six side views of fat frankfürters and form


Burgeois-Period Grandmother
ca. 25th cent bce
Obesity is a function of central heating and drive-through windows, accelerated with the addition of climate control, virtual travel and synthetic chemical delivery systems. Period! Fat keeps one warm in its internal combustion with the proper mixture of oxygen, helping to build strong bodies more than seven ways. Body heat is a personal waste product useful to others in cold weather. In lieu of exposure to inclement temperatures or their fluxuations, fat accumulates just like primitive capital. Obesity is thereafter the sign, archetype, par excellant quality, "talking point" and meme serving to ideologically reproduce primitive accumulation and technological development to continue growth with limited expenditure. In other words, it's a bilboard for the subconscious.

Anorexia (or jogging) is the meme of reactionary or revolutionary consciousness co-opted by counter-revolutionary niche markets. The small waistline minimises the amount of return for each unit of labour one expends to the state, effectively reinforcing measured austerity. This is counter-countered by induced vomiting which maintains the accumulation cycle. Obesity is the negation of both productive and unproductive expenditure which is also countered by flatulence and unintentional nausea. It has no mere relation to wage or salary level.

Fat and skinny people are not necessarily capitalists: they might be unintentional "fat cat" wanna-be's or even unaware of what is happening in the situation, but demonstrate there is no body type outside the reach of the extracting economy, and who, just like the authentic fat cats, are helpless in the psychological as well as bio-physiological sense. The "feed me" ethic is preserved, maintaining the sedentism necessary for urban development, waist-coat, gin and cigar manufacture. Farting, belching and melancholic puking while running away are the only praxes or unproductive expenditures left to collective humanity outside of criminal activity. Unfortunately, it is self-limiting and this reinforces the dialectic nature of black and white civilisation: the goodies and baddies at each other's throats or excluded ends under attack from the overwhelmingly "normal" midsection does provide excercise through both "mental" and "physical" expenditure (sweat) producing fatigue or cool detatchment. Fatties fatigue faster (even when thinking) but can drink any skinny under the table.

Come on, we're all equally damaged by civilised capital, each in her own fashion (or his). It is pointless, not to say absurd to compete over the form our fashion takes.

Al ('Jolson') Bataille, 1929 ad


Short people got no reason...

[Whoops, wrong vinyl...]

Don't want to be a fat man,
people would think that I was just good fun.
Would rather be a thin man,
I am so glad to go on being one.
Too much to carry around with you,
no chance of finding a woman who
will love you in the morning and
all the night time too.  Hoo!

[lyrics excluded from middle third]

Don't want to be a fat man,
have not the patience to ignore all that.
Hate to admit to myself 
half of my problems came from being fat.
Won't waste my time feeling sorry for him,
I've seen the other side to being thin.
Roll us both down a mountain and
I'm sure the fat man'd win.  Hoo!
Jethro Tull, 1968


There was a time old gummers returned to the breast of a wet nurse for sustenance. His bindings illustrate the possibly volatile nature of this arrangement securing his interest to the nutritional realm. Were she merely a milk factory, the nurse, of course, would be bound as well.

On the other hand, Rubenesque amplitude describes the mediocre middle or gray area capitalism must exclude. The rubenesque form is the true revolutionary and criminal subject, as it negates Aristotle's excluded middle ethic which favoured slim waistlines, or preferentially, none at all. Factory time supersedes any possible pear with the constrained hourglass. Rubenesque demonstrates "health" outside of all political-economic considerations and labour relations, and "health" provides the first cognitive rationalisation for aesthetics available only in free-access systems of abundance. Forget truth: health is beauty and beauty is health, just as any ample, supple and nurturing mother smacks of to sensitive young lips. Breast-fed babies need no obesities to drink other formulaes under the table. Rubenesque lines are not compatible with ballet toe-shoes. Down with hoity toity bourgeois entertainment! Up with burlesque.

Epicurus, ca 3rd bc


The rubenesque figure suggests a number of things, all of which are attractive (remember here that a woman's body often loses its 'attractive' lines after the birth of her 2nd child but in some cultures women are still getting pregnant after their 9, 10, 11, 12 and on pregnancies which indicates that someone is finding them attrative. Equally, I've heard old people also have consenting sex with each other) or are at least represented as being attractive. What is attractive is the way the flesh seems to expand, like in some sci-fi film where the advance of a spaceship towards the planet is represented by the filling of the screen with an immensity of surface. What is attractive about this? Gravity certainly, and therefore also surrender. We are drawn to the flesh and must abandon ourselves to its immensity, at a point in approach it fills every horizon. What else? Like I say, the mother's body is always a landscape, a territory of pliancy and warmth. What else? Fat in the early modern period represents ease, a life of sensuousness, worrylessness, a condition of letting be and being here. There is nowhere else, there is no before or after. What else? For the same period fat represents plenty. Humans like squirrels and jays are hoarding animals, but collecting firewood, working in the fields is hard, it is preferable to think of the world as a treasure house within which one may only have to reach out to the overburdened branch for sustenance.

