. and. This is of course a strained version of reciprocity. ‘Aborigines employed in conditions they find far from ideal will remain if they are on their own “country”’ (in Rowse. As Diane Bell argued in the early 1970s. However. by living and working on pastoralist stations they could at least continue to care for the land.
’ As he further argues. 1998:124). Basically. etc. 1998:153). As a mixture of instrumental reasoning and sheer inhumanity. the period of communal feeding stands as one of the bleaker moments in a bleak history. Aboriginal workers soon found themselves out of work—or more precisely were ‘let go’ by many of those whites who had testified to their importance. In Rowse’s argument. One pastoralist wrote in 1968 that he ‘felt rather strongly that it was an obligation on us to help these people who had previously owned the land and still had access to it to give them employment and to give them opportunities to better themselves’ (in Ibid.. As Rowse puts it.. 1998:153). in the twisted logic that is revealed in their use of food. Even at the time. worse was to come. the authorities reduced the Indigenous peoples to an extreme state of degradation at the same time as they sought to impart white notions of eating: e. the previous inhabitants of stations were herded into settlements. ‘high dependencies and low expectation were the mutually reinforcing features of the rationing relationship’ (Ibid..g. In addition. 1998:127). portions controlled. Part of the overt rationale was to discourage the settlement’s inhabitants from sharing food and distributing it according to family and kinship ties. this was also a way to keep Aboriginal workers at a low minimum wage. Importantly. With the passing of the legislation awarding Aboriginal stock workers entitlement to the same Industrial Award as whites. and alongside this came the imposition of white ideas of family order. in a ‘housewifely’ planned way. The idea that this constitutes a better model than what was to follow goes to demonstrate some of the immensity of inequity against Aboriginals in their land. an adviser . It was also clearly a way of demonstrating authority. the idea was to force all the Indigenous population of the settlement to eat in a large room at preset times. as well as apparently heartfelt sympathies. with the ‘proper’ utensils. It is here that Rowse argues that ‘the bureaucratisation of rationing achieved its height with the inception of “communal feeding” in the late 1950s’ (Ibid. With a relatively large population of ‘unemployed’. Again.116 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE testimony about the importance of Aboriginal workers to their stations. In terms of degradation. ‘The rationing relationship made it possible for both parties to occupy and to use the country without having to meld their rationales for using and occupying. and eating utensils given out. at a ‘regular’ time. Concomitant to this was the desire to instil in the Indigenous white ways of eating.. this regime sought to ‘empty commensality of its customary meanings and emotional texture and to replace it with the most bureaucratised “feeding” it could manage’ (Ibid. meals were standardised.
cheeked the manager. and the meanings associated with the distribution of food. While this claim needs to be placed in a context of other egregious methods of assimilation—such as the forced separation of children from their families—there is nonetheless a dreadful and evil banality in this practice of forced eating. The Baarkanji woman. Faced with this. As Rowse concludes in his study. In Rowse’s description ‘communal feeding was probably the most important attempt by colonial authority to intervene in the Indigenous domain’ (Rowse. Communal feeding programmes treated Aboriginals as non-equal entities to be fed at the same time that they offered them salvation from that state by imposing ways of bettering themselves by being ‘like us’. didn’t clean up the house.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 117 to the Department of Health remarked that communal feeding ‘degrades the Australian native to the status of a dependent parasite or pet animal’ (in Ibid. In ignorance or in instrumental thought. 1997:3). 1998:153). To feed people in such a way is indeed to put them at the level of animals or non-equals. something that the distinction in German between essen (human) and fressen (animal) highlights. 1998:156). ’cos everyone was fishin’ ’ (Ibid. everyone would have to depend ‘even more on their gardens and what fish they would catch. It then imposed a vision of white manners. and showed a total disregard for important distinctions in family relations about who could eat with whom.. to be distributed and eaten in peace. eating and sharing. and stories are told of women coming to the meals with billy-cans in order to take supplies back to the camps. As Aboriginal writers and leaders have to remind us. and the meanings of cooking. 1993:69). captures some of the subtle and constant nature of this resistance in her account of rations on the mission. the effect was devastating. notions of Aboriginal resistance gather their full force when placed in the context of white brutalisation and infantilisation. many practised what Michel de Certeau (1984) would call the ‘arts of the weak’. what emerges clearly is that the equation of assimilation and true-blue Australian egalitarianism leaves a . Every part of the river bank was taken up with bums. it is crucial that tales of deprivation and violence be met with acknowledgement that Aboriginal peoples did not passively accept the continual punishment (Yunupingu. She recalls that ‘If any one on the mission played up—started to make trouble. In a quotidian way it ripped apart Aboriginal family life. didn’t work. or of men filling their hats with meat so that they could bring food back to families. Evelyn Crawford. At the same time.. anything—everyone in the family got chopped down on their rations’ (Crawford. 1993:69). But then as she matter-of-factly puts it. didn’t send the kids to school.
It should be clear that the division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is based in conceptions of who we think the other is. how and with whom the Aboriginal people should eat. at the same time that it reproduces the infantilisation of Aboriginals. and provide some of the historical reasons about why we are so estranged. He notes that ‘the emphasis on “equality” proved to be racist in a different way—its failure to acknowledge the right to be different’ (Ibid. not always in terms of actual contact. who apparently only just survived on the plant. Wills. explains. As the Bush Tucker Man. These examples encapsulate both the ignorance as well as the continuing fascination with finding a way for whites to eat in a strange land. the long history of proclamations about a true national and geographically appropriate cuisine is framed in . 1998: 222). Edward Abbott. If the whites were clear about what. Abbott’s mission was ‘to show the British and Colonial mode of rendering the various articles that God has been pleased to give us for our use. although the white feeding of Aboriginals has left scars that will not easily heal. proclaimed himself as ‘the Australian aristologist’ in his 1864 The English and Australian Cookery Book. as well as palatable to our tastes’ (Abbott.118 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE legacy that whites have yet to properly deal with. and King—and the manner in which these wild children of Australia provided the seed of the Nardoo plant for their sustenance?’ (Ibid. nutritious and wholesome. One somewhat eccentric writer. ‘In later days. who has not been delighted with the attention of the uncivilised natives to the explorers—Burke. he tells us. More often than not. resulting in serious sickness. My point is that how we imagine the other in terms of eating forms an important aspect and the historical ground for fraught relations between white and Aboriginal Australians. Les Hiddens. In terms of my argument.. Aristology. Historically.. 1864: v). It seems to go without saying that these explorers disdained the Aboriginal knowledge of preparation. is the art or science of fine dining. nardoo in fact requires careful and complex preparation or else it strips the body’s capacities to digest vitamin B. and at their ignorance of the abundance of fish and wildlife around them. Hiddens is appalled in hindsight by the lack of ingenuity on the part of Burke and Wills. ideas about eating and food may reveal the greatest gulf between whites and blacks in Australia. This anecdote also reveals some of the deep ignorance of the white settlers in general and these explorers in particular. the question of what whites ought to eat was not so straightforward. 1864: v). He introduces his book with an anecdote that replays the idea of a reciprocity in terms of eating between whites and blacks. this anxiety about eating has not been unilaterally directed at the Aboriginal population.
the prolific writer and journalist. very fond of dress and idleness…and without sufficient . Australia was a prime example of the bastardy produced by colonialism. Due to the lime-deficient soil of the Republic. greedy. 1877: 11– 12). ‘His wife will be a thin. alcohol. ‘the boys will be tall and slender—like cornstalks’. a Presbyterian in faith and a Democrat in politics. ‘the Australians will be a fretful.. and ‘plenty of oxygen’. In a remarkable text published in 1877 entitled The Future Australian Race. Clarke also attempted to ‘“interpret Nature’s teachings” for Australians. For instance. exercise. it can’t be said that he holds out much hope for its citizens. to bring local cuisine into line with the directives of time and place’. that is to say. Marcus Clarke. 1877:20). For Clarke. Even as he predicts that by 1977 the Australian Republic will encompass Singapore and New Zealand.’ Here.. and the girls will have small pelvises. Both the sexes will have bad teeth. irritable race’ (Ibid. and ‘bad teeth mean bad digestion. ‘Colonial society. to intermarry. As Michael Meehan notes. to beget children from strange loins. 1877:3). was consumed by the alimentary habits of early white Australians. coarse. In addition to lampooning the class pretences of a young colonial society. which is to say roasted meats. which leads to sickly mothers and stunted children. his tone oscillates between detached sociological description and deep Swiftian pessimism as he outlines the impact of ‘the tendency of that Abolition of Boundaries which men call Civilisation’ (Clarke. to change food. the Australian man will be tall. which in turns produces melancholy’. White Australian aspirations for political autonomy become then the stuff of recipes. On the basis of the diet of his time. All in all. and inherited and imported gastronomic preferences on the other’ (Meehan.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 119 both colonial imitation and antagonism to England. Clarke details historical and physiognomic changes in racial types due to diet (for instance. a racial type that ‘had no notion of nutriment save in the shape of lumps of cooked flesh’ (Ibid. 1877:3). the result of a ‘simple excess of aliment’. and climate’ (Clarke. was a world of gastronomic directives and culinary protocols awkwardly superimposed one upon the other…Clarke’s satire focuses on the contradictions between the gastronomic messages of climate and topography on the one hand. for Clarke. the more they lose their quintessential individuality. 1990:244). clever. perverse. education. individuality is understood to refer to racial ‘types’. individuals are ‘the incarnated result of food. He then turns to the future of the Australian race. Clarke predicts that in a hundred years’ time. the English Georgian face is ‘full jowled’. He writes that ‘The easier it is for men to change skies. narrow woman.
and dry ginger. His argument is posed between the tensions of trying to articulate a proper Australian cuisine suited to the climate. 1877:22). If the divide between urban and rural has been long established (and as Margo Kingston convincingly demonstrates. For the middle class and the élite. and it is on the basis of these factors that Clarke both lampoons his contemporaries and exhorts them to higher endeavours. 1990:248–249). He also adds that ‘he who has never eaten a young wombat treated with coriander seeds. Given the arguments and historical examples I have cited so far. green mango. two chillies and half a dozen slices of pineapple is…“a thing to thank God on”’ (in Meehan. 1990:248). and class. the mission to forge identity finds its vehicle in eating. eating in Australia is vaunted as the best in the world. Clarke is a striking reminder of the long history of trying to figure Australian identity through eating.. At the same time. A curry of kid. it is now commonplace for urban dwellers to blame or in some cases praise rural inhabitants for everything from Hansonite racism to the no vote in the . this also maps onto class divisions ). As he proposes bush tucker over English grub. mixed with some three eggs. has not used his opportunities’ (in Ibid. it is not surprising that Australia has a rather schizophrenic relationship to food and the land upon which it is produced. environment. rural white Australia (where indeed the beautiful ingredients are produced) is often blamed for the reactionary politics that seemingly erupt spontaneously from the land. It is fairly clear that the blood and foodstuff would not come from the motherland. in the cities and in the urban media. the white of a coconut scraped to a powder. his vision is guided by two primordial facts: ‘the quality of a race of beings is determined by…food and climate’. The question is.120 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE brain power to sin with zest’ (Ibid.. He is another example of white Australia’s wrestling with colonialism: caught between the pressures of history. and arguing against the pretensions of English manners and modes of eating and cooking imposed upon a new and inhospitable land. Clarke was confident that in 500 years the whole race would have disappeared. As we have seen. the fetishisation of ‘local produce’ is a cliché that is consumed on a daily basis. be it through the control of Aboriginal appetite and modes of eating or in terms of the quest for an ‘appropriate’ white cuisine. given Clarke’s disdain for the English and their modes of cooking. If this sounds rather pessimistic. unless it was infused with the blood and cuisine of foreign nations. ‘What are whites to eat?’ Here is Clarke’s suggestion for ‘bringing Australian cooking into its own’: ‘the basis of our regenerated Australian food system must be the curry. turmeric.
