Abundance Fantasies: Cockaigne

May 23, 2013 By arne hendriks 1

“And still I’ve more to tell of it; The geese when roasted on the spit Fly to the abbey (believe it or not) And cry out ‘Geese, all hot, all hot!’ With garlic in great quantity, The best-dressed geese a man could see. The larks are known to do the same- Land in your mouth, well-cooked and tame, Freshly stewed and nicely done, Sprinkled with cloves and cinnamon.”

The Abundance Fantasies collects stories, symbols and rituals of abundance because perhaps one day soon we must choose between our desire for abundance and the equally strong desire to be tall. We can’t have both. Because we’re so tall (and so many) we simply consume more than the earth can support. In many ways we’ve already entered into scarcity, even if we don’t know it yet. And mostly it’s scarcity that inspires fantasies of abundance, like in the medieval trope of Cockaigne. The Poem The Land of Cockaigne denotes a mythical land of plenty, an imaginary place where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist. All the restrictions of society are defied and food is plentiful. Roasted pigs wander about with knives in their backs for easy carving, grilled cheeses fly directly into ones mouth, wine flows from fountains and cooked fish jump from the water onto your plate. Portrayed in legend, oral history, and art, this imaginary land became the most pervasive collective dream of medieval time- an earthly paradise. It served to counter the suffering and frustration of daily existence and to allay anxieties about an increasingly elusive heavenly paradise. Cockaigne reveals our deep collective desire for abundance. What remains to be seen is if this desire is stronger than our obsession with being tall. If so, perhaps we’re willing to shrink towards the abundant life of our fantasies.