I spent a lot of time last spring contemplating the Haitian practice of making, selling, and eating cookies made from mud. Mud cookies make many things clear: Haiti has severe ecological and economic problems. Haitians find the process of harvesting, cultivating, and eating clay compelling enough to develop economies and labor systems to support the industry. I don't have enough knowledge of the situation in Haiti to assert that the mud cookie phenomenon might be related to Haiti's revolutionary tradition and their desire to remain outside of colonial systems, but, I pondered this and other questions. (For a thoughtful, if character-limited, analysis of Haiti's revolution and colonial politics/politics of slavery, see my colleague Greg Caldwell's recent facebook posts on the subject.) I hope that the current climate in Haiti after the earthquake (US control of their airport, apparent US control of the relief effort, Haiti's predicament regarding aid from many countries, few of which have active, viable revolutionary politics) will acquire &/or maintain an attitude of revolutionary solidarity. This is an impossible hope, I'm afraid, but...I hope anyway.
Footage from Port au Prince reminds me again that my grandfather has died. A teacher in high school theorized the process of grieving for the many deaths experienced in any life as "a pile of bodies." Each new death adds to the pile, and it gets bigger, there, in the corner of my mind that takes care of death and dying. Haiti truly has piles. Grandparents and grandchildren and parents and children are piled up, buried alive, buried dead, buried anonymously, buried having been archived by digital cameras, their clothes having been snipped at for identification, or not. I am so grateful for my grandfather's grave, and even for the elaborate coffin and embalming process that I found unnecessary at the time. Why not keep a body safe, if you can?
I gave my grandfather's eulogy. I didn't ask to or especially want to, but I was happy to. He did talk with me a lot, maybe because I'm comfortable with silences and could outlast his own comfort with silence. My cousin Gina offered her adaptation of our grandmother's spaghetti sauce, one of Grandpa's favorites, over on her blog, Gluten-Free Gourmand. And I've decided to post my eulogy here. Grandpa was a huge part of my process with this project, and I'll remember him every time I return to it. He made many valiant efforts to be an internet user; we even got my grandma an e-mail address at the peak of this activity (her handle was oldladykelley). He would surely get a kick out of knowing he lives online, alongside recipes for spaghetti sauce and ruminations about death and eating mud.
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- Lindsay Kelley
- Lindsay Kelley is an artist and writer researching bioart, fringe foods, and uncommon modes of food preparation and ingestion. She is currently completing her book manuscript, The Bioart Kitchen. Lindsay holds a MFA in Digital Art & New Media and a Ph.D in the History of Consciousness, both from the University of California Santa Cruz. She works at the Public Library of Science on the PLOS ONE editorial team.