From Hakim Bey
Special Holiday Season Food Issue Rant: Turn Off the Lite!
THE ASSOCIATION FOR ONTOLOGICAL ANARCHY calls for a boycott of all products marketed under the Shibboleth of LITE--beer, meat, lo-cal candy, cosmetics, music, pre-packaged "lifestyles," whatever.
The concept of LITE (in Situ-jargon) unfolds a complex of symbolism by which the Spectacle hopes to recuperate all revulsion against its commodification of desire. "Natural," "organic," "healthy" produce is designed for a market sector of mildly dissatisfied consumers with mild cases of future- shock & mild yearnings for a tepid authenticity. A niche has been prepared for you, softly illumined with the illusions of simplicity, cleanliness, thinness, a dash of asceticism & self-denial. Of course, it costs a little more...after all, LITEness was not designed for poor hungry primitivos who still think of food as nourishment rather than decor. It has to cost more--otherwise you wouldn't buy it.
The American Middle Class (don't quibble; you know what I mean) falls naturally into opposite but complementary factions: the Armies of Anorexia & Bulimia. Clinical cases of these diseases represent only the psychosomatic froth on a wave of cultural pathology, deep, diffused & largely unconscious. The Bulimics are those yupped-out gentry who gorge on margharitas & VCRs, then purge on LITE food, jogging, or (an)aerobic jiggling. The Anorexics are the "lifestyle" rebels, ultra-food-faddists, eaters of algae, joyless, dispirited & wan--but smug in their puritanical zeal & their designer hair-shirts. Grotesque junk food simply represents the flip-side of ghoulish "health food":--nothing tastes like anything but woodchips or additives--it's all either boring or carcinogenic--or both--& it's all incredibly stupid.
Food, cooked or raw, cannot escape from symbolism. It is, & also simultaneously represents that which it is. All food is soul food; to treat it otherwise is to court indigestion, both chronic & metaphysical.
But in the airless vault of our civilization, where nearly every experience is mediated, where reality is strained through the deadening mesh of consensus-perception, we lose touch with food as nourishment; we begin to construct for ourselves personae based on what we consume, treating products as projections of our yearning for the authentic.
The A.O.A. sometimes envisions CHAOS as a cornucopia of continual creation, as a sort of geyser of cosmic generosity; therefore we refrain from advocating any specific diet, lest we offend against the Sacred Multiplicity & the Divine Subjectivity. We're not about to hawk you yet another New Age prescription for perfect health (only the dead are perfectly healthy); we interest ourselves in life, not "lifestyles."
True lightness we adore, & rich heaviness delights us in its season. Excess suits us to perfection, moderation pleases us, & we have learned that hunger can be the finest of all spices. Everything is light, & the lushest flowers grow round the privy. We dream of phalanstery tables & bolo'bolo cafes where every festive collective of diners will share the individual genius of a Brillat-Savarin (that saint of taste).
Shaykh Abu Sa'id never saved money or even kept it overnight--therefore, whenever some patron donated a heavy purse to his hospice, the dervishes celebrated with a gourmet feast; & on other days, all went hungry. The point was to enjoy both states, full & empty...
LITE parodies spiritual emptiness & illumination, just as McDonald's travesties the imagery of fullness & celebration. The human spirit (not to mention hunger) can overcome & transcend all this fetishism--joy can erupt even at Burger King, & even LITE beer may hide a dose of Dionysus. But why should we have to struggle against this garbagy tide of cheap rip-off ticky-tack, when we could be drinking the wine of paradise even now under our own vine & fig tree?
Food belongs to the realm of everyday life, the primary arena for all insurrectionary self-empowerment, all spiritual self-enhancement, all seizing-back of pleasure, all revolt against the Planetary Work Machine & its imitation desires. Far be it from us to dogmatize; the Native American hunter might fuel his happiness with fried squirrel, the anarcho-taoist with a handful of dried apricots. Milarepa the Tibetan, after ten years of nettle- soup, ate a butter cake & achieved enlightenment. The dullard sees no eros in fine champagne; the sorcerer can fall intoxicated on a glass of water.
Our culture, choking on its own pollutants, cries out (like the dying Goethe) for "More LITE!"--as if these polyunsaturated effluents could somehow assuage our misery, as if their bland weightless tasteless characterlessness could protect us from the gathering dark.
No! This last illusion finally strikes us as too cruel. We are forced against our own slothful inclinations to take a stand & protest. Boycott! Boycott! TURN OFF THE LITE!
Appendix: Menu For An Anarchist Black Banquet (veg & non- veg)
Caviar & blinis; Hundred year old eggs; Squid & rice cooked in ink; Eggplants cooked in their skins with black pickled garlic; Wild rice with black walnuts & black mushrooms; Truffles in black butter; Venison marinated in port, charcoal grilled, served on pumpernickel slices & garnished with roast chestnuts. Black Russians; Guiness-&-champagne; Chinese black tea. Dark chocolate mousse, Turkish coffee, black grapes, plums, cherries, etc.