Collapse VII + Launch
13 Jun 2011

We are pleased to announce that Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is now available for advance ordering, and will be published July 1st. A PDF preview of the editorial introduction to the volume is available here.
A launch event is planned, as a part of AO&'s residency with Outset in London. Editor Robin Mackay will discuss the new volume and the concept of culinary materialism, with Philipp Furtenbach of AO&, and Paul Chaney and Kenna Hernly of FIELDCLUB. Sunday 3rd July at 6.30pm, at Lincoln House, 33-34 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NN.

Contributors to the volume include: AO&, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Gabriel Catren, John Cochran, Sean Day, Rick Dolphijn, FIELDCLUB, Michael A. Morris and John Gerrard, Carole Goodden, Iain Hamilton Grant, Manabrata Guha, Dorothée Legrand, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin, Dan and Nandita Mellamphy, Jeremy Millar, Eugene Thacker, Richard Wrangham, Fernando Zalamea.
There has never been a time when cookery was so high on the agenda of Western popular culture. And yet endlessly-multiplying TV shows, obsessive interest in the provenance of ingredients, and "radical" experiments in gastronomy, tell us little about the nature of the culinary.
Is it possible to develop the philosophical pertinence of the culinary without using philosophy as a support for this endlessly-expanding culture of gastronomy? How might cookery in the restricted sense connect to an extended philosophical sense of the culinary, in which synthesis, combination and experimentation take precedence over analysis, subtraction and axiomatisation?
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism brings together work that explores, from many different perspectives, the multifaceted question of cookery and eating. In this volume, a range of contributors – philosophers, chefs, scientists, anthropologists, artists – explore the links between philosophy, chemistry, experimental practice and the culinary arts; chart the consequences of the contemporary return of cookery to scientific precision, in the rarefied world of haute cuisine as in the world of mass-manufactured confections; and explore the material, symbolic, and existential dimensions of food and its preparation. Along the way we discover that the question of a culinary materialism is bound up with some profound and enduring issues in the history of philosophy, and can also suggest new approaches to contemporary philosophical problems.

