Your Only Chance To Survive Is To Leave With Us

Name: Cade Miller

Location: San Diego, California

Concept: Metaphysics

Sub-concepts: Occultism, Being, Extraterrestrials

Description: Marshall Applewhite (Do) of the Heaven’s Gate religious group, was able to either knowingly or unknowingly distort Christians own personal beliefs, allowing him to have complete control over their sovereignty and lead them into suicide.

Interpretation: The Heaven’s Gate religious group was a movement starting in the early 1970’s after Marshall Applewhite had a heart attack. Upon recovery he revealed to his nurse Bonnie Nettles that he had had a near-death experience in which he envisioned himself and Bonnie as the two witnesses referred to in the Book of Revelation. Applewhite believed that he was directly related to Jesus Christ and referred to his stature as the “Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human” which gave him a veiled sense of importance in trying to spread his belief system with Bonnie Nettles to other Christians.

The primary view of Heaven’s Gate was that planet Earth went through cycles and that it was yet again at the turn of another recycling. This means that it would be wiped clean of life, had its resources renewed, and ultimately spawn another human civilization. Applewhite told his followers that the only way for them to survive this rejuvenation was for them to commit suicide. This was contradictory to their belief systems because they outwardly stood against the act of suicide, but did not view what they were doing as such because their human form was only a vessel carrying them into the next level of consciousness.

They believed that in order for a person to be able to reach the next level it was necessary for them “to shed every attachment to the planet” and give up all things that are conventionally considered human. These things included family, money, possessions, sovereignty, and sexuality. Another way to reach the next level was to love this Earth and your own body so much that you would be willing to exit it even if there was no specific promise of a next level.

Heaven’s Gate stayed relatively consistent throughout their existence as a movement, but nonetheless employed some hypocritical notions. Applewhite and Nettles at first referred to themselves as extraterrestrials, until the term “walk-ins” became popular through the spread in popularity of the New Age movement. After this became a popular concept, Applewhite and Nettles changed their explanation of who they were from actual extraterrestrials to walk-in from a non-physical alien being. These subversions continued and the movement lived on until 1997, when police discovered the mass suicide site of 39 members of Heaven’s Gate.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqSZhwu1Rwo


Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault

Name: Alexis Yioulos

Region: Columbia University

Concept: Space

Sub-Concepts: Concealment, Violation

Description: Columbia senior Emma Sulkowicz—in as an endurance performance art piece and also an act of protest—will carry a Twin XL dorm mattress everywhere she goes on campus until her rapist, a fellow student, withdraws from the school, is expelled, or graduates.


Emma Sulkowicz’ senior thesis, “Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight,” calls into question what is private and what is public; the piece breaks down the socially-constructed notion that the two exist in mutual exclusivity, both in terms of consciousness and physical space.

In the realm of violation, one must psychologically and emotionally endure a violation after its physical happening. Demarcating spaces as “private” and “public” does not account for the simultaneously permeable and tangible nature of violation, specifically as it relates to consciousness. One can never fully “privatize” one’s experiences of violation, even through mental compartmentalization of traumatic memories. The effects of trauma on one’s consciousness are always present as one moves through various physical spheres.

By carrying a dorm room mattress with her everywhere she goes on campus, Emma thrusts the site of her “private” assault into the public sphere. In turn, passersby become implicated in the piece, in her story, and in the larger struggle surrounding sexual assault specifically on college campuses.

The piece is the most recent facet of Emma’s struggle with Columbia administration, the New York police, and the U.S. Department of Justice in trying to hold her perpetrator accountable. Her journey to liberate her own consciousness from the added burden, shame, and rejection imposed on her by administrative officials is compounded by the physicality of “Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight.” The sense of physicality she reintroduces to her story through the piece becomes liberating as it is self-initiated and self-imposed.


Video interview with Emma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9hHZbuYVnU#t=210
Article about the piece: http://www.bustle.com/articles/38346-columbia-student-emma-sulkowiczs-mattress-performancecarry-that-weight-performance-art-piece-tackles-campus-sexual-assault-culture

The Language in Suicide Notes


Name: Kenza Mouaqit

Concept: Language

Region: United States

Sub-Concepts: Death, Hopelessness, Abandonment

Description: About 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year and one third leave a note. Scientists are programming a machine to more easily recognize those who are at risk of committing suicide through the study of the language used in suicide notes.

Interpretation:  A team of researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have collected around 1300 suicide notes in the past seven years. They have attempted to decipher these notes through the analysis of the language used when in the state of mind of attempting to commit suicide; and have programmed a machine to recognize such language. In the analysis of the language in suicide notes, there were various similarities. The most prominent similarity was the huge loss of hope. The second most prominent similarity was the fact that these notes included practical instructions such as, “remember to change the tires” or “remember to change the oil”, etc… Other similarities included depression, anger and the idea of abandonment.

A suicide note, regardless of its message, is in itself an indication of the person’s state of mind. The message conveyed by these notes only further describe the emergence of hopelessness in these people’s lives and convey the feeling of abandonment. They describe emotions of despair and often claim that life has become unbearable. In a way, these people felt as if writing down their thoughts on paper before their death was the most powerful way they could convey their last message to their families and close ones. Suicide notes express thoughts of last minute struggles with life. Does this written language help minimize the pain these people experience when going through death itself? I guess we will never know.


Image: http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1725.htm

One clinic in Japan offers the surgery for £662 and it takes around 15 minutes to complete. Men want their financial lines lengthening and women opt for enhancement to their marriage line

Changing One’s Fate through Plastic Surgery 

Name: Aileen Oh

Concept: Fate

Region: Japan

Sub-concepts: Free will, Change

Description: People in Japan are paying $1000 to change their fate. By undergoing the increasingly popular palm plastic surgery to change the lines on their palms, Japanese people are essentially buying their fate. By getting surgery to add a more well-defined marriage line or a longer life line, they believe that their lives will be changed. Shonan Beauty Clinic had to stop advertising the surgery because of the high demand.

Interpretation: Although most people get plastic surgery to improve their appearance, people in Japan are getting plastic surgery to change their fate. Palmistry is taken seriously in Japan. As a result, Japanese people think they can change their fate through getting the lines on their palms changed. The procedure takes around 10 -15 minutes, but it takes about a month to heal because the surgeon uses an electrical scalpel to cut and burn the skin. By asking for marriage lines or elongating their wealth line, people believe the proposals will be coming in or that they will become richer. For people who take their fate seriously based on the lines of their palms, they seem to be taking fate too lightly by thinking that changing the lines of their palms will change their lives. Unlike in literature where fate is unchangeable, there have been some success stories from people who have gotten the palm plastic surgery. For example, one woman who had asked for a marriage line wrote to her surgeon that she had gotten married. Another man reported that he had won the lottery after the surgery. The reason for the success stories is that people take palmistry so seriously that they don’t attempt to change their fate after getting their real palm lines read. However, by getting their lines changed, they go out and try to make their fate happen.  Although they believe that getting palm plastic surgery is changing their fate, taking direct action to change their fate seems more like they believe in free will than fate. If they truly believed in fate, they would know that fate is unalterable despite the actions they take and would know that changing the lines of their palms would be a futile attempt to change their fate.




