Soylent spilling still life by Joe Lingeman

Ode To Soylent

Poem by Rindon Johnson
Photograph by Joe Lingeman

OK. Make room. Make room.


I was eating lettuce or kale or something and I thought it was very strange that I was eating leaves and going to school and getting on the train, this was something for animals, why was I eating leaves? I don’t think it’s right to think of things that come from nature as necessarily the best things—now it is quite often the opposite. The boundaries between the fields are not absolute. Energy is the same. At-home bioreactor. Oh my. Oh yeah. All under $3. You’re out of control. The best is yet to come. What you are sharing is also what you are eating. There is no difference between food and the Way. I did it in the pursuit of enlightenment. I insist that you come to this lunch. Start-ups are basically men’s groups—all the men spend time together so they don’t get depressed. Or, from humble beginnings, white dudes in espadrilles pouring powder from Amazon. At least I’m drinking the same amount of calories. I just don’t have the time to be making breakfast all the time. I’m extremely lazy in the morning—this just fits in with my lifestyle. I do like the fact that I have not skipped breakfast. I would eat a lot less throughout the day. All of those decisions have instigated me losing weight.


OK. Make room. Make room.


Well, one day I just disappeared without telling anyone. I had nothing in my hands. No money. No things. Nothing. Did you come here to live? How did you know that? How did you come to know that? Yes, I am here to stay. Every mistake was a catastrophe, an explosion. I climbed up a tree and fell asleep. I awoke and a giant snake was crawling down my neck. I did not worry, I feel back asleep. There was no traditional food in my body. Orchestra. It’s pretty gross.


OK. Make room. Make room.


Well, we want the company to be very transparent—we don’t use human body parts. What do you expect: It’s Soylent, it’s cheap, it gets the job done, it’s efficient—get the job done and eat well on the weekend. I’d like to get as independent from traditional agriculture as possible. I would like this to go the same way as water. It is hard to go without water. You get delivered your Soylent. Cheap abundant food is essential for global stability. There are also lots of opportunities to make things worse. There are not so many opportunities to make things better. What is better anyway? I’ve been thinking about you, not surprisingly. I think about you sometimes, your name and its origin and that one time I got so low in thinking that I was fat that I bought you on Amazon in a powder and drank you for days, maybe even weeks, until it became clear that I should stop, which I did and which I am happy I did, because the only way I could stomach you was by putting chocolate in you and then blending you with ice like some sort of milkshake, which was actually kind of good, but which frankly did not actually feel that good an hour or so later, and which I regret now as I regretted it then, or an hour later from then. Who am I talking to? It takes 66 days to form a habit. It tastes exactly like it looks.


OK. Make room. Make room.


Should I worry at this point? You’re basically soy, which is also not people and also not a person. I consider it not a person because it destroys people and logically things that destroy people cannot be people as people do not destroy themselves—and I didn’t think it would be so small. I’m only going to drink half. It tastes like the leftover milk after you’ve finished Rice Krispies. I feel satisfied, but I could still fit something else, maybe a croissant or something else. I’m never satisfied when I am satisfied, I am satisfied when I am full and can no longer eat. The bowel movements have been unpredictable. You seem skinnier. Eating is not just for the body to survive, the pleasure of it involves socialization. I think it is healthy to like food. I think it can have serious consequences to not like food. Some of it reminds me of Kaopectate. Cinnamon would help. I did graduate from college, I lose a lot of credit. The universe is good material.


OK. Make room. Make room.


Imagine if food becomes a religious thing. Imagine if the only people who ate were monks. (Temple food keeps a person’s mind calm and static.) We designate parts of our skin for photosynthesis, we make our own food from the sun with our chlorophyll patch. I’m glad. I’m done eating. You smell like soy all the time. I have developed the diet of a dystopian future man. Maybe the utensils of the future are going to be a bottle and a whisk. Food is going to continue to improve. I’ve never been healthier in my life. She bounced right back. I just want to try as many new things as I can. I can’t imagine eating this. We are going to need to optimize things. This idea is going to solve a lot of ideas we have—it’s not just hunger, it’s food. (My vision of the future is great, everybody will be happy and healthy.)


We are going to need something new for humanity. For man.


Under his fingers the rough metal of the window opening had the feel of miniature mountain peaks and valleys. Jagged, smooth, soft, hard. He leaned close and stroked with his fingertips, and the pleasure of the touch sent shivers of love running down the length of his spine. Why had he never noticed this before? Bending, he put out his tongue and the sweet-sour-iron-dirt taste was so wonderful, and when he let the sharp front edges of his teeth touch the metal it felt as though he had bitten off a piece of steel half as big as the bridge.


I learned on.

CREATIVE Taylor Franklin PROP STYLIST Jojo Li RETOUCHER Joseph Tripi PRODUCTION Elizabeth Jaime

This article appears in Volume 01: Neo-Natural of Atmos.

Shop Atmos Volume 01: Neo-Natural

Neo-Natural is a study of humankind's relationship to nature in the age of climate change, including topics such as resource depletion and regeneration, gene editing, cellular agriculture, and the increasingly inarguable effects of the Anthropocene on indigenous communities around the globe. It features contributions from artists like Yoko Ono, ANOHNI, Ryan McGinley, Daniel Beltra, and more, all attempting to answer the question: What does "natural" mean in the modern world?

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