As she argued. a small farmer and caterer. for instance. and the vast majority present were in agreement. this organisation argued against the Wik decision in terms that replay many of the historical ideas that support the division of equality and non-equality. This text uses the land and farming to renew the historical arguments about Aboriginal exclusion from the land. food media writers. From the beginning to the end. For Currie. you promised to govern for all of us’… ‘So please John. we’re really worried about the future of the relationship between black and white Australians. published in the Sydney Morning Herald (24 March 1997). let’s get it right this time.’ Along the way. And who will feed Australia then?’ The text makes it clear that it is whites who till and labour the land. the farmers take on a minoritarian rhetoric: ‘when you were elected. 1988). In a full-page letter to ‘Dear John’ (Howard). It can be heard. unlike most city folk who might never meet an Aboriginal person. the text argues that ‘It’s not like we have a grudge against Aboriginal people. restaurateurs. the popularity of Hanson and the constitutional and juridical battles waged between pastoralists.’ From this proximity.’ The text then adds pathos to the argument. regionalism cannot be ‘precious’. In turn. feed-lot beef breeders and boutique food producers debated questions about the role of food and eating in Australia’s future. stating that ‘many of us will have to quit the land. render the question of food and its production all the more important. graziers. in a remarkable forum entitled ‘Will Australia Have a Table Tomorrow?’. for Peter Howard. but instead .EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 121 referendum for a Republic. they then offer a thinly veiled threat if their demands are not met: ‘If this doesn’t happen. As if to remind Australians of the troubled nature of their anxious relationship to eating and the land. the theme of starving in a land of plenty is still repeated. the all-abiding question is ‘where has it come from?’ Perhaps more important in political terms was Kim Currie’s comment that ‘regionalism doesn’t mean reactionary’. The emphasis at the conference was on local produce and regionality and. and Aboriginal peoples. the farmers clearly articulate their demands with the ominous line ‘who will feed Australia?’. a lot of us grew up with them. On the contrary. The discourse of rights is very much present in terms of farmers’ rights. While its political uses vary. During the forum. neatly ignoring the long implications of Aboriginal workers within agriculture (Haebich. a food writer and promoter of culinary tourism. certain rural-based associations like the National Farmers’ Federation have been vocal opponents of the legislation of Aboriginal land rights. held in Sydney in 1998. by ending the uncertainty and restoring our rights.
In these stories. Bob Purvis. 1999:82). this recognition coincides with the ways in which he feels different: ‘I’m born here and I love this land. it seems. he really didn’t understand this country. as indeed it is in Australia. and if you try and remove it totally. 1999:73). talks of his father who established a station in the Northern Territories. the past is rendered very recent. in Murphy and Sinatra. For Bob Purvis. the shadow of Aboriginals as part of the land and nature lingers.122 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE must forefront. Other recent accounts emphasise the importance of learning about the land from Aboriginal people. you produce a totally different landscape’ (Ibid. black and white Australians reflect on their connections to the land. in part it still seems hard to clearly acknowledge the equality of whites and blacks. Even in this reflective account. For instance. as well as by European farming principles and a number of other practices. he draws an analogy: ‘You put cattle on it. and yet the connections to the brutalities inflicted on the Indigenous people remain. resolutely unsentimental masculinity that mould these men. Well. and that now ‘I got to teach the blackfella. impossible to voice. What is arresting in this account is the way in which Purvis displays an acute awareness of the damage that his forebears did to the land. that’s basically what happened to the landscape here’ (Ibid. One white pastoralist. the qualities of ‘generosity and mateship’. it’s like introducing smallpox into a race of people who have no immunity to smallpox. while at the same time explicitly rejecting the white branding of the land and the concomitant denigration of the Indigenous populations. In a book entitled Listen to the People. remains unspoken. for the nation. 1999:74). it becomes a way of nature: ‘Fire was not a human-made thing..’ . The obvious point that the Indigenous human inhabitants were decimated by the introduction of white diseases. In part this may be due to the stereotypes of taciturn. when Purvis speaks of the long Aboriginal practice of burning off growth. You take on board a lot of things that a blackfella would. As he speaks with indignation about the introduction of cattle into the ‘extremely fragile landscape’. These comments replay with materiality the long-standing importance of the land to white Australians. No better or worse than others of his generation’ (Purvis. He acknowledges that Aboriginals were stopped from burning by whites. without even realising you are like that’ (Purvis. He is candid about the shortcomings of his father: ‘My father was a European and this is where he chose to live… Of all the things he understood and was good at.. 1999: 73). Listen to the Land. It was a part of the landscape.
But if he and others like him cannot be included then there is little hope for the project. Listen to the Land. this way of thinking and living with the land is clearly spelt out. a white Australian.. this body. And what exactly are whites to reconcile? The term also connotes the prospect of ‘finishing’ with all this business of the past. This man is difficult to assimilate into somewhat simplistic hopes on the part of some whites for reconciliation. it is the past stitched into the land.. there’s nobody left’ (Ibid. In this conception the land is multidimensional. and of what the past has done to the land. At the very least we need to know how to listen to these tales.EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 123 It would be pointless to accuse this pastoralist of racism. etc. One of the central points is the unresolved legacy of conceptualising the land in a one-dimensional manner. if indeed it is racism. ‘reconciliation’ is an illogical response to the histories of colonialism: to ask Aboriginal Australians to be reconciled with the brutalities of the last two hundred some years boggles the imagination. 1999:82). Rather than the European notion of what you do to the land. but with which we must learn to deal. Purvis’s story opens a small window into the possibilities of coexistence which many blacks and whites see as a more appropriate route for this country. this people. As many have noted. In some ways. and learn from. Stephen Muecke and Paddy Roe (1984)). This produces a subtle mix that urban ‘progressive’ whites can too easily misrecognise. and seeks to intervene in them. where one of the crucial dimensions is time. In contrast. by a ‘new’ Australian. this man has an intimate knowledge of the land. It is a deeply complex interweaving of attitudes that are now part and parcel of the land. In the collective book. The nomad finds the desire for food linked with the animal via the spear’ (Benterrack et al. After all. the authors propose a model of coexistence which combines Aboriginal ways of knowing the land. the project of coexistence is clearly an on-going one that acknowledges that the past continually reverberates in the present. and Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of ‘nomadology’. This then produces a way of thinking and being in the world that proceeds through connection: this land. this mouth. and an Aboriginal Australian (Krim Benterrack. for it is not a racism that is easily recognised. In another story in the collection Listen to the People. . and he has devoted his life to restoring his land. 1984: 226). Aboriginal conceptions stress what the land does to you. One way to do so is to hear the poignancy that drifts over his conversation: ‘See. Reading the Country. It is a radical plan that goes back to the founding tenets that were the conditions of possibility for colonialism.
the land is peopled with memories.124 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE as are the political consequences. Further on. For Lovett. ‘being such a multicultural country. sugar and flour. the different levels of the land become clear. As he argues. At yet another. a Kerrupjmara man who would be roughly the same age as Bob Purvis. At another. far from negating the possibility of coexistence in this country. we’re as different as chalk and cheese and I think people have to realise this’ (Ibid. I know how you feel. traditional names and so forth’ (Lovett. the Kerrupjmara. To return to the question of ‘the making of Mod Oz’. yeah. we need to punctuate these alimentary celebrations with references to the past. 1999:182). if references to the multicultural cuisine of Australia are now commonplace. this equality entails the recognition of difference. While he does this for both whites and blacks. He lives in the Lake Condah region. I don’t really have a problem with that. ‘We are not the same. 1999:189). but I want to maintain my identity as an indigenous person of this country’ (Ibid.. ethnic group. which has now been returned to its traditional owners. he states. we see a lot of cultures within the structures of present-day communities in Australia. coexistence requires a recognition of differences.. song. For Johnnie Lovett. or the ovens where food was covered in reeds and cooked by the heat of basalt rock placed in the fire’ (Ibid. 1999:188).’ However. however. one of the striking points he raises is about the necessity of recognising absolute differences. and . such a vision rises up from the land itself and the histories that inform the people who live with it and on it. I respect people’s culture for what it is. In this way. 1999:187). In his story. ‘I can drive though an area and have a direct link in my thinking with what I see. 1999:179). the Redgum that they carved their spears and boomerangs from. there are his grandmother’s stories of massacres: ‘she was a little girl and hid in a cave on the other side of Darlots Creek when they happened’ (Ibid. in the state of Victoria. along with the law. as Lovett puts it. At one level. he does not want his Aboriginality to bleed into a melding of differences: ‘The problem I do have is that I never want to become part of a mainstream multicultural. when they took away the hunting rights of the Aboriginal people.. dance. he explicitly links this to the question of ‘Aboriginal people as equal’. whether it be a Bottlebrush flower that my people used to drink water through as a sweetener. In response to ‘people say[ing] “Yeah. language. we’re all the same” ’. there is the memory of his mother crying because there was nothing to feed the children. there is the history of ‘the ration days of the 1880s when the missionaries handed out tea.. In addition to these levels. Lovett spends his time educating people about the land and its meanings.
histories. and as I have argued in previous chapters. the boutique commercialisation of bush tucker. so that we can learn to appreciate differences in tone. This is not to posit colonialisation as an original sin from which we will never escape. the poor quality and high prices of food in outstations. eating .EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE 125 to the necessity of marking difference. who have their own distinct histories of racism and hardship. But it cannot be a question of hierarchy of injury. 1996:175). Eating in Australia now has to contend with a multitude of levels and differences: from the ‘mateship’ of the barbecue and the picnic. The point then is to make the histories co-exist: to remember the starvation that has haunted the land. this necessitates a feel for each ingredient. This politics or ethics of connection suggested by eating then must also insist on the deep rifts that separate us. it is to remember that this rule has continuing effects on those whose forebears were denied a human existence. and the fact of the continuing gulf between the life expectations of white and black Australians. this cannot be any easy glossing-over in the name of the citizen or even/especially in the name of eating. the commodification of Indigenous understanding of the land is the expropriation of ‘one of the last things we have’ (cited in Jacobs. In other words. Aboriginal and white Australians. we need a vision of coexistence which does not simply replace white disdain for the Indigenous people with a romanticisation which is ultimately another form of white appropriation. Returning to my theme of connecting eating and bodies as a series of assemblages. the everyday ways in which bits of other cultures are ingested. The lesson we must learn from Locke and those who integrated his ideas into a vision of Australia and other colonial nations is that the justification which secured the position of whites in new lands was a blanket removal of other races. Excavating the imagery that lies beneath Western notions of equality and non-equality may allow for a truer negotiation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous. As chefs would put it. As Indigenous feminists like Winona LaDuke clearly state. and the physical world. not subsuming it. The point is to make the histories of eating in black and white into a project of eating and living in colour. This of course needs to include the different migrants to Australia. In this project. the land and its multiple associations must also be allowed to return to trouble the present. we may further elaborate on the possibilities of connection and coexistence: the radical and visceral interconnections between humans and the land. in flavour. in culture. as well as the bad nutrition through poverty of the poor of all colours. as well as the brutalities of forced feeding. as well as restraint. Seen through the optic of assemblages of bodies.
