Critical Hob-Nobality and Ethno-Dishcourses of Snack Consumption

S&C proudly presents the transcript of last week’s special guest lecture by Professor Ethel Tulala-Smith to the Faculty of Post-transcultural Trans-post-culturalism at the Southsea Institute of Creatindustry Knowledgehow (SICK).

There is a detail. A marginal detail in a photograph that I recall from my hybridical nurturement in the historically disputed ‘napkinized pseudo-territory’ (Littlejohn, R., 2001) of Northeastern Scotcheggistan. It is a small detail, banal one might even contendify, but a detail that seems to me to symbo-nymically apogeeify the topic I wish to explore in this re-discursive performance of textual interventionality lecture.

The detail of which I speech-act is a mimesis of a construction of a representation of a trope extrapolated from a significatory practice that I frankly cannot be bothered to explain here.[1] However, I can reveal the signified detail itself, or endeavour to attempt to strive to do so, so far as the detail is empirically observable in what personages without the benefit of a highly-paid professorship would quaintly call ‘reality’ (Hopkins, K., 2014). Of course the detail in the photograph can, from some cultural perspectives at least, be seen quite easily if one traverses the unimagined geography of the world-out-there-in-Portsmouth to a non-simulacrumized real airport and fly in a plane – one made mostly from metal, rather than a metaphorical one – to a tangible museum in my actual hometown where one may recalibrate one’s gaze towards the physical photograph aforementioned.

However, in other, more discursive senses the detail is not there at all. It is an absence that hints at a presence that could have been recuperated had the grand supermarket receipt of history not been treated like ‘the quadriplegic slut-minstrel of the metaphysical’ (Kemp, R., 1996). It is an emergent property that paradoxically can never emerge without asking its colonial overlords nicely. It is a becoming-towards-a-detail; a furious, phallocentric, mutton chop-sideburned coming-over-a-detail; a downtrodden, Socially Darwinized detail-that-is-not-but-could-be-if-only-liberated-to-be-so; forever thrashing around inside the trans-historical fridge-freezer of ethno-hierarchized temporality, imploring to be un-de-humanized by a dominant knowledge-as-power-and-Walker’s Crisps-system that is discordantly reminiscent of the condemned tapeworm characters in Francois K. Mabasuti’s magical realist allegory of ‘elongated négritude‘ (Stringfellow, P., 1993), The Stretchiest of the Earth (1961).

At this juncture I was intending to adapt a conceptual paradigm from chartered accountancy, but I’ve thought about it and decided that it would be a complete waste of time.

So the detail under scrutiny, the detail that forms the essential, fulcrumic, quantumistic fabric of my disquisition, is… I am not going to tell you yet. You might leave before the end of this six-hour lecture and that won’t look good on my application for that Vice Chancellor’s job in New South Wales. What I can now divulge, though, is that this detail epitomizes, symbolizes and characterizes everything and nothing, while at the same time deconstructing the very enterprise of epitomizing, symbolizing and characterizing everything and nothing… while, at the same time, not doing any of the above in any way at all. I’m sorry, I cannot put it any simpler than that. And don’t come and hassle me in my office for further explanation because I’m not in it most of the time. There go I but for the grace of generous Arts and Humanities Research Council grants. The secret of my success? It’s all about random italicization.

Alright, now I’m ready to tell you about the detail. The photograph to which I allude depicts a problematic figurine in the trajectorial genealogy of my quasi-real-imagined homeland. The figure is one Sir Malachi McGurk, a syphilitic, cross-dressing Anglo-Scottish colonial functionary who, in that transitional phase when the economic role of European colonial ‘contact lens zones’ (Brookes, B. and Chegwin, K., 1995) was shifting from ‘rapacious resource-rape receptacles’ (Savile, J., 1987) to lucrative markets for metropolitan consumer goods, pioneered the sale of Scotch eggs as an acculturative strategy for inculcating in the indigenes the hyper-Eurocentrical presumptive-assumptions of Empire. As Sir Malachi himself put it, ‘These heathen jackanapes will never knuckle under unless they learn to admire the inherent pre-eminence of God, cricket and Scotch eggs’ (McGurk, M., 1903). Crouton and Baconbitz, the renowned philosophers of the historiography of the public reception of the public understanding of culinary linguistics, estimate that, by the outbreak of World War I, McGurk and his allies in the comprador class were selling 44 million Scotch eggs per annum to the oppressed subaltern groups of this new ‘mercantilo-genocidal picnic zone’ (Oliver, J., 2016). Just as the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast had been named after the most profitable economic activities eventualizing thereinthem, thus my benighted motherland became nomenclaturated as ‘Scotcheggistan.’

