Aline Sofie Rainer, Lebensatem, 2019.

Aline Sofie Rainer, Lebensatem, 2019.

So A. asked me to write something about wholesomeness.

I was puzzled at first, but agreed to do it – it made me curious.

I didn’t know about this term then and was wondering if it’s just another internet trend that I missed.

What does it even mean, wholesome


translated into German as Gesundheit (physical health), wohltuend (promoting well-being)

but I got the feeling that this was not quite it

I’d never used this word before in my life and embarrassingly I have to admit that I had to google it

I looked up #wholesome #wholesomeness on instagram, too

Repulsed by the mass of images appearing in front of my eyes, I didn’t want to think about it anymore and decided to write about something else that would lead me back to wholesome.

It reminded me of whole foods’ neat shelves filled with rows and rows of perfectly shaped carrots and broccoli, peeled oranges or bananas put into plastic sealed containers (very stupid) ... the packages made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. The vegetables however, in their perfect order, satisfied me.
I remember the first time entering this kind of super market in NY and it took my breath away. I couldn’t help, but wonder (is what Carry Bradshaw would say): Does this make people feel wholesome? 

It made me stand aghast and fascinated at the same time.

And now I can’t stop thinking about this one word, so let’s try again:
adjective approving

UK /ˈhəʊl.səm/ US /ˈhoʊl.səm/
good for you, and likely to improve your life either physically, morally, or emotionally.

I type in #wholesome on instagram: 232K posts

all cutesy stuff, cats with heart stickers all over their faces wearing tiny hats saying „I truly care about you“, a comic showing a To-Do List:

 make you mine
☐ go on cute dates for a few years
☐ become your fiancé
☐ marry you

☐ live happily for the rest of our lives

There’s a whole lot of wholesome memes: tag someone you love, i hope i make you as happy as you make me, teary-eyed cats, „just woke up and you weren’t next to me. i hate it here“ – „i really wanna fall asleep in your arms while we watch a movie and cuddle“

Don’t we all...

Do these memes make people feel wholesome, loved and cared about?
My head is already spinning, pink hearts surrounding my head, lips pursed

As I’m easily stressed out friends tend to tell me that I should do something good for myself, to contemplate on self-care and I immediately have to think of Anna Khachiyan’s tweet (she’s one-half of New York’s Red Scare podcast):
„Self-care is too tedious and unpleasant to be enjoyable lol“

I guess I agree and disagree with her, I mean it depends on what you include within self-care, right? Going to therapy, eating healthier, doing more sports, are all very annoying and uncomfortable tasks. In terms of therapy: That I consider as self-care. I drag myself there every week and yes, it’s extremely unpleasant, but also: it keeps me sane, even when I get bored of my own shit.

Further evaluations of my lifestyle have been leading to statements like:

„If you don’t start taking care of yourself, you won’t ever be able to produce as much.“ Do I want to be calm in order to be wholesome and to produce more? If I think back I’ve always produced better when under pressure and unhappy than when I was content with myself – which could lead to an early grave.

Anyways, why should I be told to be wholesome

Why would you even like to be considered wholesome.

Why would you want to be wholesome in the arts? Isn’t it an illusion?
The happy artist doesn’t exist

Nevertheless, I’m thinking about the need of calmness in order to produce art:
 “In early romanticism idleness was highly valued. Friedrich Schlegel for instance was convinced that one is in need of a state of passivity in order to be able to think and to produce poetry.”1

And yes, there is surely truth to this. Even if I was under time pressure, I always looked for moments in peace. Most of the time I could only achieve this in the middle of the night. In the end I might not need to learn how to be wholesome, but how to be lazy.

  1. Cf. Schlegel, Friedrich: Lucinde, p. 40.