During my early years, the “English system” of measurement annoyed me. What was the sense in knowing that there were three teaspoons to a tablespoon, sixteen ounces to a pound, eight pints to a gallon and four dashes to a teaspoon? It seemed arcane, arbitrary, alien and taxing.
Years later, after having spent many of my most pleasurable hours in the kitchen, it became clear that like many things, the English system only makes sense once one has some experience of the domain of knowledge. A teaspoon is frequently the most useful measurement for spices, oils and vinegars, and the other measurements make sense when one considers the types of amounts that are used in cooking for a normal family.
In contrast, the metric system (spit)* requires that one remember a series of random numbers in amounts that are divisible by ten or fifty for convenience, but somehow never seem to be convenient. Exactly why would one want to put 350 grams of flour into a recipe, when a cup and a third would be easier to remember? The measurement of a “cup” fits the task; the metric does not.
And yet, all of our “educated” and “enlightened” citizens seem to love the metric system. The reason is simple: it is a human projection onto the world. The more one gets used to these curiously intelligent monkeys, the more it becomes clear that projection — seeing oneself in the world — and transference — finding someone else to take the blame for failure — are the de facto norm of human behavior, which is not deliberate but ad hoc, or in response to what came before it and rationalized afterwards as deliberate.
The metric system represents the darkest part of humanity, which is a desire to assuage our fear of the world by consuming it. We divide it into little bits and measure it, then dole it out. We break its ecosystems. We interrupt its cycles. All of this serves merely to address our fear of a natural selection event (NSE) in which we are the skeleton found at the edge of the woods.
We, with our big brains, live constantly in fear of having read wrong the world, and then revealed our stupidity by charging forward with a notion in our heads that is not found in reality. The only ways to avoid this problem involve declaring all humanity equal, so that screwups are forgiven, and smashing reality into little digestible bits so its threats, snakes and uncertainties are removed.
Look at our arrogance. We pave the place with concrete just to avoid the unevenness of nature. We erect Science as a new god, then use it as an excuse to proclaim the methods of nature invalid, inefficient or primitive. We build skyscrapers to the sky because the sky being above us offends us. What arrogant, pretentious, domineering apes we are!
The metric system is just part of this arrogance. We deny the significance of mating for life in nature because it offends us that we might make a wrong choice, so instead we suspend the need to make a choice at all; just fornicate with whomever, whenever and all will be good. We deny the cycles of nature, or even the day, so we can assert our egos through “work” and other ways to affirm our self-importance.
When you consider that most of our gods involve projecting a human form onto the origins of the universe, and that most of our laws involve defending the human form via the individual against the forces of nature, it becomes clear that we are pretentious monkeys out of control. Our goal is not adaptation, but domination, so that our self-image remains unchallenged.
For that reason, cooks like myself will stick with the English system. It is not human, but realistic; it reflects our tasks, and not our own desire for control. It shows us the inherent mathematical order of the universe which does not break down into convenient decimals but a messy, chaotic and wonderfully complex density of numbers related to one another instead of an absolute scale like decimal.
From this, we can take a lesson: we know nothing until we get outside ourselves and explore the task, which is formed of the intersection of world, self, need and optimum, or the way to do things that is both most convenient and produces the best results. This is more complex than most people can stand, however, and in a herd they will shout it down every time and switch to metric for their own self-image.
* — For this coinage, I am indebted to Dr. Dmitri Vulis, a campaigner with John Grubor and his merry band of trolls from pgh.general. See here for more on this trolling organization, which along with the Meowers from alt.fan.karl-malden.nose were some of the earliest creative trolls of public media.