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Food as Device

Anybody who knows me knows this passage. I am constantly quoting it:

[H]eld accountable for nothing, life fades into nothingness. Automatization eats away at things, at clothes, at furniture, at our wives, at our fear of war. […] And so, in order to return sensation to our limbs, in order to make us feel objects, to make a stone feel stony, man has been given the tool of art. The purpose of art, then, is to lead us to a knowledge of a thing through the organ of sight instead of recognition. By ‘enstranging’ objects and complicating form, the device of art makes perception long and ‘laborious.’ —Viktor Shklovsky, “Art as Device” (Theory of Prose pages 5–6)

Experimental chef Grant Achatz, speaking in an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air:

If you think about eating, you know, we do it two, three, four times a day since we’re born, basically. And the act of eating, the mechanics of eating, become very monotonous. So literally you’re either picking up a fork or a spoon, and you’re eating from a plate or a bowl, with the same motion every time. And so if we can break that monotony, then we get you to take notice of the moment, and now you’re thinking about the food, it’s making you feel a certain way. (8:50–9:22)

The entire interview is well worth listening to.

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

3 thoughts on “Food as Device

  1. I was into Achatz’s part about how it’s pointless to eat more than a 2 oz. stake because your taste buds are deadening, getting so used to the flavor. That instead it’s time to move on to the next course. It spoke to my love of tapas, but also of variety shows.

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