What is the fate of a nation that feeds its Indigenous and original inhabitants crumbs? . ‘the fate of citizens depends on the way they eat’ (1825/1970: 13).126 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE encounters the historical limits of the land. the birds in cities eat the crumbs from under the table… If we lose our land we end up eating crumbs from the whitefellas’ tables’ (Yunupingu. the (im)possibility of coexistence. To replay BrillatSavarin. the violence of colonialism. Yunupingu argues that the ‘loss of our land rights would leave us as powerless as the scavenger birds in Australian cities. Instead of eating fruit. 1997:16). In its limits it also recalls the utter exigency of finding ways to eat and live together. In more specific and political terms.
fat or old. I spent much of my childhood feeling disgusting. In general. the general tendency has been to focus on damaging forms of representation. In terms of the articulations of the politics of representation over the last two decades. From this idiosyncratic example. That is to say. I wonder at the forces of pride and shame doing battle in a body that knows itself to be disgusting. FEEDING SHAME Like many. representations that deform either by omission or misrepresentation. black. However. disabled. At the same time. . I want to draw out the interpenetrating lines of shame and disgust coiled in the body. grounded in the body and sexuality) have tended to erase shame and disgust from the agenda. pride at the beautifully prominent set of ribs. Looking back at my experience. From the shadows of shame.6 EATING DISGUST. projects of identity politics (be they feminist. I do remember the splinters of pride that accompanied the disgust. I want to follow through on the connections between eating. more fulsome. As something of an experiment. causing shadows to fall on a perfectly concave stomach. I’ll wager that these powerful affects need to be reintegrated into thinking about corporeal politics. more representations of the right sort. The reason for the lack of previous documentation is simple: why or how could such a sight be documented? Even now my eyes turn in aversion from memories tinged with a mixture of shame. the politics of pride has extended these efforts to unequivocally posit that there is nothing to be ashamed of if your body is gay. Of the series of photographs that document my childhood. disgust and guilt. and turn them in other directions. any evidence of that time is scant. In terms of thinking through eating to wider questions. disgust and shame. the pelvic bones that stood in stark relief.1 One response on the part of those who fall outside the proper boundaries of representation has been to demand more accurate. queer. and more representative images: in short. there is an absence that occurs about the time that I was severely anorexic.
’ In this image. FEEDING SHAME To take the most obvious example. From a feminist critique of anorexia as the potent example of what happens to women under ‘patriarchy’. that droop down into yet more folds of wrinkled fat. Outrage at the numbers of mainly young women2 starving themselves quite often to death has been paired by a concern to render visible the fact that the normative female body is an ideal that most of us fail to achieve. pales before the force of the cover photographs. In these ways. however. thus gesturing to some suggestion of life beyond. these bodies are pitched to make us gag. the gender of which has been erased. But as they make us turn away. a liberal feminist insistence on the need for the public acceptance of a wide range of bodies has begun to be met in the representation of popular culture. none of this work quite prepares the reader for a recent cover of the Benetton-financed Italian magazine. there is a fullpage photograph of a back. Inside. falling down into the hint of pubic hair. the issue covers a number of points about eating. The pedagogic tone of the articles. This emphasises the stark lack of identity.’ In terms of popular culture. a rounded mannequin is accompanied by The Body Shop’s corporate slogan: ‘know your mind love your body. and the spine cuts down the back in knobs of bone to reach the jutting back of the hip bones. it is . Her hands grasp folds and folds of fat.128 EATING DISGUST. encoding the body as a nameless victim. over the last several years there has been a sustained campaign to air and render acceptable a diversity of female body forms and shapes. they also highlight the mechanisms of disgust and shame. However. No doubt about it. If the front photograph has the model wearing jeans and a ring. The breasts lie upon this avalanche of cascading fat. icons such as Roseanne Barr. dwarfed by the folds. The front cover is entirely taken up by a photograph of a woman’s naked front torso. anorexia support and selfhelp associations. The back torso is covered in the fine hair associated with extreme weight loss and anorexia. On the back cover. concern about women’s bodies has become a more public affair. which features the slogan: There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do. more recently. Despite—or along with—this reaction. have translated the feminist message into televisual terms. is the title of the issue: ‘fat/grosso’. The shoulder blades form sharp knives. nipples caressing the hands that hold the fat. and turn away. Colors (1998). In between. alongside of which hang the bones of the arms. and also gives information on fat pride groups. the back model is entirely naked. Camryn Manheim. This is crystallised in The Body Shop’s campaign. Rosie O’Donnell and.
I’ll argue. hair’ (Mulvey. the mechanics of representation here produce a moment of recognition on the part of the reader. slime. The moment of disgust that is produced by the encoding of the bodies is geared to generating shame in the reader. where shame at one’s initial disgust may pave the way to understanding ‘acceptance’ in a fractured sense. Put another way. one that gestures to a slightly different trajectory than that which is more commonly offered within the politics of representation. In such strategies. and it is dependent on a subsuming of disgust or shame which are banished from any possible understanding of the body and its workings.EATING DISGUST. This. Cindy Sherman’s artistic volte-face away from the air-brushed and into entrails provides an illuminating example. Schematically put. decaying food. In very basic terms. these images compel the reader to pause on her own process of registering disgust. 1991:144). I want to question whether the production of pride that has been central to many versions of a corporeal politics of representation may be nearing the end of its use. In more general terms. Beyond this then looms a yawning chasm of ‘so what’ when it comes to the body. pride and full selfacceptance is assumed to be the end point of the politics of representation. nothing is left but disgust—the disgust of sexual detritus. the representation of pride stripped of disgust or shame raises the question of what can be possibly left after the affirmation of pride. these images sow the seeds of a more visceral accounting of difference. a bodily reaction to bodies. Reading these photographs caused Laura Mulvey to wonder whether ‘in the last resort. A sense of the limits of body pride can be seen in Cindy Sherman’s photographs. FEEDING SHAME 129 possible to read these images as a pro-fat statement of acceptance. or propagated in popular psychology models of eating disorders). I want to follow through on the insight that proceeds from such a reading. In terms of a wider representation of the body. . vomit. But the message is encoded in such a way that instead of skimming over the disgust and shame that the extreme thin or fat body may engender. From shame at one’s feelings of disgust. affirmed and placed as a source of pride. before then proceeding to disavow or be self-critical of having entertained these feelings. can there be politics after pride? Do the deep and hard questions about my bodily reaction to other bodies and my own get smoothed over in affirmative statements? The pop-psych line that permeates much of our culture would have us all proclaim that there is no aspect of my body or others’ that cannot be loved. For Mulvey. menstrual blood. differs substantially from the more usual forms of representation aimed at the ‘acceptance’ of self and difference (expressed in ‘fat acceptance’.
Such tactics are quite often effective. FEEDING SHAME Sherman’s photographs of guts and vomit represent ‘the end of the road. we could colonize the state of California as the new fat homeland. This has been true of queer pride. isn’t it normal to blame you. The topography of exterior/interior is exhausted’ (Ibid. suffering and resentment. the shamed. Or if I find myself disgusting or shameful. One of fat pride’s most vocal advocates is Marilyn Wann. In simple terms. in disgust. and ‘them’. the secret bodily fluids that the cosmetic is designed to conceal. if society finds the fat female body disgusting. however.130 EATING DISGUST. Wann writes that ‘if half of all fat Americans took a stand against prejudice.. Fat!So?. in the long run they produce cultures where shame is absent. Of course. at its most successful. If three quarters of fat Americans were out of the closet. or the media. and the ‘difficulty of the body’ (Ibid. Wake Up. or another body for instilling those attitudes in me? Aligned with this is the response that seeks to make the judging parties feel guilty. I want to attend to that difficulty. In shame. they bypass any individual avowal and recognition of disgust. is another recent addition to the fat pride literature (Manheim. and its tactics are now replayed within other body politics. but where disgust. the obvious move is to blame patriarchal attitudes. pride has been an energetic and productive movement that. author of the zine. The point of this experiment is to examine the workings of shame and disgust as revealing modes of politics other than those based in blame. and more widely ressentiment. In terms of body representation. In exploring disgust and shame as the hidden face of body pride. the logic of pride movements reproduces an antagonism between ‘us’. 1991:150). After all. that point to new corporeal connections. calling on ‘America’s ninety-seven million fat people’ to come out of the closet. Camryn Manheim’s book. there would be TV sitcoms with all fat actors…’ (Wann. 1991:144). . Deploying representational logics. blame and resentment seethe under the surface of a sanitised veneer of acceptance. 1998:122). Mulvey argues that disgust highlights ‘the limit of bodily matter’. in many ways. the body displays knowledges that may yet surprise us. In fact. the guilty. repeating the notion that ‘we do not know what a body can do!’ (Deleuze.. notably fat pride. 1997:123). I’m Fat!. forces a reassessment of the measures of social inclusion and exclusion. website and now book. This is especially effective when bodies who have been shamed group en masse to return the shaming epithets: ‘shame at your attitudes—feel guilt at your aversion’. Wann is explicit about using queer arguments in order to found fat pride.3 It may seem paradoxical to argue that a recognition of disgust and shame can disrupt a culture of blame.
having felt the force of external disgust. The Practice.. Rather. fat as disgusting. it belongs to you”’ (Ibid. any shame is then transferred to those who evoke disgust. the old shameful self was replaced by a ‘new me—posttransformation—[who] wasn’t taking any shit from anybody’. Manheim’s narrative is indebted to liberation models. A star of the hit television drama. Manheim recounts the long line of humiliations that she overturns in ‘the fight for self-acceptance…the journey from victim to victor’ (Ibid. this manœuvre has the potential to downplay how the category of the disgusting is constituted. this would have the aim of ending shame for those previously held within the disgusting. At the level of individual selfworth this is of course important. Wann’s is very much queer-inflected. FEEDING SHAME 131 1999). whereby speaking out about prejudice and the pain of discrimination is central to recovery and salvation. However. At an individual level. As Manheim puts it. Presumably. the outcomes of these two moves are less clear. In comparison. 1999:2). In her narrative. in this model it seems inevitable that shame will be . In the cumulative world of representational politics.. where the objective is the total erasure of shame. and visions of a fat homeland and a National Fat Day when everyone would dress in ‘traditional orange-and-hot-pink kilts’ (Wann. rejects the shame s/he feels and is liberated through and into the realm of corporeal pride. the shame doesn’t belong to me. which they use as an excuse to keep themselves from moving forward’ (Manheim. such tactics would have as their ultimate goal the removal of discrete objects from the realm of disgusting. This is then demonstrated by the fact that by the end of the story Manheim can immediately respond to ‘shit’ by asking ‘ “Was it your intention to embarrass me in front of my friend? And if so. for instance. Such strategies are exemplary of pride’s strengths in allowing the individual to surmount the pain of previous rejection. 1998:123). Questioning this line from another direction. with helpful hints on flirting. It also mollifies disgust’s actions within the individual and its potential to vivify reflection on why and what we feel disgust or disgusting. with a lot of hard work. we could envision the piecemeal subtraction of any number of objects from the category. And on the other. 1999:164). the disgusting is pushed underground as it were—it is still there but cannot be spoken. the chances of shame being transferred to the interlocutor are slight. While both Manheim and Wann are accepted spokeswomen for the US National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. However. As Manheim puts it. On the one hand. It is a ideological tale. they are predicated on a model whereby an individual. ‘Everyone can find a reason to hate themselves.EATING DISGUST. their strategies differ. 1999:165).
