Induction Engine

Day 0 September 7, 2021

I’m going to start the project tomorrow when I receive my breast pump today. it’s a double hospital-grade electric pump. I haven’t started the project yet but it already feels like such an exhausting, complicated project. I am having a lot of complex feelings about it. Tonight I was reading on social media about people,  from the ones who were unable to breastfeed their babies cause due to baby’s early-born or diagnoses, or the ones returning to breastfeeding after a milk die-out or other complication. I read about a female couple who both together decided to breastfeed the babies, so the one who was not pregnant started inducing lactation and succeed, The baby was able to breastfeed by both of them. How peotic! I watched a video clip of a Transgender woman who successfully was able to do the induce lactation and happily was sharing the bags of his breast milk in his TickTock account. Artificial lactation! This can serve as a mechanism to demonstrate the antinomies, artificial lactation simultaneously expands the concept of “womanhood”, alters the concept of “motherhood”, and turns the breast into as Zizek would put it “an organ-without-body”. The breast becomes an object of virtual potential, thinking of what are these potentials and how do they transform my ideas? I think it’s going to be one of the hardest projects I have ever done since I don’t know am going to fail or not. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen after months and months of trying, in four-month or a year, or never. I’m kind of excited to think a lot ahead tonight. What if I succeed and was able to pump a lot of milk? Asking myself what I should do with the excess. I checked different websites to figure out if I want to donate the milk or sell it. There are a lot of people that sell frozen milk for different reasons because they end up with a bulk of milk bags in their Fridge. Probably they don’t want to feel bad to waste them even in frozen conditions. Oh, waste! Never thought of milk waste! What is a baby? Thinking of what are the symbiotic conditions of having a baby? What is produced or consumed in excess when feeding a baby? And how is this reversed when the product can be freely given? No, I won’t do that. It looks like a huge market for the ones selling and the ones seeking. They’re selling them for one dollar per oz but there are ones that are selling the fresh milk which can be sold for up to three-dollar per oz depending on the buyer. I don’t think that I go in this direction and I feel that I would donate breast milk. I can turn my milk into a different product like cheese, or make handmade breast milk soap, or diamond. Like honey breast milk honey oatmeal soap for sensitive skin eczema!! or maybe even breast milk scrub! 

No. I won’t treat my milk as a craft. 

Date 1 September 08, 6:38 PM

Today I was thinking about poetry. Consider its form, how it was made, and where it came from. Poetry is a form of expression where the language has become more creative. When we want something in the absence of something else, the body may be inventive as well. When we are blind, we perceive differently, when we are deaf, we sense sounds and when there is no baby, we lactate. This is precisely the poetics I imagined. No baby, we lactate. The absence of a baby will have a range of implications–access to adoption, the ability to conceive, and the time after the child requires lactation.  I’m sitting in the school cafeteria, recalling the exact moment when the project struck me first. It’s never too early to start. There is nothing more important than capturing that thrilling minute, as Heidegger puts it when the light shines above the Lotus and your heart bursts with joy at the discovery of a new image. 

Date 1 September 09, 8:38 PM

Today I received the package. Should I make a strategy to write down a timeline? My schedule is a mess, but I think it’s best to adapt and let it happen by planning 4 to 6 hours ahead of time and then repeating the procedure and setting the alarm when I get there. One thing is certain: I will not miss a single time because one missing time would have the ability to sabotage the entire process. I can perform it anyplace. Why not?  When I’m out in public, on a bus, or seeing a movie in a theater. Yes, I have the freedom to be a stranger while so many people are watching me in such an intimate environment. I’m so emotional. I know there is controversy about feeding the child in public. The breast as an object of erotics was described as a danger to children, yet the children do not eroticize the nipple, it is adults that eroticize the nipple. Unlike New York, it’s illegal in Chicago for a woman to be topless. Men terrorized women’s bodies, as always. I am thinking about my journey today when my daughter was born in the hospital 10 years ago and my first attempt at feeding her. She was able to take my breast and start suckling in our second meeting. My mom was making a film with her phone at that beautiful moment. I remember I showed the film later to Viana’a Father and he asked me to delete it because he thought It was too private. I somehow felt proud but not shameful of taking that video. Why does ‘the Father’ wish to hide this immediate function. I was asking does the individualist experience of feeding derive from a greater experience of interpellation/the big other policing making public-private? In free space, the transgendered woman who lactates can feed the baby of the CIS woman who cannot. The biological literature says that human milk is vastly superior to animal milk. But instead, we subordinate this immediate process to production. What would the public look like with the nipple, the breast, and feeding freed? I never deleted that. 

