Archive Entry #2: Cheese.

I feel a repeated theme of this archive is going to be how difficult it is to construct: as much as I try, there’s no real replacing of the “original” food. I can approximate, I can find recipes that feature other ingredients and flavours so the missing ingredient isn’t so conspicuous. Some foods will remain irreplaceable.

The differance of food. How Derridean!

I should cite Archive Fever now and get it over with; unfortunately, the book is currently in my office. I’ll summarise. Archive fever involves the desire to destroy “every archival impulse.” Derrida likens it to the death drive, the inherent impulse which, when left unchecked, destroys us. But the death drive (when checked by the ego) allows us to encounter death (safely), to pursue it under the supervision of the ego which thwarts our desires, but simultaneously forces us to find substitutes for those desires. Archive fever is like the death drive in that it involves both the desire to wipe out all archival impulses, all traces (and sites of traces) of archives but, simultaneously, involves the drive to archive itself. We do violence to another’s archive by incorporating it into our own archive.

One can experience archive fever in any number of ways: from the overwhelming desire to archive everything (an obsession that gives pleasure at the same time that it drives to insanity), to the sicknesses one can acquire by entering an archive (and being exposed to germs, bad air, and allergens).

My own archive risks an obvious case of archive fever in that the project involves documenting my own responses to food (however violent). But it also involves forcing myself to think about the denial of pleasurable foods. And, because the replacement food can only approximate the original, it forces me to admit the original food as a permanent loss. And so my archive becomes simultaneously a catalogue of loss at the same time that it constructs and finds.

I made these Stromboli with Steph, and they were entirely delicious. We added mushroom and sauteed onion to recipe, two kinds of meat (chicken and prosciutto), and vegan (soy) cheese. This was the first entry I made with (and for) another person, and it did, in fact, lead to the sort of social discourse around the subject of food that I thought it would. Particularly, Steph and I talked about different ingredients that could serve as the innards of the Stromboli. While we came up with a number of ideas that I can eat, at some point Steph pointed out the obvious: the food we were eating would be amazing with some havarti, or aged cheddar.

Hmph. She’s right. Even though we substituted ingredients in place of the cheese, we didn’t come up with an adequate substitute for cheese. This is the opposite of the problem I’ve been having, where I can approximate tea too well, and therefore have no desire to actually drink it with anyone: an effective substitute there lead to no recreation of the relationships with others over tea: here I have no substitute, but have managed to preserve the relationship that forms over the food.

(Which makes me think the relationships around food might be largely in the process of creating it. Or the processes of food in general. Whatever those may be.)

29 March 2010 ~ Hamilton [From notes made earlier.]


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