The Farm

Nicola Barker's H(A)PPY excerpted in GRANTA

Extract in Granta from Nicola Barker’s new book H(A)PPY, published this month by William Heinemann:

All our fabrics are intelligent now. We grow them in laboratories. Our fabrics are self-cleaning and self-maintaining and they interact with our bodies to gauge things like size, density and temperature according to the specifics of the conditions in which we find ourselves. Our fabrics – our shoes – are alive. They are sensitive and so we – The Young – are sensitive to them. Appreciative of them. In situations of stress or duress or jeopardy our clothes will modify to protect us. They are fully breathable. They will change colour on request. We can wear any style or pattern that we choose, but mostly we choose to wear plain, loose, non-gendered styles and the colour white because we are The Young and we are Clean and we try not to complicate things too much by engaging The Ego in mundane or insignificant day-to-day decisions. Choice, fashion etc. are the pointless and outmoded preoccupations of The Past. And colour often represents The Ego. The Ego and difference. So we can choose to wear whatever we like, but we always choose to wear white, because it best expresses how calm we are, and how free we are, and how whole we are and how H(A)PPY we are.



I really, really wish it would stop doing that.











And yet even though our fabrics are sentient, and our food is carefully prepared in laboratories where levels of power and water and waste etc. are all minutely controlled – we eschew the old Capitalist Modes of Production and quietly consider them the greatest human evil (please note that I employ this provocative word with a combination of calm and regret and disquiet), The Young still choose to spend time In Nature, at regular intervals, to keep in touch with our dear Mother, Earth. Mother Earth is our sustainer, our source, our root, and we love her. When we touch Mother Earth something fundamental is stimulated within us and we feel an intense sensation of Actuality and Belonging. Because we live in The System it is sometimes easy to forget that at the root of everything is Mother Earth who sustains us. We live in The System but we must look behind it, the way a child in The Past might watch a puppet show and then – once the performance is over – run to the back of the box and lift up the curtain to squint into the darkness at the hunched and mysterious (and no doubt heavily perspiring) figure of the puppeteer.

In The Past our ancestors forgot to love (and love is a strong word, a dangerous word, a word The Young are discouraged from using if any other word will suffice) Mother Earth. They created Gods in their own image and worshipped these images instead of Mother Earth. They told themselves that the creator of the universe had chosen them and made them rulers over all things – all the plants and the animals, all Mother Earth’s many riches and resources. Soon they invented their demi-gods of Growth and Progress. They forgot that Mother Earth sustained them freely. They were arrogant and self-serving. Their philosophies were both physically and intellectually flawed. They worshipped the number. They became an unsustainable parasite on Mother Earth. They stole from Mother Earth. They abused her and all her many glories. Their ignorance and vanity were insupportable. They forgot how to feel gratitude. They forgot how to see, how to empathise, how to reason.

Yes. Oh yes. That is who we once were. The Young must never, ever allow themselves to ignore what has brought them here. The Young must never, ever forget the debt that they owe to Mother Earth. Insofar as it is helpful and fruitful, The Young must feel a measure of shame and embarrassment (even consternation, even disgruntlement, even astonishment) at the chaos and destruction their own race has unleashed against Mother Earth. Shame. Embarrassment. Sharp words. Dangerous words. And, as such, it is only appropriate that The Young should embrace them for a moment – a brief moment – then push them away and move on. It is a lesson. It is why we live by The Graph. We cannot be self-serving. We cannot be individual. We are one consciousness fractured into a multitude of forms. We cleave to what is good and, still more importantly, what is feasible. Our survival is dependent upon our unity. We must be dispassionate. The System is our unity. The System is our dispassion.


But The System is not our God.

We are our own Gods.


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