‘That’s disgusting’: the phrase is so common and so broad. in what ways do anorexics find themselves disgusting? Studies show that. the mantra of ‘I am no longer ashamed of my body’ will not countenance any admission of disgust. 1993:93). and to ourselves. a judge of ourselves (Deleuze. The potentially radical possibility of making shame and disgust into profound acknowledgements of the incongruity of placing others within the category of the disgusting is therefore lost. If this is the case. is checked.4 A popular song by the group Pulp is an ambivalent ode to ‘Anorexic beauty’: ‘Sitting alone on a cold bar stool. as Deleuze puts it. There’s sort of a feeling there of wanting to sort of fade into the background literally. ‘It’s just a way of like trying to disappear… It’s just perfection…You just want to get smaller and smaller’ (cited in Ibid. Anecdotal evidence certainly points to aversion. is it the idea of the food that went into the making of the ‘grasso’ body. it is clear that anorexics do disgust. deprives others of theirs’ (Fischler. which would be painful. An osteopath states that he finds anorexics as disgusting as fat people because of their different. But what disgusts us. at the level of our bodies. questions about the proximity of ourselves to others. The visceral play. anorexics desperately seek not to be seen. Disgusting! To step back. If anorexics make us feel queasy. it is hard to underestimate . 1997:43).. FEEDING SHAME displaced into guilt. your cold hard eyes make me feel like a fool’ (cited in Malson and Ussher. and why? In terms of the Colors covers.132 EATING DISGUST. 1997:49). in general.’ In the words of another. Summarily. whereby my body attests to the shame of having designated another as disgusting. let us consider the obvious. I want to posit that these affects may be rethought within a politics of representation that causes us to reassess. 1993b: 155). As a form of body politics. lack of care for their bodies. As one interviewee puts it. or the deprivation represented by the anorexic? Claude Fischler argues that the obese make society queasy because they remind us of the finitude of food. Against a model of pride at the expense of shame and disgust. yet equal. as if sight would confirm that they are disgusting. Under the blanket of guilt and disavowal. ‘the consequence is clear: whoever consumes more than their share. A massage therapist reveals that she hates touching anorexic bodies. paradoxically the move to pride stifles the power of our bodies to react: to be. do anorexics make us feel ashamed because we may have inadvertently taken their share of the table? While sentiments may be camouflaged by pity.
of course. in Allen Weiss’s argument. and in fact continues a tradition within psychology of linking the two. acquired type of foresight’. disgust has ‘evolved to protect the human being from coming too close’ (Tomkins. a disgust that is met with deep shame. we want to distance ourselves from this uncomfortable proximity. is the disgusting to be found in a certain category of bodies. we call upon others to witness our pulling away. If Mennell’s comment associates disgust and shame. 1991:15). ‘chacun à son goût’) reveal. on the other hand. Mennell argues that disgust indicates a ‘more “civilised”. the incongruity of bodies and food out of place. if taste is socially and historically constructed.EATING DISGUST. 1997:9). If the two affects intermingle. expressions of disgust operate by calling on a public recognition. what are the social operations of extreme distaste? What visceral associations are performed. Shame. and place them as distinct yet doubled. But why does disgust feel simultaneously so primal and so social? What can shame teach us about the body. we seek reassurance that we are not alone in our relation to the disgusting object. then so too must extreme distaste and disgust. ‘bad breath. Thus. the sight and proximity of perceived fat bodies. that we are not disgusting or shameful. where proximity to the other has been terminated. its fears of. the sight of someone eating. breaking . 1985:302). is in part generated by the recognition of having been too close. when we designate something or someone as disgusting. So then. by disgust? As an initial distinction. shame and embarrassment’ (Mennell. we might say that if taste (here implicitly understood as good) foregrounds ‘a personal singularity that draws its sense from a collective difference’ (Weiss. and desires for. the visible evidence of bodies contaminated by what they have ingested? Is it the mixing of categories. something being eaten? If the clichés of taste (‘de gustibus non est disputandwri’. Indeed the phrase ‘that’s disgusting’ sounds more often than not like a plea to establish a common ground that would comfort in the recognition that what offends me also offends you: to assuage doubts that we have not been contaminated. Theoretically. proximity? As Mennell argues. there is little rationality as to why some foods will be regarded as pleasing and others ‘come to be viewed with disdain. a ‘radical subjectiveness’. In uttering the phrase. In Silvan Tomkins’s argument. her own and others. I want to deepen their connections. Through public statements. FEEDING SHAME 133 the anorexic’s disgust at the sight of her body. shame may be one of the triggers that sets off a deep spiral of never-ending disgust: disgust at the sight of food. In other words. Following Elias’s history of the civilising process. or prohibited.
In disgust we turn away. and complicated. or if we look again and see that it is an acquaintance that we have so categorised. pulling away from the person in question. to run away from its own cringing self. it marks the body in blushes and physical gestures. forced to face the object cast as disgusting. In broader terms. Mennell does not linger on his strange set (halitosis. we may feel shame at our discrimination. to themselves and to others. the sheer physicality of aversion that disgust has registered then faces the stomach-turning selfabjection of the shameful nature of our action.. as such. 1985:302). For Tomkins. they raise questions about the ethical comportment that our bodies calculate. but disgust seems to turn on proximity. disgust and shame deeply complicate issues of representation. Basically. Tomkins and Weiss. bodies become too close. we may then feel shame battling at our disgust. Indeed. both serve to amplify the body’s responses. and. or hidden from view. in shame our actions cause the head to hang. But categorising the bad breath in others.134 EATING DISGUST. As the two affects tussle. a fat person eating a dripping hamburger in public might incite disgust (this is an unlikely example. While he does not explicitly distinguish between animate or inanimate objects that set off these affective responses. for my argument it is important to note whether or not it is another human being that is deemed disgusting. To designate an inanimate object as disgusting may be fairly innocent. The relationship between shame and disgust is therefore close. As is clear from the work of Mennell. to feel disgust is to be fully. if we are caught in the act. the central point that I want to examine here is the way in which disgust and shame may illuminate the body’s capacities for reaching out and spilling across domains that we would like to keep separate. It is as if our external acts invade the body. disgust spreads quickly from a localisable offence to pervade perception of the whole person. To take a simple example. given the ingested shame that many fat people have about eating in public). farting and obesity?). or conversely cause the body to hide. shame is one of the most obvious affects: as we try to flee the object of shaming. is a clear indication of our disgust and rejection of them. sight. FEEDING SHAME wind and obesity have been feared because people learned to anticipate social embarrassment’ (Ibid. In a distinct manner. But if we are caught out in our disgust. indeed physically. It is a rejection that is absolute. and the closeness of smell and touch: the overwhelming horror that the disgusting object will engulf us. conscious of being within the realm of uneasy categories: merely saying that something disgusts me is to have . seemingly on their own. has been too close to things of which we prefer not to speak. In turn.
1994:194). the disgusting is not only too ‘in your face’. in terms of representation if we are drawn to the object represented. the mechanisms of shame and disgust and eating may be of use in rendering abstract questions about the nature of social relations into more pressing and visceral matters. 1994:192). we do not know what a shameful. and putting an end ‘to all aesthetic contemplation of the object’ (in Ibid. As Pasi Falk writes. producing it as a multiplicity of bodies that reflect on what they are doing even as they seem to act without the mediation of convention. thus exciting the will. hinted... FEEDING SHAME 135 placed myself beyond it. Simply put. ‘if there is desire for the object.5 In a discussion of his distaste when faced with a strange food combination. To repeat the question. disgusted or . Simply put.6 Disgust is understood to violate the abstraction or distance that philosophies of aesthetics have long privileged. Weiss writes that ‘the shock of categorical incongruity was an overture to all future discourse’ (Weiss. to rub its face in it. our bodies react with disgust ‘precisely because of the resistance towards the abolition of representative distance’. the disgusting ‘is represented as something forcing into pleasure —“insisting” that it be enjoyed…which we strive against it with all our might’ (Falk. 1994: 206). the object must be ‘hidden. mediated. a desire for realization—be it eating or sexual contact—then there is no aesthetic experience’ (Ibid. etc. yet my embarrassment at being caught within this categorical play may entail some level of self-disgust. desirous and abominable. people are just too close for comfort.’ (Ibid. symbolised. one of the effects of experiencing shame and disgust is a sense that categories of right and wrong. spontaneously from the gut. To cite an example that Schopenhauer uses to explicate Kant’s ideas. To break down the movement that Falk traces. indirect. are rendered pressing and tangible. At a general level. what if disgust were the body’s own overture to itself. In these terms. in disgust. it is the reaction of the body wishing to press itself against the object. Disgust seems to erupt immediately.EATING DISGUST. things. shamed. which is to say if we are excited by the object at a corporeal level and it becomes ‘mere stimulus-evoking’. 1994:194). categories. agreeable and distasteful. the Dutch tradition of culinary still-life was unacceptable because it represented articles of food which ‘necessarily excited the appetite for the things they represent’. In other words. This feeling of incongruous proximity is central to my argument: what if disgust were an overture to rethinking the arrangements of bodies? But more to the point.. 1997:8). To counteract the body’s wilful and concomitant disgusting attraction to the object.
An intrepid eater. sight and smell as determinants of our reaction to changing categories. embodied and affective ethos—to reiterate Shields’s point—to focus on the ethos of human interactions. Recipes for disgust In a recent short story. FEEDING SHAME disgusting body can do. To do so. he begins his account of derringdo with a story remembered from sophomore days. then they may dissipate. for instance. I want to first step back to consider more broadly the domain of disgust and shame. The task of bringing ‘that which arises “from below” ‘into the realm of the acknowledged and public is. and it is as follows: after being rescued from a desert island where one of his friends had died. I will briefly cite a discussion which evokes the role of desire in the profusion of connections that disgust itself engenders. an ethical assemblage called into being ‘from below’. If the affective energies electrified by shame are not given a political channel. Beyond the idealised abstraction of democratic relations. of course. Answering the question ‘why?’ . The tale was to serve as one of those little tests that earnest young students play. analysing their effectivity within. Can we ignore that desire which Falk argues is central to disgust? Brought into the light of day. forms of body politics may illustrate possible avenues for rethinking public politics in terms of a more visceral. and that some go on to make central to serious ethical discussions. or return as resentment against the object or person that called them into being. Peter Singer’s (1990) test of whether. one would eat the dog. risky. what new assemblages of eating. We also do not know what we lose when we erase the dynamics of shame and disgust. My aim is to examine how disgust and shame rework the body’s relations to others and selves. as they forefront touch. To begin this exploration of putting affects to work as an analytic optic into the politics of bodies. stranded in a lifeboat.136 EATING DISGUST. ‘the ethical is that which arises “from below”. let us first attend to the revulsions of mouths and man. it is the ethos of human interaction that arises out of common experience’ (Shields.7 French’s example is more about ‘testing lateral thinking’ than moral tricks. and as a force for their transformation. and sends us off in different directions. or their exclusion from. politics and bodies might it inform? What types of ethical embodiments might be called forth? As Rob Shields argues. Scan French examines with delight the myriad ways in which human ingestion troubles us. However. 1992:183). a man orders seagull in a restaurant and then kills himself.
