March 13: the marshmallow of Eden

You will recognise that when you see a representation of food (say, cheese on toast or a fried egg on toast or a slice of cake revealing the strata of delight beneath an iced topping) that representation of food is infinitely more alluring the more primitive it is. Some simple daubs of colour. A basic brown for chocolate; a thick white for the icing; a twist of the brush to render the melt of the cheese on the toast. This is all it takes to leave your mouth watering and hankering to go into that cafe, into that pub or bar and sample these archetypal foodstuffs. Sometimes you see a photographic representation of food, the dishes available in the hostellery, chicken biriani or lamb korma for example. You see them in all the intense action of their real presence detail, the colours lurid, the rice looking almost alive, like lice crawling beneath the grey-orange meat, which, in its turn, looks likes dollops of human organ. These representations are not attractive. They look too much like the real thing. We do not want to eat real thing. We want to eat the colours and shapes of our childhood imagination.
Maybe you can extrapolate this idea. We need to make our world as fable, make it fabulous, for it to please. If it is as dour in texture as a bowl of rice and spoonful of grey-sauced meat, why should it charm the senses? The process of simplification seduces the eye. We fall under the charm of pastel pink and Cadbury brown. If life were that simple and tastes were that sweet we would inhabit an Eden, wouldn’t we? But life is complicated, isn’t it? Sometimes we need war to keep greater peace. Sometimes we must be cruel only to be kind. We need to tell a lie to be good. We need to thimk complex to stay simple. That taste of the marshmallow of Eden will never be the same again.

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