This morning, as soon as we woke up, we made four consecutive pots of coffee, each shared between two cups. We made two
bowls of muesli with kiwi, banana, LSA, yoghurt. After three hours of work, we each went for a run. When we returned, we sweated over the cold kitchen tiles. We peeled off our clothes and stood naked at the sink. We reheated last night’s dinner (tofu bolognese) for lunch and set the table. As we ate, we talked and worked. Afterwards, we made two cups of tea (dandelion chai), and each ate a date. We sat down in different rooms and taught through our computer screens, each burning through the lunch that replaced the breakfast that our labouring and running had burnt through earlier. Over the course of the day, our bodies toiled, healed and aged, transferred iron to the liver for storage, spent sugar on its various efforts, hydrated and dried out. Outside, the road was being sliced into blocks, removed and replaced with hot, wet bitumen. Bitumen is one form that petroleum takes, one part of an enormous process through which the earth becomes the site of its own extraction. For Marx, metabolism came to name the problem of capital’s expansive, extractive and appropriative appetite. Capitalist production, Marx teaches, creates a rift in our ecological relations, ‘robbing the soil’ of its vitality and producing a chasm between humans and the earth we rely on. If metabolism is easy enough to understand for our small bodies as they burn oats to finish the working day, the scale of capital’s metabolic rift has only been conceivable by glimpsing parts of a massive totality: stinking bitumen being laid afresh for cars to cross Ashfield, two directly related products of a global supply chain that circulates, and is circulated, by its own raw material. But now, in the face of the rolling and catastrophic crises of climate change and global warming, that massive totality comes into stark relief. The basic metabolic function of the working body has long been a medium for the production of art and artistic inquiry; the metabolic rift that reveals the illogic and rapaciousness of capital is another. The relation between the two is not by mere analogy, nor is the former at the individual level impactful on the latter. If capital is a social relation, then the way it organises our living, eating, working bodies is indivisible from its extractive operations. For this issue we invited artists and writers to consider this indivisibility as one position from which to catch a glimpse of what is obscure if only because it stands like a brick wall in front of us.