If we take a look, and by we it is meant all participants in a certain cognitive nexus, a method of looking, a thinking-way, at the distance between a city and the next, and therefore, the two interrelated cities themselves invoked by this measure of betweenness, we may see, for instance, depending on the person and the person’s upbringing and the habitus of the person that slipped into their skin while they were asleep or otherwise not paying attention, a comparison occurs. The road, as the line between a point A and a point B, will place both A and B on a vector, two sites that are made related, despite all the differences, but it is precisely these differences that will make one citizen think, “Hmm, I prefer the lophar woolcoats there over the ones they make here.”
This, of course, is referring to differences in clothing preparation that may be culturally engrained, which, quite comically, came about as an accident, when a sleepy tailor, more than 300 years ago, dropped her lophar shavings into the pot boiling with drunksparce oil, two separate disciplines (and typically reserved for different social classes!) hardened together as if they’ve never been apart. The taste is in the story, as every city henceforth prepares these wools the exact same way, but the distance to an arbitrary notion (such as origin, authenticity, and the elusive personable factor) is waylaid to a physical, measurable road – it was invented here, therefore, it must be better here. It is not so much a true statement as it is a sentimental presupposition, which, pertaining to these famous delicacies, is harmless, but when the road is invoked, with two differing people at its extremes, it becomes competition. Most simply nap in their woolly coats, however.
Of course, this is a severely limited thinking-way, and therefore serves as a frequent cause of frustration, shouting contests, and snackbar fights, as a road is constructed between two deliberate points. A road is made and there is a reason for it to exist, but it ignores every perceivable node existing on that vector. What about point C, D, E – Z, letters not on the common alphabet or ones we haven’t been introduced to yet?
Take point Low Lake, an ex-city previously populated by the once-proud, now miserable frostfolk who melted when the world became too warm and who continue existing as quite grumpy puddles of people-liquid (their true name, the sound that ice makes when it meets something it hasn’t frozen before, has become lost through irreplaceability, hence the reductive, colonial ‘frostfolk’). The road that came after leads through the memories of their grand, evaporated architectures seems almost sadistic, its unsinkable citizenry stepped into by travellers who come prepared with tailor-made rainboots, droplets of their consciousness carried on rubber soles to unreachable places. Does water feel pain? Best not think about it. But it was also this road that spread the Festival of Floes (the sound of ‘water crackling into the snowflake it dreams of being’) to places beyond its icy, incommunicado walls. Are we, the same participants, allowed to simply re-enact rituals as long as it gives us joy? A census of 7,000 people would protest, but they are nothing but whine-water.
A road also does not include anything outside its path, the wilderness outside its paved dirt nothing but a wilderness for those who travel it (remember: only the cities matter). Though the philosophical problem arises of thinking in absolutes, this is of no care to the mushroom people, deep in Forest (no article applies), who, through even the simple act of designation, have been assailed in the deepest core of their culture. Their culture, you see, is all there is, and our thinking-way puts them on the same vector as ours, an object of consideration, but there is no ‘them’. There is only ‘the culture’. All we may identify that belongs (again, an affront to everything ‘they’ stand for, as property is an arrogant abuse of sentience) to the singular collective of ‘the culture’, is, in and of itself, ‘the culture’. It may be correct to say they, or it, does not have identity, but it has sentience and it has units.
A mushroom, with its flat, disc-shaped head, its mitten-like hands and colourful fashions, is as much the totality of ‘the culture’ as is any one tree used as hollowed-out homes in Forest. Even their drawers, which are not furniture but symbiotic agreements of necessity growing from tree trunks where all non-locomotive units rest until needed, is all the culture. There are no names, no concepts, no other word besides itself. However! It, unlike the frostfolk, is not isolated: it is not self-important. Being one, it has survival in mind, and will adapt accordingly. Including crafts and commerce – visit Forest (you are welcome to) and you will see the lovely, ambrosial sight of mushrooms working wood into applications (they call it ‘helping’). Moreover, merchants appear regular in cities, covered with satchels and baskets, ready to trade units of the culture in exchange for something deemed necessary for growth and survival (they call this exchange ‘adopting’). There would have been different outcomes, had the road been missing, but we, yes, still that same we, must work the world for what it is, for better or worse: we now have delicious mushrooms in our stews.
A line inflates the importance of its points, and the journey on it is of equal boast, it does not provide appropriate respect for the multiplicities of spaces that exist neither despite or because of it. This is, however, not an appeal to stop thinking in lines. We should continue to, but in the plural (one hard-to-follow man might refer to such as a rhizome). Roads lead to places, but what do they lead? Circumstantialities, really, ever ending and never stopping. Point A is as arbitrary as point B, and looking at them as points in time, not in place, lets us enjoy subsequence: everything stacked together, thanks to the roads, culminated into a thing or idea or commonality.
The first celebrations of the Festival of Floes, copied from the smelted, didn’t really work out. Holding ice and thinking of warmth is a great coping mechanism for those lost in the snow, but for the people in the squares, it was nothing but frostbite. Then the awkward weaver bumbled a textile that insulated and could be dyed easily, and the fluffy gold-purple woolcoats emerged, which easily covered the shivering participants as they thought fondly of their fondest memories – when they met each other, when they continued to stay with each other. Standing communally in the cold strengthens bonds (the lines between people), but also gives them very empty bellies. Many songs have been written about the trio (three-one) of mushroom merchants who let the hungry celebrants adopt a hundred baskets of fungi as a gift of well-meaning. The seasonal stew that relies on this ingredient has eroded all bickers between people representing point A, respectively, point B, as it continues to taste miraculously anywhere. Such additions of accidence is thanks to roads and their cultures, a diversity of let’s-be. Once the points converge, and the lines form a circle, a big circle of many exceptionalities, excesses, and expressions, the transcendental of mutual consideration and equal import, well, it makes the world (typically a circle) a better place.