Contents of Volume VII are as follows:
– In The Chemical Paradigm, an interview with Iain Hamilton Grant, the philosopher discusses how chemistry can serve as a model for a renewed naturephilosophy that operates not simply through analysis but equally through synthesis. Developing a "chemophilosophical" point of view, he challenges the nomological model of knowledge and tests the limits of the culinary as metaphor and as principle for a thinking of nature.
Carol Goodden, who, with artist Gordon Matta-Clark founded the restaurant FOOD in New York in 1971, discusses with us the extent to which the FOOD project, and Matta-Clark's interest in disrupting and transforming structure, can be related to a more general concern with alchemical or culinary transformation, exemplified in early works such as his Agar pieces and "fried photographs". The interview is accompanied by an archive of Matta-Clark graphic works that exemplify his conception of "building materials as nature���s food": "build to feed the worms an organic eat-a-tecture".
– The "semi-nomadic collective" AO&'s practice offers an example of how the restricted practice of the culinary can provide a locus for the exploration of broader networks of production, communication and consumption. In our interview they describe their "perverse" endeavour to fully inhabit the problem of food production in contemporary society, through a painstaking "disclosure" that makes possible an enhanced perception or phenomenology of the act of cookery. AO&'s practice involves within the ambit of "food preparation" the personal sourcing and assembly of every ingredient, including cooking materials, the preparation of the site, and the forging of connections with a network of producers – thus they ask, Where is the Edge of the Pot?, preparing the way for a generalised culinarism.
– In his contribution to the volume, Manabrata Guha reports on recent efforts to "weaponize" the massively potent Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, observing that the military effort to harness its non-lethal power to incapacitate and disorient indicate a shift in strategy, a failed attempt to contend with a new "enemy of all". Examining the inadequacy of the state���s employment of the Bhut Jolokia as a means to enhance an ill-adapted military model, Guha turns to the traditional culinary usage of the chili to reveal more fundamental lessons for the transformation of the schema of battlespace and the rise of a new, vague and inherently synthetic, adversary.
Rick Dolphijn adopts another culinary approach to the contemporary "state of emergency", analysing how the changing alimentary regime of the military anticipated and accelerated the rise of biopolitical governance through continual intervention. According to Dolphijn, the militarization of the world���s diet and the territorialization implicit in dietary programs have resulted in the emergence of a new terrestrial dietary/military continuum whose synthetic elements are "terroristsoldiers".
– In Reason in the Roasting of Eggs, anthropologist Richard Wrangham deepens the notion that "cooking that makes us human", expanding on his thesis that the advent of cooked food is one of the major drivers behind the development of the human brain. Wrangham reveals how the human culture of cooking is a part of nature's chemical and physiological horizon; and for this reason, must be seen in the wider context of a culinary continuum that includes the contingencies that made possible the human as such.
– In Theorizing Cuisine from Medieval to Modern Times, examining the transition from medieval to modern epistemes of cookery, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin argue that prevailing gastrological norms (in particular, the separation of sweet from non-sweet) exist at an intersection of many influences, where sociological, institutional and epistemic conditions drive the exploration of alternative conceptual articulations of the "phase-space" of possibilities provided by chemical, physiological, nutritional, hedonic, and adaptive factors.
Sean Day introduces us to the fascinating world of synaesthetic cookery. Molecular Gastronomy has, famously, experimented with the integration of different senses (not only olfactory but visual and aural) into dishes. But the curious experiences of synaesthetes reported by Day move him to call for an expanded multi-sensory culinary practice that engages not only with the sciences that are able to analyse and synthesise its matter, but also more fully with the neuroscienctific research that could inform a more systematic approach to the interaction of different sensory modalities.
– In Whey to Go, artist collective FIELDCLUB offer an insight into the deranged machinations of capitalism's food laboratories, uncovering a plot that implicates humans, agriculturally-adapted animals and industrial processes in new culinary syntheses, as the "pig-function" is absorbed by the capitalist exigency to full exploitation of the earth.
– In Object Oriented Cookery, Chef John Cochran proposes a culinary practice that opens itself to non-human participants. Chefs, like philosophers, have "ontological commitments" determined by their praxis, and which distort the objects they work with. Cochran critiques the radical claims of contemporary food movements that claim to break out of normative models of cookery – Molecular Gastronomy and Slow Food – and asks what a "flat cookery" could be.
– Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro examines the extreme point at which the culinary meets the symbolic, proposing that in cannibalism we discover a remarkable example of a developed and socially-functional perspectivism: "anthropophagy as anthropology". Refusing an account of cannibalistic "sacrifice" as divine expiation, Viveiros de Castro develops a rethinking of sacrifice by examining the ways in which the devouring of the enemy also amounts to an inhabiting of "the enemy's point of view" on the self.
Eugene Thacker, in Spiritual Meat, offers us another perspective on cannibalism, drawing out a parallel between Bataille's "religious horror", and the perplexing problem of thinking corporeal resurrection, as addressed by Athenagoras; discovering beyond the "dead life" and the "eaten life" – corpse and meat – an anonymous, unhuman "cooking" and a "desolate culinarism".
– In her contribution Ex-Nihilo: Forming a Body out of Nothing,, Doroth?�e Legrand introduces a move toward a deep (intra-subjective) phenomenology of consumption (in general) and eating disorders (in particular). As Legrand demonstrates, this relation between the diet and production is manifestly highlighted in anorexia, where "eating nothing" translates into a series of complex semiotic, phenomenological and cognitive procedures for the subject with regard to the production of identity; and a resistance against the anonymous dimensions of the self revealed in the act of eating.
John Gerrard and Michael A. Morris's Corn Bomb traces the implication of nitrogen in the industrial alimentary regime, and the way in which the "ingredients" for postwar human culture were prepared and "cooked" by war and petropolitics. This tangled story of military, agricultural and scientific developments, and their reterritorialisations of the earth, provide the backstory to Gerrard's realtime 3D portraits of desolate industrial facilities that act as batteries to fuel hungry cities.
Dan Mellamphy and Nandita Biswas Mellamphy develop a post-geophilosophical culinarism, rethinking "ecology" as an "ec[h]ology" wherein man is "translated back into nature", and the planet "feasts upon itself". Connecting the ourobouric or ovoid figure of such an autophagy to the Nietzschean will-to-power, they develop an ecology that peers into the al-chem, the black earth, as into a stomachos or "pit of blackness".
Fernando Zalamea pursues his mathematico-philosophical project committed to a de-rigidification of thought by providing "two trivial recipes" that dramatise the culinary dilemma of contemporary philosophy: Analytical Jelly and Transmodern Tatin.
– and the new "recipe" for philosophy offered by Gabriel Catren's On Philosophical Alchimery, Or Why All Chimeric Compositions are Philosophical Stones proposes that only a "consistent unheard of combination of heterogeneous ingredients" allows us to concoct a truly concrete "philosopher's stone".
The volume concludes with an Appendix compiled by the editors and including recipes from Darwin, Leibniz, Newton, and others.
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is also accompanied by Jeremy Millar's "Black Cake" – a print edition produced especially for this volume – based on a recipe passed on in a letter by Emily Dickinson.
Please note: we have had to increase the price of this volume in order to cover costs – but advance orders can still take advantage of the old price.
US readers can purchase from Sequence Press.

Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism
July 2011
Eds. R. Negarestani, R. Mackay
Limited Edition 1000 Numbered Copies
ISBN 978-0-9553087-9-6
£12.99 – ADVANCE ORDERS £9.99

News Archives