it smells quite startlingly of shit’. This is of course a constantly shifting horizon. ‘the tang of urine in kidneys’. ‘Well this was like someone else farting through your mouth’ (Ibid. and the softer kind like the skin off the soles of one’s feet’ (in Ibid. as Alice so wonderfully puts it in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. the pursuit of which is perhaps its own pleasure. discovers that it tastes different. French draws out the quivery line of pleasure in disgust: blood pudding with lingonberry. 1995:197). leading to uncontrollable burping. So. which ‘is always prepared and served outdoors because. he samples seagull. a reading club designed to bolster the sales of Penguin’s books for kids. and the . ‘The puffin is our national emblem…and our national dish. All examples of the fact that ‘the most wonderful food of all teeters on the boundary of what’s edible’.’ Recalling the notion ‘that sex was like having your nose blown by someone else’. 1995:198). In a manner that quickens the heart deadened from too much food moralism. as a local proudly states.EATING DISGUST. While it may well be. where. gamy. says French. a place where gastro-taxonomy takes on new complexity. dark. From Puffin badges to ‘eating a puffin that had been shot and plucked and roasted for me’ was. ingrained politeness has rewarded me with the taste of sheep’s eyeballs (a gesture of welcome in Corsica). 1995: 201).. ‘a dark pleasure’ (Ibid. that ‘it is impolite to eat food that you’ve been introduced to’. infers that he must have been a cannibal and commits suicide out of shame’ (French. There is no seagull on the menu. Auden had discovered the delights of a dried fish: The tougher kind tastes like toenails. although it looks like normal herring. But this is only the start: part of its pleasure is that the fermentation process continues in one’s stomach after ingestion. 1995:200). The pleasures deepen when he discovers the joys of a Swedish tinned herring called surströmming. back home. where it is speculated that his surviving companion had cooked him a dish of putative seagull.. ‘[T]he man suspects that it might actually be their dead friend. ‘Having eaten shit we were now farting through our mouths. French states. From this image that literalises the connection of anus and mouth. for instance. and to its texture was added the fact that as a middle-class English schoolboy French had been a member of the Puffin Club. French does the sensible thing and goes off in search of a seagull to see what it tastes like. FEEDING SHAME 137 involves reconstructing the man’s sojourn on the island.’ It turns out that puffin is strong. ‘the blancmange consistency of veal’s brain’.. but with none of the macho bravura that often accompanies discussions of disgust. but lots of puffin. This takes him to Iceland.
touch and taste. In the cinematic œuvre of John Waters and Divine. I want to spin out along several lines suggested by the closeness of disgust. or do they eat us? is good sex possible with someone who finds oysters disgusting?). which he describes as ‘the slime. If. French writes that ‘The problem is that we’ve all been taught that food should be fresh and wholesome.. eating and bodies. disgust. rational pleasure’ (Ibid. This pursuit prods Nietzsche’s question of whether ‘anyone know[s] the moral effects of food’ (cited in Curtin. 1995:199). 1992:3). Inspired by Sedgwick and Moon’s intricate interweaving of queer politics and fat divas in their homage to ‘Divine’. at the very least. In one of the most sensible delineations.. they focus on the well-known image from Waters’ Pink Flamingos. serving the steak she . the mere ampersanding of food and sex leaves me cold. Together they hint at bodily ingestions and crossed lines that shift more general discussions of corporeal politics. Sedgwick and Moon find ‘opulent images and daring performances that suggest the experiment of desires that might withstand the possibility of their fulfilment’ (Sedgwick and Moon. Later. the brackish fluid. 1993: 250). just as we’ve been taught that sex should be all about uncomplicated. Rare meat From the centrifuge of gustatory disgust. unwraps the steak.. like French. 1993:236). as I have argued. FEEDING SHAME wonders of a cheese buried until it is ripe and ready with cheese-fed larvae that slightly quiver upon the tongue. where Divine buys a steak at the butcher’s and then ‘carefully surveying the store for detectives. provoke new connections. just as new divisions and categories are drawn (do we eat oysters. ‘much of the pleasure of food is a flirtation with the processes of decay’ (Ibid.138 EATING DISGUST. and sticks it up her dress and into her crotch. shame. For example. the sweet flesh so soft that it scarcely holds itself together…a remembered dream of oral sex’. 1995:199). and shame within eating can. the interruption of desire. Here it is the scrambling of taxonomy that fascinates. ingesting disgust commands careful considerations of bodies and affective configurations. A look of bliss comes over her face when she feels the cold steak against her warm flesh’ (Waters cited in Ibid. In their discussion. I think. we begin to see other uses of disgust and its attendant commanding of shame. this is to consider the types of strange proximities set in motion by the active putting forth or representation of disgust and shame. As French puts it. In a more acceptable vein. one of my favourite experiences is oysters.
as a stimulation to. veils. that ‘all disgust is originally disgust at touching’ (Benjamin. bloodies. it throws into confusion any number of proprieties. the disgust of Divine eating shit displaces the disgust of straight audiences when faced with Divine’s transgendered body. As such. It is as if by following the movement of shit into the mouth. uncomfortable. FEEDING SHAME 139 explains why it is so particularly delicious: ‘I warmed it up when I was downtown today in my own little oven’ (in Ibid. Divine’s scenes are carefully crafted to provoke. this image causes disgust to rematerialise as the reader’s shame. and comforts’ (Ibid. the infamous cover of Hustler with a woman in a meat grinder has set off many a feminist in moral condemnation. and fascinating sanitary napkin.. as Walter Benjamin has succinctly argued.’ Beyond this. With everything that’s going on in the world. 1978:66). which it also. the steak ‘recovers its materiality as a substitute for the absent panties. In this way. As Sedgwick and Moon intimate. as an allusion to the messy. to draw the reader into contact despite him/herself. From the image of the meat substitution of underpants comes the spectre that we are instructed to fear from childhood: being caught out. At the heart of it lies the fear and the horror that ‘in him something lives so akin to . how can that still be on anyone’s mind?’ (cited in Ibid. 1993:236).. Sedgwick and Moon argue that. it is the point of contact when our line of sight brings us too close that reminds us. In a short but intriguing passage. This image gives wider meaning to the expression ‘comfort food’.EATING DISGUST. In so doing. it serves as a copula to that other infamous Divine moment when in Pink Flamingos she eats ‘freshly laid dog shit’. It’s so old. 1993:229). 1993: 236). she expresses weariness with the continuing reverberations of that disgust: ‘they still want to know if I ate “it”. in fact. In Sedgwick and Moon’s reading. This is particularly interesting in the light of the parallels they set up between the gay body and the fat body. however.. As it outs the body’s innards. the onlooker were to be ingested as well. ditto to and of the impermissibly present male ones. the absent (female) genitals. and representation (as “meat”) of. goes further.8 The Waters’ image. it rearranges the trajectory of disgust and shame. This meaty underwear recalls as it reworks other images of the conflation of meat and women. caught with underwear down that bears evidence of the body’s inner traces. Divine answers the inevitable questions about this action. Clearly. and states that ‘It was designed to shock and make everyone aware of who we are. Benjamin elaborates on this disgust occasioned by touching animals. presumably. For instance. In an interview. disgust can be focused on what is going into the body rather than the body per se. condensed in the case of Divine.
But this is. what I want to take from this is Benjamin’s insistence on the intricate interplay of proximity and touch. so that I seldom throw up food. or is it retching?’. we eat the beast. it is horror at the idea that it is only . and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness. slimy (sometimes bitter). Darwin shifts his experience of disgust at his own body onto the contact between the white man and native. 1978:67). In a line that will be familiar to bulimics and anorexics. ‘What I vomit [is] intensely acid. 1978:66–67). the touch. it is not surprising that a previous.. FEEDING SHAME the animal that it might be recognised’. While his scientific discussion of disgust is brief. Again. ‘a drastic gesture that overleaps its mark’. desire and revulsion. says Benjamin. Following Benjamin’s argument. Even as we reorder the barriers between human and animal through eating. Darwin writes to a friend that ‘it rarely comes on till 2 or 3 hours after eating. the example he uses is telling. In order to calm this terror.140 EATING DISGUST. of finding ourselves on the same level. and apparently inaugural. The fact that Darwin was drawn to disgust takes on more force when one reads9 that he was plagued by ‘an intestinal or stomach disorder of a chronic recurrent nature. Centred on the affective response to the feel of meat. description of disgust should come from Darwin’s The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872/1979). and the centrality of contact and disgust. 1998: 245). This tension between disgust and the fact that we cannot deny that which revolts us constitutes ‘the paradox of the moral demand’. and responding to a question of whether he ‘actually threw up. 1997:1). to make sense once again of the distinctiveness of human versus animal. The ethical imperative is to be found in an acute awareness of disgust: it cannot be simply erased but rather constantly exacts ‘simultaneously the overcoming and the subtlest elaboration’ (Ibid. Here we have a clear example of the fact that ‘disgusting’ designates the horror of being brought into intimate contact with what is considered to be another category of being. This idea of being engulfed by the animal. 1998:244). pervades much discussion of disgust and shame. whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage.. While the stress that Benjamin and others put on the disgust engendered by the closeness of incommensurate categories (the teetering on the boundary of the edible). he writes. ‘the zone of the finest epidermal contact remains taboo’ (Ibid. probably involving the nerves supplying the gut’ (Browne. only acid & morbid secretion’.. In his own words. corrodes the teeth’ (in Ibid. although his hands did not look dirty’ (cited in Miller. He remembers that in ‘Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac.
‘it is not ultimately the softness of the preserved meat as much as what it means about the person eating it’ (Ibid. I now want to consider more carefully the dynamics set in motion . For Miller.EATING DISGUST. 1997:5). or pollute by proximity. while this may be so if disgust is taken in isolation. whereby Darwin and the native are both repulsed from each other. is in fact the reaction that follows ‘when another human being or any bad experience has been permitted to come too close. closeness. he would actually ingest the other. 1997:3). disgust is also compounded by its representation. disgust is engendered by touch. If he were to eat that meat. and for Darwin is located in the proximity. disgust is a complex sentiment ‘marked in English by expressions declaring things or actions to be repulsive. contact. However. Food here acts to bring the men into uncomfortable relations of proximity. as I have been arguing. or ingestion’ (Ibid. accords with Tomkins’s claim that disgust is permanently distancing. whereas Darwin fears ingesting some essence of savagery that has been magically imparted to his food by the finger of the naked savage’ (Ibid. In William Miller’s terms. the combination of disgust and shame produces a back-and-forth movement of distancing. infect. 1997:2). for Benjamin. The hand that touches the food seems to go to the core of Darwin’s being. In simple terms. Again we find the spectre of closeness that provokes disgust. ‘makes one disgusting’ (Miller. 1997:3). As Miller argues of the disgust registered by the native. If. the pulling back that disgust seems to immediately produce. bringing into clashing dissonance respective orders: The native recoils at the idea of what manner of man could eat such stuff. FEEDING SHAME 141 meat that mediates the contact.. shame The choreography that disgust produces. he writes. As Tomkins himself puts it.. The group of terms that coalesce around disgust ‘all convey a strong sense of aversion to something perceived as dangerous because of its powers to contaminate. In other words. In Miller’s summation. it is as if representational distance vanishes when it comes to writing of the disgusting. the touch upon his meat intimating that the subordinated can invade him.. writing about disgust is a perilous project: ‘contact with the disgusting’. Disgust. This worry about the contamination of closeness is clear in Darwin’s example. ‘both actors share a deep belief that you pretty much are what you eat’. we only shy away once we realise that we have been too close. revolting’. 1991:35). to enter the body through the mouth’ (Tomkins.