Date 1 September 10, 11:15 PM

I’ve just finished my first try at breast pumping. On Level 2, I set up the machine. The device, on the other hand, has more complex bottoms and frequencies that I must understand. I adjusted it to the normal setting since I felt it would be best to ease into it gradually until the breasts become accustomed to it. Even in low mode, it was a little unpleasant. I am comparing the sense of lactation’s artificial process to its natural process and trying to remember my memories. Natural lactation is not as hard as an artificial one. That’s the fact! The body flows the milk like a smooth river and everything in the blood is in harmony unlike the force of the pumping machine. Starting the project was a challenging day for me. Today was my daughter’s first day of school in Canada, and at the same time, her father decided to announce to his family the news of our separation tonight. This act brings me closer to my daughter in my thought. I’m not stressed despite the fact that it’s been a chaotic and tough day. I’m at ease in my own skin. Sometimes in life, events occur with more intensity, and they all strike at the same moment, and you must be intelligent and courageous enough to place everything on one table to perceive them more vividly. You only have to remain hopeful since, on rainy days, you could simultaneously lift the burdens from your shoulders and feel freer the next day. I would rather experience all of the agonies all at once than have them just one by one. 

I’m going to get up at 2:00 a.m. and activate my alarm. The second time pumping, was more uncomfortable, a new kind of sensation like a stinging pain in the nipples, but it went away after five minutes of pumping. I have roughly 6 minutes left to complete pumping before going to sleep.

This is not an uncommon practice. It’s a milk marathon. 

Day 2 September 11, 10:20 PM

Tonight, I was at the restaurant to celebrate my friends’ opening ceremony. I had to manage my time in order to return to the project on time. I informed Sarah about my situation these days as a whole. Before I leave, she held my hand in quiet and I thanked her for showing her empathy. I was walking to school today when I came upon a tiny yellow bird. It was a pretty yellow-breasted chat female bird. Its beak had a line of blood on it, but the rest of its body was unharmed. I took it in my arms and felt that its body was still warm. Its neck was broken when it crashed through a window. It was most likely flying an hour, five minutes, or even one minute ago. I held it in my hands and made the decision to take it with me. In front of me, I could see the school sign. My mind drifted to my friend’s exhibit. I walked inside and placed it on the pink-red armchair that was part of her installation art, and then I sent the picture to her. 

My phone rang and my alarm went off. It’s time to re-start pumping. The school caused us so much hassle as a result of that gesture, they closed the gallery and finally after reopening placed warning notices around the chair. They discarded the bird, and security contacted me terrified. 

Death by accident releases the bird from environmental biopower (the making live and letting die). This occurs with humans too, the mother dies at birth and the child never has their breath. But through machinery, the child can have a breast. There are further associations of death, as the relationship between child and parent is always conditioned by the assumed series of events (the parent dies before the child). But what of the other series of events? What does it mean to lactate after the death of a baby? What meaning is produced symbolically to lactate after the death of an adult son, daughter?  

The second day has arrived. I just ended a chat with my daughter. She had no idea it was the weekend tomorrow. I’m always there for her whenever she texts me. I dash, I fly to my phone when she calls, like a bird, like the dead bird. 

I don’t know what is going to happen to her. All summer I wanted to spend some time with her but there were a lot of complications. We both hoped that we could spend some time together in Chicago but Since it was impossible because of my separation going through a legal process, I had to figure out another way to calm the father. So eventually I decided to go to Toronto to be with her and we spent a fabulous summer together. I feel my breast forever attached to her and when I’m away from her, my motherhood part is missing. I cannot imagine all the ways motherhood can be an absence, but imagining that absence, that sense of negativity and lack might be generative for the ways in which motherhood can be fulfilled and substantiated through affirmations here in art. Mom used to tell me about the special relationship that babies have with their mom’s breasts. She told me she had to cut my milk supply when she got pregnant with my sister as I was one year. She said I didn’t speak to her for about a month because I was mad at her. That’s a recommendation in Islam that a mother needs to feed her kids from the breast for two years. It’s really exhausting to breastfeed every two or three hours daily and feel another body so attached to yours. That’s quite exhausting. The body is limited by energy. I’m in tears right now. Isn’t it early for my body to begin releasing hormones?