 Name: Natalie Reta
Concept: Loss
Sub-Concepts: Permanence, Eternity, Rejuvenation, and Creation

Cryopreservation is the conservation through cold storage based on the premise that those who die today could be cured tomorrow because medicine is continually getting better and what cannot be cured today could possibly be cured in the future. A large group of people has been joining cryonic companies in order to be frozen and revived after a couple of years through new medical applications and get a new chance at life.

With the ever-increasing capacity of the human being to get immediate pleasure, it has been hard for new generations to get adjusted to the idea of loss and frustration. The era of instant gratification has led to a decrease in what therapists call “frustration tolerance”. This is how people handle upsetting situations, allow for ambiguity, and deal with loss. Some people are unable to conceive the nothingness that happens after death. Death is eternal oblivion. Aging is viewed as the major cause of suffering and death among the loved ones. People feel like safeguarding the future because they want to choose their own idea of future instead of being ruled by debilitating diseases and having to face the immediate losses that come from getting old and getting sick. Chief among concerns of elderly adults are cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases: forgetting your children´s names and ultimately losing oneself. Ultimately, people cannot tolerate not having, people cannot tolerate losing if there is something to fill the void with.

Consequently, a new trend has emerged: cryopreservation. Cryopreservation is a procedure done right after death, where the body is prepared and froze in order to not decompose. If successful, these deep-frozen people will be revived after a couple of years when the time is right. The Cryonics Institute in Michigan currently houses 112 frozen human beings destined for resurrection in a future society. As Phillippa Snow –a journalist, says, “In this new society, death has been overthrown and replaced with a deep-freeze body vacation from which we can wake, like a years-long siesta.” People are scared to die. They cannot tolerate the idea of disappearing, of being lost. You can try it and maybe live, and maybe die. Or you cannot try it, and definitely die.

Cryonics derives from the idea of immortalization. Death is a mundane event with aging as an inevitable barrier to one´s longevity. Many people turn to cryonics in hope it will allow them to be brought back to life and rejuvenated in the future. If death is eternal oblivion, then cryonics offers and alternative and prospect, no matter how unlikely, of a future life. And having that hope is better than having nothing.




Domestic Abuse in Society Today

Name: Caitie Benoit

Region: United States

Concept: Pain

Sub-concepts: Fear, Power, Violence

Description: Domestic abuse is unfortunately a common experience in the United States today. Men, women, and children are all susceptible to acts of domestic violence and the abuse often has lasting traumatic effects on the victims.

Interpretation: Pain is often referred to as acts of physical violence, physical aches or feelings related to the body. It’s often hard to describe the symptoms of mental pain or illness but emotional pain is something that almost everyone is able to relate to. Domestic abuse is defined as “willful intimidation, assault, battery, sexual assault or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one family member, household member, or intimate partner against another” (Domestic Violence) by the Reach of Clay County website. Cases of domestic violence often go unreported due to the fear the abuser has placed in his or her victims. The victims fear the abuse and pain will only become worse if they report the crime to the police. He or she often believes that the abuser will change or that the situation is not considered to be domestic violence. These assumptions are often completely incorrect. A person is able to tell their victims whatever they want to hear to prevent them from telling the higher authorities to stop the violence. However, the violence and the infliction of pain often does not cease.

Domestic violence is not recognized enough in our lives until a celebrity icon is accused or convicted of domestic abuse to draw attention to the extremely serious issue that exists in society every day. It takes cases like Ray Rice assaulting his unconscious fiancé in an elevator for people to recognize the issues with domestic violence. It is not just physical violence that is considered domestic abuse. Inflicting emotional abuse on a loved one is equally violent and can cause equal amounts of pain. In a mental abuse circumstance, the abuser is able to inflict such fear onto his or her victims by just looking at them in a certain way. Words do not have to be exchanged and no physical abuse has to occur for the victim to feel the wrath of the abuser. Domestic abuse is a common experience in the United States, especially for women. As shown in the picture above, one in four women experience domestic abuse. In 30% of those cases, the person who holds the power also abuses the children in the households. Domestic abuse is an issue that we must put a stop to. People cannot continue to let domestic violence, both physical and mental, occur in households today. Young men who witness domestic abuse while growing up are twice as likely to continue the domestic abuse during their lifetime with their future loved ones. Abusers are seeking power and control over situations by inflicting pain upon their victims. The pain can be stopped and the increasing trend of domestic violence can be prevented. Encourage loved ones to report cases of domestic abuse and encourage peers to resolve relationship issues without using control or power to manipulate the situation.


Links: http://www.reachofclaycounty.org/domestic-violence-statistics


When Hoarding Becomes Dangerous

Name: Angela Price

Concept: Excess

Sub-concepts: Power, Desire, Fear

Region: Escondito, California

Description: In Escondito, CA, authorities arrested George Jakubec for hoarding an excessive amount of homemade explosives in his home that were determined to be extremely dangerous that the deputies and bomb squad could not even enter the home.


Hoarders are considered people who save every last item they come in contact with because they have a fear of letting go of these things. In this case, Jakubec hoarded dangerous materials and in doing so had a plan to kill or destroy someone or something. Excessive hoarding of this kind show that the hoarder desires each and every item which is why they feel a desperate and an anxious sensation when they even think of having to let that item go. The hoarder feels the excessive need to keep every little thing because they cannot fathom letting it go and never seeing it again. In this case, the authorities had to burn the house in order to deem it safe for the neighbors and community. This is the absolute worst thing a hoarder can experience. The loss of all his items and not even any way to retrieve them creates an excessive fear in him that may result in manic behavior. The thought that someone else could have collected their items makes the hoarder uneasy. The excessive obsession over collecting these items is a way to feel powerful because they have control over these items and are able to continue collecting them. It becomes dangerous when hoarders start collecting harmful items such as materials to make homemade bombs. The threat this poses to society is immense. If someone right next door to you can hoard enough materials to not even be able to walk into the house, all trust in society is gone. This fear other people will then live with will never go away. This fuels the hoarders power hungry personality even more since they see how, by keeping all these items, they can cause their neighbors to feel a certain way. The ability to make other feel a way or even fear you strikes right at this sensation of power and the hoarder will not stop hoarding and therefore will keep becoming more dangerous.










Name: Kayla Clark

Concept: Cruelty

SubConcepts: Images & Sensation

Region: United Kingdom

Description: 5 year old Iris Grace, was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called autism. Although she may not be able to speak or interact with people very well, she paints masterpieces. She will concentrate for about two hours at a time and make art with such fluidity, that the art world is calling her a genius.


It’s a cruel fate to be born with something that inhibits one from communicating in the world’s preferred way of social interaction. Many people will look at Iris and feel sorry for her and her disorder. Some people may even tease her or call her out of her name. They will think that she can’t communicate her feelings. Little Iris is communicating through her art. She can interact with her environment so well, that she is able to see the world in much greater detail than any of us can imagine. Cruelty is sometimes a blessing. No one wishes for their children to be autistic. Yet, little Iris has done something that not all 5 year-olds can do.

