04 May 2007

Culture Is Like Soup

You can see someone else's soup and think that it looks good, but there's no way to turn your soup into their soup. Adding matzoh balls to Gazpacho doesn't make it matzoh ball soup.

11 comments:

Duck said...

America is the Campbells of world culture.

Peter Burnet said...
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Peter Burnet said...
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Peter Burnet said...

Oh, I get it now. It's a metaphor contest.


Once there was a young Canadian traditionalist who deplored the decline of the home made soup. “Mom, it is the end of civilization as we know it,” he said as she served him a steaming bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Beef. “That rapacious Yankee soup company will destroy all we hold dear. Think of our ancestors!” But his mother just purred: “You can’t stop progress, dear, and besides, Campbell’s increases my freedom and choice." "Now eat up”, she added, leaving him alone with his book on the ancien regime. Everywhere he turned, no matter how poetic his odes to grandmother’s magical broths, no matter how well-honed his pleas, he heard the same refrain: “You can’t stop progress.”

Then one day the world changed. With little warning, the Great Soup Wars started. Suddenly, Campbell’s was attacked by mysterious, terrifying, ascetic soups from strange and savage lands. Openly disdaining the decadence of Campbell’s, they boasted of ultimate world conquest. He knew then that this was no time for nostalgic equivocating. Choices had to be made and allegiances declared. He knew what he had to do. He would defend Campbell’s with heart and soul. “After all”, he told himself, “I can’t stop progress.”

With zeal and conviction, he threw himself into battle. At first, everyone united behind Campbell’s, but then worrisome cracks appeared in the war effort. Campbell’s had always welcomed recipes from other lands and boasted how they were key to their growth and resilience, but suddenly traditional old friendly soups became hostile and ideologically threatening. Even worse, Campbell’s own customers began to attack them, especially those in film and with postgraduate degrees in the social sciences. “Campbell’s is not healthy!” they cried, “We want healthier soups.” Campbell’s is threatening the planet!” they screamed, “We need earth-friendly soups.” And most worrisome of all: “Campbell’s is spiritually irrelevant! We want to try out pagan soups.” Together they argued that, although Campbell’s may once have been a beacon of light to soup-lovers everywhere, they had become oppressive and reactionary and had to be destroyed by the champions of progressive soups. “After all”, they said, “You can’t stop progress.”

The wars raged for years. Then one day, rumour spread through the land that the wars were over. “But who won?”, said our by-this-time-not-so-young Canadian. No one seemed to know. With a racing heart and sweaty hands, he rushed home, booted his computer and clicked onto MSN. Stunned, he just stared at the screen in silence. After a while, he muttered “I should have guessed.”, to no one in particular.

David said...

Peter: Wonderful metaphor. Mine, of course, was a simile.

Peter Burnet said...

Aaarrgghh! Lucky for me it's Saturday and the garden worms will be handy.

Harry Eagar said...

Recall the opening of Brecht's 'Caucasian Chalk Circle,' in which the stranger is given shelter by the peasants, and a bowl of soup.

He blows on his hands to warm them and on his soup to cool it, so they recognize he is a wizard and kill him.

You want to be careful with soup. Don't slurp.

Oroborous said...

David:

Doesn't the point of this post directly contradict that of the post about the King David school full of Zionist-loving Muslims ?

Peter:

Progresso does indeed make some lovely canned soups, but the fact that Wolfgang Puck came in last, and so far behind, tells me that whomever was judging these soups has dead taste buds.

Puck soups are very tasty !!

(Or at least, many varieties are).

Oroborous said...

P.S. very entertaining, Peter.

David said...

O: Very good, Grasshopper. But, no, this post explains why the King David School is possible. Only two strong self-confident cultures can mingle like that. The most important thing to know about Bin Laden (and he'll even admit it, although he wouldn't put it quite this way) is that he's terrified that our culture will swamp his.

Harry Eagar said...

'Only two strong self-confident cultures can mingle like that.'

I'm ruminating about this. It sounds kinda good, but I try to apply it to the South in the '60s, and the fit is not too tight.