‘Corollary 1. There is no single thing in nature which is more profitable to man that a man who lives according to the guidance of reason. For that is most profitable to man which most agrees with his own nature, that is to say, man. But a man acts absolutely from the laws of his own nature when he lives according to the guidance of reason, and so far only does he always necessarily agree with nature of another man; therefore there is no single thing more profitable to a man that man, etc.’
I strain to understand what he is saying while I am on the phone to him. The volume of his cell phone is always low and today the wind is particularly strong. He talks about a birthday party and about some friends and about a party he will be attending tomorrow, while I threaten him telling him not to make off with anyone else, I am gazing out of my window. He promises that he will be good and I regain my serenity. I am practically hypnotized by the incessant rhythm of the perennial green blanket which quivers and trembles all around me, with my eyes lost among the figures that the grass makes when blown by the wind.
I step out to the terrace to feel the wind on my body. It is cold, but no too cold. Here the wind has it easy, it just has to move forward knowing that nothing will stop it since there is no rival capable of confronting it. The sky hangs low and the horizon is infinite. The plain is only interrupted by a series of lines formed by the trees planted along the highway and canals and by a few houses separated from one another as if fearing proximity. Useless barriers when the wind blows with its invisible force. It starts to rain and I go inside.
The rain becomes the winds ally and together they clean up everything, getting rid of the little dust and fallen leaves that were there, and any other type of memento, erasing the memory that belongs to one place to deposit it who knows where. It carries everything up and away.
The vast fields that surround me make up a type of reticular puzzle, where all of the pieces are green but exhibit different grades of luminosity, tone and intensity. Greens which make me question where their purity stems from. Greens which make me reflect upon their nature, while at the same time bestowing me with a sense of inner peace. A landscape, as explained by Wilhelm Hellpach, that prompts psychological changes in the individual, transmitting a sense of fertility and abundance to our subconscious, while all the time confronting us with our human smallness.
The following morning, I awake to the thunderous noise of an engine and the singing of lively birds. The rays of sun streaming through the blinds proclaim a brilliantly sunny day. On opening the door, I am startled by two tractors which, equipped with numerous mowers, produce a choreographical cut in the vast area of grass that surrounds me. Drawing lines that transform the colour and density of the surface, the machines travel from one side of the field to the other, then from one field to another, only to start all over again. With indefatigable severity, the mowers move forward annihilating the verticality of the fresh morning grass, leaving in its wake a landscape of forced horizontality. I am fascinated by the spectacle produced by the thin blades of grass swaying backwards as the blades of the mower pass through them, but even more fascinating is the fleeting minute-long aroma released by the newly cut grass. In a few hours, when the two tractors come face to face, the entire plot of land will have been transformed from a fertile field into industrialized farmland and this makes me rethink the meaning of the word ‘nature’ in this particular location. The only oasis of life left in this place is demarcated by the perimeter of my caravan. The astounding landscape which surrounded me last night has been turned into a devastated field for livestock breeding.
The wind begins to blow again, but here the grass no longer quivers.
‘The following is my reason for so doing. Nothing happens in nature which can be attributed to any vice of nature, for she is always the same and everywhere one. Her virtue is always the same, and her power of acting; that is to say, her laws and rules, according to which all things are and are changed from to from, are everywhere and always the same method of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, that is say, by the universal laws and rules of nature.’
I strain to understand what he is saying while I am on the phone to him. The volume of his cell phone is always low and today the wind is particularly strong. He talks about a birthday party and about some friends and about a party he will be attending tomorrow while I threaten him not to make off with anyone else, I am gazing at the cows that I can see through my window. He promises that he will be good and I regain my serenity. They are all different. They are all productive.
I begin to wonder: at what point in history did cows decide to belong to man and why? Today I heard Henry say that the zebras in Africa were never domesticated because they are aggressive and bite. It is so unfair. Just because cows are so good, they ended up being slaves to man.
Now it is springtime and the landscape redefines itself with black and white graphic silhouettes. They are all so alike. In a way, it is they who mark the onset of warmer weather when they happily set out to graze (with their legs atrophied after spending the entire winter locked up) in green fields enclosed by fragile electrified fences (for their security "only"). They hardly lift up their heads, and graze day in and day out, even while lying down on the ground, with their large udders squashed, they continue to graze on the fresh grass. And after a long day of grazing and grazing, drinking, urinating and defecating, the lady cows are invited by the gentleman farmer to be happily milked.
They each have a name. Bertha 9616, Anouk 9638, Coba 9580, Roelie 9547, Cornelia 9650, Bertha 8999, Elly 8093, Sandra 9749, Carmen 9677, Liset 9852, Silvana 9887. Silvana, (what a coincidence!), is the name of the first girl I ever kissed. Silvana, is a cow like any other cow, but because of the affective bond I have towards her, I will tell her story. I promise to be brief.
