“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” (Not by Bread Alone) translates to English as “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” This famous quote that has entered American popular culture is credited to Brillat-Savarin’s book Physiologie Du Gout, published in the 19th century and now shortened to “You are what you eat.” This quote goes beyond the gastronomy realm and can be interpreted as “you are what you consume.”
Daily, we consume much more than only food. Everything we see, hear, or touch is interpreted by the body and therefore, it changes us and our perception of the world. “If Aliens from the planet Tharg were to be monitoring the earth by watching our television programmes, how realistic an impression of our lives would they receive?” (Howells & Negreiros, 2012, p. 237). Popular culture gives a good insight of people’s lives and helps give context to what is happening. A great example of this, is artist’s Jeff Thompson work Computers on Law & Order. He watched all episodes of the original Law & Order show (which ran from 1990 to 2010) and captured stills from almost all of the computers in the show. He was commissioned by Rhizome and turned his work into a blog (computersonlawandorder.tumblr.com) and a curated book as well.
Even though the example might seem entertaining, it brings to light one of the obvious reasons why popular culture and society are so connected. What we watch reflects what we produce and vice-versa. Meaning that these cultural artifacts can become the source of information to a society.
Howells, R., Negreiros, J., (2012). Visual Culture. Malden, MA: Polity Press.
Not by Bread Alone: America’s Culinary Heritage. (2002). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/food/gastronomy/Physiologie_du_Gout_L.htm
Thompson, J., (2014). Computers on Law & Order. Rhizome