Timothy Morton’s Shredded Wheat World


“This is a Shredded Wheat world (“Nothing added, nothing taken away” was how it was advertised in the 1970s). But a humble bowl of this sort of Shredded Wheat makes the most coruscating psychedelic lightshow look pale and boring. This is a reality in which the realness of things is in direct proportion to their weird pretense, the way in which things wear perfect replicas of themselves, so that everything is a masquerade, yet absolutely, stunningly real — and for the very same reason.”

In Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality, Timothy Morton gives us a philosophical version of “what you see is what you get” attitude towards the world. He uses shredded wheat and its branding as an example of the exposed meaning of things. Our task is not one of discovering hidden meaning but to accept surface complexity. If we really LOOK at a bowl of shredded wheat cereal we see it as a culmination of complex forces involving, wheat, farming, land, industrial processing, machines, boxes, branding, packaging, traveling, stacking, purchasing, car trunks, pantries, little and big hands, tipping over, pouring into, drenching in milk, cradling in a spoon, crunching, digesting…….and on and on. It took a miracle for me and my spoon of shredded wheat cereal to meet. In the shredded wheat world of nothing added or taken away that bite of cereal was a bite into reality disappearing as I chewed.

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