Charles Fourier, “Major or Gastrosophic War”


A colleague and I have been working on a translation from Fourier’s New Amorous World, which focuses on the “wars” between the armies of Harmony to determine the most generally pleasing series of means of preparation for petits pâtés. This is a companion piece from The Theory of Universal Unity, which describes variations on the same process.


 Major or Gastrosophic War.
Let us banish calculations from an article dedicated to beautiful subjects, to nice tastes. Let us not, however, entirely neglect method.
We call nice tastes those with which we can form at least a regular series of about thirty persons at minimum in each Phalanx, according to the following table, with 2 pivots, 4 transitions and 9 sub-groups.
Y : [K rotated 270°] : 3. 4. 2: K : 3. 5. 4 : [K rotated 180°]: 2. 3. 2: [K rotated 90°]: [Y rotated 180°].
These nice tastes are of various degrees, depending on whether they include 1/12, 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, etc., of the Phalanx: let us give two extreme examples at 1/12 and 12/12.
Good musk melonsare a fruit which pleases nearly everyone, the three sexes[1] all together, and without culinary preparation. As to squash, despite the interventions of the cook, they are a poor sort of food, good for the present populace, but they will not reach well-stocked tables.
Thus the melon, in Harmony, will easily bring together in series twelve twelfths of the Phalanx; it will be a nice taste of a high degree. The squash will barely assemble the series of one in twelve, as tabled above: it will be a nice taste of a low degree, and not a pleasing taste which would gather a sub-series or regular group (343).
The nicest tastes, in high degree, relate to good food and love. These pleasures, for which the taste is most general, are the principle mechanisms which Harmony uses to involve the armies in intrigues by infinitesimal series. From this arises three sorts of military rivalries or wars, namely:
The pivotal [X rotated 270°], war of intrigues in industry.
The major Y, war of intrigues in gastrosophy.
The minor [Y rotated 180°], war of intrigues in love.
I will not speak of the wars of love, which will not be compatible with our customs; a table in the gastrosophic regime will suffice to make known the intrigues of the Harmonian armies. (Trap for the censors; I warn them of it.)
Let us suppose a great army of the 12th degree, bringing together divisions from a third of the globe, about 60 empires thathave each provided 10,000 men or women. The 60imperial divisions or armies are gathered at the Euphrates, having their headquarters at Babylon.
This great army has chosen two campaign-theses[2], one of which, in industry, involves the art of embankment. It must embank one hundred and twenty leagues of the course of the Euphrates, by some method or methods.
The army being of the major order, it also has a gastrosophic thesis: the determination of a series of petits pâtés in the hygienic orthodoxy of the 3rd power, with 32 varieties of petits pâtés, plus the foci, all adapted to the temperaments of the 3rd power, conforming to the table on page 314.
The 60 empires which want to compete have brought their materials, their flours and garnishes, and the sorts of wine appropriate to their varieties of pâtés. Although the costs are paid jointly by the whole world, each empire assembles its provisions as it wishes for the thesis of battle.
Each of these empires has chosen the gastrosophers and pastry chefs most apt to defend their national honor, and to make prevail the sorts of petits pâtés that they want to have admitted into the orthodox series of the 3rd power.
Before the arrival of the 60 armies, each of them have sent their engineers to arrange battle-kitchens which are appropriate for the object of the challenge and for the accompanying dishes. The battled-kitchens do not provide the daily service of sustenance; each army is fed in the caravanserais of the Phalanx where it is camped.
The oracles or judges who sit in Babylon are drawn, as much as possible, from all the empires of the globe, and not exclusively from the 60 empires which figure in the competition.
The army, 600,000 combatants strong, with 200 systems of petits pâtés takes a position on the Euphrates, forming a line of about 120 leagues, half above and half below Babylon.
Before the opening of the campaign, the 60 armies choose 60 cohorts of elite pastry chefs, which they send to Babylon pour to serve in the high battle-kitchen serving the great gastrophical Sanhedrin. It is a high jury which functions as an ecumenical council in this matter.
At the same time one detaches from the 60 armies one hundred and twenty battalions pastry chefs of the line, who are split up by squads in each army, so that each has 59 squads drawn from 59 other armies, making the petits pâtés according to the instructions of the competing chefs of their empire.
Each of the 60 armies is positioned in the center or the wings, depending on the nature of its claims in the series:
The right wing, on stuffed petits pâtés,   20.
The center, on vols-au-vent[3] with sauce,  25.
The left wing, on garnished mirlitons,[4]     15.
 (I may be mistaken in this distribution, for I am a complete intruder in gastronomical matters. )
The affair is engaged with some batches from one of the corps, the left wing, of the mirlitons, which are tasted at Babylon by the great Sanhedrin or congress of oracles et oraclesses. No more than 2 or 3 systems can be presented per day. The tasting would become confused if the number exceeded three.