Silvana, as every one of her relatives in these humid and soft lands, was artificially inseminated. Three days after birth, she was separated from her mother Truus 9591, making her a maternal and paternal orphan. Her brother was not as lucky. After being subjected to the standard feeding and fattening period (about which I shall not go into detail) he ended up in the slaughterhouse. Tasty chops were produced from his meat and beautiful shoes from his hide. Silvana spent the first two years of her life locked up in the pen growing up with the rest of the herd until she was happily inseminated to begin her process of transformation into a milking cow. Such is life: no babies, no milk. After being separated from her daughter, whose name we will never know, two significant events took place. The first was her first encounter with sunlight and the taste of fresh grass, and the second, was to experience the sensation of being machine-milked. Silvana produces an average of 25 litres of rich, fresh milk per day, which totals 9,000 litres per year: no small amount. As with any prized mammal, as the months went by, Silvana’s daily output of milk gradually began waning so she was inseminated again in order to continue to be productive. Just how long will Silvana be able to withstand this pace and what will her final destiny be? Both these questions remain a mystery. At the farm there will always be pessimists who rumor about possible tragic outcomes, but Silvana is convinced that after having lived a life of sacrifice and having produced high yields, in the end she will be given her reward.
We will always remember Silvana as the exemplary cow who went down in history thanks to a publicity campaign which made her famous. Her beautiful face was put (without copyright payments for her picture) on thousands of postcards which traveled around the world in an effort to make thousands of people idealize the life of a happy cow roaming the immensity of vast green pastures.
‘Proposition 7. It perteins to the nature of subtance to exist.
Demostration. There is nothing by whichsubtance can be produced. It will be thereforebe the cause of itself, that is to say, its essence necessarily involves existence, or in other words it pertains to its nature to exist’.
I strain to understand what he is saying while I am on the phone to him. The volume of his cell phone is always low and there is an infernal noise coming in from outside. He talks about a birthday party and about some friends and about a party he will be attending tomorrow, while I try to abort the conversation as politely as possible, because I cannot follow what he is saying, and I am trying to identify the source of that dreadful and suffocating metallic noise that will not allow me to concentrate.
Just as I imagined, once again, the noise came from the tractors on the farm. An incessant humming sound strikes the soil mercilessly.
I make an effort to understand what exactly is happening at the other end of the field, but it is impossible. While the tractors advance at a rhythmic pace from afar, I try to remember how many times and in which manner I have seen the tractors pass by during the course of the last few days from my room. First came the mowers, then the mixers, which, with their type of blade system working flush to the ground, churned up the blades of grass with the ultimate objective of speeding up its drying process. After three unusually sunny days and the successive removal of grass, the gatherers arrived. These have a mechanism to place the dry grass in furrows, sketching and redrawing the soil, leaving behind it evidence of the crop and the calamity of the pillaged land, to finally make way for the collectors, whose mission consisted in extracting the lines of dry grass, cleaning up the space and defining the huge plain now even further magnified by its emptiness. A happy and rhythmic contraption which shot seeds as if they were missiles, which we will call a dispenser, was the last of the motorized mechanical devices to amble past my window.
But what comes next tops it all. I can’t understand what the tractors are doing. Menacingly, they head towards me, with a huge hopper in the rear which makes me suspect what this is all about. The gusty breeze confirms my suspicions. It’s shit. Cow shit.
The Schuitemaker Coulter Injector fertilizing machine is quite perfect. Pure industrial beauty and extreme functional precision, designed with only one objective in mind: to help out in the tedious task of fertilizing the soil. The long hoses connected to the tanks which are now visible to the eye, suggest an impeccable job. One that I can smell but not see. In an exercise of mechanical occultism, the ploughs open up soil that offers no resistance in a multitude of parallel rows which are systematically injected with the foul-smelling mixture of bovine excrement and urine, to be immediately covered up again by a different piece of mechanical ingenuity, leaving behind a surface that appears never to have been disturbed or filled in with manure. It all ends up underground, as if nothing had ever happened, leaving behind it a flat, fertile surface.
I will not be here to see it, but supposedly, in less than a month from now, this quadrilateral plot of land which has been subjected to all sorts of transformations during the short period of time that I have been here, will revive again as a beautiful green meadow, with its pastures swaying in the wind once again, sketching the spontaneous figures to which it had accustomed us to. This fertilization, planting and harvesting process will probably be repeated another five times or so while the going is good, evidencing the intense exploitation that this soil is exposed to, until its memory has been totally erased by the shear force of fertilizers. It is a cycle in which our friends the cows play the leading role. They eat, urinate and defecate, and with their fresh milk our children grow happily, with their attractive hide we make pretty shoes, with their tasty meat we have enjoyable barbeques and with their stinky droppings they fertilize the green meadows which will feed them in the winter, only to start all over again, going through the entire process through a humanized equilibrium, where there is general consensus with respect to the word ‘nature’ and where each and everyone of the parties have agreed to delineate the limits of the ‘landscape’ concept.