as a general rule.142 EATING DISGUST. creepy things’ (Miller. Following Tomkins. Sedgwick and Frank argue that both these affects produce bodily knowledges: disgust. Examining the strange corporeal traces left by T. to have to smell it.E. FEEDING SHAME by the representation of disgust and shame. the object.. rather than to the self (Tomkins. And if. shame. 1995:135). ‘No other emotion. we find an intense scrutiny of the object. as Miller puts it. in shame there is always the hope that communication has only been momentarily broken. slithery. see it. At one level. This is to expand on Miller’s insistence on ‘the sensory experience of what it feels like to be put in danger by the disgusting. there is something thrilling about the fact that. Disgust pushes us one way. 1997:9). as spitting out bad-tasting food.. as precious hyperreflexivity of the surface of the body. and. 1991:34). and wriggly. 1995:22) This central point about the movement induced by shame and disgust extended in an article by Deleuze. Disgust ‘is a response in which there is least self-consciousness. not even hatred.. it causes us to step back. If. shame pulls us another. because no other emotion forces such concrete sensual descriptions on its object’ (Ibid. As I have suggested. and that it will be restored. As Tomkins argues. in that very action. 1997:9). can turn one inside out—or outside in. in disgust. we are also brought within the range of shame. for Tomkins. that intimacy will ‘eventually [be] consummated’ (Ibid. 1991: 18). both shame and disgust ‘are impediments to intimacy and communion…shame-humiliation does not renounce the object permanently whereas contempt-disgust does’ (Ibid. with the most intense consciousness of the object…attention is most likely to be referred to the source. Recalling that shame arises out of an intense subjective awareness of trespassing proximity. recognises the difference between the inside and outside the body and what should and should not be let in. paints its object so unflatteringly. Deleuze is fascinated by Lawrence’s own fascination with Arabian bodies. and more particularly in representations of the disgusting. or touch it…the tactile sensation of slime. disgust forces upon us a tangible sense of the closeness of others: we feel the proximities of objects and people that we fear will invade our bodies through our mouths. While it may be sheer projection on his . ooze. So. we are then caught between the pull of two forces. disgust reveals the object in all of its repellent detail.Lawrence. (Sedgwick and Frank. of what it feels like to be too close to it.
in shame. Lawrence perceives that they understand their bodies to be disgusting. and to call for reinforcement. as Deleuze says. in translation. as I have argued. are viscerally experienced in terms of the closeness to others. the body may register its own limits. It is. This then plays out in the following terms: The mind begins by coldly and curiously regarding what the body does. 1993b:155. We learn to say ‘that’s disgusting’ as a reaction to the uncomfortable feelings. More precisely. 1993b:154). one which causes Deleuze to designate the body as a ‘molecular mire’. But this is a most interesting dynamic. its own inappropriateness in situations that. which is to say. but actual critical entities that overcome the body and judge it. a very special conception of the body. then it gets stirred up. it has shame for the body’ (Deleuze. In shame. the body loses any pristine sense of its boundaries: it is bespattered and besmirched by its own actions. in denying their affective force we stand to lose the acuteness of the body’s own capacities for . it takes for its own affects which are not simply effects of the body. (Ibid. incited disgust. All these actions may bring shame that is quickly smoothed away by the assurance of a group.. In other words. Affective reactions are habitually trained out of us. Deleuze argues that for Lawrence ‘the essential is the shame of the body’ (Ibid. 1997:124) We have here the glimpse of how the body. Of course the body is also trained to move beyond its own reactions.10 By this he means that the body is conceived of as a limitless. FEEDING SHAME 143 part. to ignore its warnings that it has transgressed. picking on the one who eats strange foreign food. it is first of all a witness. it is here that we encounter the possibilities of bodies that witness their own actions and are shamed by them. it feels bad to feel ashamed by something you have done. then reappears as a judge of itself. and galvanised by shame. To shift somewhat the terms of Deleuze’s argument.EATING DISGUST. Laughing at the kid whose parents are too poor to provide for the right clothes. the body shamed before the sight of the body disgusted becomes a passionate witness to itself. ever-shifting entity that is viscerally rearranged through its contact with disgust. Returning to my previous discussion about the erasure of shame and disgust within affirmative corporeal politics. it becomes an impassionate witness.. As any child knows. But then the child will readily pick up on cues that it is all right to transgress on some categories of people. 1993b:154). whereby ‘the spirit has shame of the body…in effect. pointing at the fat boy.
if we are used to thinking that disgust is something that designates our superior relation to the other.. this feeling of horror and disgust. just as immediate. As she writes. it may be that she is also registering profound disgust at those around her. The testimony of an exanorexic woman is telling in this regard: ‘I eat it before it eats me…’11 In the terms of Wann’s fat pride campaign. the disgust of others has entered her body. or different in other ways. 1998: 119). this reveals the strength of the anorexic’s response to the world: ‘it/you are disgusting. But it also seems possible that disgust and shame are promiscuous: that they produce movements that go beyond the unilateral. 1998:127). revealing in acute detail the body’s workings. is matched by a deep shame: ‘the shame at “needing” to take so much from the other’ (Tomkins. Her tactics therefore play on the fact that shame will render deeply . Rather than placing her as a hapless cipher. 1991:551). For individuals who have been deeply shamed. In fact. it is clear that she has a wealth of knowledge generated by the barrage of disgust she has had to contend with. I will not take you in’. instead of conceiving of the anorexic as a victim of social forces. we tend to posit an interiorisation of shame that then produces the body as victim. and the ways in which affects touch us. Something of this movement can be heard in her comments that from childhood she ‘had simply soaked up the knowledge that something made me different and that difference had to do with size’. As Tomkins also argues. resulting in a refusal to take anything in. it is clear that there is a heightened awareness of what one’s body is and does.144 EATING DISGUST. In the case of shame. Yet what do we know of the disgust that the shamed body feels and directs outwards? For instance. in order to shame others. and more widely on to others who have been shamed. Both shame and disgust forefront the proximity of others to ourselves. It is then reformulated through the body and serves as a source of other connections. While her goal is to eradicate disgust. The force field of affects produced out of proximity then testifies to an intimacy established between me and the disgusting object. and just as certain as our opposition to racism’ (Ibid. designating disgust also clearly implies the one who utters the words. she also deploys that knowledge to great effect. In other words. I imagine that knowledge comes to us early’ (Wann. Here Wann uses to good account her knowledge structured through previous corporeal experiences of disgust. it fuels her visceral response to injustice on the part of fat people. ‘Our opposition to fat hatred should be just as vehement. or disabled. in terms of anorexia. To put it more forcefully. She then wonders ‘when other little children realise that they are black. FEEDING SHAME reflection.
to feel at some level the discomfort of the fact that in pronouncing the remark ‘that’s disgusting’ we have already allied ourselves. this can lead to a culture of hatred and scapegoating. whereby certain objects are publicly deemed to be universally disgusting. whereby it is the utterer who is shamed. and feeling’ (Sedgwick and Frank. To repeat. And if shame is allowed its way. a judge of our affects as actions. or distancing irrevocably any link to disgust. makes us dwell upon their relations of proximity. as productive forces. As Sedgwick and Frank (1995) put it. To publicly eat disgust and feed shame . Neither would it offer the easy reversals that much of pride politics are based in. we can see here a strategy that doesn’t downplay shame and disgust. In contrast to a politics of the body that would erase the expressions of shame and disgust. in simple terms. 1995:20). the body shamed before the sight of the body disgusted becomes a passionate witness to itself. but a judge of what? Well. In fact. incited by disgust. In a very schematic way. paid witness to the fact that we are (too) close to the disgusting. Shame makes of our bodies a judge. the time may have come for cultural theory to stop detoxifying ‘the excesses of the body. However. itself and others.EATING DISGUST. a culture of ressentiment much like the one in which we live. the body in shame. incorporating these affects may serve to extend bodies. in its public nature. Obviously this is a nervy project that wouldn’t sell so well on Body Shop posters. then reappears as a judge of the body. as Sedgwick and Frank argue. thought. FEEDING SHAME 145 uncomfortable those who have sought to shame her: she seeks to render fat prejudice as uncomfortable. Instead of sanitising the body. instead of jettisoning shame for pride. If the realm of the disgusting opens up new considerations of what goes into our bodies. as close and as touching an affair as disgust. and outside in. this forces us to rethink the ways in which shame and disgust remake the body. our closeness to the fact that our bodies too are disgusting. Following from the previous discussion of shame and disgust as dynamics. these expressions of disgust can be made to meet with shame. In other words. this is to make visible the hyperreflexivity of the body. shame highlights the body’s reactions to how we might ingest shame. Unchecked. in disgust we seek acknowledgement that we are not alone in our judgements. it causes the body to recoil. but rather makes of these affects a ground for a very public airing of the injustices registered in bodies. I will end by gesturing towards a use of shame and disgust that. In this way. as affects turn us inside out. As I argued previously. An acknowledgement of disgust can serve to render public what we seek to keep inside.
it may well be that the project of rethinking the politics and ethics of our bodies is an uncomfortable one. If this doesn’t sound salubrious. shameful desires and disgusting knowledges. FEEDING SHAME may be to steep ourselves in the murk of our body’s toxins.146 EATING DISGUST. Yet how could we hope for it to be otherwise? .
might have more deeply savoured the delicious nature of food. found inspiration in the sometimes macabre interstices of eating. It mixes the personal and the intellectual: years of self-imposed starvation. is after all a game of mixing passion and poison. to branch off in several directions all at once: writing that experiments with ideas. you’d find me outside with a drink and a cigarette. virtue and vice. Writing. although I agree with Eve Sedgwick and Adam Frank’s sentiment that contemporary cultural theory should stop trying to ‘detoxify the excesses of the body. global and sexual ways. marked by conjunction and particular appetites. Beyond the conceit of writer as cook. I have. and text as alimentary tract. I can’t say that with this book I sought to rectify any tendency in cultural studies. the gist of this book has been to suggest an alternative gestalt for cultural analysis. 1995: 20). and the occasional moment of inspiration. Moving from initial considerations about how eating reconfigures us in local. If this is another . and feeling’ (Sedgwick and Frank. to rethink the ethics of bodies.POSTSCRIPT Eating: the new sensuality? This is a slightly strange book. in the image of my favourite Fat Lady. the book ends in investigations of cannibalism. and another book. like cooking and eating. longer years of working in the ‘food industry’. and an enduring predilection for savouring the taste of words and images. My own passion for eating and cooking is a mixed legacy of the pathetic. I’d suggest another venue. To the readers who hoped for unalloyed descriptions of culinary joys. I would hope to keep open the possibility of doing research that seems. however. the mundane. and in small ways. style and objects of study. If this were the end of a long meal. the painful hungry past. I’d offer apologies and a digestif on the house. Drawn on a taste for the visceral. Others. at times. and the ways in which we are mired in shame and disgust. To those who wished for a straightforward queer adventure into the oozing transgressions of gastroporn. thought.
