Hommage to Charles Babbage's 'A Vision'
Eating is imbued with religious meaning
Vegetable garden, just underneath a lush bush of tomatoes. Even a slight movement of the leaves could reveal her presence. One of the last of the Miss World candidates untouched by the 'edible beauties cuisine' craze. She was hungry, but she knew that if she reached for a blood-red tomato dangling just above her head, her own bloody flesh would be turned into food for the masses awaiting at the banquet table. Nibbling on the smallest appetizers, the berry-shaped tips of human nipples.
At the far end of the table, an incessant ceremony was being performed by the clergymen, the inventors of the new trend. With religious patience, they practiced their extropian techniques - where they turned one of the driving forces of the universe, the female beauty, into new universes of fragrance and taste, by cross-fertilising the still warm white flesh with vegetable protein, juices, fire and ice. Everything was done with utmost precision, removing the resemblance of the ingredients to their original species. Creating the new. The screaming atoms clinging hastily into new molecules, as the heat in the cooking pot becomes too unbearable. The tiny sizzles amplified into screams. The painful transformation of the alive into the tasteful. The clergyman followed an unwritten procedure. Competing for the sighs of the audience, concealing the brutality of their acts. Transubstantiating the act of killing with the act of creating. Pretending to be gods, with a myriad of provisional universes at their disposal. Consenting substances, allowing their limbs to be mutilated, chopped, boiled, mashed and pureed into oblivion.
The energy released from the raw ingredients commences to form new amalgams. A whole universe of indistinguishable constituents, becoming increasingly gooey. Becoming liquid. Steaming hot. The spirits of the never-to-become-miss-world candidates swimming through the creamy fluid, in all directions at once. Occasionally stirred in spirals - to the right by the chefs from the northern hemisphere, to the left by their southern colleagues. Their traces visible in the tiny bubbles of grease and froth collected as abstract drawings on the surface of the soup. The spirits, released from the restrictions of the physical bodies mingle among their new neighbours: the equally freed spirits of floral origin. Their conversations become quite intimate during the melting process. The spirit juices released from these interactions waft through the air, from the pots to the banquet table, freeing the saliva from the hidden glands in the mouths of the bon-vivants. Their voices singing seductive tunes to the taste-buds, making them tingle, arousing them. Ready to be enveloped with warm, smooth flood of unrecognisable relish.
The soup is poured into cloudy white bowls. The sound of the boiling thick liquid plopping on the cold ceramic surface. The last air bubbles bursting the tranquil surface, smoothed out with the back side of a cooking spoon. A cold liquid is drizzled onto it. Diminishing the liquidity, softening the spirit-voices, restricting their movement. Nothing can reveal that beautiful taste better than slightly immobilised spirits, whispering the songs of their past lives in polyphony. The music of a new universe being born. Soon to be devoured by the old gods, feeding on the fragile new ones, offered by the devoted followers of extropianism.
The banquet table comes alive, making space for the dishes: the guests of honour and the offerings. The first spoon-fulls of the liquid spirits are allowed to glide down the eater's throats. The reactions diverge. The cameras pointed on all the individual faces register the emotions. Delight. Disgust. Nonchalance. Disinterest. Joy. Pleasure. Ecstasy. Anger. Allergy. All the reactions are duly noted by the clergyman and reported to their superiors.
As the guests slurp the phantom-goo, the girl suppresses the choking convulsions. The sadness and the fear sweep the hunger away and fill her body with a nauseating feeling of gorge. She realises that the only way to escape the horrifying death is to disfigure her so long cultivated beauty… She uses the distraction and intrigue of the first morbid course to slip into the kitchen and hide in the cupboard filled with dirty dishes and knives. The knives she would use to mutilate her silky brown skin.
The cooks returned from their monitoring positions. She would have to wait for another course before she could risk little pools of blood leaking through onto the kitchen floor.
With the experimental nature of the beauty diet, the inventors could not allow any risks. The rigorous analysis of the ingredients, the cooking procedures and the reaction of the swallowers needed to be measured in sterilised conditions. The banquet is therefore placed in a clean house, an eco-system deprived of all terrestrial germs. Prior to the banquet, the cooks and the guests have spent 70 days in quarantine and were fed anorganic matter only. Cooked with sterilised laboratory equipment. Monitored by machines. Their sensory organs were cleansed in brutal manners, until their tests proved that the taste and the smell would sense the widest possible range of stimuli. The only contamination of the environment were the chopped up beauties.
The secret was a good sauce.
