Gum Chewing Is an Art Art to Be Appreciated

This is in response to Donald E. Olson's letter (Nov. 27) on chewing gum.

Followers of Freud might suggest that gum chewing is an oral fixation caused by some early childhood deprivation. Social conformists view gum chewing as crass and vulgar. The practical earthy types claim that it relieves tension and is a good substitute for smoking or overeating. But I am convinced that gum chewing is an art form to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Knowledge of the medium is essential. Traditionalists tend to choose Chiclets, Dentyne, Juicy Fruit, and Wrigley Bubbalicious, or anything that promises a new sensation. Some of us are eclectics who do not wish to limit our means of expression. The choice of medium does determine the style of entry.

Nervous Chiclets chewers pop one or two pieces into their mouth with a hasty wrist action. A stick of gum requires more maneuvering. It can be accordion-folded, thereby achieving a poetic fluidity, making a simple statement of self-assurance about the artist. Dentyne chewers never wish to offend so they gain entry furtively when no one is watching, while those bombastic bubble gum chewers exaggerate their every gesture with grandiosity and flair.

Gum chewing is an audio-visual art form. Only those who chew aggressively can achieve resonance and purity of tone. Although one can appreciate the rhythmic jaw movements of those soundless chewers they do not use the medium to its fullest potential.

There is some controversy over the use of violence in chewing. I personally have on many occasions chewed without mercy, savagely attacking air pockets thus producing sharp sounds from my Hubba-Bubba. I have indulged in this practice without a trace of guilt or remorse. However, I have noticed some rather contemptuous expressions from those around me, I will not suppress my art!

It is in the final stages that the true artist and craftsman emerge: The method of expulsion and disposal. The unobtrusive quietly place their gum in its original wrapper and dispose of it in the nearest receptacle with sure-footed self-righteousness. Those of athletic bent heave their gum a distance of no less than eight feet into the trash, accompanied by applause and admiration from fellow artists. Those with a devil-may-care attitude just cast their gum to the wind. The only method not recommended is sticking it on the dashboard of a new car on a hot summer day.

It is entirely possible that not everyone can be sensitive and attend to the nuances and poetic beauty of gum chewing. But one would hope that there are those with open minds who are willing to look beyond the surface for at least a moment to see and hear the primordial rhythm and the visual feast of this most unpretentious art form--the art of chewing gum.


Woodland Hills

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