“In both philosophy and everyday life we imagine that there is a real or true self which lies deep within us. On the surface is found the clothing which may represent us and may reveal a truth about ourselves, but it may also lie. It is as though if we peeled off the outer layers we would finally get to the real self within. But what was revealed by the absence of clothes was not the Emperor’s (of the infamous fairytale) inner self but his outward conceit. Actually, as Ibsen’s Peer Gynt observed, we are all onions. If you keep peeling off our layers you find – absolutely nothing left. there is not true inner self. We are not Emperors represented by clothes, because if we remove the clothes there isn’t an inner core. The clothes were not superficial, they actually were what made us what we think we are.” – Daniel Miller in STUFFThe point Miller is trying to make is that the illusion of an inner self might actually be illusory especially in the sense that it might somehow be distinct from its external representation. I believe another wise ONE said something like, “By their fruit you will recognize them”. This concept is not easily reconciled with the modern conception of the self where we talk about finding ourselves and seeing ourselves in a new light. But really when you think of it those ideas are actually quite odd since they clearly suggest that we somehow live outside of ourselves almost like two people. What Miller is saying about clothing – we can surely say about food especially if we follow Barthes ideas in the previous post.
So my classmate is not just trying to produce an identity the food itself is identifying her or rather it is constituting her – both physiologically and socially…
The interesting thing might be to see how indeed those food item speak. I have been known as a coffee expert – a moniker that although I treasure it somewhat I feel uncomfortable wearing – it is restrictive in many situations where people find it necessary to justify their apparently inferior coffee when serving it to me. I always say, “Listen, I seriously don’t mind drinking any coffee at all – as long as it is black and caffeinated.” Of course this is not actually true since there clearly are some coffees that I refuse to drink. But saying allows me to negotiate what might otherwise be regarded a peculiar arrogance. Or is it my way of reinforcing my social construction as connoisseur by granting a certain ‘grace’ to my hosts in drinking their beverage? And what might happen if after losing all this weight I can no longer lay claim to the that same status?