08 March 2010

Burgers as a Metaphor

I admit it: I’m biased...but so are you. Don’t deny it, it’s just one of those human failings we must struggle against.

I see a photo of a subject I’m not in the remotest interested in — let’s say (in my case) rodeo or perhaps snowmobiles doing barrel rolls to the squeals of a thousand fist-pumping fans — and my GSU (Gut Sensory Unit) begins sending warning signals to my brain: “BORing, not for you, wander ye eyes somewhere else,” etc. But, if the photo is good, I mean really good, something different happens: the brain kicks in and the GSU is quieted by a simple: “huh!...interesting...that is well done!” Our (well, perhaps only MY, but I seriously doubt it) initial Gut reaction is often to the subject matter. Not always, mind you, but often enough the bias gets in the way and says “yuck...wha?...stoopid!” before we let the composition and intrinsic beauty settle in. Is it Gut versus Brain? Not really, I just think we are hard-wired to react before analyzing. That we can eventually analyze (I’m speaking again for myself here) is a VGT (Very Good Thing). We can — if we permit/push ourselves — move beyond first glance, our gut feel, to an analytical level that can be equally valid as the intuitive. Are those tensions in competition or collaboration? There is visceral and there is intellectual and then there is the vast greyness in betwixt. We choose where to hang out.

With that in mind, can a vegetarian appreciate a good burger? Can she or he look at a well-crafted photo of a hunk of cooked animal and say: “well done!” (No pun intended.) Can they go beyond the utterly visceral (and repugnant) impact of that image to applaud the skill and aplomb of the photographer? It may never be appealing on a gut-level but can the brain give it a passing score?

I’ll ask my wife...


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