Cruelty is not cruel for the sake of being cruel. It sometimes has a purpose. In order for people to do great things they have think differently. They can’t be the same as everyone else. Yes it is cruel for the heavens to take away her social abilities. But, is it not crueler that the heavens made so many of us carbon-copies of each other? We judge people’s abilities in a very two-dimensional way. Either one is good at what most of us are good at, or one is just not good at all. Maybe having people born with these kinds of neurological disorders is the heavens cruel way of mocking us. It’s not that Iris is “slow” or “stupid.” We just don’t possess the capacity to understand her. We cannot begin to fathom the thoughts that are in her head, the emotions she feels, the genius that courses though her veins. The only thing cruel about Iris’ fate is the way that people will judge her just for being different.

Link: http://www.boredpanda.com/5-year-old-painter-autism-iris-grace/





Name: Charlotte Widjaja

Concept: Sacrifice

Subconcepts: Animality, Cruelty, and Pleasure

Description: Roman gladiators, who mostly consisted of prisoners, condemned criminals, and slaves, fought each other, often to the death, for the entertainment of other citizens.

Interpretation: Roman gladiator games took place at the Coliseum, an enormous stadium located at the middle of the city that could hold about 50,000 viewers. Aside from the few men who actually volunteered to be gladiators for the money and fame, those who did so out of their unfortunate status among the social hierarchy, ultimately condemned themselves to death. This process begins as men, and sometimes women, are chosen from the pool of slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war to serve as gladiators for the viewing pleasure of other Roman citizens. Once chosen and forced to be warriors for an audience, gladiators must take an oath, in which they agree to be beaten, bound, and killed by the sword. The oath is the first form of sacrifice that takes place in this event. Those who organize the gladiator games sacrifice the lives of these fighters in order to please the wants and desires of the Roman citizens. Gladiators in turn, must unwillingly sign their lives over to a death sentence. The next form of sacrifice occurs as the gladiators enter the arena, weapons in hand, and fully aware that this day may be the last of all their days. These men do not live, but instead, they survive day to day with each fight deciding if they will get the chance to see another sunrise. Gladiators have one goal in mind – to trap and defeat their opponent, while maintaining a satisfactory level of entertainment for the audience. Once the opponent is trapped, the audience then has the choice to spare the life of the defeated gladiator or to have him murdered, often brutally, by the winning gladiator. In this sense, the audience has sacrificed the life and physical well-being of a gladiator for their own pleasure, and this pleasure is all based on their level of satisfaction in the fight performance.

This kind of sacrifice, in which lives are given up based on the pleasure of others, indulges in the concepts of animality, cruelty, and pleasure. Similar to how animals are caged, and often thought to have an animalistic nature, in which they kill to survive, gladiators are thought of and treated in the same way. These warriors are thrown into a closed arena and are expected to have the natural instinct to trap and kill their opponent, who are essentially their prey. The animalistic nature imposed on gladiators brings about the cruelty infused in the gladiator games. In a simple vote by the audience, the continuation or end of another human’s life is determined. However, the gladiator games brought pure pleasure for the crowds that would gather to watch men ferociously battle each other or viciously battle other animals. The audience experienced surges of adrenaline while watching the gladiators strategically trap their opponents. The games were able to offer citizens relief from their work-filled, exhausting days; similar to the way movies and TV shows offer people an escape from their own realities. Aside from the emperors and nobles that attended, the commoners who watched these games were able to feel a sense of power and decision-making when it came time to choose the fate of a gladiator. The hardworking commoners who lacked a high status on the social hierarchy could feel as if their opinions finally had a place in Rome, even if the expression of these opinions came at the expense of another person’s life. All this brought immense pleasure to the masses that came to enjoy these entertaining fights. Gladiators became men who, some, willingly, and most others unwillingly, gave themselves up for the pleasure, entertainment, and happiness of the audience. Fighting, death, and gambling another person’s life became the ultimate form of entertainment.

Link: http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/arena.html





Name: Mónica Quirós

Event: A photographer captures images of hundreds of Sudanese refugee’s shoes. Through the collection she portrays the refugee’s experience of loss.

Concept: Loss

Sub-concepts: displacement, war zones, refugees

For refugees taking the first step is making the decision to leave everything behind. They don’t always have time to think about this first step; it is probably hurried and taken in the direction opposite to the sound of bullets. Regardless of when, or where or why they take this step, that single step mean losing home, losing their sense of belonging, losing every possession they have except for what they carry with them.

The photography collection focuses on shoes because it is one of the few things refugees keep with them during their journeys. The photographs are very simple and they portray the shoes on the arid ground where the refugees walk hundreds of miles. This portrays how their life starts revolving around the steps you take and the grounds you walk on, because you have lost their home and everything else they owned. Showing these worn out shoes as the only possession refugees have is a very powerful way of emphasizing everything that they lost. These damaged shoes become the refugees’ most valuable possession because when you lose everything, you hang on to familiar things; they are a tangible reminder that the place you called home was real, that you belonged there. These shoes are the only connection they have to what they have lost; however, at the same time they represent that not everything is lost and that they can keep on walking in the hopes of finding something to call theirs again.

Link: http://www.visualnews.com/2014/02/05/long-walk-photographer-documents-sudanese-refugee-crisis-hundreds-shoes/


Islamic State advance halts archaeological research in Iraqi Kurdistan

Name: Deniz Ozmen

Concept: Destruction

Sub-Concept: Time, loss, objects

Region: Irbil, Kurdistan

Description: Advances by Islamic State forces have threatened one of the last safe regions of Mesopotamia still open to archaeologists by driving up the risks of working in Iraqi Kurdistan, it is feared. This month, a team of Italian archaeologists left their excavation site in Irbil.

History always has a story to tell. These stories, though usually bloody ones, always has a lesson to be learned. Sort of lessons that should enable a person not to do the same mistake twice. In this case the sort of lesson that should have been taken a very long time ago is that war has a high tendency to kill and destroy rather than creating new opportunities. The Islamic State is just another organization, strictly believing their cause is the most important cause that exists, just like the numerous many others who said the exact same thing. Unfortunately their cause not only took and still continuing to take innocent lives but also is in the process of eradicating the artifacts left from one of the first civilizations that ever lived. In this case, what is being destroyed is the endless vital information that could be offered to everyone one day. Sort of information that could be understood from the recovered artifacts, if in the end there is any left…

These objects that are being destroyed, are or were the marks of these civilizations in history, a signature one might say, which brings up the point of destruction is not always intentional. What they basically want in the first place is to eventually capture enough space to form their own civilization in some sense, but in order to do this they destroy, not knowingly, every source of life both above and under the surface. Now due to their actions a culture is being destroyed forever without having a chance to teach lessons about history in the first place. Like I said at the beginning, Islamic State is an growing organization in this part of the world, yet the Mesopotamia is an gigantic region that still has a lot to offer to generations to come, if by that time there is any Mesopotamia left to discover further. Finally, like in any other major religion in this world, Islam clearly states highest respects should always be paid to the elder, yet this organization fails to pay respect to their ancestors in the first place as they continue the destruction of an region with endless offerings from the past.

