Eating Object-Oriented Thinking

Last week at the Purdue Aesthetics Conference I spoke of four object-oriented thinkers who employ food references to demonstrate their defense of object wonder, vitality, complexity and gravity.

  1. Ian Bogost’s pound cake shows us complex “alien” encounters that yield a pound cake. He compares Alton Brown and Duff Goldman’s approach to cake baking.
  2. Jane Bennett’s berries and beef show us by comparison Nietzsche and Thoreau’s food preference as indicative of their philosophies.
  3. Timothy Morton borrows from the Shredded Wheat commercial slogan of “nothing added nothing taken away” to celebrate things as they openly announce their duplicity.
  4. Levi Bryant’s brazil nuts exemplify bright objects capable of exerting existential gravity on things around them.

My study of OOO was meant to help me develop a food-oriented strategy towards writing a cookbook. It is not about simply writing recipes for my daughters to follow but rather offer guidelines that might help them question all recipes (normative prescriptions) and find their own relationship with each dish (embodied and existential situation amidst other organic and inorganic things) in order to avoid living a correlationist life searching for correspondence to an abstract external “truth.”( I have to find a subtle way to insert the philosophy between the lines. Is there one?)

OOO offers strategies and orientations to think things, to speculate and imagine object lives and demands. I eat it…… is only one-half the story in any inter-object relationship. How it eats me…is the other half of the story…the more, imaginative, interesting, consuming part of any object story. And so, the task of Bittermelon and Brownies: Proclamations of a Philosopher-Mom is to show how we are ourselves ingredients in each recipe.

Now that I’ve announced the project I really have to do it! Yikes!

I’ve just started to work on the cookbook. Wish me patient consistent writing! I’m open to your advice and suggestions dear bloggers, hungry philosophers, food writers, chefs, and cookbook authors.

Here is a satirical example of a philosopher writing a cookbook that I find instructive and funny!

October 10

I find myself trying ever more radical interpretations of traditional dishes, in an effort to somehow express the void I feel so acutely. Today I tried this recipe:

Tuna Casserole

Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish

Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.

While a void is expressed in this recipe, I am struck by its inapplicability to the bourgeois lifestyle. How can the eater recognize that the food denied him is a tuna casserole and not some other dish? I am becoming more and more frustrated.

From, The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook by Marty Smith, from the Free Agent, 1987

Food Poem -A Quiet Life by Baron Wormser

fc83kt071-02_xlg.jpgWhat a person desires in life
is a properly boiled egg.
This isn’t as easy as it seems.
There must be gas and a stove,
the gas requires pipelines, mastodon drills,
banks that dispense the lozenge of capital.
There must be a pot, the product of mines
and furnaces and factories,
of dim early mornings and night-owl shifts,
of women in kerchiefs and men with
sweat-soaked hair.
Then water, the stuff of clouds and skies
and God knows what causes it to happen.
There seems always too much or too little
of it and more pipelines, meters, pumping
stations, towers, tanks.
And salt-a miracle of the first order,
the ace in any argument for God.
Only God could have imagined from
nothingness the pang of salt.
Political peace too. It should be quiet
when one eats an egg. No political hoodlums
knocking down doors, no lieutenants who are
ticked off at their scheming girlfriends and
take it out on you, no dictators
posing as tribunes.
It should be quiet, so quiet you can hear
the chicken, a creature usually mocked as a type
of fool, a cluck chained to the chore of her body.
Listen, she is there, pecking at a bit of grain
that came from nowhere.

Poem from the

Image from