‘idiosyncratic’ book, I would hope that it also marks out a space within research to pursue what catches at us, what commands attention, what nags and gnaws at our innards. The quest to capture what’s going on, what’s eating us collectively, is always somewhat elusive, and it does probably overly privilege the individual writer. At the same time, it also highlights the interconnectedness of ideas. When I read, for instance, that the new buzzword in restaurant jargon is ‘sensual’, I wonder how this catches at other tendencies in society. One of the leading ideas in this book has been to advocate more attention to how we combine various parts of our lives, the pasts and present within which we live. Following the cue of two thinkers that pervade how I see the world, Foucault and Deleuze, I am drawn to the ways in which eating can foreground the sense and sensuality of the timing and touch of precise combinations. The imperative to bring together different elements, and at the same time to not lose sight of their individual flavours, textures, and inherent possibilities, extends across a wide range of sites. It can be heard in cookbooks, just as it is echoed in the insights of individuals asked to comment on how eating figures in their familial, affective, and everyday lives. It can also be heard, I think, in the emergence of new figures that seem to haunt us, like cannibals, just as eating is evidenced in accounts we have of the past, and now reaches deeply into post-colonial experiments. This book has not been about demonstrating the superiority of one thinker at the expense of others. There are some theorists whom I have found to be especially provocative, but I have tended only to nibble at bits rather than eat through their systems. One is Simmel, whose assurance in describing the sociology of the meal appeals in its schematic nature. I am still intrigued by the way he posits eating—as that which is common to us all, yet at the same time is absolutely limited to each individual. To repeat a favoured quotation, he insists that ‘what the individual eats, no one else can eat under any circumstance’ (Simmel, 1994:346). He then describes how we overcome this in the commensal experience: ‘the coming together for a shared meal… and the socialization mediated thereby promotes the overcoming of the sheer naturalism of eating’ (Ibid., 1994:350). This, I think, captures some of the grinding over the natural into the social, the elemental into the alimentary as it slowly sinks into the commensal. This movement is as familiar as a childhood instance of my father’s sheer anguish at having guests to dinner, and then the amazement of his charm once he was seated at the table. At a basic level, it insists that sociality is hard, a point that cultural studies, in its love of the popular
and of differentiation produced through (sub)cultural groupings, may at times forget. In the face of culinary celebration, I have also been drawn to the seemingly unpalatable aspects of eating, as well as those that give life to bodies and aspirations. Underlying much of the argument is the idea that while we still do not know the full capacities of bodies, in different contexts they give off clues about their knowledges. While I have worked for years in and around ‘the body’, I don’t want to vaunt embodiment as a pristine principle. As Sedgwick and Frank remind us, ‘only something that you thought might delight or satisfy can disgust’. They further this thought with a crucial point about how bodily knowledges are produced in eating: ‘disgust, as spitting out bad-tasting food, recognizes the difference between inside and the body and what should and should not be let in.’ This then reveals ‘a precarious hyperreflexivity of the surface of the body, can turn one inside out—or outside in’ (Sedgwick and Frank, 1995:22). It is my hope that the analysis of eating, its qualities and affects, helps us to focus on those precious moments of precariousness, when we are turned inside out: when something tastes of memories, and activates aspiration, gratitude, desire, or recognition. To cite a favoured buzzword of food columns, at times eating is very ‘more-ish’. Led by our stomachs, individual and collective histories, tastes and circumstances, reflecting on eating— digesting life, as it were—leads us into whole other realms. In this sense, I hope that the question, ‘what’s eating us?’, will be more-ish.
which advertises itself as ‘shop to benefit your favorite cause’). 6 Of course. a search engine. and wasn’t a general comment on the connection between eating and thinking (Santich.com. 5 This is a reference to Bourdieu’s notion of ‘le champ’.com.com. in particular. in the context of Australia. and if one were to look at intellectual fields such as history. functionalism is exemplified in the anthropological analysis of food . or the rules that regulate disciplinary fields. from the hungry invaders some two hundred years ago. One Continuous Picnic (1982). The most common strategies feature comparisons of the huge amounts of vegetables one needs to consume to obtain the same amount of iron as that found in a small portion of red meat. His early book. to eat beef as a source of iron. psychology or literature. Symons has been an important voice in establishing an emergent field of the historical sociology of food. 4 It should be added that. 2 The sponsors of the Hunger Site include 0–0. was one of the first to sketch out the troubled history of eating in Australia. Proflowers. this is only the sociological field (incorporating anthropology). See Bourdieu (1993). 3 The changes in tactics of selling beef is an interesting topic. In terms of the dominant categorisation of food. and an assortment of other examples of this new form of altruism (such as GreaterGood. one would find just as vigorous a retelling of the field and food. The feed the man beef slogan has long been superseded with the emphasis on getting younger women. 1999:4). Lévi-Strauss’s point was made in relation to taboos on eating totem animals in traditional societies. to the crucial advances that the immigration of the 1950s brought to traditional AngloCeltic food.NOTES 1 BODIES THAT EAT 1 As Barbara Santich has recently pointed out.
In a welcome extension and updating of Bourdieu’s study. ‘the preparation of porridge…is the woman’s most usual way of expressing the correct kinship sentiment’ (Richards. Jack Goody’s comparative study of cuisine and class (Goody. and documents most of the trial— including dramatic reconstruction of central court scenes. focusing on the role of foodstuffs in the historical evolution of societies. the field is divided into ‘functional structuralism’. and is popularised in Margaret Visser’s books on table-manners and eating (Visser. Developmentalism covers a range of anthropological and sociological influences. ‘a thousand tiny sexes’ in A Thousand Plateaus and Elizabeth Grosz (1994). 1985). 2 FEEDING McWORLD. Elias’s work majorly informs Stephen Mennell’s All Manner of Food (1985). Showing much of the same tenaciousness as Steel and Morris. the recent book Accounting For Tastes: Australian Everyday Cultures demonstrates the appeal of Bourdieu’s study. ‘critical structuralism’. In examining how individuals now articulate their tastes. For instance. Thankfully they also redress Bourdieu’s ‘French insularity’. as well as Mary Douglas (1982).152 NOTES 7 8 9 10 and kinship relations. 1982).. 1991). See Deleuze and Guattari (1988). Structuralism can obviously be found in Lévi-Strauss’s famous ‘culinary triangle’ and the ‘raw and the cooked’ (1966). neither will any company distribute it for fear of being accused of libel by McDonald’s. EATING IDEOLOGIES 1 The documentary is produced and written by Franny Armstrong. in Audrey Richards’ study of southern African tribes. and has found that none of the British television networks will show it. Armstrong has faced her own battle in terms of libel. It was produced through volunteer labour. In Lupton’s account. The project of charting the historical changes of the palate and eating manners is of course at the heart of Norbert Elias’s detailed study of the ‘civilising process’ (Elias. 1998). 1986. she has a . to Stephen Mennell’s appropriation of Norbert Elias in his history of food and taste in England and France (Mennell. 1985). and ‘poststructuralism’ (Lupton. 1992:7). Anne Murcott has directed a vast study of British eating habits published as The Nation’s Diet: the Social Science of Food Choice (Murcott. 1939/1978). and more recently Claude Fischler (1993). 1996:8–15). 1948. This ranges from Sidney Mintz’s fascinating history of sugar (Mintz. the authors take account of factors that Bourdieu ignored: questions of gender and race as well as the influence of television and popular culture. In Britain. cited in Mennell et al.
RESTRAINT IN EXCESS 1 In a different vein. and eating only what is ethical. focusing on the articulation of a ‘psychosocial dynamic propelled by desire’ (Stivale. ‘Like industrial sex. the tension between setting up food aid programmes without disturbing the hegemony of the farm lobbies. 4 CANNIBAL HUNGER. Adams is hardly representative of the more developed arguments on ‘ethical eating’. 1997: 188). In and of itself. Later this was to collapse under ‘images of obese black women and welfare mothers on food stamps’ (Ibid.NOTES 153 comprehensive website where the film can be viewed (www. a network of volunteers based in 14 countries. From the Great Depression on. eating only your share. poor.’ It follows for him that the contemporary eater is ‘passive and uncritical—in short.’ The push to ‘green cuisine’ is ‘an important countercultural response to being in the world’ (Bell and Valentine. In particular. 1992:375). McSpotlight is a project of the McInformation Network. he focuses on the long-standing situation whereby the American government tried to solve hunger and poverty by redistributing excess foodstuffs that no longer had a market. it is an interesting political site which uses the Internet to gather and disseminate information about McDonald’s numerous transgressions. 1992:310).spanner. 1988:27). others in the world’ (Heldke. As David Bell and Gill Valentine put it. and by the establishment of the ‘hunger lobby’ that would ‘separate hunger and malnutrition from agricultural surpluses’ (Levenstein. for some people. and are also responsive and responsible to. ‘Being a citizen of the world also means. 1993:158). 3 EATING SEX 1 Of course. which emerged in the controversy surrounding the McLibel case. industrial eating has become a degraded. and paltry thing. and which also publishes the sets of transcripts provided by McSpotlight. 1993:150). relational activity—that we are in correspondence with.org/ mclibel). Charles Stivale reads Deleuze and Guattari’s AntiOedipus through Apocalypse Now. 2 Levenstein’s book is a fascinating account of the history of eating in the United States.. finds its apogee in Nixon’s campaign to eliminate ‘hunger in America for all time’. the confusion over sex and food reappears in Wendall Barry’s summation that. However. . As I argued in the previous chapter. arguments such as Lisa Heldke’s thinking of our relations with food as ‘participatory’ reveal that ‘acting in the world is a communal. a victim’ (Heldke.
and. as well as increased recognition of the fact that . it operates strangely within a context of the Australian government’s long-term policies to eradicate Aboriginals by forcibly removing children from their families and incorporating them within the white family.) (1997) Our Land Is Our Life. FEEDING SHAME 1 In her book. and the use of ressentiment in feminist politics (Probyn. 1998). based on forms of genocidal assimilation that sought to totally ingest and eradicate Aboriginality through adoption and intermarriage. in a response to it. Justice Interruptus (1997). interpretation and communication’ (Fraser. 2000b).154 NOTES 3 One of the clearest expositions of the politics of ressentiment is Wendy Brown’s States of Injury (1995). portrays the way in which Hanson captured the feelings of inadequacy of the working class and rural voters faced with the global economic order. Elsewhere I have considered the politics of shame and ressentiment in terms of the Stolen Generations (Probyn. Margo Kingston’s (1999) account of covering Hanson’s election campaign reveals some of the craziness of her political party. which she calls injuries of maldistribution. 1998). which she defines as ‘cultural or symbolic. there are injustices of distribution. 5 EATING IN BLACK AND WHITE: THE MAKING OF MOD OZ 1 See the essays in Galarrwuy Yunupingu (ed. 2 There is an increase in the number of men diagnosed with anorexia. 6 EATING DISGUST. injustices of recognition. 83–95. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. the debate between Fraser and Butler (see Fraser. It is then Aboriginal Australians who should fear the cannibalism of whites. 2000a). See also Paul Patton (1995b) ‘Mabo and Australian society: towards a postmodern republic’. 1997:14). 6(1–2). It is a distinction that is rather too neat. rooted in patterns of representation. 4 As such. August. Nancy Fraser divides the current state of identity politics into two camps: on the one hand. and on the other. and other eating disorders. Judith Butler argues that it has the potential to render questions of recognition in terms of sexuality and gender ‘merely cultural’ (Butler. and also. 1998) is indicative of a certain stalemate when it comes to theorising the politics of identity in ways that go beyond a return to the monolithic categories of the economic versus the cultural (see Probyn.) (1995) The Way Forward: Collaboration and Cooperation ‘In Country’. importantly. and Gary D Meyers (ed. To my mind.
