The Critical Rumble: Marinetti, Benjamin, and the Politics of Gastroaesthetics in Modernity
Aldridge, Kelly Rae
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This paper initiates an investigation into the aesthetic spaces surrounding comestibility and potability. Throughout the Western philosophic tradition, eating and drinking have been subject to dismissal on the grounds of the corporeality, subjectivity, and temporality implicit in the consumptive act. After briefly tracing the systematic marginalization of both the properties and pleasures of food and drink throughout the development of art discourse, this paper will turn two unlikely contemporaries, F.T. Marinetti and Walter Benjamin, who shared an interest in the potential revolutionary ramifications of food to expand the category of aesthetic experience and to radically thrust corporeality and temporality into the practice and theory of art. Both Marinetti and Benjamin deploy the phenomenological, nutritional, and material qualities of food to critique contemporary ontologies of private and political bodies. However, their strategies reflect two very different conceptions of modern subjectivity. Marinetti promotes dietetics, cookbooks, and collective meals to corporatize and mechanize the body. Benjamin, on the other hand, embraces oraganicity and somaticity as a bodily technique of resistance to totalizing effects of both capitalist and totalitarian techno-tactics. This paper will investigate modern approaches to taste and edibility through the aesthetic theories of these two figures.