Day 3 September 12, 09:20 PM

It was a peaceful day. On the third day, I realized that pumping was becoming more hard at night. Tonight, I was thinking about the purpose and function of breastfeeding while there is no baby, and I asked myself whether it was important or not. What is the objective of the body inducing lactation without having a baby? I’ve always wanted a big family with two or three kids, is it because I feel this process dragging me into a huge dark blank hole? How does our atomizing and filial system of economy, which subordinates a family structure unequipped for the pathos it produces force us into these voids? To some extent there is a threshold of movement–that can be interpreted as freedom–that coincides with the body’s energy. There was powerful repetition and a sense of mechanics as I pump. Yet again the nipple as this territory of men’s gratification and as an erogenous zone produces an erotic effect.  Thus, I wonder how we can manipulate that eroticism, mechanize it, weaponize it. How has eroticizing the breast destroyed our perception of its function of need, or its absence?  I’m feeling the anguish in my heart because this lactation isn’t just to show how amazing our bodies work, but it’s also a ritual for the babies that I never could have. 

Day 4 September 13, 2021

Time seems to go by in the blink of an eye. This year is the time to replace my Mirena IUD, and I already know what the doctor may say. She’ll ask, “Are you sure?” Similar to five years ago. But she’ll add this would be my final chance to have a child before menopause sets in. I’ll be 40 this November. I am thinking of the problem of chance: it is not only that there is a biological threshold, but that life offers chances that are actualized or not. Desire has these subaltern relations with moments and choices, the realization of which can never be known. The project attends to the complexity of desire, the points where desire ends, and new desires arise in its stead. The question in my head also arises which of these desires are conditioned by our experience and which are animated by biological determinants we may not know or even understand. I’m in the park, catching my breath after a long run around the pond, admiring the flowers and insects that surround me in this hot sunny day. What distinguishes humans from other species that do not breastfeed their young? Plants, insects, and fish, for instance. Do they appear to be emotionless? What function does breath-feeding play in this bond? What is milk to do with all of this, both physically and emotionally? What separates us from flowers? In addition to the question of emotional difference, is the question of function. If we were not conscious, or if we looked at the world from above, how would breastfeeding differentiate itself from the pollinating insect and the flower, the mosquito and the body it sucks blood from, the egg from the birth? These differences are more mechanical. So there are two differences between the human and other organisms, emotional and functional. All observed differences have immense poetics. Perhaps what we call milk, changed its form to something else in the species, like honey. 

Day 5 September 14

My pumping machine part was missing today, so I spent the entire day without it. Due to the absence of a silicon cushion, I had to continue pumping and left a large round blood mark around my left nipple. I wonder how would a child mark us, how would a bite mark us, and how would this mark be created in human interaction? What is the mimetic quality of the machine when a part of it is removed? It is like Wittgenstein’s comment on machines, that we imagine them as a whole but never without this or that part, or functioning in a completely different way. Scars and marks are a sign of an event or action, but also in a place where you actively participate in its creation. How does this mark reflect the powerful psychology behind the project? 

While commuting back, I had to stop at a bathroom to continue to pump. Having to sit in a little unclean room and watch the machine running for 15 minutes while counting down the seconds till it was done was exhausting. I’m curious as to why an organ in the body may feel so foreign to us. You know, like something that never belonged to us, like it was created for someone else and for a different purpose to serve babies but for us. In what manner can we women who have come so far, educated ourselves, and fought for our rights not feel these breasts are ours? It’s as if the pleasure is missing when we aren’t supplying our children. 

I think of two things, first is a simple neurological disorder, Body Integrity Identity Disorder. We all assume the wholeness of our bodies, this is a “transparent” experience as Thomas Metzinger would describe it. But in this disorder a person is convinced the body part is not their own, they will even attempt to remove it or ask it to be removed. Metzinger notes that this construction of a self is a model and not a thing, when we have an “opaque” experience of the body we see how contingent the self is. Here the breast becomes foreign

The second concept I am reminded of is Deleuze and Guattari’s body without organs. The virtual map of the body, one that is not fixed, transforms with desire, by the state, by law. To make oneself a body without organs is to rip oneself from the ‘model’ that Metzinger describes. My breasts have become a site for experimentation, where they no longer serve the Father’s image, my acts no longer accord to the puritanical mores of American society, I mechanically continue to lactate past the limits of Muslim tradition; yet you do so with a virtual child in my mind. Who is this virtual child, this potential child who may or may not come to be? This might be a meaningful point to work from.