‘“I could have retched all night”: Charles Darwin and his Body’. selfsame. ‘Ressentiment in this context [of politicised identity] is a triple achievement: it produces an affect (rage. Daniel Smith and Michael Greco translate the original term ‘fange’ as ‘sludge’. Against strategies that privilege normalising representations of women as well as sexual and racial minorities. even when they are harmless’ (Rozin and Fallon. 1995:68). righteousness) that overwhelms the hurt. It plunges the researcher into the ‘low. but inevitably bound to other bodies and strange selves’ (Ibid. ‘We will no longer hang women up as pieces of meat’. 1994: 1). June 1999. hidden. which Laura Kipnis argues was ‘in fact. Interviews with ‘body workers’ in Sydney. and it produces a site of revenge to displace the hurt (a place to inflict hurt as the sufferer has been hurt)’ (Brown. visceral’ (Russo. and was even given scientific credence in an 1878 issue of the British Medical Journal. 1996). the dominant form of ‘politicised identity thus enunciates itself. makes claims for itself. 1994:86). 1995:74). Russo challenges us to follow a ‘riskier gambit by far…surrendering one’s identity as no longer possibly correct. where it was stated as ‘an undoubted fact that meat spoils when touched by menstruating women’ (cited in Meigs. immanent. disgust being engendered by the abolition of distance (Falk. She writes that ‘to live with the grotesque…for an extended period can be a claustrophobic experience’. Drawing on Bakhtin’s theory of the carnival. dark. This reaction misses the fact that the cover of the woman in the meat grinder carried the caption. 1993:237). obscenity and representation and extends Kant’s and Derrida’s theories about the aesthetic and its relation to distance. In Wendy Brown’s estimation. Falk’s intricate argument is about pornography. 1978). Russo explores the ramifications of representing the grotesque. dramatising. The meat/woman issue has a long pedigree. another sheepish and flat-footed attempt at apologia [to women] by Flynt’ (Kipnis. In a somewhat different vein. it produces a culprit responsible for the hurt.. 1994). As Brown argues. recognisable. earthly. My thanks to Betty Bayer for sending me the wonderfully entitled essay. an idea propagated by earlier research positing it as ‘the golden girl disease’ (Bruch. 1984:36). material. its pain in polities’ (Ibid.NOTES 155 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 anorexia is not just a white middle-class disease (Thompson. The question of eating the dog returns in an article reporting the results of a cross-cultural psychological experiment about whether ‘disgusting or disrespectful actions [are] judged to be moral violations. only by entrenching. but without being precious I prefer the semantic spread of . 1987). restating. Mary Russo’s work focuses on the pull of the grotesque..
and Lesbians on the Loose). .156 NOTES ‘mire’. We were upfront about the fact that we wanted to talk to individuals who felt they had a certain distance on anorexia. 11 This quotation is from interviews done within a small study on exanorexics’ attitudes to eating. The Sydney Star Observer. We purposely chose the phrase ‘ex’ in order to facilitate reflection on the imbrication of past practices and sense of self within the present. I have found their translation very helpful and have interspersed my own with theirs. We solicited individuals by placing ads in a variety of ‘alternative’ newspapers (The Sydney Hub.
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Samir 91. 91 caring. Krim 122 Billig. Giorgio 88. Roland 65 Bartolovich. 122 Adams. 127. 125 Bruneteau.INDEX Abbott. 31 Brahimi. Edward 117 Aboriginal peoples 93. 48. Guillaume 67 ‘branded’ food 22 Brillat-Savarin. in colonial Australia 116 Conley. 10. David 40 Bell. Jean-Anthelme 2. Carol 75 Agamben. David 21 Bourdieu. 30. Etienne 111 Barber. 99 Arens. 72. 121. Jean-Paul 107 Buell. Noëlle 16. John 110 Allison. 106 passim. Jim 24 colonialism. Australia 105 Colors (magazine) 127 comfort food 2. 24 commodification. Frederick 40 Butler. 101 Ah Kit. Pierre 9. Marcus 118 class 26. 43. 104. 25 Aztecs 94 Balibar. Arjun 65 appetite 84. 55. 167 techniques of 30 The Body Shop 127 Bonnano. 132. Judith 61 Campbell. of difference 83 communal feeding. 110. 120. William 93 articulation 16 Australia 105 authenticity 8. Alessandro 45 Bosshart. 129 the body: as habitus 27. Benjamin 47 Barthes. Dorothy 5. 26. 78 Amin. 29. Angela 73 Châtelet. ethos of 34. 8. 49. 80 capitalism 84. Diane 115 Benjamin. Michael 42 body pride 126. Maria 76 anorexia 7. 9. 93 Ancient Greece 5 Angel. Tom 63 . 31 citizenship 45. Crystal 84 Bell. 111 Clarke. 30. Bea 49 Candide (Voltaire) 108 cannibalism 7. Walter 139 Benterrack. 50. 143 Apocalypse Now (film) 86 Appadurai. 76 Carter. 31 clichéd food statements vii Collins.
Edward 55 ethics 2.168 INDEX Conrad. Pasi 135 family 34. Danielle 112 Gatens. Clarissa 68 diet 5. Pauline 93 Harmer. 64 difference: commodification of 83. Carol 39 Fischler. 123. 59 fasting 18 fat pride 130 Field. 57. Jill 6. 97. 74 disgust and shame 9. 97 Heldke. Annette 114 Hanson. Jacques 73 ‘deterritorialization’ 41 developmentalism 26. 130. Sean 136 functionalism 26. 17. 101 hooks. Francis 86 Crawford. 18. Moira 15 Gelder. Luce 40 Giddens. 91 Halligan. 72. 79. 66. 149 funk foodists 20. Wendy 67 Harris. Michel 4. 5. 111. 96 hunger 12. 31. 88 Frank. 111 Deleuze. 149 French. 20. 9. John 50 Gallegos. 59 Hiddens. 142 Derrida. Evelyn 116 Darwin. Adam 142. sexual 28. Les 106. Charles 140 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen 107. 60 grotesque 154 Guattari. 112 Esko. recognition of 110. 37. ethnic 83. 145. 82. Lisa 57. G. 118 HIV/AIDS 76 Holocaust 88. 89 homo sacer 88. bell 83 Horton. 57 ‘glocalisation’ 34. 77 ethnic difference 83 Evans. 71 Durack. Jack 7 Greeks. 63. 41. 61. Peter 94. 39. 43. 31. Ken 83 Giard. 149n Dickson Wright. 24. 77. Peter 76 Grossberg. 78 habitus 27. 89. 19. 61. Ancient 5 Greenaway. 43 Goody. 3. 19. 64. 30. 126 Divine 138. 97 consumer culture 83 The Cook. 30 Hall. Joseph 8. 146. His Wife and Her Lover (film) 76 Coppola. 99 hyperfake food 21 . 40. Felix 3. Mary 7. 101 fake food 21 Falk. 72. 37. Terry 6 Eat Me (Jaivin) 74 equality 107. The Thief. 65 Dupleix. Lawrence 16. Stuart 16. Ted 45 Hulme. 75. 85. 33 Gabriel. Marion 28 Hamilton. 51. Marvin 94 Heart of Darkness (Conrad) 8. 17. David 49 excess 83. Anthony 41 globalisation 13. 8. 139 Douglas. 90. 85. 49. 77. 66. 144. 29. Claude 132 flesh 72 food scares 90 foreign food 2 Foucault.
97 pleasure 5 power 7. Camryn 130. Molly 9. William 140 Montaigne 83 Moon. Kingsley 102 Paterson. Maggie 96 land rights and usage 106. 46 Massumi. 49. 96. 45. 27. 114 Obeyesekeve. John 107. Jennifer 68. 107 Laurent. T. 5. Foucauldian notion of 5. 78 Mauss. 33 Levy. Michael 118. 99 rhizomes. Antoine 66 Lawrence. body 126. 37. Brian 77. Roland 41 Roeg. 31 McCartney. Michael 138. Johnnie 123 Machery. John 67. Karl 91. 60 Lévi-Strauss. Frank 22 Mulvey. 76 Manheim. 59. 30. eating as mode of 12 Meehan. 120. 40. 34. Pierre 57 Manfield. Laura 129 Newman. notion of 17. 119 Mennell. Marcel 27. Immanuel 109 Kilgour. 57. Bob 121 queer eating 66. 71. Jerry 95. Nicholas 85 . Marcia 106. 29. Emily 14. Dave 36. 68. Linda 74. Genevieve 15 the local 13. 108 Lovett. 68 Nissin noodles 22 nostalgia 8. 43. Doreen 43. 139 morality 4. 46. 92 Massey. 59 McLibel trial 36. vegetarian 53. 78 Ripe. 24 Nungarrayi. Paul 66 racism 2 rationing. 51. Cherry 25 Roberts. 129 property see land rights and usage proximity 134. 18 Kant. Gananath 94 O’Prey. Claude 10. 133 milieu 77 Miller. 75 Jenkins. Nigella 4. 76 Rabinow. Rhoda 102 Robertson. 122 Langton. Paul 68 Liddle. 59 Mort. 142 Lawson.E. interconnection with the global 34. 131 Marx. 59 Morris. Felicity 112 Newton. Jane 83 Jaivin. 79 patriarchy 75 Phillips. 140 Purvis. see also ‘glocalisation’ Locke. Stephen 26. David 105 Lloyd. 59 meat eating 74 mediation. Karen 67 McDonald’s 8. Paul 100 Palmer. Christine 66. 64 repressive hypothesis 74 restaurant trade 92 restraint 83. Geraldine 41 pride. in colonial Australia 112 Ravenous (film) 80 reciprocity 114 regimen.INDEX 169 immediacy of eating 12 individuality 64 Jacobs. male 75 Pratt. 9.
68. Eric 93 Rorty. 143 Tomlinson. Silvan 133. 113 Stretton. 74 sexual transgression 73 shame and disgust 9. John 13. Eve 138. Allen 133. 53. sexual 73 Tully.170 INDEX Rohr. Alice 71 Waters. 5. Zoë 76 Soysal. 144. Galarrwuy 125 . David 38 Smith. 59 Slater. Paul 6 Voltaire 108 Wann. John 138 Weiss. E. Peter 53. Nigel 19. 63 Symons. 143 Waters. Delia 68 Sofia. 149 sensual pleasure 5 sex 8. 142. Cello 22 Rolls. 126 Sherman.G. 31. 131. 109 Two Fat Ladies 24. 139. Marquis de 73 Sedgwick. 112 sympathy 66 taste 9. 101 ‘sloanisation’ of food 22 Smith. 26.N. 148 sincere food 24 Singer. W. 145.C. Johannes 18 Vattel. Tim 112 Sade. Emeric de 108 veganism 55 vegetarianism 38. Marilyn 130. 113 spoiling food 24 Steel. Rob 37. Richard 38 Rose. 152n subjectivity 10. 70 Yunupingu. Cindy 129 Shields. 107 Thompson. 79 universality 64 Valentine. 46 speciesism 54 Spencer.B. A. 41 touching 139 traditionalism 24 transgression. 134 Wilson. 114 structuralism 26. 46 Toklas. Sue 15 time-space compression 43. Gill 40 Van Vugt. Michael 26. Helen 36. James 107. 47 space—time compression 43. W. 133 terra nullius 106. 59 Veyne. Georg 64. 141. 135 Simmel. Alice B. Yasmine 45. 77 Tomkins. 146. 60 sexual difference 28. Nikolas 4 Rowse. 59 Stirling.
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