Remember those moments of careless strolling? An art known as Flâneuserie in literature1. I have enjoyed browsing through bookshops, bars or museums, practicing my collectioneuse habit of picking up postcards on my way2. Nowadays I am practicing #stayhome, and suddenly the image of people in plastic container pops to my mind. Foraging through my postcard collection, I find it. See. The motif attracted me around ten years ago, when I purchased the card at a Parisian bookshop. I’ve read into it criticism about urban office-bound lifestyles; humans spending most of the day in glass silos.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this setting takes on another dimension. Many of us were, or are, locked inside.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that staying boxed up will keep us – or the planet – safe. On the contrary, I am worried about the separateness of all beings and the comparted knowledge that we have “cultivated”.
How to unbox ourselves and become earth-bound3? We could admit our fragility. Or as Puig suggests, we could embrace the idea that we are soil, celebrating soil aliveness4.
Let me take these thoughts to the kitchen and the balcony, I’ll soon share more on how it feels like to co-exist with my vegetables and plants.
1. “Flâner” = French for strolling. ‘Flâneuserie’ as used in Özlem Özgül Dündar et al., Flexen – Flâneusen* schreiben Städte, 2019, Berlin, Germany: Verbrecher Verlag.
2. Collectionneuse/Collectionneur = French for collector.
3. Term coined by Bruno Latour. In Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Latour suggests “we must become ‘terrestrial’!” He is discussing this concept further, “as a consciousness for the fragile and restricted conditions of the habitability of the Earth”, at the ‘Terrestrial University’ part of the exhibition Critical Zones – Observatories for Earthly Politics at ZKM, Karlsruhe: zkm.de/en/critical-zones
4. Maria Puig de la Bellasca, “Re-animating soils: Transforming human–soil affections through science, culture and community”, The Sociological Review Monographs Vol. 67(2) 391–407, 2019.