Part of me feels as if someone is delving deep into my soul, bringing to the surface every yearning I have for her - memories and distance.

Day 6, September 15

My hairs are white as milk.

I am not picture-perfect these days, by any means. I left my roots and seeing the whites coming out most of the time with a swollen face that has cried tears. Every day and night working on my computer, cooking, going to the bathroom, connected to pumping milk every 2 hours in hopes that something will happen through consistency and prayer. This is awareness.  This is a once broken mama, forever desperate for her Savior. This is a human who’s made mistakes but has been restored and redeemed by the Savior of the world. This is reality and I love every minute of it. I will be glorified.  

Day 7, September 16

There is always so much talking about the connection between breast cancer and breastfeeding. I never believed any of this logic cause my mother breastfed three babies. I was reading an article today which said the lactation cycle permanently alters the molecular histology of the breast and influences breast cancer risk. I am just under this influence that they adopt this strategy to encourage everyone to breastfeed their babies. I remembered there was a woman in my workplace in Iran who had breast cancer and still breastfeeding her baby. She was dedicated to doing this even though she knew that her medicine might make breastfeeding an unsafe activity. But she had to finally stopped it before her surgery, cause doctors suggested stopping breastfeeding to prevent infection and decrease blood flow to and swelling of the breast. She was only 35 years old.

Day 8, September 17

Doctors were the ones that resisted me the most in my experience. During this procedure, I discovered that many doctors are unaware that lactation may be induced. I had to go to four different physicians before finding one who was ready to help me through my ordeal. Being under the supervision of a doctor was crucial for me since I was about to go on a trip that I had never taken before and would require the usage of drugs. I just didn’t feel confident doing it by myself.

Day 10, September 18

My nipples have started to get irritated. It feels joyful. It feels I am going to the next level of the play without any game over. I tried to reach my nipples once but stimulation doesn’t work this way. I can’t reach it. I assume all the concerns and arguments in the world are about our nipples not breasts. They prohibit uncovered female nipples everywhere but not males. I feel the censorship of nipples is motivated in part by the fact that the body makes people anxious. Part of the blame is attributed to religion’s negative attitudes toward women’s bodies. With the existence of hundreds of paintings of breastfeeding Mary, It’s questionable for me if religion has been ever (or the only) the drive for this idea of prohibition. It’s interesting to see vision towards this has the opposite effect. For me in art, nipples have been always on display in galleries and museums. It’s tempting to assume that certain times were more liberal about nipples than others.  We should limit our body’s terrain in a modern society but you are free to be naked or topless to breastfeed in public if you’re in rural areas or live in a poor simple village. It has opposite effects. Nipple censorship is not only unfair to women; it is also destructive to cultures and questioning the facr where we are heading and why is that?

Day 11, September 18

Pregnant from the soil of Susa,  I gave birth to you Beneath the Asurik tree.     You slid like a small fish,   dancing in my head.    The house of flesh and bones:   where babies never leave.     The house of sacred:   where all diaries change to poetry when the heart gets solid. 

Day 12, September 19

An overabundance of pressure. That’s how I’m feeling these days. This entire experience has made me feel trapped. I’m envious of all these women who can get a haircut or go to the store. Even for my groceries, I only shop online these days, and it’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a store to even get milk. I believe that there are vulnerable women, such as myself, who are exposed to this mechanism and that their bodies do not react well. We live in a very isolated society these days, and this project makes me more disconnected because I need to find a quiet place to pump within 2 to 3 hours wherever I go. I’ve given up going out many times due to the challenges of managing this. I don’t have a solution for adding this extra practice to my schedule, but for the time being, I can say that I understand why and how many engaged women do not breastfeed their babies. It’s still very hot outside, and I can tell that all the fluids I’m drinking aren’t helping the situation. I eventually felt overwhelmed by the experience, to the point where I would sit crying while I am pumping. I’m on the verge of depression after only 12 days due to a lack of sleep and the stress of pumping.

Day 13, September 20

It’s a very feminist problem that revolves around the function of women’s bodies and a patriarchal residue of female ownership. I reside with a family with some quite antiquated ideas. Who are these individuals to make such a remark about my breasts doing their thing? What do they believe they’re there for, and who do they think they’re there for? Unfortunately, the most critical members of my family were the older males, who, on the one hand, acted like teenage boys around a pair of exposed breasts on the beach and in front of the television, and then considered the notion of nursing in public repulsive.

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