Thursday, January 25, 2007

Make this simple test

Blindfold yourself with some suitable object. If time permits remain still for a moment. You may feel one or more of your senses begin to swim back toward you in the darkness, singly and without their names. Meanwhile have someone else arrange the products to be used in a row in front of you. It is preferable to have them in identical containers, though that is not necessary. Where possible, perform the test by having the other person feed you a portion — a spoonful — of each of the products in turn, without comment.

Guess what each one is, and have the other person write down what you say.

Then remove your blindfold. While arranging the products the other person should have detached part of the label or container from each and placed it in front of the product it belongs to, like a title. This bit of legend must not contain the product's name, nor it's generic name, nor any suggestion of the product's taste or desirability. Or price. It should be limited to that part of the label or container which enumerates the actual components of the product in question.

Thus, for instance:

“Contains dextrinized flours, cocoa processed with alkali, non-fat dry milk solids, yeast nutrients, vegetable oil, dried egg yolk, GUAR, sodium cyclamate, soya lecithin, imitation lemon oil, acetyl tartaric esters of mono- and di-glycerides as emulsifiers, polysorbate 60, 1/10 of 1% sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness).”


“Contains anhydrated potatoes, powdered whey, vegetable gum, emulsifier (glycerol monostearate), invert syrup, shortening with freshness preserver, lactose, sorbic acid (to retard mold growth), caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bisulfite.”


“Contains beef extract, wheat and soya derivatives, food starch-modified, dry sweet whey, calcium carageenan, vegetable oil, sodium phosphates, BHA, BHT, prophylene glycol, pectin, niacinamide, artificial flavors, U.S. certified color.”

There should be not less than three separate products.

Taste again, without the blindfold. Guess again and have the other person record the answers. Replace the blindfold. Have the other person change the order of the products and again feed you a spoonful of each.

Guess again what you are eating, or drinking, in each case (if you can make the distinction). But this time do not stop there. Guess why you are eating or drinking it. Guess what it may do for you. Guess what it was meant to do. By whom. When. Why. Guess where in the course of evolution you took the first step toward it. Guess which of your organs recognizes it. Guess whether it is welcomed to their temples. Guess how it figures in their prayers. Guess how completely you become what you eat. Guess how soon. Guess at the taste of locusts and wild honey. Guess at the taste of water. Guess what the rivers see as they die. Guess why the babies are burning. Guess why there is silence in heaven. Guess why you were ever born.

-W.S. Merwin


At 7:36 PM, Blogger mr. wrongway said...

the last paragraph is beautiful misery.


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