Book review on Mako Ishizuka’s "Collecting Distances”

by Alina Lupu



I entered the house and my roommate asked me, very matter of factly: “Fish or mushrooms?”


I paused, shook myself and had to break the spell of what I was doing - lying my clothes on the hanger - to listen.


"There are many ways of going out into the world", she told me. “It’s morning, you wake up and you plan your day ahead. You know you’d like to fish and you know just the right type of implements that would be needed to catch that nice red snapper. You then get out of bed, have breakfast, put your clothes on and prepare your tool-set: rod, line, hooks, fitting bait. You know almost to the minute the amount of time that you’ll need to get to it and you are prepared. You’ve even washed and set aside the pan in which you’d like to fry it. A pinch of salt, some pepper, rosemary, a side of freshly baked potatoes and just a hint of lemon.


But on your way to the pond you can’t help but walk slowly this time around. And when you do you notice mushrooms, nice, softheaded and delicious, so you stop instead of making your way towards the water. You pick up one, you pick another. The rod hangs heavily on your back, but somehow you find yourself changing your dinner plans.”


The image fell into place and while going through “Collecting Distances”, the unified notebook and memorabilia, sketches and knick-knacks of Mako Ishizuka, this intimate view into her process, I couldn’t help but bring back to mind this anecdote.


Mako Ishizuka ponders the possibility of a life in which the distraction of mushrooms is a goal in itself. It’s not as if there were no fish anymore, but the variety of mushrooms along the way make them a possibility, but not a necessity.


She’s thinking in terms of no longer preparing for fast consumption and gratified ease and allowing yourself instead to walk the paths untrodden. She forgets the speed that pushes us all forward, inevitably, trying to make us go from point to point without getting derailed and turning us into efficient bodies, rather than ones that experience, discover, let themselves be swayed.


You might ask yourself: who has the time, right?


But the ones who do, like Mako, and that come back from their journey and have the generosity of sharing their detours and of allowing us in turn to go on our own paths of discovery make us richer through it. They’re a good reminder. The detours though we need to make ourselves.


You can pick up a copy of Mako’s book in the PEER WEBSHOP