You Are What You….Eat?

 I really enjoyed the way Swift compared the way in which a woman artfully prepares herself to Mutton Cutlets.  It was rather hysterical.  It does present the question again of whether or not we can view the “Art” with which we prepare our food to the artistic ways in which we prepare other art forms. I can’t help but throw back and forth several different arguements. For instance, some may view the way in which a chef prepares a meal as being aesthetically pleasing.  It takes into account presentation, event, texture, color, as well as the element of taste. Aren’t many of these the same elements that we look for when assessing a painting?  It could also be said that like a painting, it is a representation of something bigger. It is symbolic of the culture, time period, social status, geography, religious, or political views.  However, is this just while it is visible to the senses? Once the food item is ingested and no longer visable as a representation, does this function change illegitimize the ability of food to be presented as art because its longevity in the artistic form is so short lived?

Both food and artistic expression appeal in some form to the senses in multiple fashions, whether pleasant or unpleasant, as we see this in Swift’s verse. Both the woman and the meat are prepared in a certain fashion. However, the meat that Swift describes, though “artfully” prepared does not sound like something I would care to ingest. In using this assimilation between the woman’s preparations and that of the meat, we have to look at how easy it is to compare food, which affects so many senses, to so many other aspects around us.  When we think of art, we think of something that is aesthetically pleasing, that has expression and smybolism. So perhaps the food is not the art, the art is what is represented by the presentation of food, or comination of food.



2 thoughts on “You Are What You….Eat?

  1. Great post, Bridget! I really like the way you are identifying a similar assessment of “woman” and “meat” as objects of preparation. I wonder what the effect of that is on female subjectivity in the poem? Do you feel that Swift is condemning women as lesser creatures, as objects to be adorned? or is he mocking a culture that would think that “lace, brocades, and tissues” could ever actually change the intrinsic nature of a person? In other words, where do you locate the focus of the mockery in Swift’s poem?

    • How odd!! I didn’t see this until after class and after our in class discussion and I just posted some additional thoughts on this particular passage. I think this passage actually went much deeper into the idea of women as comestibles than I first realized and spoke to the issue of women as objects of passion and how it only takes one thing – fat (bodily excrement)falling upon the flame (passion?) to ruin the whole dish and render it ruined.

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