Each day, in the 60 armies, the battle-kitchens make and serve to their army the varieties presented to the judgment of the great Sanhedrin, in order that those armies have a fresh memory of it, and the aftertaste still, at the moment when the bulletin of Babylon arrives which will relate the opinions of the Sanhedrin on those varieties.
At the end of a week employed for the tasting of the systems of the left wing, the Sanhedrin renders a provisional judgment, and the bulletin of Babylon makes known to the 60 armies, and to the entire world, that the three empires of France, Japanand California have won a first advantage; that some systems of mirlitons presented by them have been accepted provisionally into the left wing of the orthodox series, or adapted to the conveniences of temperament.
So far, the struggle is competition and not battle, which can only begin after the admission of the entire series. A month would have to pass before the Sanhedrin could form a provisional cadre of orthodox systems of 12 varieties, distinguished into groups of 3, 5 and 4 for the center and the wings, plus a pivot.
This is only a preparation for battle, during which each army has other, more active intrigues: but this one, being the principal, must occupy the entire campaign, 5 or 6 months.
The cadre being formed at the end of a month and announced to the world, the battle is engaged along the whole line and in triple struggle; for each of the 48 empires which have failed in the competition of the cadre, preserve their chances:
To drive out one of the accepted systems or even a corps from the wings or center, by producing new systems of petits pâtés which have not yet competed;
Of being accepted in the counter-octave, when it is necessary to form a complete gamut of 12 major varieties and 12 minor varieties;
Of taking place in the 4 transitions, the 4 sub-pivots and the great pivots still not admitted.
These three chances give an extreme activity to the leagues, and to the voyages of diplomats in the 60 armies. Each day we see new alliances form between the various empires which judge it convenient to associate their varieties of petits pâtésand of wines and other beverages, to form center our wing, and to give battle to a mass of systems already accepted.
The multiplicity of these claims oblige 3 juries to form in a sub-order for the tastings and presentations. These juries placed in the three great divisions, at 30 leagues from one another, are served like the Sanhedrin, each by 60 squads of elite pastry chefs. Their decisions are provisional and subordinate to the tastings of the Sanhedrin. From then the struggle becomes general, and more variable as each acceptance or rejection causes new plans, produces new cartels directed at one or more empires, and demands new negotiations between victors who have attacks to fear until the definitive fixing of the orthodox series.
In the meantime, the 64 battle-kitchens work wonders of skill; travelers rush from all parts in order to bear witness to these complex struggles which will decide the claims of so many empires; the bulletins of Babylon are read avidly around the globe, especially in the empires which took part in the combat.
Nonsense, it will be said, you promise a treatise on Association, and you reel off twenty fairy tales!!!Patience, until the commentary which will follow; and the alleged nonsense will become the thoroughly methodical solution of a problem of equilibrium in the infinitely small, necessary counterweight to the infinitely large: but let us conclude.
At the end of the campaign, there would be 24 empires vanquished and 36 triumphant; perhaps less, for a single empire can succeed in making adopted 2 or 3 varieties of its making.
However, the vanquished are not considered beaten; they will reproduce their petits pâtés for a new Sanhedrin which will form a series of the 4th degree, with 135 varieties: until then their methods are heterodox, not applicable in the gamut of the 32 temperaments, and not accepted into the gastrosophic hierarchy.
The armies battle over a lot of these theses in various degrees, and each day at the meals they have some struggles between the empires, the procedures of which they review, depending on the distributions of cooks that each army makes to the others.
They also have, for their evening sessions, some propositions regarding affairs of the fine arts and occasional sympathy. In these numerous intrigues, they engage in a whole campaign before reaching the outcome.
Their pleasures are still varied by various incidents, like the encounters of characters or legions of adventurers and adventuresses, who travel to spread a particular character in the sciences or arts, and which contain many virtuosos in that genre.
At the end of the campaign, the armies assemble for some time, first in sub-divisions, then in three divisions, then en masse, to give some unitary feasts in the cities of the headquarters, to render public homage public to the individual victors, to the authors of productions adopted in one or another of the gastrosophic Sanhedrins.
A capital, in Harmony, is always surrounded at some distance with a circle of shady paths, or boulevards with several lanes, which are used to shelter and table the armies.
On the day of triumph, the victors are honored with a military salvo. For example, Apicius is the pivotal victor; his petits pâtés are served at the beginning of the dinner; all at one the 600,000 athletes are armed with 300,000 bottles of sparkling wine whose loosened corks, held in by the thumb, are ready to pop. The commanders face the beacon-tower of Babylon, and at the moment when its telegraph gives the signal to fire, the 300,000 corks are released at once; their clamor, accompanied by shouts of “long live Apicius!” re-echoes far off in the caves of the mountains of the Euphrates.
