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creative

Dieuwertje Hehewerth FOOD POLITICS - September 2018

Counting Down

Written by Dieuwertje Hehewerth

**Please note, this text may be triggering for those affected by eating disorders**

It’s been seven years since the day I got so sick of feeling inadequate that I decided to stop eating. Six years and 364 days since I began ten-kilometer hikes across Wellington’s waterfront and over its sheltering mountain on an empty stomach.

Six years and 363, 62, 61 days since I began sculling diet drinks to trick my stomach into being full – full of fizz, caffeine and fake sugar to erase hunger aches.

Six years and 360, 59, 58 days since I began counting every calorie I ate, every calorie I burnt, always making sure the ratio would be more energy burnt than gained.

Six years 357, 56, 55 days since (x) divided by 4.2 became my most practiced calculation as I scanned every food package and translated kilojoules to calories to measure every bite I ate.

Six years 354, 53, 52 days turning 51, 50, 49 kilograms into genuine surprise that my jeans were loose; before suddenly becoming nervous of how I appeared; before my parents began making small remarks that sent my heart racing; my head into an exhilarated panic. Did you know you could lose weight so fast?

48, 47, 46 kilograms before I started realizing this process was no longer wholly in my control.

45, 44 kilograms before I got my first scare of being sick: a simple cold sending me bedridden, unable to stand up.

43 kilograms as a full day of university became impossible; as arriving home, dragging my body over the doorstep, became an accomplishment, a relief and simultaneously a moment of panic – had I walked enough?

43 kilograms as a stranger on the street yells, “I HAVE TWO QUESTIONS FOR YOU: ONE, DO YOU EVEN EAT? AND TWO, IF I WOULD FUCK YOU, YOU WOULD FUCKING SNAP!”

(Of course with no confidence or energy to yell back, “THAT LAST POINT WASN’T EVEN A QUESTION!”)

43 kilograms as the word “anorexic” follows me around in whispers on the street. 43 kilograms as one morning, eyes glued shut from a flu my body had no energy to fight, I call my mother, asking her to help.  

And 43 kilograms does not even reach the greater extremes. Some getting down to 34, 33, 32, 1, 0. Flatline.

Waistline constantly measured, compared, re-measured. Eat; measure. Shit; measure. Graphs kept. Food lists stored. Comparisons made. Maintaining an eating disorder under the now careful watch of worried parents becoming a full-time job. Banned from working till “you get better.” Walking, running, rain or shine, till “you get better.” Family dinners becoming daily tortures until “you get better.” Arguments turning into screaming turning into, “IF YOU WOULD JUST STOP CARING THEN I COULD JUST GO DIE.”

(Yes. (Melo) dramatic.)

6 years since, “I only weigh myself in the morning -on the upstairs scales- with no pajamas on, and only if I have gone to the bathroom and taken my plate out. I never trust what the scale says if I weigh myself after a shower because I’m scared that the moisture on my skin will weigh me down.”

5 years since, “Perhaps I weigh less because I have less hair than I used to, so I could be  ‘healthier’ now than when I weighed this much but had long hair.“

4 years since, “people say I look better and they are proud of me but I feel like shit because I take the compliment as meaning I have put on weight. I often wish I was at my lowest again so that at least I know that I have anorexia, and not just some half attempt of it.”

And back to the top. Less eating, more walking, sculling, lying, panicking, attempting to vomit – vowing not to vomit – counting, calculating, weighing, measuring, weighing again, measuring again, and all the while the constant message being, “You’ll never have a normal relationship with food again,” as if a relationship with food is something to strive for. As if this obsession is comparable to a diagnosis of cancer. And believing it. And wanting to believe it. And enjoying believing it. Because this hyperactive obsession keeps this weight down, and under no circumstances does it feel okay for that number to creep up again.

43, 44, 45.

Tired of counting yet?

Tired of standing in the supermarket, scrutinizing the 2 calorie difference between this 100 ml of yogurt versus that 100ml yogurt at the other store, and do you really want to force your way out of this supermarket empty-handed once more?

Are you tired of pretending to yourself that you are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, meat-industry intolerant, cutting out entire food groups to shrink the supermarket so the plethora of food that is on display becomes unreachable? Unthinkable? Untemptable?

Are you tired of being scared of the feeling of hunger, filling your stomach with fillers thinking, “as soon as I’m full then I won’t have to eat anymore?” The fear of food warping into a fear of hunger making you eat more to take away the fear that came out of the fear of the food you are now using as a solution to solve the fear of eating?

Are you tired of looped logics making your head spin so much your stomach curls into a ball, so sick to your stomach you almost feel hungry or violently ill but you no longer know the difference?

