From Ballardian wife-swappers to Updike’s nymphomaniacs, we’ve long known that the suburbs are hotbeds of sexual activity. Beyond the clipped lawns, net curtains, valances and ornamental water features lies a world of erotic clichés: bored housewives and hot handymen, car key parties and cross-dressing. So it comes as no surprise that a well-known Swedish furniture-maker has taken the opportunity to enter the specialist adult market, furnishing the adulterers of the green belt with the tools necessary for their pleasures.
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Thanks to the new and wonderful Edible Geography blog for pointing us in the direction of Food + Sex magazine, which launches this month in the US, and worldwide via MagCloud:
Collage art food magazine, Food + Sex, is a combined effort of artists, writers, farmers and foodmakers exploring how desire shapes what we grow, make and eat. By weaving erotic, shocking and thoughtful layers of beauty, wildness and the human spirit, we peer into the fire of hope and fear to find the hidden, seek the cosmic and reflect on the elemental connectedness in life that opens us to new ways of being. Included in its pages are a visual patchwork of uncommon art, essays and excerpts by thinkers, makers and doers from the food underground and beyond.
Regular readers will be aware of Bookkake’s own culinary experimentation, from giant eggs to phallic loaves, so we’re intrigued by such explorations as “human-incubated yoghurt”, “from putrefaction to perfection” and “tripping balls on the magic penis”.
The latter appears to be a retread of the territory covered in this Vice article from a couple of years ago, telling the weird and wonderful tale of the Penis Mushroom developed by various shady mushrom growers from spores collected in Amazonia by Terence McKenna, the original psychedelic mycologist. If there’s a more Bookkake-ish drug, we’ve yet to hear about it.
I usually steer clear of discussions on the subject of food and sex, which too often waffle on about ill-defined notions of sensuality, before descending to sub-9½ Weeks symbolism, without ever getting truly filthy.
However, this essay from the Policy Review, by Mary Eberstadt, takes a behavioral, social approach to the question Is Food the New Sex? and analyses the reversal in attitude to the two activities that has taken place.
Taking as it’s starting-point Betty and Jennifer – a hypothetical 50s housewife and her hypothetical 30 year old daughter in the present – the essay demonstrates how the moral imperative people used to find in sex had been transferred to food:
Betty thinks food is a matter of taste, whereas sex is governed by universal moral law; and Jennifer thinks exactly the reverse. Most important, once again, is the difference in moral attitude between the two women on this subject of sex. Betty feels that there is a right and wrong about sexual choices that transcends any individual act, and Jennifer — exceptions noted — does not. It’s not that Jennifer lacks for opinions about sex, any more than Betty does about food. It’s just that, for the most part, they are limited to what she personally does and doesn’t like.
The piece is extremely well argued, and you should read it in its entirety. But, as it goes on to ask, if it is true that food is the new sex, “where does that leave sex?” The conclusions are troubling, pointing to the rise of ‘junk sex’, and implying that human’s have a deep, Kantian need for some kind of moral code, and as our stigmas about sex have relaxed, we’ve simply transferred them to other arenas of life:
Events have proven Nietzsche wrong about his wider hope that men and women of the future would simply enjoy the benefits of free sex without any attendant seismic shifts. For there may in fact be no such thing as a destigmatization of sex simplicitur, as the events outlined in this essay suggest. The rise of a recognizably Kantian, morally universalizable code concerning food — beginning with the international vegetarian movement of the last century and proceeding with increasing moral fervor into our own times via macrobiotics, veganism/vegetarianism, and European codes of terroir — has paralleled exactly the waning of a universally accepted sexual code in the Western world during these same years.
Great stuff. Anyway, I just wanted to say that the essay is a format whose time has come again – after a quiet couple of decades, the internet seems to be encouraging this sort of medium-length, well-argued stuff again. I’d urge you to read Paul Graham’s ‘The Age of the Essay‘ too – a wonderful discussion of the how, the what, and the why of the form.
Image: Au Naturel, 1994, Sarah Lucas, via the Tate.