Soup is the medium

No soup today. Instead, here’s some supplemental reading.

The other day someone from the DC trip was kind enough to send me a link to something she was talking about on the bus. Apparently  Bill Drummond — mad genius behind The KLF, for those of you old enough to remember the 80s — has been travelling around England and Ireland for the last few years, making soup for anyone who writes to him and asks. The catch? They must live bang on a straight line drawn from Nottingham to Belfast.

Here’s his manifesto.

The project is brilliant on a couple of levels, but I’m particularly taken by the stuff about lines. That a line can be the tool creating community — drawing people together into shared experience — rather than dividing them into two camps, is just a model of simple, elegant insight.

In his words:

“I like the idea that I have taken a map and drawn a line on it and decided to give it a name and make up rules about it. ‘I’m afraid it states quite clearly here, that if you don’t live bang on the line Bill Drummond will not come and make soup at your place.’ It’s not about living to the north, south, east or west of this line, you’ve got to live right on it. I suppose it must have something of the ley line business about it, except I hate all that Celtic myth, new age stuff. Ley lines have no mystical or spiritual powers other than those we invest in them. Just ’cause some blokes 3,000 years ago decided to build their stone circles in a particular place doesn’t give it any more value than a line drawn across any part of the world.”

Elsewhere, he talks about the strange social contract soup maker and eater(s) enter into, and the associations the process has sparked.

“Trying to nail down why the idea of The Soup Line excites me might just kill it off. I just know that it does and for some reason those people that I have met along it have accepted the notion of this line very positively, in public anyway. One person reminded me of the Stone Soup fable; a couple told me that the phrase ‘taking the soup’ has a very negative connotation for one camp in the Irish sectarian divide; and two or three commented on the blind trust that had to exist for both parties in allowing a strange man into your house under the pretext he is going to make you, your family and close friends soup.”

I’ve been thinking a lot in general about bartending, soup night, and hospitality lately, so this all hits a bunch of buttons. I may try and do more with it. Down the line.


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