The Death Of The Baker by Adam Bunch and Roland Barthes

We know now that a muffin is not a mixture of ingredients releasing a single ‘theological’ taste (the ‘message’ of the Baker-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of flavours, none of them original, blend and clash. The muffin is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. Similar to Martha Stewart and Chef Ramsay, those eternal copyists, at once sublime and comic and whose profound ridiculousness indicates precisely the truth of baking, the baker can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix ingredients, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them.

Once the Baker is removed, the claim to decipher a muffin becomes quite futile. To give a muffin a Baker is to impose a limit on that muffin, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the baking. Such a conception suits food criticism very well, the latter then allotting itself the important task of discovering the Baker beneath the work: when the Baker has been found, the muffin is ‘explained’—victory to the food critic. Hence there is no surprise in the fact that, historically, the reign of the Baker has also been that of the Critic.

But in truth no one, no ‘person’, bakes the muffin: its source, its voice, is not the true place of the baking, which is eating. Thus is revealed the total existence of the baked good: a muffin is made of multiple flavours, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the eater, not, as was hitherto said, the baker. The tongue is the space on which all the quotations that make up a muffin are inscribed without any of them being lost; a muffin’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of The Little Red Umbrella. He stole this post from Roland Barthes with the exception of stuff like "muffin" and "Martha Stewart". You can find his other posts here, or follow him on Twitter, here.


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