At the same instant Apicius receives from the head of the Sanhedrin the gold medal, bearing the inscription: “To Apicius, victor Y in petits pâtés, at the battle of Babylon. Given by the 60 empires, etc.” Their names are engraved on the reverse side of the coin.
Such homage will be rendered to the pivotal inverse victor, man or woman, whose petits pâtésare adopted as term [Y, rotated 180°] of the orthodox series.
Gastronomic pygmies of our time, dare to compare your lowly trophies to those of a gastrosopher of Harmony, whose triumphs, in a single dish, ring out with so much brilliance throughout the entire world! Everything is just arbitrary in your science; the Beauvilliers and Archambaults are only confused guides, operating without the distinction of temperaments, without the avowal of competent authorities. Their laurels are as often the object of facetious remarks as they are a path to glory; those of Apicius will join interest and glory, for they will be for him a road to high honors, even to various degrees of magnature and scepters, by title of ambition *2, and of institution *3 (275).
I have given these details to support a principle, namely, that the armies of Harmony, of all degrees, have feasts so brilliant and intrigues so active, and so numerous, that acceptance into the army is a favor, and is obtained only on good titles. For example, in this campaign of the petits pâtés, we require half the applicants to have the ability to work as pastry chefs, and the other will be subject to the most minute questions of taste.
Similar battles will be established for all the nice tastes, whether in gastrosophy, the fine arts, or love. Now, the petits pâtésare a nice taste of a very high degree, and perhaps even the highest, for we find very few people—men, women, or children—who are not amateurs of some sort with regard to petits pâtés or mirlitons.
That army, aside from its theses on nice tastes, will have to work on the nasty tastes by a divergent series in reverse. The armies of Harmony have a large number of functions which always tend to form connections of all sorts between the regions of the globe, and to establish them in proportion to the degree of refinement; when the orthodoxies are established, we will see in every army of 10,000 men, some feasts in the 5th degree for example:
They will provide meals according to temperament, divided into 810 companies, which will prepare each dish in 810 ways, which are different, but still orthodox, for each of the 810 temperaments.
It is only in the armies that such feasts can be found; for 810 companies of 9 or 10 persons already make 8,000 persons at the table, plus the servants: it requires then gatherings of 10,000, to have celebration in the 5th degree of dishes or other objects. An army of 30,000 can hold celebrations of the 6th degree, much more refined and spreading more charm on the links of which they are the source.
One would thus be grossly mistaken about the purpose of the passions, claiming that they will bring uniformity of development. Their harmony, their equilibrium in the societary mechanism, depends on the extreme variety of developments given to a single passion.
Listen at a Civilized table as different tastes are expressed regarding a bagatelle, an omelet: a sober man will believe he speaks philosophically, saying that all the omelets are equal in rights, and that one must eat without distinction all those that are presented.
Far from that: it is necessary, in order to harmonize the passion for omelets in the 5th degree, to open 810 paths of development, by a classification of 810 varieties, applied to as many temperaments, and adopted by a Sanhedrin which will theoretically transmit to all the empires of the globe the rules of fabrication for 810 omelets, the practical science of which will be communicated to those empires by the legionnaires who have waged the campaign of omelets of the 5th degree.
If one noticed a delay in digestion in some series of temperaments, in those who those who devoted themselves to the omelette soufflée, that would be a thesis to propose to the armies. The unified congress seated at Constantinople would indicated an industrial struggle for the following year, linked to a battle of omelettes soufflées, to be engaged in somewhere, say at Paris, by an army from various empires, which would take positions from Rouen to Auxerre, to debate there both theoretically and practically the question of omelettes soufflées, and their orthodox assortment in the series of temperaments.
While seriously concerning itself with these apparent trifles, an army of Harmony executes immense and magnificent labors. What does it matter if it has, at mealtime, some intrigues involving pâtés and omelets? These apparently frivolous rivalries, are principal branches in the balance of the passions, and the more we manage to raise the refinements to a high degree (according to the table on page 336), the more we are assured of establishing a perfect equilibrium in the development of each passion. What a denial of that philosophy which wants to bring us back to the holy equality of tastes, to universal monotony, and which would claim to found on uniformity that equilibrium of the passions that we can only establish on the progressive and methodical development of the varieties of tastes, whether nasty or nice!

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

[1] Men, women, and children, according to Fourier’s reckoning.—Translator.
[2] The theses are competing methods of achieving some taste: preparing a particular dish, embanking a river, etc.—Translator.
[3] A hollow puff pastry.—Translator.
[4] Based on Fourier’s descriptions elsewhere, another small pastry, probably a meat-filled tartelette.—Translator.
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Independent scholar, translator and archivist.