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Visions Of Hamburgers
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Matthew Paris

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Post Fri Jan 30, 2004 7:18 pm - Visions Of Hamburgers
The hamburger is the ultimate American fare of preference for patriots as the milkshake is the quintessential elixir to wash down the pulverized shards of protein, fat, salt and phosphate preserved tasteless bread of this central American delicacy.
A hamburger and milkshake have no past, no sign of visible membra, are fashioned from materials infinitely malleable, are not easily or at all related to their course sources, some probably perished and unlamented cow, is a kind of bestial repast floating in a white caloric envelope outside any link of known or even guessed at causality or biology from this planet whose very saucer-like yet mildly protean shape and mercilessly chewed and shredded texture has a alchemic atomic character.
The brief if hardly lamented period of Great Depression classical hamburger is long over yet lingers with us in the midst of our sophisticated new spas of chopped and shaped meat offering with all the diverse sauces and toppings the various emporiums have devised to vary our amusements as we gobble down these bits of what he hopes somewhere at bottom might be genuine bovine flesh on a bun.
We have had pizzaburgers, mushroom burgers, various fragrant to noxiously odorous cheeseburgers, purple onion burgers, even the much maligned though regarded by the cognoscenti as tolerable now and again sprinkled with discretion in a diet of more banally acceptable fare, the chocolate covered marshmallow burger.
Richly larded with one of eighty seven different kinds of mustard or relish at the cunning or not overly selective discretion of the one who devours, they are still a nearly inexplicable feast which makes a kind of internal theatre of the absurd out of the merely sublime.
Of course all but the Californians prefer dark chocolate. They find milky sweet chocolate such as the Southern Californians in particular claim is a species of choice that if hardly satisfying as a fulcrum of nuanced fey gluttony or some ceremony of savage ingestion of bits of a vast bovine corpse at least mildly an infallible emetic. There hard by the Freeway or even at luxury burger joints in most American towns where one can enjoy tolerably thick discus-like meat patties that are not frozen in some crass and rude Plutonian alchemy, the long dead muscle denuded of all flavor yet its once ordinary not departed savor replaced discreetly if not well by copious sprinklings of salt and various unnameable even venomous crystalline chemicals.
The additive of ratmeat in many hamburgers for a more feral and insouciant flavor by the Alabama crowd is of course a kind of half admitted secret among the big corporate perverse of this roadside delicacy.
These mandarins understand full well that we have as many rats as human beings in the Untied States; they need a clandestine burial with honors due such circumspect and well made rodents of the American shadows as we do in our more Egyptian style of interment, that nothing else short of a topography of tiny mausoleums would suit such beasts who dutiful haunt us like monsters we have marred or lackeys we deem beneath or beyond an arena in our view.
Like the most decreet and unobtrusive of silent yet close serpents they deserve after their bestial demise and murky desperations alone in their corpuscular quarters a posthumous covert merger with our own life.
Some say no less is true about the posthumous existence of dog corpses, even human ones. Would we be as a vast manufacturing economy concerned as we are with using the very atoms and scraps of all and everything in our purview with consigning the apparently trivial and irrelevant remains of canines much less the more substantial and sweet cadavers of humans to the brainless pleasures of termites and worms? Would we fling into the cosmic trash the sinewy but very sugary flesh of tens of millions of felines that accompany us politely and forgivingly through the murky halls and dimly radiant corridors of our doom?
I donít think so. We can be sure that animal pounds, pet cemeteries and our most posh funeral hems for the affluent when they must keep the corpses visible at all replace them with excellent simulacrums cunningly designate from an accommodating plastic vat of ultimately malleable ooze always on call from our general cosmetic factories in Wyoming.
There are those who claim America itself from the White House to its maximum security prisons is haunted byte ghosts of curs in other dimensions yapping at the adipose living from their celestial retreats in diverse mutt heavens; others say they can hear the faint but physical music of such plaintive barking form the very factories which dispatch and process such bestial provender sequestered in the depths of the Indiana hinterlands.
Some say that a mild blend of insect carapaces make a genteel tasty textural addition to an otherwise all too meaty gruel we probably could not do without once we are accustomed even for a month to its gritty and salty taste. I have met several funeral directors who have assured me that very few people have been actually interred in the ground or set fire to in crematoriums since roughly 1985.
The income to the mortuary officials, all paid in cash in very ample purses never declared, is enough to deter the most idealistic of these modern undertakers form dismissing the utility of anything or anybody that might in the guise of a corpse come their way. Some say even the living among our poor are dispatched for this purpose rather prematurely to the same great factories for producing hamburgers along with the relics gleaned from diverse hospitals across our nation of innumerable abortions.
There are of course conventional vegetarian hamburgers with no discernable ratmeat fashioned out of frozen and macerated eggplant that some claim taste more like the sinewy flesh of a cow that the authentic flesh does itself, others of more selective persuasions regard as not even a parody of that authentic taste.
There are cunningly spiced and gaily colored soybean hamburgers as well that emptied not all that conventual neither the character of beef nor for that matter even the more subtle if less carnivorous taste of eggplant. Both grind a species of Alaskan mushroom into the mysterious looking bolus of clotted fondue as it were which may given both concoctions something of a heavy mildly perverse fungoid overtone.
The famous hamburger making machines one sees when touring the major national corporations of their national manufacture in volume dispensing these meaty coins are the very currency of nurture in a bloody geometry of expired cow muscle are in their sheer dinosaur volume and rapidity of nearly defecating an organized diarrhea so to speak of great clots and little discuses spit out into the sanguine empyrean are certainly the highlight of many a tour of these packing plants as they are called discreetly, set in a few specialized countries of Arkansas and Delaware.
