20.10.08

Word: Culinary

The OED offers three definitions of "culinary":

1. Of or pertaining to a kitchen; kitchen-.
2. Of or pertaining to cookery.
3. Of vegetables: Fit for cooking.

Merriam-Webster offers one, which is basically a combination of two from the OED:

1. Of or relating to the kitchen or cookery

It is clear that the word culinary only relates to food, so why then does Brecht use it in an essay about theater? He calls the type of theater he is discussing "culinary theater" constantly throughout the essay. He says that theater is only offered as a sort of mental meal: "It was a means of pleasure long before it turned into merchandise. It furthers pleasure even where it requires, or promotes, a certain degree of education" (35). He believes that it does not make us think, and that cinema is even worse, as it just offers violence and blood for us to stare at.

1 comment:

Cardinal said...

Thanks, Terrick, for parsing this term. Your reading is exactly right, and leads us back to Adorno's critique of Kant. Recall that Kant believed the beautiful was a quality ascertained by the higher senses (sight and hearing); anything designed to slake our appetites was, by definition, not beautiful. Here, Brecht agrees, but as a way of indicting the bourgeois taste for opera.