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a book i want to read in a world where i have time to read cool things like this

Antidiets of the Avant-Garde
From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art
Cecilia Novero
University of Minnesota Press | 392 pages | 38 b&w photos | 2010
ISBN 978-0-8166-4601-2 | paper | $19.00 (reg. price: $27.50)
ISBN 978-0-8166-4600-5 | cloth | $57.50 (reg. price: $82.50)

Cecilia Novero discusses an aspect of the European avant-garde that has often been neglected—its relationship to the embodied experience of food. She exposes the key roles that food plays in the theoretical foundations and material aesthetics of works ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook to the magazine Dada, Walter Benjamin’s writings on eating and cooking, Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art, and the French New Realists.

“The history of taste has long harbored a repressed field of knowledge, that of cuisine, which had been metaphorized out of existence in traditional aesthetic theory. Today, as the culinary has finally found its place in theoretical and museological endeavors, certain works promise to become the foundation of a new, pluridisciplinary field that includes gastronomy. Among them is Antidiets of the Avant-Garde. It may be said that this book illuminates the culinary unconscious of our modernity. It is essential reading for all those interested in modern art, and for all those who love to eat.”
—Allen S. Weiss, author of Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime

“Caringly dismantling the misunderstanding that has often limited modernist aesthetics—namely, that avant-garde art is to be ascetic and skeptical of bodily experience—Cecilia Novero’s impressive study takes a more playfully Nietzschean approach by demonstrating that the European avant-garde cannot properly be understood without appreciating the role that allegories and material practices of incorporation play within it. This book is a delicious morsel.”
—Gerhard Richter, University of California-Davis

More information + the table of contents:

3 thoughts on “a book i want to read in a world where i have time to read cool things like this

  1. Wow. A book like this is really needed.

    I wonder how much Brecht figures into the argument: I’ve always been intrigued by his metaphors of “indigestibility” and a “culinary theater.”
    And I love the chapter titled “Walter Benjamin’s Gastro-Constellations.” Man– I, too, would love such a world in which to read cool stuff like this…

  2. This looks pretty cool, Davis. I’ve been reading Norman Holland’s Literature and the Brain, and he touches on the prevalence of metaphors of eating for consumption of literature–“taste,” “voracious reading,” and so on. He goes on to connect this to a psychoanalytic explanation, which I find, myself, distasteful (I get a sneer not dissimilar to what I exhibit on biting into stem of kale), but the bottom line is that those metaphors run deep in us. I remember reading about the veritable brain in our gut–that the gut is second only to the thing in our skulls in terms of the number of neurons.

    I’m a little surprised that Oucuipo, i.e. potential cooking, doesn’t seem to be in/on the table of contents at least on the face of it…it’s always seemed to me that the idea of Oulipean constraints applies to cooking marvelously, and I’m surprised there isn’t a bigger movement in this.

    And speaking of things growing, just read in Foster Wallace’s The Broom of the System an amazing depiction of an existential glutton who is consuming and incorporating flagrantly in order to confront the divide between self and other and battle his essential loneliness. Reveals something of DFW’s larger preoccupations, of course, and one might wonder whether the girth of IJ can be connected to this notion of bloating and encompassing.

    1. Thanks, Davis. Unlikely that I’ll ever get to it, but this book looks like a great read. Dig that Richter blurb (he’s one of my favorite painters).

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