These nurturing engines tall as a barn, their innards of shredding and shaping housed in great translucent glass chambers for the occipital delectation of the public as if they were the central ceremony in some sort of massive bloody ritual dedicated to a nameless Carthaginian god are certainly horrific enough to cause infinite trauma and anguish among very small children. Though accustomed to action movies and bits of pornography as the normal commercial fare of a civilized and epicurean nation such as ours, the soul of an infant almost shrivels in the presence of these herculean engines, finding these extravaganzas of bestial destruction not merely awesome but deeply uncouth.
These seemingly infinite spectacles of crushed and lacerated sinew, blood and bone, liberally larded no small amount of mucal and fecal matter proper to the inner anatomy of those leviathan-like creatures systemically butchered in hordes by our cunning devices for ultimate pulverization and malleability are only properly savored by adults who understand in a deep part of their spirit the cheapness and efficiency of a magnificent factory engaged in a species of alchemy more spectacular than the transformation of lead to a more mercurial metal.
At the end of this bit of entertainment for the rubes in a properly certified Arkansas or Delaware kiosk of blood one is amused by in a common vacation in these precincts as one is treated by the generous and even prodigal company that hosts these bloody affairs to all the hamburgers of all kinds from mushroom to pizza one can devour. Those revels alone are worth the price of the entire display.
To watch a horde of mostly already adipose Americans gobbling down fatty and grassy hamburgers by the dozens, washing them down with root beer and milkshakes in hundreds of sugary artificial and chemically colored flavors, is definitely one of the great sights one can take in during a slow passing tour at leisure of our vast national hinterlands.
If most of the authentically American clientele for hamburgers from Montauk to Hawaii, home of the pineapple hamburger, is not overly focused on the religious aspect of their feasts, if the notorious Hamburger Paradise chain in Tannase and Mississippi seems in its decor as well as its evangelical style of serving the delicacies more involved in a facile homage to the metaphysical than the act in itself, as Kierkegaard would say. They are even in their slightly tilted plumbing in the back of their joints a bit on the sleazy side, somewhat like a bald, sweaty and well-scented Pentecostal slinger of rhetoric. We will not pause to meditate on what sort of scurvy and cholesterol-laden heaven they hope to invoke or bring down bodily to Earth with their bits of fried meat on a tactless white bread bun they garnished merely with a single shred of a old green pepper and a frugal shard of a pickle.
Yet there are a most legitimate set of spiritual voyagers not negligibly though thinly dispersed in such spas across our nation which has engaged in hamburger ingestion as a genuine spiritual etude far from the rhinestone world of the vulgar Hamburger Paradise low lifes.
Whom might these pilgrims from one hamburger joint to another in quest of redemption be, you ask? What are the names of their founders, prophets, evangel, even sextons? It is nothing like that of course. It is rather a cult without priests, a doxology lacking either ideologues or hierophants, a rite of supreme clandestine grander seeming all the more ordinary than the most ordinary errata of human life itself.
Each time one of the acolytes of hamburger cruising, as it is called, devours one of these bits of lacerated, shredded and unrecognizably atomized shaped artificers of meat with the ardor of a den of starving lupine revelers, it looks no different to the torporous observer than the most superficial consumption of a neat quick lunch during an intermezzo on the cosmic commute. Within the elevated ipissimi of hamburger feasts is experiencing an improbable if intense epiphany which is in many other ways a national American ritual.
He is taking into himself a bit of food that was once life though it can no longer connect itself with its past had it a brain, a geometrical monster half corpse, half artificial fashion that defies both memory and the biology of Creation itself to stand for an ultimately trial gaster ambiance that exists only in the present, at that, a world accidentally and aimlessly volatile and motile with more churning mineral energy than any consciousness even mildly viral or less.
What he consumes is what he is. He is at once the riddle, the riddler and the one who answers such cosmic puzzles. His yesterdays are not a loss; they are an irrelevant illusion. His future is to join the immortal feasters or the devoured; he thinks no more of the past than he does of what dross he has left behind him in the innards of some personal chamber filled with white shiny plumbing.
Even the milkshake he swallows with seeming casual disdain to catalyze the plummeting of the meat into his gullet is itself an enigma of impeccable opacity, oleaginous and perhaps bovine morel likely chemicals, possibly some unnameable substance with some heritage beyond the very ken of the uncaring and porcine guzzler.
When he leaves this seemingly banal ritual he is cleansed of the hunger for the other that is himself, consoled for the loss of what never was, armed with a hope that he might once again be lighter in weight, less barnacled with illusion than he had been before he had ever bit into a hamburger. He is clean, whole and utterly himself though that self is itself not nothing but less and worse than nothing.
That piece of hamburger has become him more than he is him himself; yet it was always him as he was always it. The bloody merge of carbon atoms and blood is a mere epilogue to a profound mineral experience in which the reality of bother feasters and lunch was impeccably characterless, interchangeable with a thousand other hamburgers and ravenous hamburger eaters, an atomized, decapitated and charred spirit whiling lugubriously like a comet in outer space in a dead world without memory.
As we all know, the most posh hamburger religions are taken in by us as proper and legitimate meat sciences by the faithful; they all claim to be true. The bottom ones in the hamburger world are also the most attractive; lies always have to be. They also make the most seeming sense; a mendacity cannot afford to be preposterous.
Only the truth in the world of hamburgers dares to be dull, stale and even odious. We put up with all these unseemly qualities in and out of hamburgers; we will take more odium and loss from facts than from lovers.
A hamburger is ultimately boring in a way even our intimates and fellow workers would never dare to attempt to be. Our hamburger knowledge must be a repository of truth; otherwise it would be at once nurturing and intolerable.
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