Confections of capitalism, fantasy, materiality, ideology, atmosphere and more


Among the most fascinating attributes of spice is its status as a cultural marker, and a strange one at that, halfway between object and sign, goods and money. Spice can become a sign of signs, and in poetry it serves as a figure for poetic language itself, a special kind of figure that Harold Bloom has called ‘transumptive’. In this role it approximates one of the economic values of spice in  the early modern period, its capacity to be used as a sign of other goods, as a form of money. Moreover, spice in its consumption becomes an index of social value. It is a highly self-reflexive kind of substance-sign: ‘about’-ness is what it is ‘about’. However much spice is brought into the realm of intellectus, it also still remains within the realm of the res as a hard kernel of the Real, a flow of desire. The poetics of space is not only about materiality, however — it is also about poetics. Thus there are two aspects to the poetics of spice, which are in a rather asymmetrical relationship: materiality and transumption.

Timothy Morton from the Poetics of Spice

I will be thinking about this for a long time. I feel the urge to cook with saffron, rose water and pistachios.

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