Link: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Islamic-State-advance-halts-archaeological-research-in-Iraqi-Kurdistan/35704


Alberto Rodriguez Rico

Concept: Reality/Illusion

Sub concepts: Forget, memory, nationalism, division


 Description: General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for a long time. He was part of an alliance comprised by Hitler and Mussolini which led to one of the largest conflicts that our world has seen. However he is the only of the three dictators that is not ousted after the war, so he ruled the country until his death in 1975.

El Generalisimo, as people referred to this leader started ruling Spain as an autocratic leader, but after the war he changed the government into a democracy. However the government’s leaders were the same as before; they just decided to disguise the system. Therefore all the crimes committed by his party during the civil war were just left without a judgment and buried under the sand. Historians call this event el Pacto del Olvido (The Pact of Forgetting), in which the families of the fallen ones had just to forget the crimes and the horrors done to their families and follow the new government; to hide in the silence. Even after Franco’s death Spain schools in Spain do not study Franco’s dictatorship as a part of their academic curriculum. This is detrimental for the country because instead of learning from it, they are pretending as if it never happened. This silence invaded every individual from the first generation after the war. However, this silence started attacking soon after curiosity invaded the second generation of Spaniards.  Uprisings started and Spain was more segregated than ever, even Barcelona wanted its independence from the country itself. Spanish culture also changed violently: from being a sexually reserved country it became one of the largest AIDS victims still in our days; the economy has been frozen for this lack of nationalism; violent manifestations among the population has taken lives and imprison civilians , between many others. The picture represents Franco’s tomb and is called the Valley of the Fallen. Yet, people find this arrogant and hypocrite since what once started as the dictator’s tomb, turned into be in remembrance of the fallen ones in the civil war.  Therefore people complain the fact that the executor is buried there if it is meant to be in memory of the fallen; even the monument itself was built from his opposition prisoners’ blood. The silence is still attacking the country in all varied forms of violence, and this will be constant until the population decides to embrace its past and build from then on.




Name: Ayse Onen

Region/Concept: Japan/Time

Sub-Concepts: Eternity, Existence, Permanence

Description: Up until the 20th century, Japanese monks practiced the act of self-mummifying which is also referred to as Sokushinbutsu. For three years monks would follow a diet by only eating nuts and seeds while taking part in rigorous physical activities in order to strip themselves off from their body fat. For another three years, they would only eat bark and roots and drink a poisonous tea to get rid of the maggots in their body which could cause decaying after death. Finally, the monk would lock himself up in a tomb and keep his lotus position. Until his death, he would ring a bell letting the others know he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tomb would be sealed.

Interpretation: For centuries, people have desired to be eternal. For the most part, people run away from death, and consequently from aging. Time, being one of the only forces of nature which is totally unstoppable and can be destructive, creates the natural flow of the degradation of human body and brings us closer to death. It is nothing unexpected that people for centuries have tried numerous spells, potions, rituals among many other things in order to maintain their youth but always ended up failing. Japanese monks, on the other hand, have succeeded in reaching the physical eternity by condemning themselves to their own deaths. Monks, who by nature have no fear of death, are not afraid of aging either. Their spirituality is more powerful than materiality. Unlike other humans, they do not see themselves as physical beings but more as spiritual beings. Such detachment enables them to undertake extreme physical pain and go through the steps of the self-mummifying process. Different than all the others who have tried to preserve themselves in the present time they were living in, the Japanese monks have achieved this only by sacrificing their own lives. Aware of the fact that time is unstoppable and that its flow will always continue with its natural pace, monks do not try to freeze or rewind the time. Instead they try to freeze their physical bodies in order to leave a part of themselves in the world forever.


Financial Dominatrix


Name: Stela Maksutaj

Region/Concept: US/ Seduction

Pleasure, Dominance, Money

Description: “Goddess Nia” is a 23-year old college graduate that is a full-time financial dominatrix. She convinces submissive men to obey her by sending the money and gifts she demands through online and mobile mediums, never actually having sexual activity with her targets. She provides her submissive men with photos and videos through websites such as Fetlife and Collarme catering to the BDSM community, but only after they complete an application and give a “tribute” to prove they are serious. Once a tribute is successful, she continues to give her attention to her to-be “slaves.” Goddess Nia earns roughly $60,000 a year, and has three primary “pay pigs,” that are the key sources of her income- a celebrity chef, powerful CEO, and someone she names “guinea pig.” The celebrity chef once confessed that he masturbated to her, and so she ordered him wear a chastity belt and was only allowed out of it for one week out of the month. The key to the chastity belt is around her neck, and he is only rewarded when he completes her trivia quizzes correctly. The CEO was ordered to wear an anal plug to a major presentation, and the Guinea Pig has no access to his finances at all. The Guinea Pig makes $400,000 a year, and is only given enough to pay his rent, necessities, and a small allowance- the rest is spent by Goddess Nia. All of the orders are accepted by the men, and bring them pleasure. There is no sexual contact between her and her “pay pigs,” and only men that agree to the sanctions given by Goddess Nia are allowed to call themselves her slaves.


Goddess Nia is a master of seduction, taking advantage of manipulative language to convince her “slaves” of their money and gifts. She first attracts men through the sexy and dominant images she posts, attached with posts such as “Guess what? You work so hard on making all this money, and now I’m taking it! Just like that. How does that make you feel?” At first, her tone makes the reader angry because she is bluntly saying she wants to take their money, yet with the combination of a sexy photo, the tone is altered to demanding and sexy. Goddess Nia seduces her subjects because they want what they can’t get. The slave’s goal is to satisfy his queen, who is nearly impossible to satisfy. Furthermore, by having her subjects turn in an application and tribute, she makes the men feel like they are special and personally selected to be her slave. The submissive men want to prove that they have enough money to satisfy Goddess Nia, and no longer be enslaved by their companies, so they subject to her orders and happily give their money as gifts. The celebrity chef, for example, was punished when he crossed the line into sexual activity. These “punishments” make the slaves feel like they are living out their sexual fantasies, and feed off being vulnerable. The chef was forced to wear a chastity belt, in which Goddess Nia had the key to. By forcing the chef to not give into a sexual pleasure, he was only tempted more by the constraint. His craving to get the chastity belt off was a seduction method Goddess Nia used to make her slave more submissive, and make sure he would not misbehave again. Also, since the dominatrix does not offer sexual activity and refuses to partake in any physical contact, she manipulates her slaves to be allured by the restriction, and need to violate it. Every man is fighting his way in to be her number one submissive pig, and there is no limit to the price tag that comes with that title.






Name: Emre Kulluk

Concept: Power

Sub-Concepts: Nature, Time

Region: Pacific Ocean

Description: A 37-year-old fisherman from El Salvador was washed ashore in the Marshall Islands, where he told authorities he survived a 13-month journey across most of the Pacific Ocean by eating raw turtles and drinking his own urine.

