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Ari is a university student specializing in performative arts and music. We met online several years ago and we keep a long-distance friendship. She has the peculiar characteristic of being able to often say the right thing at the right moment, without realizing. She is an impulsive empathiser, and sometimes she hurts herself too much because of this.

When I ask her about Pickled Sentiments we are both in a bar drinking cappuccinos. She has just finished eating a custard donut. She licks her lips to get rid of the sugar crystals, and looks at me confused. This is when we start.

« So, I am writing this series of transcribed chats, it’s completely anonymous, and I am writing the second chapter. I would like to ask you, what do you think about the fermentation of feelings? You can ask me questions! It’s an exploration, so I am also not sure about what it is. »

« Is there a theory about it? About the word fermentation? Did you read anything about it? »

« Yes, well, from a chemical point of view fermentation is the transformation of a food or drink from a state to another, like wine or beer… or milk. »

«I was actually talking about milk. I immediately thought about milk. »

« How do you mean? »

« I don’t know I just thought about cheese and milk straight away. And then I thought about sentiments… I am not sure, it’s difficult. The transition from a state to another… I was thinking more about fermentation in a sense of a persistent, durable sentiment that doesn’t mutate, but roots even deeper. But I guess if it is the passage from one state to another… »

« Well, it is also how you want to see it. »

« I associate to fermented feelings more of a negative connotation rather than a positive one, if you don’t know how to manage them. Because after the change has happened, it is difficult to get out of it with mental mechanisms that don’t destroy you. »

« Do you think that the fermentation of a feeling can have negative repercussions on the subject? »

« Yes, as well as positive ones. There is a 50/50 possibility, it depends on how you face this sentiment and, above all, towards whom this feeling is directed. In reality, I’m always thinking negatively. When an ugly sentiment, tied to an ugly happening, ferments, it triggers mental mechanisms in which you blame yourself, you try to find “the error”, what you did wrong, what you could have changed… and you find yourself in a loop that is difficult to escape. »

« And “the error” is like the enzyme that starts the fermentation? »

« It could be, yes. Yes, because every sentiment if excessively fermented can drift you negatively or positively. Especially in relation to the attachment to someone. Even when the attachment is positive and healthy, it can bring you to a morbid, unhealthy attachment. When you can’t live without them. It’s strange, but I can only think about it negatively. »

« Why do you think it is about the morbidity of relationships? »

« Because I keep seeing dynamics between friends and lovers around me that I don’t like. »

« For example? »

« I see superficial relationships. I would never be friends with someone I can’t talk to. I see these friendships with these ‘unseasoned people’ that cannot confront serious issues, or that behave like they are constantly making fun of you. »

« And how do you associate this to fermentation? »

« Well, if you have feelings for a person like this even if they are like this, the feelings will develop. I don’t understand why, but they will. I forgot where we started from, but I see these dysfunctional dynamics everywhere, and it is rare for me to spot a couple with balanced dynamics, where mutual respect is practiced, where there is a right fermentation of feelings and values. »

« Fermentation or transformation of feelings and values? »

« Both. The only couple that I can think of where this happens and happened through time is my cousin and his partner. They still look in love with each other like they were at the beginning of their relationship. There is much respect between them, you know, those intimate glazes that say so much. They still touch each other after twenty years of being together. I see that sentiment grow every day, and every day it becomes bigger and every day it is there. Respect grows and love grows. And that is positive, but not easy, because it requires hard work from both parties, and if the effort comes only from one or from none of them, the sentiment becomes sour. It crushes and it stains. »