A Short Introduction

This project is about one or more things. One is, evidently, sugar: a raw material, a commodity, a metabolized substance, a staple, a nicety. The question is, by what means - technological or otherwise- can the topic be made pertinent. Or, to rephrase it, how may sugar, reading about sugar, writing about sugar, and the subsequent reading about that writing, be considered one whole.

This project is partly an exercise in Gregory Ulmer's notion of the "Mystory", which among other things attempts to explore how personal history may be made relavent to classroom learning, thereby enriching the educational process and the subject matter. By creating a sample intersection of critical theory, technology, and experience ("Derrida at Little Bighorn") in his book Teletheory, he seeks to show how potentially valuable video/multimedia tools are for scholarly work. A large part of this project, which also figures in his book Heuretics, is the issue of personal interest: how it is piqued, cultivated, developed and incorporated into scholarship.

In the same vein, this project deals explicitly with interest, as well as choice. If hypertext can be considered 'experimental,' a type of writing that can incorporate the activity of the reader into its poetics in new ways, then perhaps this project is also an experiment. It shares some the important functions: uncertainty, variables, discovery. But also like an experiment, it is infinitely replicable with the same result. It might converge on its limit, convincing with sound methodology, or some other means, until it takes its place as a thought experiment (what some have called argument - or ideology - masquerading as experiment): a metaphor inseparable from the experiment, even if it is stretched a bit too much. It is possible that thought experiements are risky propositions. The risk is not the gulf between one outcome and another less desirable - or interesting- one; it seems to be between degrees of knowing, and presents a second conclusion that is unsure of whether it knows or not.

And so, this is also a diary - a diary of reading. The books involved are mainly three: Sweetness and Power, by Sidney Mintz, Sugar: Cane and Beet, an Object Lesson by C.M. Martineau, and Occasions in Sugar by Earl D. Babst. They are cited by abbreviation as SP, S, and OS, respectively. The exact citations are located at the end of this introduction, in case there is further interest in the subject.

And lastly, it may also be a fiction, interested in sugar to a ridiculous degree, growing to the exclusion of the truth.

Babst, Earl D. Occasions in Sugar. 1940

Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

Martineau, C.M. Sugar. London: Pitman and Sons, Ltd, 1910.

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