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« Low-Carb Linkage | Main | Motorama Showcars 1955 »

July 29, 2008

A Dubious Yet Perhaps Provocative Comparison

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

As a cultureguy, I haven't been able to help being struck by something amidst all my low-carb readin'-and-research: the way the officially-endorsed low-fat gospel resembles the generally accepted view of the arts. It may work for a few, and it may have its theoretical appeal. But for the rest of us -- and on a day-to-day basis -- it may well be counterproductive, unhealthy, and perhaps even destructive. Interesting to learn that -- much like the conventional view of culture -- the low-fat gospel had its origins in the 1960s and 1970s. The idiotic Food Pyramid? That's something we owe to counterculture hero Sen. George McGovern. What to make of this?

Semi-related: I made fun of what I called "the Arts Litany" back here; back here, I explained that our current conception of "literary fiction" is an artifact of the 1960s and 1970s. Here's one of my many bitch-fests about the New York Times Book Review and its bizarrely blinkered yet supposedly good-for-us vision of fiction.



posted by Michael at July 29, 2008


You're right - there is some odd connection there. Could it be that ordinary middle class Americans dislike both low fat diets and "Arts" fiction, and so these things were adopted by their liberal "betters" as status signifiers, as per Steve Sailer? I don't know, but it is interesting that the same people were often pushing both...

Posted by: tschafer on July 29, 2008 10:31 AM

What is lit-fic, with its flattened affect, but the literary equivalent of the low-fat Ornish diet? Fat satisfies, makes one contented, gives mouth feel to food, connects us to our traditions and ancestors, and roots us here on earth, as protoplasm, as fatty, meaty earthy animal beings. Low-fat diets make you feel thin, light, ethereal, ectoplasmic, angelic, otherworldy, ascetic, contemptuous of feeling, internally cleansed and emptied, always hungry, and yearning always to escape this visceral, emotional, gustatory, pulsating, uncontrollable, vibrant, verdant thing called life. Low-fat diets make you cranky, and they make you boring.

Substitute “lit-fic reading” for “low-fat diets” above, tweak a phrase or two, and the relationship is clear. In general, lit-fic disdains taste, pleasure, custom and satisfaction as principles to guide readers in making their choices. Sounds a lot like low-fat diets do with food. They are both oddly puritanical, elitist and anti-traditional, both instances of the head dictating to the heart (and guts!), forcing you to ingest words or nutrients based on what’s good for you, not on what feels good to you.

Gawd, I hate them both. The real reason? They both make your blood thin and your nose turn blue. They prevent laughter. They make your hair dry out and give you hangnails. They cause low-pressure systems to move in and stay. They make you feel old.

Abolish them both, I say.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 29, 2008 7:41 PM

The NYT, George Mcgovern, the Food Pyramid...too much horror for one posting, Michael.

And what's this cholesterol thing that the dietary Roundheads are always on about? Whenever I'm stuffing myself with Sydney Rock Oysters or laying Myall Lake prawns on heavily buttered bread, some dyspeptic puritan at the table asks me if I'm not worried about the cholesterol. So what is it, this cholesterol? No doubt it's bad for me and for that planet thingy the puritans are always busy saving.

Mind you, I think we have to beware of the new breed of protein fetishists...they're a worrying and worrisome lot. So tonight it's going to be four-cheese polenta (vegetarian coming). Mind you, I'll slick it down with plenty of olive oil before it goes in the oven. And maybe some butter. Maybe a lot of butter.

By the way, Michael, your Jackie Collins posting was one of your finest. And the Rushdie-Thom Mayne were on fire that day!

Posted by: Robert Townshend on July 29, 2008 7:43 PM

Robert T: Whenever I'm stuffing myself with Sydney Rock Oysters or laying Myall Lake prawns on heavily buttered bread...

Whenever you do that, Robert, think of us Canadians up here in the North envying you--hating you Ozzie bastiches!--for having such a superior selection of seafood. We've got great stuff up here, but it's nothing like the bountiful cornicopial feast you antipodean gluttons have. Damn your eyes! And your stomachs!

Jealous and hungry in the Great White North,

Posted by: PatrickH on July 29, 2008 10:29 PM

Patrick, you've got all that wild salmon, so don't whine. Our salmon is farmed in Tassie, it's okay, but I'd love some of the wild stuff. We do have native oily fish, sea mullet and tailer, which I relish, but the locals here all want to get after the great ocean and reef species, snapper, pearl perch etc.

People say the Sydney Rock Oyster is the finest of all, but I can tell you that, when estuaries close up in drought, our loose lake oysters swell into such fat, oozy, salty balls of protein that you'll want to devour them the way Dumas drank his Montrachet: head bare on bended knee.

I enjoyed your verbal avalanche above. Lit-fic and low-fat do make a pair. A poxy pair.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on July 30, 2008 9:51 AM

Woody Allen let the cat out of the bag in Sleeper, 35 years ago.

Posted by: ben tillman on July 31, 2008 1:01 AM

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