Fourier, “Intermeshing of the Series by Cabalistic Gastronomy”

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Intermeshing of the Series by Cabalistic Gastronomy.
In the course of the preceding sections and the Preface, we have had occasion to jest about a thesis several times repeated and laughable at first glance; it is that (224) in the societary regime gluttony is a source of wisdom, insight, and social accord. I can give that strange thesis the most regular proofs.
No passion has been more badly esteemed than gluttony. Can we presume that God considered as a vice the passion to which he gave the greatest influence? (There is none more generally dominant among the people.) Other passions, such as love and ambition, exert much more influence over the adult and virile ages, but gluttony never loses its sway over the various ages. It is the most permanent of passions, the only one which reigns from the cradle until the end of life. Already very powerful among the refined classes, it reigns as sovereign over the people and over children, who we see everywhere as slaves of their muzzles. We see the soldier make revolutions for whoever will get him drunk; and the savage, so scornful of the civilized, joins in their industry for the price of a flask of eau-de-vie, or sell his wife or daughter if need be, for a few bottles of strong liquor.
Would God have so enslaved humans so urgently to that passion, if he had not assigned it an eminent role in the mechanism to which he predestined us? And if that mechanism is Industrial Attraction, must it not be intimately linked with the gastronomic attraction called gluttony? In fact, it is gluttony which must form the general link in the Industrial Series, and be the soul of their emulative intrigues.
In the civilized state gluttony is not linked to industry, because the laboring [manouvrier] producer does not taste the exquisite goods that he has cultivated or manufactured. So among us that passion becomes the attribute of the idlers. For that reason alone would be vicious, if it were not already so because of the outlay and the excesses that it occasions.
In the societary state gluttony plays an entirely opposite role: it is no longer the recompense of idleness, but of industry; for the poorest grower takes part in the consumption of the precious goods. Moreover, it will influence only in order to preserve from excess by means of variety, to stimulate labor by uniting the intrigues of consumption with those of production, preparation and distribution (263). Production being the most important of the four, let us first pose the principle which must direct it; it is the generalization of gluttony. In fact:
If we could elevate the whole human race to gastronomic refinements, even of the most common dishes, such as cabbage and turnips, and give to each an ease which would permit them to refuse any foodstuffs that are mediocre in quality or preparation, each cultivated country would be, at the end of a few years, covered with delicious creations; for (94) there would be no place for the mediocre, such as the bitter melons, and bitter peaches, produced by certain soils where we will cultivate neither the melon nor the peach. Each canton will settle on the products that its soil can elevate to perfection; they will bring soil to the places that give bad qualities, or else they will plant the place in forests, in pastures or put it to other uses which can produce a product of good quality. It is not that the Passional Series does not consume the common sorts of food and fabric; but they want, even in the common things, such as broad beans and coarse cloth, a quality as perfect as possible, conforming to the proportions that nature has established in attraction in manufacturing [attraction manufacturière] (see 152).
The principle from which we must begin is that we will arrive at a general perfection of industry, by demand and by the universal refinement of the consumers, with regard to food and clothing, furniture and enjoyments. This principle is recognized even by the moralists; for we see the classics thunder against the bad taste of the public, given over to the melodramas and monstrosities that a society with uncluttered taste would scorn.
On this point, as on every other, morals is in contradiction with itself, for it wants us refined in literature and the arts, but it wants us coarse on the essential branch of the social system, that of the subsistences which are the part of relations (139 and 224) from which Industrial Attraction must sprout, in order to spread out from there in all the other branches. Thus the moralists, always as unfortunate in theory as in practice, have applied the principle of improvement, or the necessity of refined taste, to the last object to which we would apply it to, to the fine arts; and I place them at the last level in social politics, because the refinement that we have introduced there falls into a double vice:
1) It pervertsthe same arts which, by mercantile speculation, engage more and more in [the production of] fake diamonds, exaggerated romanticism, deviations of all sorts; this is a depravity that spreads to a genius given over more than ever to the spirit of system, and the scorn of nature or attraction.
2) If refinement reigns more or less in the arts, it is confined there, it does not spread into the primordial relations, those of consumption and preparation, from which it will be communicated to production (139 and 224). Thus the advance of good taste or refinement is completely distorted or neutralized by that moral blunder which wants to limit it to the arts before introducing it into gastronomy, from which it will spread everywhere, apart from the employment of the Passional Series.
In support of this double reproach, let us observe that Paris, which is the home of the fine arts, is also the home of bad taste in gastronomy. The Parisians consume the good and the bad indifferently; [1] it is an anthill of eight hundred thousand philosophers who only nourish themselves in order to curb their passions and promote the cunning of the merchants by a servile resignation to all the frauds, and all the poisons that commerce delights in inventing.
Another sort of depravity particular to France, which is also of Parisian origin, is the scorn of the feminine sex for gastronomy, a disdain that will grow. This will be a very great vice at the beginning of Harmony; for we cannot be keenly passionate about cultivation, fervently adopting the intrigues of the agricultural series, if we cannot be passionate in gastronomy, the initial path of Industrial Attraction. Preachers of morals and good taste persuade French ladies that gluttony is a passion of the bad sort; they must change their tune in Harmony, so they elevate themselves to cabalistic refinement, at least with regard to the ten passions allowed by civilized customs. The feminine sex is less corrupted in Germany, where it gives itself more frankly to the gluttony, even with regard to wines, that the fair sex in France hold it an honor to scorn.
