Literature everywhere (3) _The measuring of beauty

Yesterday, as I was returning to Madrid, I indulged in one of my common pastimes—reflecting on a few of my literary interests. One of these interests is finding the most effective means to capture the essence of our era and how to utilize its intricate networks to draw in beauty.
Although I haven't been actively writing for a while, I searched mentally for the appropriate tone, and fiddled with variations I was reminded of a TED talk that I watched on YouTube a long time ago. I must admit that it's only a faint recollection, so I don't claim spot-on storytelling. It came to mind as I pondered how to measure beauty in literature -an impossibility, I know- but still managed to cling to a tangential absurdity. The more poetry that stems naturally, even uninvited, from exploiting relationships and contradictions the better the work.

I´ve just googled the talk to get the speaker's name right -Dan Barber, in case anyone wants to check it out, but fortunately I´ve resisted the temptation to play it.

If I remember correctly he talks passionately about fish farming. He first introduces what is falsely portrayed as sustainable breeding, which includes practices such as feeding the specimens "sustainable proteins" that turn out to be chicken pellets -30 % of their diet is in fact chicken. The facilities are incredibly polluting and even revert nearby ecosystems, so he falls out of love with intensive farming and marvels at how utilitarian propaganda has even taken us there.

Then he moves on to a new type of farming that he came upon in Spain of all places, somewhere along the Guadalquivir flooded shores. It is set on a former cattle ranch run by Argentinians who apparently spent loads of money first draining the property and later keeping the water at bay, distorting the inner workings of the land and massacring collateraly 90 percent of the bird population. Not surprisingly they weren´t able to turn a profit. After this nonsense the property falls into Spanish hands and thrives under the lead of a biologist with some experience on African soil. His name is Miguel, although Dan fails to produce his last name.

So this Miguel type explains how he allowed the water back in, naturally obtaining large wetlands. He carefully let fitoplancton develop and mature, and farmed fish extensively. The speaker claims that he has always hated fish skin and would always refuse it even if crisped appropriately, but this time around it tastes delicious. He learns that the skin is the ultimate protection any being has against its habitat and it acts as a sponge, soaking impurities away from the body. But on this soil, unfertilized, untreated, waterlogged with the passing flow from Río Guadalquivir, the scales turn so awkwardly sweet that he is eager to feast on them.

When Dan asks Miguel "How did you achieve this? You are not a farmer", the latter replies "I am only an expert on relationships." This already astonished fish lover, walking about the property, finds a flock of birds, mostly flamingos, feeding themselves freely. Miguel goes on about how they lose 20 % of their fish and eggs to these predators, smiling proudly as he points to their pink bellies. These birds, he says, travel by day 150 miles and fly back to their nests by night only to forage on my production. That's how I measure success and subsequently quality.

There are other preposterously good advantages to the system. There is no need to feed the fish, for starters, as it takes nourishment naturally from the trophic loop. So we are looking at a farm that doesn´t really farm but fosters relationships, and not only lets beauty out of the equillibrium but renews and purifies the water that comes through on its way to the Atlantic. However, it´s the pink carpet that covers the wetlands what conjures up the dimension of beauty that interests me.


Entradas populares de este blog