Above all, the flesh of Rubens represents availability in a moment of scarcity (of sex, food, of leisure, of intimacy, of fat) and therefore transgresses its reality or stands it on its head by proposing a world of availability. By way of contrast, the body of, for example, Kate Moss, represents scarcity in a moment defined by abundancy. Thinness now represents rarity and elusive lines in much the same way fat once represented escape from the gruel of life in post-reformation/counter-reformation Europe. The extent that Rubens articulated an ancien or aristocratic humanist response to the grinding advance of the nascent bourgeoisie also should not be discounted... we are talking here of the time when in the UK, our revolutionaries were smiting off the faces of statues.

But let us now attempt to make some sort of theoretical gain here. What is it about fat people which now represents loss and unhappiness where it used to represent a life lived sensuously (Friar Tuck et al, the Rabelasian, vulgarity etc as well as the sensuality represented in Rubens ladies of ease). One of the things that strikes me is a fat person's economic fixity... we are all deskilled but a fat person is deskilled to the point that they no longer have access to all their physical capacities. A starving child is a miserable sight and a fat child is a melancholy sight; each is stunted and we suspect neither will be able to overcome. The other lives they might have lived, that they might have exerted control over, have been obscured from them... we suspect that they are going to live lives that are determined for them, which they will experience as a fleeing from what they had been.

The bourgeois model of 'flexibility of labour' (we can be anything that we want to be) is that even as proletarians are effectively separated from direct production of their conditions they remain potentially capable of any task that is asked of them if they are so asked. This capacity is carried over by most revolutionaries as they attempt to separate potential use from the fetter of exchange. The interchangeability of proletarians is a preconditon for the workerist revolution... and therefore the fat worker negates this potentiality. Potentiality is denied to fat people, or rather this flexible potentiality is exposed as the lie it is, because in order to undertaken certain tasks they would first have to 'get into shape' both physically and mentally. In other words they are stuck as they are, they have no potential, they have no beautiful dream they have no chance of 'success'. They are never going to be anything than what they are... and here we enter the territory of the 'unbearable lightness of being'. Paradoxically, fat people have the lightest existence because they cannot chose to 'change their lives', they have one life and this is it, it is shit and everyone can see that, there are no potentials, no exits, no re-runs, their reality is it. There is thus something representative in proletarian obesity, as significant as the 'fat pig' capitalists of the bourgeois era.

The obese proletarian is a sort of martyr, an avant garde embodiment of the stasis in which we live... they exist at the border of plenty and cannot pass over and therefore, like refused migrants, must wait it out, hand to mouth in the refugee camps that are building up against the end of times. There is surreal, or unhealthy beauty in that, the extreme is always beautiful because it sets the limit on tolerance (moral, aesthetic, social-practical). Perhaps their weight is some sort of seige weapon that will eventually burst the wall made to hold them back. Because it is a given that they will think about food all the time except when they are eating it we know that this means their compulsion indicates a nutritional lack... i.e the absence of a life lived otherwise. They will remain fat and will get fatter until conditions change and they will no longer be programmed to hoard in response to the critical absences that they sense around them. Isn't the fact that they have found the edge of abundance, and experienced it as impoverishment, a circumstance of great beauty?

Secondly, the question of decision and addiction is of interest here; that is the question of double bind. We are all subject not just to autonomic behaviours (the body's functioning) but also to suggestions by which I mean external prompts which cause us to behave in certain ways without reference to our 'self's' decision-making apparatus. For example, I might suddenly wish to drink a glass of alcohol, or eat the last piece of pie, or reach for a cigarette but I might previously have decided that I would not do any of these things, and that my decision to do this concerned my sense of shame that I felt after I had previously drunk the glass, eaten the pie, smoked the cigarette. Addiction closes life-options down, we want to be free to chose but we find ourselves repeating patterns and living the same old life. When confronted with the paradox of doing what I have forbidden myself not to do,  I don't perceive that the moments which we might describe as my decisionmaking capacities, my sense of self, the desire and the shame are all secondary effects of 'economic' (I mean the totality of biological/economic/social/) prompts over which 'I' have no control because 'I' is  also a product of them. Therefore, it is statistically unlikely that I will be able to individually access the means (because my 'addictive' behaviour is an expression of powerlessness (or lack of capacity) over such mechanisms)  to escape the cycle (and the bind) so I find myself in the situation where I must be 'redeemed', i.e. where conditions change in order for me to change my behaviour. For this reason diets do not work... a diet is self-punishment for already self-punishing behaviour (I eat because I cannot stop because something is wrong). First there must be a revolution before there can be revolutionaries even here though, the situation might not be about returning my capacity for making decisions over available options.

