Landscapes by Naomi Subotnick


A Soylent Manifesto
by Alex Maben

        Free your body. An oscillating hum emanates from my internal machinery. Acid chambers churn in disharmonious gyration. Contraction, expansion, the intestinal pipe organ creaks. And so, the human motor initiates self-renewing action.

        White box, white bottle: Minimalist package for minimalist fuel. The enshrined ingredients palpate love into the chemist’s biological heart and pulse unease into the common man’s soul: Soy protein isolate, high oleic algal oil, oat fiber, issomaltoolgliosacharide. Soylent. Meal-in-a-bottle. Food 2.0. The elixir of life. Fluidic existence. Believe in Founder Rhinehart’s prophecy: “A way to get all the nutrients for the body without the time, money, and effort that usually goes into preparing food [1].” Optimize the body. Twist the cap, and enter the future. I drink. And so I rejoice, no longer enslaved by the constraints of common culture.

        The ticker timer tocks. However, I tock faster. Liquid nutrient flows down a gaping tunnel. My caloric intake velocity transcends societal standards. In true Soylent drinker form, I “opt-out” from mass food culture, escaping civilization’s inefficient eating patterns [2]. I sever my corporeal restrains, “disconnect[ing] the body from physical space and control,” turning it into a “information processing machine [3].” I escape. I drink. And so I rejoice, no longer shackled by the chains of time.

        Some call me heretic. Organic, slow-food practitioners: Those who equate food with “guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment [4].” Those who decry adoption of “the machine [as a] life model [5].” Hedonists! Luddites! Open your eyes! You preach the holy creed of all-naturalness, advertising enhanced healthiness, despite how to date, “there has not been conclusive evidence that organic food is more nutritious [6].” Pontificating without evidence! Founder Rhinehart speaks the controversial truth: These “organic nuts,” suckled by Mother Earth’s meaty teats, have “blind” beliefs that sound “a lot like fundamentalist Christianity [7].” The organic halo enwraps the devil, promoting “calorie underestimation” as consumers falsely envision all advertised “natural food…as inherently good and healthy [8].” I see reality. I drink. And so I rejoice, no longer inebriated with the ignorance of mass delusion.

        Organic users believe in sustainability: Saving their Mother Earth by growing seed from her body, reaping the boons of natural procreation. However, ambiguity abounds concerning organic farming’s tangible environmental impacts [9]. Soylent believes in efficient sustainability: Set Mother Earth free. Let us eliminate mankind’s ecological pillages through innovative ephemeralization: Using “technology…to do more with less until eventually we can do everything with nothing [10].” I achieve independence from nature. I drink. And so, I rejoice, no longer defiling our originator with humanity’s burden of being.

        Soylent drinkers seek empirical evidence. Proof of functionality. Scientific reductionism: “All things that exist can be reduced to certain physical laws [11].” Food as a engineerable input. Optimized macronutrient ratios, supported by open-access logic. I believe in humanity. I improve nature. I drink. And so I rejoice, no longer held powerless by the mechanisms of bodily existence.

        I came, I saw, I conquered. I came to this body at birth. I’ve seen it from sunrise to sunset. Now, I conquer.

        I think, therefore I am. Indeed, I am. I love to think. I thus love time. I thus love soy protein isolate, and high oleic algal oil, and oat fiber, and issomaltoolgliosacharide.

        I am what I eat, and I am Soylent in body and soul. I drink. I finish.

        And so I rejoice. I free my body.  


[1], [7] Widdicombe, L. (2014, May 12). The End Of Food. The New Yorker; New York, 90(12), n/a.

[2] Dolejšová, M. (2016). Deciphering a Meal Through Open Source Standards: Soylent and the Rise of Diet Hackers. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 436–448). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

[3], [10], [11] Miles, C., & Smith, N. (2016). What grows in Silicon Valley? The emerging ideology of food technology. In The ecopolitics of consumption (pp. 119–137). New York, NY, USA: Lexington Books.

[4], [5] Petrini, C. (2003). Slow Food: The Case for Taste. Columbia University Press.

[6] Hughner, R. S., McDonagh, P., Prothero, A., Shultz, C. J., & Stanton, J. (2007). Who are organic food consumers? A compilation and review of why people purchase organic food. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 6(2–3), 94–110.

[8] Schuldt, J. P., & Schwarz, N. (2010). The “organic” path to obesity? Organic claims influence calorie judgments and exercise recommendations. Judgment and Decision Making; Tallahassee, 5(3), 144.

[9] Tuomisto, H. L., Hodge, I. D., Riordan, P., & Macdonald, D. W. (2012). Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? – A meta-analysis of European research. Journal of Environmental Management, 112, 309–320.