Wednesday 2 February 2011

Food and Desire

Wassily Kandinsky 1911, Composition No IV, oil on canvas, 159.5 x 250.5cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen, Dusseldorf

'In no case do we strive for, wish for, long for, or desire anything, because we deem it good, but on the other hand, we deem a thing to be good, because we strive for it, wish for it, long for it, or desire it.' Baruch Spinoza circa 1670.

Desire demands distance, it is anticipatory. Desire has agency. Desire in all its inexplicableness is metaphorically meteorological. To neuroscientists desire is situated at the interface
between motivation, pleasure and reward. It involves an intentionality, which has a least four distinct stages: engagement, acceptance, continuation and subsequent return.  

Consider for a moment the pleasure in eating chocolate. How we single out chocolate over other food, the first bite, the continuing sensations of pleasure as we devour it and the knowledge of the return and the assurance of its continued capacity to satisfy appetite and incite pleasure and desire.
Desire and appetite have a co-dependency and the nature of their conjoined synaesthesic embrace is represented through the imagery of food. The historically hierarchical nature of our senses has vision and hearing firmly planted at the top and the more corporeal senses of taste, smell and touch lying below. 

However in the face of capitalism’s shift towards the technocracy of sensuality the cultivation of visual primacy has been subjugated. The hierarchy of the senses has been sublimated to mirror the ambiguities of good and evil, high and low, rational and irrational. They can be viewed as a necessary characteristic of the moral cultural value systems imposed by society to maintain the stability and power structures of the status quo: elements of social control.

1 comment:

  1. ah! the lost art of anticipation - would love to chat more about exploring desire and what its importance offers to remind us of the distance between what we desire and what we ( think we, are told we, dont think just act ) want!
    the blog is poetic, beautiful, a rose in amongst the bush of email