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Unzipping Berg packets to Transfer Fat-cum-Swedish fish to digest C to Si

Kära blandnetto,

Tempted as we are, we'll be nice this time & not translate this post into another random language, like Swedish .... mainly because we are talking about a book translated from Swedish, so that might get confusing.

Not that we care if you, The Internet, are confused. This isn't meant to be about or for you.

The book we are talking about is Transfer Fat by Aase Berg.

Aase Berg: Transfer Fat

self-portrait with Transfer Fat on my zippered belly & jenes

We read Transfer Fat mostly while riding our stationary bike .. Transfer Fat is a good book for that .. or to soak with in the bath afterwards .... in case you are wondering why my copy looks all waterlogged. All books should look saturated & sweaty after reading.

Not that Transfer Fat is water-soluble .... to the contrary it is a fat-soluble book .. super-saturated in blubbery whale milk.

Reading Transfer Fat is like gnawing on a piece of gristle .. or drinking bone marrow broth .. slurping gobs of words, oozing with milk, though a straw. These "poems" are very biological in this sense .. fat packets that creep under your skin & straight into your cells .. bypassing your brain or any nerve function .... saturated globules coded to enable them to pass through semi-permeable membranes.

Glad Plain

Birthed fat skeletons
keep the backbone high
lick the smoothpipe's tightness,
the grounded,

The rusting fishfeet-trees
tug the skinfish smooth
bend the bellyfish smooth,
drag the sled
glide the bellyfish's furrow
raze a plain

whale fat

In a biology class we took in another life .. in Santa Cruz .. nearby to the big elephant seal breeding colony, Año Nuevo, we remember being shown before & after slides of an elephant seal nursing her pup. Seal mothers fast for a few months during lactation, so essentially the fat deposits in their bodies are transferred to the pup through their milk. In these slides, they weighed the mother & pup before & after & almost to the pound what the mother lost the baby gained .. all transferred through fatty seal milk.

Aase Berg is this mother elephant seal. And these poems are delicious & strange milkshakes that melt on your tongue. Which is not to say these are 100% organic & "natural" .... to the contrary, Berg's milk is laced with a healthy dose of the grotesque & analyzed through a quantum telescope in a cold-fusion clinical experimental laboratory. And there are also hints of Silicon-based lifeforms (most notably references to 2001) & superstrings & the zippered double-helix that graces the cover. And while at times her words can be impenetrably cold & ambient, they are also very tactile & warm & fuzzy, at times even funny.

Bridging the gap between old-school hippie shit & cyber-punk junk .. all the while "keeping it real" .. is something we struggle with in our writing, most recently in The Becoming. Although the book technically takes place at the turn of the century, in the years right after the Lewis & Clark expedition, we don't restrict ourselves to language or technology used then. This was the brilliance of Deadwood .. an entirely new hybrid language with little regard for authenticity. Or a movie like Clockwork Orange ....

Moloko Vellocet

chilling at the milk bar

Berg has as much in common with Kubrick & David Milch as Thoreau & Whitman. She fashions her own language on to itself .. spanning eons & at the same time timeless. Her languages speaks of & for mammals mostly .. anything warm-blooded with fur or fat or mammary glands .. with an occasional bone thrown to the fish. Her language is charged by both Maxwell & Planck, or even Higgs & Feynmann. Her heady charge is both mammalian & also as calculated & cold as blackbody radiation.

Empty Space

The blackbody order
the disorder order

the disorder smoothness
smoothness against crumple

the arks are crumpled
fields are plowed into craggle

the direction surface
is cuttingly blank

Berg has been long-time affiliated with the Surrealist Group of Stockholm, though we wouldn't think of her as surrealist. On their homepage, they state: «Internet is certainly not the right place to look for surrealism. Those looking for knowledge will find more on the streets or in the woods.» While we wouldn't necessarily agree with them on this, we'd agree that: «Nothing one informs you about is interesting.»

Before reading this book we knew maybe 3-4 phrases in Swedish. We had a Swedish friend in Mexico that taught us to say «Gå knulla en känga, du rövhål.» (Go fuck a boot, you asshole). And later, when we made a concerted effort to learn how to say «yum» in every language, some Swedes upped the ante by teaching us «mums dubbelt» (doubly yum). And of course there is «skål!» which we had occasion to use often in Rome with our friend that used to bring us bottles of aquavit & jars of senapssill & teach us Swedish drinking songs. In fact, our last week in Rome was spent at his house.

