fermented fiction
on food, bodies and buildings
(this text is under construction)

I admire ginger. This admiration is caused by its rhizomatic existence. Ginger is not a stem or a root, but both a stem and a root. A rhizome is an underground container of nutrients from which sprouts and roots arise. They do not have a beginning nor an ending.

Besides the ginger, there is more within the world of food that I admire; its political power and ability to connect. The very basic need for nutrients connects us as humans, as well as with non-humans. A focus on food means a focus on something communal. It is an essential condition of being alive, intertwined with culture and economy till its bones.

Food is a full field, but also just the thing that drags me into the kitchen; the warm center of the house where our ancestors had to spend many hours each day. I, on the contrary, can choose to give the kitchen some of my time. While boiling an egg I scream freedom, but the majority cannot shout a sound.

we serve ourselves on flat plates
with comprehensible proportions and lots of olive oil
choosing chopping over chewing
cause ruminating takes time

fingers tightly folded around spoons
wrists moving up and down the dish
and our arms tilted towards the front

the groceries have been shoved down
lightly jostled to the back
stacked in the storage

some will stand up and bring the leftovers to the kitchen
whereas others use the empty chairs to climb on
and give a speech as dessert

is it ever too late for coffee
we wonder
we know the answer
but we only came for the question

I want to moisten my body till total sogginess, like overcooked noodles. I want to, but only in these words. In their sound I would like to live and in their form I would like to sleep. Words form fiction and fiction forms a handle to hold on to reality. “Fiction is a way of changing existing modes of sensory presentations and forms of enunciation,”1 writes Jaques Rancière. It is within the words of fiction where I found some embodiment, a type of sensory presentation that I haven’t found in many places. That is why I would like to live in its sound and sleep in its form.

I tossed myself on a giant ginger and started carving a cave in her yellow mass. After a while I was surrounded by spicy walls, touched with my knife; sharp but gentle. A knife that is good for tomatoes but not for bread. I accommodated myself in a piece of her void.

I constantly think in walls, pavements, dwellings and doors. I am a fresh child of urbanism. I lost track of the abundant amount of brothers and sisters I have and so did my urbanistic parents. They reproduced themselves endlessly and ended up raising us with the same one-size all-fit frames in the form of streets and stones. They forgot that their children are living creatures growing old. And so did I, cause as I said, I am a fresh child. It takes time to learn and unlearn.

The words of Juhani Pallasmaa made me understand parts of my urban upbringing, alongside the urban upbringing of my siblings. They made me understand why finding embodiment is a troublesome trip and why it made me carve a cave in ginger. In The Eyes of The Skin, Pallasmaa writes about the dominance of the visual realm in western society. A poverty in the field of peripheral vision and a weakened sense of materiality are seeped into the architecture and built environment of today. Which results in forms of detachment from our habitats.

“Focused vision confronts us with the world whereas peripheral vision envelops us in the flesh of the world.”2 Peripheral vision is that what you perceive with your eyes beside the point of fixation. When looking at a chair, we observe the chair’s surrounding. The presence of the door, some dark shadows and a soft silhouette are roared down by the chanting chair. An emphasis on focused vision within the built environment brings us to picture perfect places, best experienced with a lens. Our full bodies turn into spectators of a space, while we came for some integration.

Alongside the spectator, we are turned into non-aging aliens. “Buildings of this technological age usually deliberately aim at ageless perfection, and they do no incorporate the dimension of time, or the unavoidable and mentally significant processes of aging.”2 Whereas materials as stone, brick and wood can tell us stories with their surface. Stories about their origin, history, ancestors and age. Tales that we, as humans and not as spectators nor non-aging aliens, can relate to.

in late noons, after morning washed some dishes and left the house
I hold two bottles of joy
I slide them into the pockets of my coat and bike for a bit
in early nights, after noon got drunk on joy
I look for a sink but find my body
in the words of others
and the walls of the room
holding two bottles of confusion
sliding them into my sleeves

stop for tea on a hill
and steal the words that others left there
some bottles lose liquids
like bodies leak language3
my sleeves got wet
and I am standing knee-deep
in a water of words
trying to mold them back into a form

“Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power,”4 writes Jo Freeman. I am giving you some information in the form of a vegetable or a fully fermented fiction.

1 Jacques Rancière: Dissensus, On Politics and Aesthetics, 2010
2 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of The Skin: Architecture and the senses, 1996
3 Jahra Rager Wasasala wrote ‘I leak language’ in one of her untitled poems from 2020
4 Jo Freeman: The Tyranny of Structurelessness, 1970

Bo Wielders, April 2020