Interpretation: One of the most important characteristics of human beings is to be able to adapt to the current circumstances.  Adaptability in certain incidents has the potential to reflect the self-power of human beings. 37-year-old fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga escaped from being stuck on a small fishing boat for 13 months where he drifted for miles and finally landed on Marshall Islands. Adapting to the current circumstances, comprehending the power structures around him created a chance for Alvarenga continue his existence.

Similar to the character on Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes, Niki Jumpei, Alvarenga was stuck in a place that he did not belong and had limited possibilities to change the situation. In order to remain alive, he assessed the power structures around him and acted accordingly. He was surrounded by one of the most powerful elements that any man can face; the ocean. Although he had indefinite amount of water around him, he knew that salty water would accelerate his death by causing dehydration. To fight, he took the risk and drank his own urine which he thought would be less harmful to his system and would give him the necessary power stay alive. Since he did not have enough food, he ate raw turtles he was able to catch and, again, obtained the necessary nutrition to stay alive. Alvarenga obtained the necessary strength from the resources that the ultimate power around him, the ocean, allowed. Comparable with Niki Jumpei’s situation, Alvarenga examined and explored the ways to remain alive with the scarce resources he had. Surrounded by the power of impossibility, he found ways to manage his existence. Masochistically accepting the supremacy of the ocean was the most important step in his survival.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2596364/EXCLUSIVE-Castaway-survived-13-months-adrift-Pacific-Ocean-lie-detector-medical-test-proof-not-fake.html


Lawson Hung

Concept: Sensation

Sub-concepts: Mix of senses, Confusion, Bliss, Synesthesia

Description: Christine Lee, the author, has a stroke at the age of 33 and writes about her experiences in an unbelievable essay.


In her memoir, Christine records her experience with the stroke. She could not make out the trees from the mountains from the cars to the tires. Everything was a blur. She only saw shapes, and nothing registered in her mind. She could tell that there were colors and shapes and sound and touch, but her brain was no longer sorting out the differences. Her senses seemed to mix together and she could not make sense of the environment around her. She describes the experience as if she was separating from herself. Her eyes were playing tricks on her, and she could no longer trust her brain to function the way that it used to. Her brain could not process color or music, and everything became a blur to her. she lost her line of logic, her creativity, and her emotions. She described the experience as numbers becoming squiggles, colors losing names, food losing flavor, and music having no melody. She begins to become a synesthete. She thinks that her dreams are real and that her memories are mixing with her imagination. Furthermore, she could no longer speak. She lost her ability to put words together to make full sentences. She could no longer understand what people were saying. Everything they said only processed in her brain as a jumble of words. She also loses her short-term memory, unable to remember events that happen only a few moments ago. She loses her ability to think, and forgets how to drive home. Only through intuition and by following her habits is she able to find her way home. Her only way to keep track of her short-term memory would be to write in her journal, which is how she is able to recall this whole experience. She is unable to feel hunger and constantly forgets to eat. She acts like a child and cries over the smallest things. She loses herself in her mind. However, she finds that she is able to live in the moment, having an ignorance-is-bliss sort of attitude, albeit she no longer has a working memory. She sees the bright sun, hears the leaves rustle, and feels the wind on her face as she begins to recover from her stroke. Many people pay a lot of money to be able to feel what Christine feels, to live in the present tense. They pay millions of dollars to have a house by the beach, and spend thousands on an exotic vacation trip, all just to feel their senses work their magic on the mind. In this interpretation, the senses are lost, mixed, intertwined, and regained. They are broken down to their most complex forms, and built back up to their most simplest form, in which Christine is able to live in the moment.


Judy Liu
Part II.
Concept: Objects
Sub-Concepts: Fantasy, Evil, Escape

Description: Video games create an outlet for the unreal or rather exploration of the potential, the real. They open a realm of possibilities and release the inner demons in humans.

The other day I attempted to play Mortal Kombat with my friends. For those of you who do not know what Mortal Kombat is, it is an object that produces excitement in humans at the sight of blood and gore. A bloody combat video game would be a more literal description of what it is. When I say I attempted to play, it means I suck at playing it. However, even when I know I am not good at playing the game, it still generated licentious excitement in me at every bone-breaking, brain-splitting image I saw. If I ever witness in person the decapitation of an individual, I may scrunch my face in disgust or scream in horror. The reactions are due to the fact that I am in such close proximity to the occurrence that I fear for the unwilling departure of my own head from my body. However, I did not shriek at the bloody images on the TV screen when playing the game and neither did my friends. We are not only staring at the images with excitement but we are the ones creating the gore and we love it.

Several articles have been published probing society to question if violent video games are affecting our behavior. Some studies show that it does have a negative effect on us. But can this object of violence really change our behavior or does it only bring forth a part of us that has been shackled by society? We had no choice when society imposed its rules on us. Our nature has always been one that craved freedom, history validates this. We do not like to be told what to do especially when it does not make sense to us. Our “other” half is in every way like a baby of Lucifer—rebellious, stubborn, evil and devious. Every one of us has broken some sort of rule growing up. Most of us consumed alcohol before the legal age or smoked when society told us it is bad for us, that it will “kill” us. Well how bad could it be? Our death propensity acts up.

I am also certain that every individual has, at one point in their life, thought of committing the perfect crime; the way to kill someone and rid the body so no one will find out. Video games allow us to shoot the donut-fiends who swore to protect their community and run over the decrepit with our dream cars without getting in trouble. This object essentially provides us with a fantasy world to execute our inner desires and help prevent us from actually unleashing the “inhumane” devils we are in the real world.

Links: http://ithp.org/articles/violentvideogames.html

Name:                          Hein Myat Win Lwin

Concept:                      Fragmentation

Sub-Concepts:             Death, Pain, Movement



William Wallace is one of the most prominent revolutionary leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence. After his capture, he was subjected to be executed by being “hung, drawn and quartered”. The method involves strapping the captive on a wooden hurdle where he would be dragged around town. Afterwards he would be hanged from a gallows but was released to be kept alive. After the hanging, he would be disemboweled and finally his head would be cut off with his body being cut into pieces.  The punishment is for people that has committed treachery.