Given this non-existent knowledge of Swedish, we found ourself reading the Swedish side first, imagining what the words meant .. before reading the translations on the right by Johannes Göransson. What follows are a few poems wherein we imagined what they said (left), next to the actual poem (middle) & Göransson's translation to the right. 

imagined translation:


Aase Berg original:


Göransson translation:



Bar with no malts
over hard shores
bar with sad tender
halos remain cropped

Finger scales mark cuts



Bära min smälta
över de hårda sjöarna
bära mitt sätt att
hälla rinnande kropp

Ditt skals kötts mörker

Carry my smelt

Carry my smelt
across hard lakes
carry my way of
pouring runny body

Your shell's meat's darkness


"Hearty-smelt comes
sissy Men drink milk
you are cut of skin
leaving fingers



"En härdsmälta ska härdas"

Men låt dem syssla
Vi har:
ditt kött som rinner
mellan fingrarna
som rinner



"A core meltdown should be hardened"
But let them busy
We have:
your meat which flows
between the fingers
which flow



Dim-witted we fester
In valley folds
slick with prints,
smelting carnation
Gars spawn upstream
fused with stillborn hare
to vaccinate against chicken-pox


Din fyllning fettnad
Du Väljare valde
detta slickande,
smältande stjärna
Går därför intill
stillsamt bultande hare
din växande vattenpäls


Your filling fatness
You Voter chose
this licking,
smelting star
Move therefore close to
calmly pounding hare
your growing water fur

Obviously we are projecting into our "translations." We have read some other books by Aase Berg (we talked about her Remainland collection here), so that helps. And as we read more we started to pick up on words & reoccurring themes. And reading this while biking in place, my ear to my own metabolism, passages like this struck me:

The bodywarm, flowing underside
the bodywarm stillness of an unborn dead
the one by fat permeated
by the deathtired fat always permeated

As our better half (returned last night) can testify too, we love to eat fat. The parts she cuts off a steak we'll snap up to eat like candy .. or the gristly skin of chicken. We love the sensation of warm fat as it emulsifies in your mouth .. into tiny corpuscles that seemingly dissolve to liquid. Our brains, from what we've been told & read, say that fat is bad .. that these fat globules & oil enters your blood & coagulates & clogs up your arteries. But our body tells us otherwise, that this fatty oil is combustible & lubricates our insides, is super-saturated with all sorts of vital nutrients. There's a reason animals have fat deposits after all, right? For the same reason we like to eat eggs .. it seems to be something meant to be eaten. Fat & Eat barely differ as words.

We don't read much «poetry» .. but if we could be assured it had the affect of Berg, we'd read more. This is language that doesn't tell you what to think, but transfers through osmosis, enters your bloodstream to re-crystallize your own projections in collapsed wave packets .. lacks grammar, which otherwise imposes its will .. encoded & discrete parcels of fat that seep into your bloodstream, penetrate otherwise non-permeable membranes & then unzip themselves in tiny explosions within your cells. Any "meaning" is never stated outright, but only precipitates in your bone marrow to come writ on your bones. Otherwise, in the unopened book, the texts remain sublime, hyper-charged with potential, neatly packaged in delectable morsels .. like viruses .. waiting.

If you are an orally inclined person, here's what some of these sound like out loud, both in Swedish & English, as read by Göransson (or this is what Berg sounds like herself reading in Swedish):

And here's a few more "imagined" translations (with the benefit of having seen the preceding poems in the book) side by side with the originals & Göransson's translations.

imagined translation:
Aase Berg original:
Göransson translation:


simian mast
gliding haul

On sailboat


simma spole,
glida hal,

I kräftelse
knyck halkvis


swim spool,
glide slick,
the friction

Shell up
twitch slickwise
the friction


Craw, tunneled
genome backcrossing gills
whaleraft resonance
bulging under eight time


Kropp, tunnla
genom bäckenkrossens käkar

valkäftens resonanser böjer undan och tid

Quantum Tunneling

Body, tunnel
through the creekcrush's jaws
the whale jaw's resonances
bends aside space and time

Gummy Fodder

Gumminess glides
oars languish in time
Eye oar sticks
casting man on a sick voyage
with no stats

Föda Gummi

Gummitumlaren glider
längs oanerna av tid
Eonerna av ekotid
Man kastar sig mot väggar
av sin motstats

Birth Rubber

The rubber tumbler glides
along the uneons of time
The eons of echo time
One rams into walls
of one's opposite

These made me want to eat sashimi & watch The Cremaster Cycle. Or this scene from Drawing Restraint (although for the most part we didn't think much of this).

There was a bit at the end of the book from Johannes about the difficulties in translating these, in entering the «deformation zone» .. in trying to translate invented words & neologisms compounded & morphed within the context-sensitive framework of Swedish etymology & puns .. such as "valynegeskal" = "whalebroodshell"  .. or "fittsela rullbandsfettflod" = "cuntstiff looptrack fatflood".

Of course to truly experience Aase Berg, one must need learn Swedish. Until then we are grateful for these translations.

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