“I have started a new nervous habit: beginning at the furthest reach of my arms – at my ankles; the insides of my shoulders; the recesses of my spine – I dig my fingernail into the soft, upper layer of my skin and begin drawing deep lines up the length of my legs and along the creases of my ribs. Upon reaching a natural end, I stop, clean the skin from beneath my nail, and start again. I finish when I am covered in red scratch marks; or when the time spent on the activity becomes more nerve-wracking than the state of mind that began it. I dress, and continue my day with the surface of my limbs and back stinging.“

It’s not called Anorexia Nervosa for nothing. But then An – “without” + orexis “appetite” does not make sense because I’m constantly hungry. It’s not that I don’t want food it’s just that I can’t have food – can’t have food without this great panic spreading under my skin so nervous and filled with energy that it pushes outwards, pushing at the boundaries of my skin till it feels so tight it could burst. If only there was less beneath it to make some room, to release this tension, “just a small buffer.” Just some breathing space. Just one less number, one movement downwards so I know I’m moving in the right direction. Down, not up. Less, not more.

It’s been seven years since that day.

Every seven years every molecule in our body is renewed, so shouldn’t this be a new body? Shouldn’t this “new” body be able to escape the fears the “old” one had, the one disposed of, one molecule at a time; the one that started the panic? The one that decided that the way to deal with anxiety was to shrink? That the way to deal with feeling incompetent was to slowly disappear? That the best way to feel nothing would be to cease to exist?

FOOD POLITICS - September 2018 Laura Alexander

Anthony Bourdain, The Memory Magician

Written by Laura Alexander

I’m lousy at food, and as far as I know his show was never broadcast in the UK, so when Anthony Bourdain died this summer, it was more or less the first I’d heard of him. Over the week or so before the next big story, obituaries filled my newsfeed and the home pages of my standard news sites. Reading them, I was amazed by the outpouring of love on the screen. My head is firmly up my own arse at the best of times, but it seemed crazy that so much love could exist for a person in the public eye without a word having even vaguely trickled through to me – I couldn’t even remember having heard the name. Before I knew it, clips of Bourdain were making their way into my killing-time-on-youtube-when-I-should-be-doing-something fare. He seemed nice, this gangly, grey haired figure standing around on street corners getting excited about things, asking questions and bouncing with enthusiasm. I searched for clips of him in the cities I’d visited, and the cities I’d hoped to visit, and salivated every time the camera zoomed in on some cheese. And then, while I was explaining to him how to make a Negroni (clearly the most delicious of summer drinks, as Bourdain, it turns out, also knew) the editor of this magazine asked me to write him a piece on the guy. All of which is a convoluted way of saying that I’ve been thinking about mussels.

My mum doesn’t like them at all, and my dad will eat them if they’re there, but isn’t really fussed, and so I went my whole childhood and adolescence without ever tasting a mussel. I knew they existed, sometimes I saw them on menus, but it would never occur to me to order them. The same is true of most seafood, but it’s the mussels that stand out. As far as I was concerned, I just didn’t like mussels, right up until the moment after my first year of university that I went to Istanbul for a week. It was the farthest I’d ever been from home on my own, and I was planning on staying there a week or so and then meandering down the coast and entering Greece through the islands.

I was nineteen and ready to explode with excitement. I’d been put in touch with a friend of a friend who could give me a couch to sleep on, and as soon as I arrived he took me out to hang on a street corner with his friends, drinking gin and playing the guitar and spitting the husks of sunflower seeds out onto the street. All of them were much older than me, nobody I’d ever met knew where I was, the night air was warm and I didn’t understand what anyone was talking about, I was in heaven. Someone looked up and across the street suddenly, at a vendor setting up a tiny stall, and then ran off and came back with a couple for mussel shells.

If you’re new in town you have to try this, they said, or something like it. I would have said I didn’t like mussels, but I was scared of losing face so I didn’t, so I slurped it down.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

I found out later it was called midye, mussels stuffed with slightly spiced rice and served with a twist of lemon juice. Fresh, salty, ever-so-slightly spicy, smooth-mussel-texture against the slightly rougher rice. Down in one bite and swallow, you can just keep eating them without stopping until you’re full. Sold on every street corner, with judicious warnings from everyone that the street trade in them was totally unlicensed and possibly illegal, and if you happened to get a bad one the food poisoning would lay you out for days. I had at least ten every day for a week, and then I went away and I haven’t had them since.

That was four years ago, and yet I still find myself dreaming of them, in the nostalgic way a lost love is dreamt of, like remembering the look in someone’s eyes on a particular night, like the smell of jasmine. They’re still, probably, the best thing I’ve ever eaten (although I tried steak tartare for the first time a few months ago and that suddenly became a serious contender for the prize), but it’s more than that. Alone in a big new city for the first time, a romantic and impressionable teenager with no self-preservation instincts, they were the new, the unexpected, the opening of a door I hadn’t quite known was there.

Midye shows up in Bourdain’s work. Half an hour into an episode on Istanbul from 2010, there they were. Sampled fresh down by the water with the general lack of food safety highly emphasized.

“Nothing I like better,” quips Bourdain as he strolls along the waterfront, “than unlicensed seafood of indeterminate provenance”. They are favored with a quick these are in fact excellent before the camera moves on.