Gruesome execution has plagued history in multiple forms and techniques. The execution of William Wallace by means of “hung, drawn and quartered” as several implications of violence beyond the immense physical pain that the punishment inflicts. The interpretation will be mainly focused on the punishment in itself rather than the political implications the execution has. The method of execution embodies the concept of fragmentation on different levels. Being paraded around the streets helplessly destroys one’s sense of dignity and pride thus mentally ripping apart the sense of self-worth from the person. Moreover, as he gets dragged around, his status has been reduced from being a member of the community to nothing more than just a message promoting the very thing he was fighting against, obedient subordination. Thereby, as he gets dragged along the city, he loses his identity in terms of his place in society as well as his lifelong goal as he becomes a propaganda tool to thwart people from committing what he dedicated his life towards. Thereby, through the first stage of the punishment, it can be assumed that its goal is to mentally break the person down by slowly tearing apart his dignity thus effectively dissociating the mind and the body. Afterwards he gets hanged and is only released in order to prevent him from death. It also is a massive public spectacle that serves a similar purpose in terms of public humiliation. However, the act of asphyxiation can be seen as another step in the fragmentation process in the sense that its main intent is to squeeze out and deprive the body of air. As he is strangled, the systematic approach of fragmenting a person layer by layer can be seen as he is now denied of the physical substance he needs to live. He has already been denied of the ideological essence that gives him the reason to live in the first stage of the punishment. Afterwards he gets disemboweled alive where he has to watch the removal of his bodily organs. In the entire process, the victim is kept alive in order to inflict the maximum amount of pain and torture possible as they watch themselves slowly being dissected piece by piece. Thereby, he is emotionally and mentally broken down, aired out and literally hollowed out. In the final act of fragmentation, the head of the victim is finally hacked off and his body parts gets torn apart and his dismembered parts are spread all around town. The final stage is the most literal aspect of fragmentation as the limbs of the victim gets severed and separated so that he can never truly rest in peace as one.




Name: Julia Goldstein

Region: Kamikuishiki, Japan

Concept: Abandonment

Sub-concept: Death, Cults, Fear


Description: In Kamikuishiki, Japan there exists what was formerly known as Gulliver’s Kingdom. This failed amusement park contained multiple attractions including one eerie 147.5 foot statue of Gulliver himself. The park is also neighbored by two of the most violent places in the world. On one side of the park is “Suicide Forest,” the second most popular suicide location in the world. On the other is the cult headquarters to Aum Shinrikyo cult. This cult is known from their Sarin gas attacks which resulted in the deaths of 19 people, including 12 on the Tokyo subway.  However, the park is now completely abandoned.

Interpretation: I found the most eerie part of this article to be the drastic contrast between the good of an amusement park versus the evil of death and organized crime. It baffles me that the park’s officials would choose to put a park somewhere that was surrounded by so much evil. Of course tourists wouldn’t want to go to an amusement park that was on the edge of “Suicide Forest.” Was that never considered when building the park? Furthermore the 147.5 foot statue of Gulliver instills more fear than I believe park officials anticipated. The statue resembles Gulliver being pinned down by his hair and clothes making him unable to move. This display of torture is hugely terrifying for many demographics. Children who saw this colossal statue of a man being pinned down is likely to be frightened by it. Even for those older, the shear monstrosity of the statue is likely to cause distress. Similarly it also portrays Gulliver in a moment of weakness and in danger. If this amusement park was meant for fun and pleasure why would they place a victim as its center piece? Further, the statue’s piercing blue eyes and blank stare add to the horror. His stare resembles the vacant stare given by corpses. Tourists could have mistaken the Gulliver statue to being a portrayal of him dead. Again I have to wonder why the park’s officials would choose such a dark image of Gulliver for a place that revolves around happiness. Conclusively, in the future Japan should reconsider carefully all decisions when constructing theme parks.



Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Name: Dwiarta Alim

Concept: Pain

Sub-Concepts: Isolation, Heat, Death, Agony, Innocence

Description: There are on average, 36 annual deaths of children being left in a car and dying of intense heat.


Since 1998, more than 600 children under the age of 14 have died due to lethally high temperatures from being left alone in a vehicle. Furthermore, children are left unattended in vehicles everyday, a danger most people greatly underestimated. Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the temperature in a car can exponentially increase in a just 10 minutes. Many believe that leaving a window slightly open and parking in the shade are sufficient, but 48% of these deaths show otherwise. A child’s body temperature is also fundamentally different from an adult’s; the body of a child can rise up to five times faster and would cease to function due to hyperthermia when the body reaches 107 degrees. Furthermore, a mere 57 degrees outside temperature is already able to cause heat strokes, the number one leading cause of deaths of children in unattended cars. One might ask why so many innocent children died to such an easily avoided accident. An examination of police reports from a fourteen year period (1998 – 2013) shows that 51% of deaths were caused by caregivers “forgetting” their child was in the car, while 29% stated that the child was playing in an unattended vehicle. Only 18% of deaths were caused by adults intentionally leaving their children to die in the hot cars. With the number of children dying in extremely hot cars statistically rising, 44 died in 2013 and 27 as of June, 2014, it would be imperative for laws or campaigns to halt these rising numbers. Currently, out of the 50 states in the United States, only 20 states have designated laws that punish and prohibit such heinous acts on innocent children. Such laws vary regarding the age of the child and length of time they are left in the car, and some only apply when the conditions represent a significant threat to the child, or result in injury or death. Examples of legislations aimed in tackling this hot issue in Rhode Island, for example, allows for police to issue verbal warnings to parents who leave their children in cars. Furthermore, laws such those in Tennessee, added a good Samaritan bill in June 2014 that allows a stranger to break into a car if they see an unattended child in danger. This emerging public health issues causes innocent death and disabling injuries due to the dangerous social practices of leaving children unattended. Campaigns targeted to raise public awareness and increase education are key in stopping this country-wide epidemic.

Link: http://www.ggweather.com/heat/


 The Lone Wolf Archetype

Name: Kevin Dooley

Concept: Solitude

Sub Concepts: Animality, Abandonment, Fear

Region: United States of America

week 3 violence

Description: The “Lone Wolf” archetype is one that has been consistently becoming more and more popular over the last few decades especially in pop culture.  The embodiment of this personality is often difficult for others to understand as these “lone wolves” prefer to be alone.  They find strength in solitude and also do not want to deal with the drama that comes with working with other people.  The person or character that used to be feared for their mysterious introversion is now often celebrated for their humble heroics.


Interpretation: Wolves are pack animals, meaning that they live in groups which aids in their survival.  However, every once in a while one of these wolves will leave the pack and go off on his own and live for and by himself.  Like wolves, humans are not born to be alone.  The “Lone Wolf” is often a character who has some internal struggle about wanting to be a part of a group.  Whether the issues stem from lack of trust or insecurity, the struggle typically slowly fades as the “Lone Wolf” character becomes a valued member of the group or of society.  However, sometimes this character’s introversion is a result of them truly wanting to be left alone because they find society to be distracting or too dramatic for their more quiet sensibilities.  So why is it that we have become so transfixed by this character type?  What is it about this character that is so appealing?

Every one of us has had moments in our lives where we were lonely or maybe we just didn’t fit in.  We feel like we have been shunned by society around us, that we are not wanted.  This feeling is a driving motivator for the “Lone Wolf.”  One of the characters on my favorite television show perfectly fits this character archetype.  AMC’s “The Walking Dead” which centers its focus on a group of survivors living in a world overrun by the undead.  Early on in the series, we were introduced to a character named Daryl Dixon, who on the surface appears to be your typical asshole redneck with a volatile temperament.  As the series progresses, we begin to learn more about Dixon’s backstory.  His mother died at a young age, his father was abusive, and his older brother was in and out of juvenile detention centers.  These were all major factors in his development as a person because he was always alone as a child.  He was forced to live on his own, to survive on the elements.  He learned how to navigate through wilderness and became a master hunter and tracker.  Being alone helped him hone survival instincts.  His solitude served him well as he developed the skills necessary to survive independently without having to rely on others.  It also helped him learn the survival instincts needed to live in this new world.  He was already conditioned to scavenging for food, and looking out for predators that once the undead starting rising, it was natural for him and he adapted quickly.  Once the apocalypse began, he tagged alone with some other local survivors, but never was truly a member of their group.  When they’d set up camp somewhere, he would set up somewhere else.  When he needed food or water, he’d just go by himself which is a very dangerous notion as there are zombies lurking around every turn.