A pot with larger chunks of meat was steaming on the stove. The girl peeked through the small opening on the side of the cupboard. She still recognised some of the body parts. This dish consisted mainly of breast glands. A milky sauce, with a gelatinous consistency, was cooked on low fire next to the stew. She wandered if any of the beauties had babies, and whether some of their breast milk was sucked out of them before they were killed. Whether the sauce was the liquid their bodies produced to feed their offspring. Now feeding the degenerate members of a decadent society. The stew was perfectly elastic. The glands, once massaged by the hands of their lovers, now kneaded into shapeless lumps by wanna-be alchemists. The sauce was poured over the stew. The liquid spirits of the semi-finalist-miss-worlds dangling from the spoons, glued by the sticky consistency of the dressing. Their newly fashioned evening gowns. Strings of melted cheese and decomposed herb-fibres. Held together by slinky creme-fraiche. Perfectly elasticised to accentuate their bodies. Smoothly textured to amplify the flow of their shapes.
We now judge a dish largely by how guilty we feel about eating it.
She wonders silently whether the food possesses the memory of its ingredients, whether the eaters will ingest and digest past lives, the passions and the hatreds of several dozens of beauties. Whether those memories can come alive in the brains of the eaters, masticating their consciousness and excreting guilt. Can there be a combination of chemical substances of animal and plant juices that can force the eater to see the world as their food perceived it before its unwilled transmogrification into digestible products?
The pressure-cooker exhausts its steam with a high-pitched hissing….. resembling silent cries. Once it is silenced by one of the apprentices, the lid is taken off and its contents reversed on a chopping board. A big chunk of solid meat is dissected in front of the terrified girl's eyes, as she recognises the curves of her best friend. She struggles to suppress a cry. She bites into her arm. Her teeth cutting through the skin and pulling a bite of her flesh. Chewing on it. Listening to the tender squeaks of the muscle fibres as they are being ground into pulp in her mouth. Feeding on herself. Her own spirit coming alive in her head. Communing with the other spirits, spinning a plot. The undead beauty demons, far from helpless and fried, getting ready for the final course. Watching their past bodies being sliced into thin sections. Ruptured and disordered. Thighs cutup in fragments, just a few cells wide. Wafer-thin. Germ-free (or so they thought). Sophisticated. Crisp. Ready to melt in the eaters' mouths. Or so they thought.
The main course is ready to be presented. The main dishes are accompanied by an army of puny followers, sacrificing parts of their own bodies as indemnities for their sins. The side-orders, in which their flesh was incorporated are deprived of curves. Hard cut cubes, spiky shoots, knotted nuggets, stumpy clumps surrounding the winding lines of the steaming beauties.
The seemingly endless stream of dishes engulfs the banquet table. Some of the dishes look familiar, others look and smell otherworldly. The eaters sharpen their knives on the edges of the table. Ready to pierce the skins and take upon themselves the roll of master entropists, whose only capability is to turn a perfectly innocent universe into toxic waste. Their intestines working in shifts to use up all nutritious ingredients and excrete chaos.
On the surface, the order seems immaculate. The voluptuous thighs towering over the tables as perfectly curved mounds of delight. Their sleekness a stimulating contrast to the myriad of side dishes and crispy salads. The suspense is heightened by the slow pouring of colourless drinks into several glasses.
Finally, the first knife cuts a slice of a thigh. The fork cuts a bite-size chunk in it. The lips are parted and the glistening substance glides onto the swollen tongue. The mouth closes and the silence envelops the room. A few seconds later a long, loud grunt of sheer indulgence rises from the eater's vocal cords. The rest of the banquet gluttonously scoops lavish serves of the dishes onto their plates, mixing the metallic sounds of the cutlery and the clinging of glass and ceramics, with the crushing of bones, dripping of sauces and crunching of vegetables. The atmosphere is heightened, electricised, impatient. The survival instincts of the guests starts firing warning signals, but they are interpreted as hunger. Hunger for more. More of everything. In uncontrolled quantities. A bacchanal. An orgy of consumption scented with psychedelic aphrodisiacs.
- The Futurist Cookbook [Beauty Cuisine] Cooking proposes, through the art of harmoniously combining [beauty] dishes, to evoke and provoke essential states of mind which cannot otherwise be evoked or provoked.
The girl in the cupboard peaks through the hole in the door and realises that the time has come for her decision: to be beautiful, and become a dish, or do live the rest of her life ugly, but alive. If she doesn't bleed to death inside the cupboard. She picks up a large knife, already red from someone else's blood. She licks its blade. A thin cut splits the surface of her tongue. She feels a sharp pain on her tongue and an echo of the pain on the back of her thigh. The echo felt real, but there was no cut on her skin. She moved the blade out of her mouth, onto her lower lip. She hesitated for a moment and then pressed as hard as she could, quickly, not allowing her thoughts to catch up with the action. It felt like cutting pork meat. It reminded her of all the happy new year's eves at her parents' house. There, in their small wooden kitchen, she would stand on a chair, to be able to reach the table top, hungry in anticipation of the secret knowledge, that would make her more a woman, like her mother, her grandmother and all the other women she admired. Strong, wise, beautiful. She would follow her mother's instructions for cutting and stuffing a tiny piglet, slicing potatoes and garlic, chopping rosemary, apples and prunes. Mixing olive oil, red wine, salt and pepper. Placing the whole melange into a large casserole and finishing the job by cutting through the skin and the fat of the pork, reaching the firm muscles and filling the gaps with laurel leaves. She smiled and her lower lip parted in two, never to be joined again. The pain was echoed again. In two other places on her body. Her left breast and the inner part of her right arm. Phantom pains. Inscribed on her skull by the spirits of her eaten friends. Pulsing in the rhythm of infection. The agony smears her eyesight with tears and sweat, clearing her mind's eye to see though dozens of other eyes. Swimming through throats and plunging into stomach acids. Penetrating through membranes of blood-cells and being transported throughout the bodies. The bodies of the honourable banquet guests invaded by beautiful spirits. The nymphs of the digestive tract.