No matter. My magic doesn’t have to be his. But even a cursory glance at this guy’s output is enough to get you thinking of all those meals the memory of which locks into place with the right trigger. Neapolitan pizza out of a box on the steps of a church, whiskey old fashioned out of mugs in Paris, gyros in deep-fried pitta in Athens. So much food over the years since Istanbul, mostly eaten ad hoc, outdoors and in moments of such intense joy. I don’t know much about the guy Bourdain, and I probably never will, but this gift alone, to be able to share these little jolts of magic, is enough for me to mourn, just a little, that he’s gone.

Art MADNESS - July & August 2018 Tuisku "Snow" Kolu

Cycling Creativity

Written by Tuisku “Snow” Kolu

Creativity can be a kind of madness, taking over your motive and drive whenever or wherever it pleases. This can be problematic when you’re on the road and have limited supplies to express yourself. But the Creative needs to be fed. Limited supplies doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the Creative, but rather reforms its drive to find a way to express itself. Hence you find yourself painting with a messy brush that is falling apart onto a piece of bark ripped from a tree. For now, your mind can be still from the need to create, but not for long.

MADNESS - July & August 2018 Sybrand Veeger

To Madness

Written by Sybrand Veeger

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To Madness:

Just A Mad Ode:

A Merely Mad Mode?

Schizó, Psycho, Bi- : Political?

Yet, honest(l)y: is that its fundamental Property?

That one Uncle, occasionally Lyrical:

Flirts with Existence – never with Conformity.

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Vibrant, just Because.

Its Intensity takes no Pause.

Recalcitrance or Equanimity,

Are those its hidden Cause?

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The Madman within Me:

Compelling yet Cynical,

“Get Rid of it!” – They tell Mé,

– Never! It is to the Substance and I:

Umbilical!

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A Reversal of the Logos,

Is that the Voice of God?

Profound and Superficial!

It’s a Ma(er)(s)k! It’s Official.

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“Madness”: what’s that, anyways?

“Normality”, that’s Mad, – Always.

Suicidal – due to our Wa(y)ze.

Social-madness plagues the Highways.

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Existence-and-existence,

Repeated with no Distance,

Schizó with no Resistance?

Society is his Resistance!

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Then, does Madness not exist?

Is it like some sort of Mist?

Maybe Existence with a Twist?

Or a Twister: never, -Fixt!

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Upon Reflection, I, Deduce,

Surely Mads-ness is my Muse,

Call me “Crazy” or “Obtuse”,

“Insanity”: Concept-misuse.

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Anxiety and Depression:

Just any Youth’s Expression,

I fly Economy on Melancholy,

I fly First on a lick of Molly!

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Flying, indeed Crucio,

Physically and spiritually,

Flying TitanicAir: a Nutshell,

Takes ticks of Self and Cruelty!

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You think Hegel lived no Pain?

Or that Spinoza was a plain?

Great Spirits lovelive in Greatlie,

Please be Mad! Not only faintly.

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Brandy Veeger,

14.07.2018,

FULLY Hope,

Infinity.

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To Punctuation and Capitalization (another day at the Word:Lab):

“…c;O,m”- m!A.?.

ode to the Ode: anatomy of the Ode: meta-Ode

Keats: that great Preacher of the Ode.

Keats! that great Creature of the Ode.

Borges: why don’t you ode?

Nietzsche: that mad(denning) Death: also an Ode?

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It describes and creates.

Is it bounded to a nutshell?

It is yet King of All Space!

Discovered: an Obsession!

Maddening and heavenly,

With great Intentionality:

The depths of my Affection.

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Obsessed: a Discovery!

A strange Columbian Enterprise,

Philosophy in disguise?! Or Reason in the Skies?!

Nietzsche screams “Genealogy”!

Heidegger: Poiesis,

Look there! You see Homer?

He oded through Ulysses!

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Maybe the Origin of Spirit,

With great Certainty its Future,

Timeless and ethereal,

(Modernity: its Butcher?)

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The Soul in vocal Form,

The Form and Soul and Wrath,

…Before Plato was born,

The Song was dressed in Math!

The Rhythm and the Beat,

The tempo of my feet:

The Temple of Delight…

Silence…what a Fright!

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An Ode throughout the World,

The World through in the Ode,

The Metronome of Joy:

Orchestrating. Whole.

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Spinoza: Odal Geometry!

The recipe for Harmony:

A base of God or Nature,

Bring mind, bring soul to Structure.

A cup of strength and rigor.

Voila! Now Man is bigger!

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Borges: He did ode.

The Maze indeed abode.

Reflections to Infinity,

In story and in poetry,

His essayistic whisper,

Containing all Eternity.

The Mirror and the Mirror,

Repeating my existence:

The echoes of my soul!

The great eternal Ode!

That is God! Ich bin Whole.

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Dr. Brandy Reyes,

1272018,

FU11Y Hope-,

Infinity.