All these tastes for moderation are only twistings of nature: it has prepared, in solid or liquid foodstuffs, a proper assortment to excite the three sexes; and what’s more an enmeshing of tastes, moving into the male tastes an eighth of the women, and in the female tastes an eighth of the men. That enmeshing exists even if it is disguised. I knew a maiden of nine years who loved garlic very much and ate cloves of it greedily. Doubtless as fifteen she would have weaned herself from this treat; but it proves that despite the judgments of fashion, women are endowed, in a suitable proportion, with all the tastes necessary for the intermeshing of the passional Series, according to the roles posited in the first section.
So it will be necessary to develop these tastes in the trial phalanx, to make their natural penchants bloom among women, who are often strongly opposed to good taste. It will be first with regard to gastronomy that we must recall them to nature, if we want to attain without delay the intermeshing of the industrial series and the balancing of the passions. A young girl loves garlic despite teasing; speculate on this taste for a double intermeshing. We could see the workings of:
1) The alliance of the sexes in a series; for the series which cultivates the bulbous legumes, onion, garlic, shallot, leek, and scallion, will usually be masculine. It is necessary, by intermeshing, to introduce there at least 1/8 women; and it is in youth that we must seek them, for it is at not much more than six that girls develop a taste for garlic.
2) The alliance of labors in the individual;. A young girl loves garlic and does not like to study grammar. Her parents want her to renounce garlic and devote herself to study; this will doubly vex her nature; seek rather to develop it in a double sense. After having placed her in cabalistic connection at the table and in the garden with the enthusiasts of garlic, present to her the ode in honor of garlic, by Count Marcellus: she will hasten to read it, if she is strongly aroused against garlic’s detractors. Take advantage of this reading to acquaint her superficially with lyric poetry, with the distinctions between stanzas and free verse; perhaps she will become interested in poetry before grammar, and one will soon lead to the study of the other. Thus societary education combines the cabalistic spirit and odd penchants to awake in the child the taste for study, and leads her indirectly to what she would have stubbornly rejected without the support of some stimulation by intrigue.
I insist on the principle of linking all these intrigues to gluttony, which is for children the natural path of initiative and intermeshing in industry. Doubtless there are other resources to put in play, but that one is of the first rank in childhood. The trial phalanx, being unaware of this principle, will go down a false road: it will only advance by tortoise’s steps; and, if it commits one other serious fault, it will fail.
[1] The assertion may seem insulting to the Parisians, but I will support it with decisive facts.
Since 1826, the bakers and pastry chefs of Paris have only half-cooked all their dough. So Paris was very uncultivated in gastronomy, at a time when we fully cooked bread and pastry! Those times, however, those of Grimods and Berchoux are found guilty of gastro-stupidity, if the present fashions are consistent with sane doctrines. Must we tell the secret of that monstrosity? It is that half-baked dough retains more water, is heavier and keeps better in case of slumps. This half-baking serves the interests of the merchants, but not that of the consumers. If the Parisians were not Vandals in gastronomy, we would have seen the great majority rise up against that mercantile impertinence, and demand the necessary baking; but they have been made to believe that this is the good sort, the English variety which comes from England.
In 1797, they were also accustomed, by English fashion, to eat meat half-raw, with forks bent backwards and nearly impossible to handle. It is again Anglomania which accustomed them to banish at lunch the fine dishes of their country, and replace them with a vileness called tea, a drug to which the English necessarily accustom themselves, because they have no good wine, or good fruit, except at enormous expense. They are reduced to tea, like the sick, and butter, like the little children to whom a poor mother gives buttered toast.
Can we call these beings “gastronomes” [who are] without distinct taste, submissive to all the stupid ideas suggested to them by fashion and mercantile cunning? Witness the vogue of the rancid paste called vermicelli, which has become the popular soup in Paris, because it makes money for the grocer and saves time for the cook. That is the knowledge of Parisians in gastronomy, submission to every rascal who wants to dupe them; and nowhere do we see so many falsifications of liquids, wine, vinegar, liqueurs, beer, milk, oil, sugar, etc.: their meat is heated and corrupted by the forced courses of the animal that the merchant wants to make skip a step; their pastures are steeped with the perfume of a certain product with which one manures the gardens of the suburbs; they have some good fruit because commerce cannot counterfeit them like their wines, made with wood-dye, potash mercantile, litharge, lees, esprit 3/6, cooked wine, molasses, licorice, alum honey, iris and other poisons of which the worst is the wine of Languedoc St.-Gilles. What’s more, their farmer are ignorant to the point of spoiling half of the potatoes from the day of the harvest: of twenty baskets taken to the market, you will find ten of them inedible from bitterness, acidity, or viscosity. Is there a nation more profane, more barbaric in gastronomy? A child of five, raised in Harmony, will find fifty shocking faults in the dinner of a so-called gastronome from Paris. What is there to say about their other Anglomanias, their writing where we only see some “u”s, uuuuuuuuuuu…?
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]


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