When people get fat, that is because it is about something else, it is not about fat (by the same principle, rats and humans breed (accumulate populations) at the point of crisis of viability); it is about something critical that does not appear to them but which puts them into ravenous mode. When you talk about people getting fat, you are not talking about people getting fat. When I talk about you talking about people getting fat, I am not talking about you talking about people getting fat... but as we layer on these fictive discourses, one on top of another we begin to gain some sort of understanding about the function of 'economic'/autonomic behaviours and at that point our fictions begin to re-coalesce as 'theory' again (the moment which I direct towards, which like a Rubens figure is our ideal of plenty in our intellectually malnurished times). The theoretical moment, like obesity, also appears at the border to the end of our time because we cannot advance and simply live without damaging (i.e. untheorised) images coming into heads. We have a surfeit, a glut,  of theory but that is what is available to us.

I talked about the process of 'framing' or screening of lives by which potentialities/becomings are shed from the individual... and I also talked about fat as being a fascinating 'way in' to certain questions of subjectivity, but as you seem to suspect, this 'way in' is also a framing device, a means of shedding potentialities and so I suppose we should note here that within addiction is the truth of our 'will' towards commitment. That we do not want to keep ourselves virginally pure waiting for Mr Right, we want to plunge into experience and we want experience to mark us by closing down what we might have been and establishing for certain who we actaully are so that we might then tell our own story of how we got here. As you suggest, the alternative to the closing down of options and living the lightest of lives is not to hold on to an idea of freedom as the opposite to addiction (because everything becomes morbid under unhappy circumstances) but rather to find a situation where one does not feel it necessary to struggle against that situation... thus we separate addiction from adaptation at the level of contented integration.

frere dupont, 21st uk


Very nice! I might have used a different term than "surrender", which brings up ideas of war or Darwin's "Sexual Selection" as the "competitive hunt". Mutual receptivity goes more with the gravity metaphor than the small going hellbent for the large (the sellout maneuver), like the unfathomable idea that prey "offer" themselves as a gift to the predator. It is true they are gifts, but not by their own design. Most prey are also warriors who will struggle to the end, spitting and snearing, to maintain autonomous motion or some trace of personal integrity. Many simply out-run or out-maneuver their attacker.

Gravity is a property of neither, but 'exists' (emerges) between moving bodies, accelerating its manifestation by a factor of four til they come together in a collision, unless there is an appropriately placed swerve. (Caution, there may be sparks.) Surrender is itself a chosen swerve along the easier path, but self-weaning and cold turkeys have been known to successfully dislodge old orbits. When you rid something disgusting, it is not considered a sacrifice, no matter how "good" it feels in short bursts. Most of our own disgusting habits are not even considered. The maintainance of any autonomy of either body requires the establishment of mutual orbit in relative equilibrium where, by reducing the stress of struggle, the accumulation cycle can end. Eccentricity is a tacking maneuver minimising the continued adjustment of fuel guzzling thrusters.

Because of eccentricity combined with the mutual movement producing something akin to electrical discharge, a transgressive swerve is not out of the question at any time, particularly if another moving mass of sufficient density passes by. Polyamorous or omnigravitudinal tolerance replaces the eccentric circle or schizophrenic hourglass with a spirograph of multiple figure eights, increasing equilibrium's stability despite the superficial appearance of chaos. But now, with contented integration, we are talking more about sex and love and social relations than the mere fat or skinny of alienated or capitalised bodies.

Empedocles Wong, ca 4th bc


Morbidity is something stuck in the eye of grave beholders. 
A  photo of corpses liberated from death camps,
lesions of plague, a little girl bursting in napalm,
a fat ass that can't get up from the chair un-ass-isted. 
Where is the intent to provide humour? 
I like eyes and I like words,
but fuck their arrogance when attached to use-value.

Also beautiful in dark shades,

Of course, skinny people can also sing and dance. 
Aesthetics is not constrained by visual aparati. 
Can a blind person enjoy sex?  Or milk? 
What is revolution, emotion or expression
without bifocal lenses?
Blind Willy Liston, ca 18th ad