His need to be alone is a direct result from his troubled childhood.  He was never able to trust anyone including his own family.  He always had to provide for himself because no one else would.  Lone wolves typically have trust issues which is the usually the main reason for them choosing to live solitary lives.  On the outside they seem like cold-blooded survivors, but often are the way they are because of traumatic circumstances they experienced earlier in life.  Daryl also had extreme insecurity that he wasn’t as good as everyone else.  He always felt like he had to prove his worth, even when he was already the most productive member of the group.  As his actions began to be noticed by the others, the others in the group started to trust him more and even he began to slowly reveal himself to others.  He had always pushed people away before and put up a barrier between himself and others.  Characters like Daryl get their strength from their solitude and he specifically became a better survivor due to his solitary nature.  He felt no need to have relationships with others as he felt like having other people around only made himself more vulnerable.  Having other people meant more mouths to feed, more people that he had to try to protect, and more people he would potentially let down.  Lone wolves are very introspective and often truly care about others.  They don’t want to be the ones who let down others, so they take that fear away by being alone.

I think all of us deep down want to be like the “Lone Wolf” in terms of not having to rely on others and being able to do important tasks independently.  We all want to be self-producing members, but like the “Lone Wolf” we do need others sometimes.

Links: http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead/cast/daryl-dixon



Smoking Tea 

Ari Markowitz

Concept: Pleasure

Sub-Concepts: Excitement, High, Escape

In place of drinking it, people across the world are now smoking tea. As an alternative to tobacco or marijuana, smoking tea apparently produces a natural calming sensation without the high you get from smoking other substances.

Smoking is a very old and even ancient tradition. Smoking tea however, has only recently gained popularity across the country. The pleasure gained in smoking tea is interesting because of both the fascination associated with trying it, and the positive effects it has on the brain. The concept of a placebo effect may be involved in the pleasure associations with smoking tea because of the hype surrounding its effects, and the coolness of doing something new. When one’s expectations are tied to the outcome of an event that they are about to participate in, the result is already impacted. Hype is a dangerous emotion, because it elevates sensations near to the same degree as experiencing the event itself. It is itself a form of pleasure, because the anxiety and excitement tied to what you imagine will occur is fun and engaging. So while smoking is an age old tradition, doing it with tea introduces a novel approach and hence generates hype around the occurrence. The basic properties of tea and the chemicals inside of it produce a pleasurable response as well. The combination of the two is therefore a buildup of pleasure masked as excitement and anxiety, paired with the chemical reactions of the tea calming and soothing someone to reduce the anxiety and buildup. It is very interesting that the two match each other and both produce pleasure. Pleasure is first created through increased stimulation, then the exact same stimulus causes the decrease of that same stimulation to be pleasurable as well. Over time you can expect the pleasure sensation to change. As people start to smoke tea more than once, the repetition will gradually reduce the buildup and excitement of the thought of smoking tea. As the buildup is less, the reduction of stimulation is hence less, and the pleasure sensation becomes diminished.

Simply put, that is the response garnered from a trend. The buildup is sometimes more than the effects of the thing itself. Smoking tea is a recent trend and because of its novelty, is spreading very quickly. The coolness of it won’t last long however, and something similar will likely fill its place. Pleasure like most other emotions is complex and agile. While the objects and actions may change, the basic principles of desire and human reactions will always remain the same.



Tyrone Ramnath

Syria’s Civil War Creating Refugees

Concept: Movement

Sub-Concepts: Identity, Excess, Abandonment, Solitude


Description: Because of Syria’s civil war, there have been over 2.5 million refugees that have been forced to flee to adjacent countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Most of these refugees live in massive camps because the governments do not have the infrastructure to fully resettle them.


Interpretation: As a result of the war, the Syrian refugees are displaced from their homes and have to move to different locations in order to seek safety. These refugees are forced to move from their comfort zone to a place that is foreign to what they are used to. With this movement however, they are no longer the distinguished people they once were, but rather the no one’s that people do not want to associate themselves with. These people had to make their own semi-permanent cities to live because society in the neighboring countries didn’t have the resources available to fully aid them. These mini cities are isolated from the native citizen’s homes and there is no protection for these refugees against nature and its animals. As one child in the article mentioned, “we have moved from one hell to another”. Because there were such a vast number of refugees, there is no longer any individuality. Any sort of name or title is erased to just the title refugee. Their identity is lost. Along with this idea of large numbers, this incorporates the idea of excess. When we think of excess we tend to lose the value of something we care about. For instance, if we have one piece of jewelry we cherish it because it is unique. But if we acquire a large amount of jewelry, we lose sight of its uniqueness. This is what happens with the refugees in a sense. Due to such a large amount of refugees coming from Syria, the neighboring countries lose sight of the value of the individual person, but rather they encompass the refugees in one category: the refugees. The combination of a loss of identity and being in a foreign land could be the result of the refugees feeling isolated. Even though they are in a large group, each individual experiences the isolation of themselves from the world due to depression. As a result of a type of movement, displacement, these people’s lives were belittled.






Tackling the Obsession behind Crop Circles

Name: Kevin Manesh

Region: California, United States

Concept: Nonsense

Sub-concepts: Transformation, Language, Images, Objects, Space

Description: A crop circle was discovered in a farmer’s barley field in Chaular, California. A week later, the technology company NVIDIA claimed to be responsible for the phenomenon to market their new mobile processor for automobiles, tablets, and cell phones.

Crop circles have been an oddity stirring immense confusion. They seem to be a true mystery of the world and there are different opinions on how they form. Some speculations for the cause of them are aliens, overnight artists, specific air currents, and many other unique theories. Due to the high degree of mystery behind them, they have become a common topic of nonsense.

If they are nonsense, then why is society so intrigued by them? This is because nonsense is intriguing despite the frustration and incomprehensiveness it conjures. There is a great secrecy in nonsense, and therefore interest, which is the purpose it serves. The unknown and uncertainty that nonsense fosters is daunting to individuals so there is a constant subconscious desire to solve for it. The various theories for this mystery is a testimony in itself. We can also see that there is a cycle behind nonsense. Individuals dig deep into it trying to crack the incomprehensiveness. Consistent failure to make reason of it causes enormous frustration to the point where individuals do one of two things to satisfy their selves. They can leave it for what it is with the satisfaction of downgrading it to nonsense. Or, they can postulate their own theory as an only partial explanation for it. This second choice ultimately emphasizes the nonsense as more interest is added. As a result, nonsense reveals that people reject their inferiority to knowledge out of their reach which in itself is sheer nonsense.

