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Cultural TechniquesGrids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real$
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Bernhard Siegert

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263752

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263752.001.0001

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Eating Animals-Eating God-Eating Man

Eating Animals-Eating God-Eating Man

Variations on the Last Supper, or, the Cultural Techniques of Communion

(p.33) 2 Eating Animals-Eating God-Eating Man
Cultural Techniques

Bernhard Siegert

, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young
Fordham University Press

This chapter investigates the cultural techniques that constitute the shared meal as a ritual of community founding (for which the Last Supper provides the model for Christian-occidental culture). The Last Supper generates signs on the metonymic axis of sharing and partitioning by creating the community as a symbolon, whereas on the metaphoric axis of substitution the host stands in for humans and/or god, and the man-god stands in for the sacrificed animal. The question of how culture is rooted in acts of communal eating thus always points to the question of how the materiality of food intake can be transcended. But if—following Hegel—sharing the meal is not a conventional sign but a symbol in the real, then the symbol that creates community has to be filtered from the material circulation of the food by technical means that produce first of all the distinction between those who eat and that which is eaten. Because the sign is contaminated with the channel, the symbolic with the real, cultural techniques such as cutlery, tableware, and table manners are necessary to enact the procedure of symbol generation in the real, and to prevent anthropophagy. The transcendence of matter requires, first and foremost, the right technology.

Keywords:   Communal Eating, Animals, Eucharist, Community Founding, Sacrifice, Table Manners, Symbolon, Materiality, Anthropophagy

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