Let Them Eat Cake

When reflecting on concept of substantive debate, I could not help consider the way a personal politics changes the substance of the debate. If you will follow me on my analogy for but a moment, I think I can make myself clear(er). A human being is like this delicious cake. People see the icing of our cake first. Some cakes don’t have any icing, but most of them do. The icing is often what attracts us to the cake. We are also often attracted to a cake by the type of cake we think we will be getting. If the icing is all terrible looking, then rarely are people excited to try the cake. If the icing is delicious, but the cake is all terrible then we are also unlikely to return for the cake. When the cake is all holey and tore up, we can try to fill in the wholes with icing, but icing isn’t cake and it doesn’t seem to have the same effect as full delicious cake.

What does cake have to do with anything?

The substance of our personhood is like the cake. It’s what makes up most of the delicious treat. The substance (your cake) is what makes you a unique special snowflake (if there is such a thing). Most of us are constantly worried about our cake. Am I a good person? Do I know enough for this debate? Am I making the right decisions in life? What should I do with my life? Am I compassionate? Am I intelligent? Can I love and am I loved? These are cake questions. No one can make you given them your cake. That’s powerful. Cake is totally up to you to distribute to the world. We only trust people with our cake when we think they will treat our cake well.

The icing is what we show people. It’s very much our outside layer. We shape and attempt to manage the appearance/image of the cake without showing our cake by covering it in icing. Some people consider icing a show, a fabrication, but icing isn’t fake. Some people think the version we show people, if it’s difference from the substance, is false. Icing comes from the same place that cake does – it’s a collection of social interactions, disciplines of our community, language, etc. Icing might be our outer most layer, but it’s not insignificant. The icing is us; it’s just the us we are willing to share with the public.

Hopefully, you are now on the same analogy page with me. Back to personal politics, when a debater offers up part of their personhood in a debate they are offering their cake. Everybody in debate shows their icing. Every time we talk, we offer the world some icing. Icing is a normal debate. The substance of a debate changes when you give out your cake. You may not really know anyone in the round so handing someone you don’t really know access to your cake is a profoundly dangerous exercise. They may not be kind to your cake and well in the end there’s nothing more core to us than our cake. Debaters have a hard time reacting to being offered cake in round because it is so rare. Judges in a round about personal politics might like your cake and might hate your cake. To be a successful debater, we must attend to both our icing and our cake. We cannot make up for a lack of substance in our person with more appearance of substance. The only way to fix a hole in your cake is to work on it. Don’t freak out though – EVERYONE HAS HOLES IN THEIR CAKE.

In this particular debate junkies opinion, attend to your cake and be careful with the cake of others. Once you harm someone’s cake, they won’t be likely to offer it again. It is a risky and dangerous move to offer others your cake so when someone does it’s not an attack on you, but rather a hope that you will appreciate the slice.

6 Responses to “Let Them Eat Cake”

  1. welcome to the fold, toni :) it’s good to have you

  2. odekirkscott Says:

    this made me so hungry, for me the metaphor is problematic because I agree with your ethical value, people ought to eat of each other’s cake with respect, appreciation and moderation, but I don’t think I can bring myself to eat cake in any other way than ravenous beast style… good to have you!

  3. kevin kuswa Says:

    great post. let us all have our kake and eat it, too.

  4. Aaron Swanlek Says:

    The cake is a lie.

  5. kevin kuswa Says:

    of course the cake is a lie–it’s lying underneath a structure of icing (licing). Two things for all this to work, though:

    1. a person has to have a lot of slices of cake to offer over time, making the cake after seven years unlike any of the ingredients of the first slice.

    2. the model is not about consuming, but more about tasting.

  6. Aaron Swanlek Says:

    I thought I was done with cake allusions but I feel like this calls for it “”Shit, why not have a cake and eat it too? You can have critical theory and
    nudity and enjoy it!” – Zizek in A & F Catalog

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