In the photograph, Sir Malachi appears to be slowly licking the breadcrumbs off the Scotch egg, which is clasped between the knees of a virginal native Binggerezi girl dressed in traditional garb: a crocodile skin luhyjjifri suit and matching kulyerzzz shoes. The Howard Marksian trialectic between the oppressive hyperparaintermodalities of race, gender and salty comestibles is as arousing as it is disturbing, but then capturing such ‘contragenderized post-Clarksonian supranarrativization’ (Danczuk, S., 2012) was almost certainly the intention of the photographer all along; he was, after all, an illiterate coolie born on a Scotcheggistani paddy field in 1883.

At this point I should say something about my methodological decisionism. I am not the first scholar to call attention to the productivational potentialities of crawling tearfully across the epistemic boundaries between post-colonialism, post-modernism and the critical study of snacking between meals. I am indebted to the insights of Quorn and Lentilism (1978), Vegward Seed’s classic interrogation of anti-vegan stereotypes in nineteenth century European food criticism. And none of what I am relayifying to you now would have been possible without three other key texts: Ribrack’s Can the Subaltern Eat? (1996), More-Gizzard’s Roast-Colonial Theory (2000) and Bhabha-Ganoush’s The Location of Live Culture Yoghurt (1994).

But it is not only the Scotch egg in the photograph that intrigues this theorist. I wish also to critically strangulate the Chocolate Hob-Nob that is visible in the lower left corner of the mise-en-scène. The biscuit lies prone, vulnerable, violated, like Sulawodjj, the people-trafficked albino grandmother in John Mazumbi Fashanu’s poignant sequence of Afro-Maoist sonnets, The Music of Collectivization (1970). If ever a diegesically puissant truth-dérive were multiplicitly hypertensional, this is it.

In the Chocolate Hob Nob’s very ‘Hobnobality’ (Tulala-Smith, E., 10.39 this morning), in its very act of being of-the-world, in-the-world and seven-and-a-half-metres-underneath-the-world, in its suggestively futile signposting of its own droolingly ambivalent retro-futuristic prediction of a fate that shall never ever come to pass and that has already befallen millions of victimizationalized bodies, we can seek truth and preconciliation for a much better world, convivially dystopian yet qualitatively ‘absolutely fucking awful‘ (Parsons, T., 1999) according to all indices (un)thinkable.

Thus the estranging effect of the ‘deafeningly philandering aesthetics’ (Vaz, K., 1994) of the fuxtapositionality of the Scotch egg and the Chocolate Hob Nob signifies, somehow, in some peripheral, suburban interstice inside the metropolitan signing-on system, the incontinently inwardized anxieties of belated imperial mythomania. Or, to put this in layman’s terms, we are speaking – in so far as we can speak meaningfully of anything – of an expressive ‘fictive-masturbative-performativity’ (Burchill, J., 1993) biopolitically hijacked by what the Roman satirist Fraudulus rather mischievously calls ‘the multivocalities of digital age vomiting’ (Fraudulus, 59 BC).

Any questions? Be careful. I hope no-one is planning to imminently critiquify anything I’ve said. I’m not a vindictive marker but I hate you all enough to do violence – both of the epistemic and of the against-your-face varieties.


[1] For a more detailed exposition of whatever it is that I may or may not be speechifying about see – and more importantly buy – my ‘epoch-defining’ (Kyle, J., 2013) monograph Where Now For Post-Squirrelized Dialectics: Memory, Truth and Cashew Nuts in Subalternistic Oppositionality 7300 BC to 13th January 1986 AD (Keighley: Gathering Dust Press, 1986), pp.56,422-99,008, RRP £896.95.

Image by Thorgodofwar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons licence.