The oracles of the stoves return, as she pulled and severed her long hair, slicing patches of scalp and little half moons of her ear-lobes. She was beyond pain now. Her self floated freely from one identity to another, becoming all of the miss-worlds' in one. Horrifying in their fierce beauty. She restrains herself from drifting, wipes her eyes with a plait of hair and focuses on the horrors occurring in the kitchen.
The three Miss World finalists are brought into the room. Obviously oblivious of the ceremony about to take place, expecting a big prize, not realising that the big prize will be carved from their beautiful bodies. They are sedated, intoxicated, slow. The girl in the cupboard attempts to warn them, but the spirits stop her movement. The girls need to be wounded, before they can hear the voices of their sisters.
So she watches as the three girls faint with strongly smelling cloths pushed over their nose and mouth. She watches as large spoons scoop their eye-balls and surgical scissors cut the nerves, freeing the slippery spheres from their bodies. She watches the irises fall into a transparent dish, and the remaining shapes pulped into a smooth gelatinous mass. Mixed with chocolate. Fruit. Frozen into ice-cream. Whipped with cream. Smeared on top of 'gateaux' with different aromas changing their complexion. Decorated with blue and brown candies, made of caramelised irises.
She feels the girls' spirits wiggling in their bodies, unsure of the meaning of the whispers that suddenly appeared from everywhere. They wanted to look, but their eyes would not open. Their lashes parted, but no light ever reached their visual cortex.
The desert is ready to be served. The kitchen empties rapidly, giving the girl a chance to open the cupboard and reach her friends' bodies. Their spirits slowly awakening to the horrors of the occasion. Watching through dozens of eyes. Aghast and stupefied.
Everything in the kitchen seems perfectly sterile. The girl opens every drawer, every fridge, searching for anything alive. Anything that could join her conspiracy.
Nothing. Lots of vacuum packed, boiled, preserved and pickled things. Nothing alive. Until she reaches the cheese fridge. In there, the tiny spirits of blue molds, of lacto-bacteria and white fungus awaited their destinies.
Meanwhile, in the banquet room, the guests noticed first signs of change. As they were licking their desert-spoons, they witnessed the skin of their neighbours tightening, becoming flushed, young and bright. They watched the fruit on the tables and compared their hands to grape-skins, their fingers to perfectly slick cigars, their bellies tightening into tense plates of muscles, as engraved in medieval harnesses. The group cheered, ripping off their clothes and showing off their newly found ideal beauty. The clergymen giggled at the cameras. The place bloated with self-satisfaction.
In the kitchen, a new make-up fashion was coming to life. The four girls covered themselves with the effects of rotting milk, becoming a symbiotic life-form of beauty and cheese. Their new dresses in shades of white and cream, with blue and green accents carefully smeared across the surfaces. They looked morbidly breath-taking.
They walked slowly, their practiced Miss-World-prize-winning stroll. The automatic kitchen door opened before them. They split in four directions of the banquet table. Every girl kissing the gourmands, rubbing their cheesy bodies against their orifices, dripping blood into little pools beneath their victims. Infectious. Infecting.
They converged again in the centre of the table. Placed themselves amidst the giant flower arrangement and awaited for the show to start.
From the insides of their bodies, the spirits reached the brain-cells of the eaters. From there, they began digesting their selves, turning their bowels inside-out, allowing their bodily juices to feed on their own skin, the raw flesh, the pulsating hearts. The eaters became eaten, processed, defecated, forgotten. It all happened in less than a minute.
The four symbionts watched the scene with icy calmness. The spirits began finding the unbroken strings of familiar DNA and clung to them. Connecting dismembered beauty-parts from one dead eater to another. Shaping their existence into the visible spectrum. Thin spirals of translucent fairy-floss. In the centre, the symbionts begin their transformation, while the spirits spin around the table, around the room, around the whole artificial atmosphere, enveloping the world in a sugary cocoon. Unpenetrable, protective, nutritive. Alive.