Perhaps NVIDIA knew the logic behind nonsense and timed their action perfectly. They could first tie in initial interest to gain publicity. Once frustration with the mystery peaked, they could then reveal it was them which leaves people and potentially customers satisfied.

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/06/tech/california-crop-circle-hoax/



A large screen showing a view of blue skies and buildings is seen amidst the smog of Beijing


Name: Solomon Zheng




A smog in Beijing, in which only an advertising screen can clearly be seen


With over 21 million in population, Beijing has become one of the most crowded cities in the world. With the rise of the skyscrapers and industrialization, and scarce number of trees in the city, air pollution has become a focal point in recent discussions about China. This environmental issue raises the question: what is our natural habitat supposed to be like? Over the centuries, our habitat has deviated much from nature itself; if we are thrown into a jungle, what would we do? One of our first instincts is to get a shelter—a shelter from the rest of the jungle, the nature. Clearly, our natural habitat is no longer the nature itself. Rather it has transformed into these buildings and skyscrapers. As a result, we are no longer as connected to the nature as we used to be. We stay out of the harms of other insects and animals for our own safety and survival. However, the picture depicts a message that is even more disturbing. It’s a photograph of taken during an occurrence of smog in Beijing, where only the contours of the buildings can be seen. At the first sight, the advertisement screen in the picture appears out of place—it seems like someone cropped out a picture of buildings, and stuck it in this one. It is the only thing in the picture which is not blurred out by the smog, which suggests that the brightness of the advertisement screen is powered by energy that ironically causes the pollution. Even more ironic is the fact that the advertisement portrays real estate properties in a clear weather. For the people living in Beijing, that image during the smog might seem like a cruelty—amidst the smog, the only thing clearly visible is an advertisement that reminds them of an ideal living space, a utopia, which mocks the city that they live in with its clear blue skies. Have we created a habitat which would destroy us?


Name: Thu Tran

Concept: Desire

Sub-Concepts: Pain, Pleasure, Violence

Region: NYC


Reza Aramesh and the Eroticism of Violence

Description: Iranian-born Reza Aramesh, an artist hailing from London, put up his sculptures depicting erotic violence at five different nightclubs in New York City. His art mixed war photography, Renaissance-style sculpture, and peep shows. These specific sculptures could only be viewed throw a peep-hole.

Interpretation: Aramesh is clever to allow his art be viewed solely through a small peep-hole. Just the “peeping” or squinting our eyes is limiting our vision to see bits and parts of things, which makes us feel like something is secret and forbidden. This is the same feeling in which pornography, strip clubs, and peep shows illicit. It only drives up desire even more because of the aura of secrecy and not being able to have everything in one go. These sculptures were also put in the most famous NYC nightclubs, known for its extravagance and fast lifestyle, such as Marquee, No. 8, and Sugarland. The hyperactivity of these clubs is similar to Desire itself, in the lack of control and high emotions. The plinths are graffiti-covered by New York artist Jason Castro, showing our modern society and its vulgarity. The men portrayed in the sculptures are anguished and emotional in both face and body, with an ambiguity of whether their emotions derive from pleasure, pain, or both. Pain and pleasure seem to be interchangeable, and it calls into question the ethics of erotic violence.

Link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/15/reza-aramesh-and-the-eroticism-of-violence.html



Name: Aakash Daryanani

Concept: Death

Sub-Concepts: Pain, Solitude, Nature, Illusion

Region: Base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the Aokigahara Forest.


Description: The Aokigahara Forest in Japan is one of the most well-known locations in the world to commit suicide. There have been thousands of suicide attempts in this forest and it is said to be haunted by those who were left there to die.

Interpretation: The Aokigahara Forest on Mount Fiji, Japan, is a well-known location to both locals and tourists. It is not the type of visiting that tourists would do to see wildlife or attractions because this forest inhabits barely any wildlife and is a very dense and confined forest. The only attractions that tourists may come across are dead bodies/carcasses, or a whole bunch of Japanese and English signs, urging people to not kill themselves or re-think their suicide attempt before even doing it. Many locals come to the Aokigahara Forest to commit suicide, specifically at the end of the fiscal year in Japan (March). There are many theories as to why people commit suicide in the first. The most common interpretation that people think of is financial burdens or issues given that they usually commit suicide at the end of the fiscal year. Perhaps the person did not make enough money to finance their family or they have loans to pay off; a financial burden that they do not want to face and want to end their life because of it. The other interpretation to the reason for suicide is guilt, or haunting. It is said that the Aokigahara Forest, along with other places in Japan, is haunted by the spirits that were left there to die. Two types of abandonment took place in this specific forest. The first being Ubasute: an elderely woman being taken to a desolate place and left there to die due to starvation, dehydration, and/or exposure. The second type of abandonment would be towards an unwanted child. If the child was unwanted by a family, the family would leave the child in an abandoned place so the child can die. Both types of abandonment occurred primarily during times of drought or famine. Due to these abandonments, the spirits did not leave the Earth in peace. According to traditional Japanese beliefs, all humans have a soul or spirit called a reikon. According to the beliefs, the spirit leaves the body at the time of death and enters a state of limbo. The spirit then waits for a proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed in order for it to peacefully leave the purgatory and join its ancestors. If done correctly, the reikon is said to become a protector of the family. If the person dies in a violent manner like murder or suicide, and the proper rituals are not done correctly, or the reikon is empowered by powerful emotions such as revenge, anger, love, and/or jealousy, the spirit is thought to transform into a yurei, which can enter the physical world. This emotional spirit then exists on Earth until it is laid to rest, or until it has fulfilled its desire for the specific emotions. A common example is that of Ubasute when the elderly woman is abandoned. The elderly woman’s spirit remains on Earth, in the forest, waiting to haunt or gain revenge on those that abandoned her. This haunting feeling in the Aokigahara Forest has driven people to commit suicide. The guilt of some family members have also led them to the Forest to commit suicide just so that the yurei of the abandoned elder woman can leave Earth peacefully. The thought of guilt or the aura that is spread off within this Forest is so dark that people cannot handle it and actually commit suicide, blindly, and sometimes out of their own will because the aura of the angered yurei drives them to kill themselves and bring the sorrow to their family.

Link: http://www.tofugu.com/2012/07/23/aokigahara-japans-haunted-forest-of-death/


23 Responses to WEEK 3

  1. Jeremy Fathy says:

    Name: Jeremy Fathy
    Region: Ukraine
    Concept: Sacrifice
    Sub-Concepts: Destruction, Abandonment, Desire

    Description: Three men sacrificed their lives in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in order to protect millions of other people.

    Interpretation: When three men were needed to drain radioactive water from a valve in the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl after the famous disaster in Ukraine, Alexei Ananenko (an engineer), Valeri Bezpalov (a soldier) and Boris Baranov (a soldier) stepped up and completed the job. While they soon died as a result of their severe radiation poisoning, their act prevented a large thermal explosion that could have potentially killed millions of innocent people. These men, known as “The Chernobyl Three,” exemplify the selfless manifestation of sacrifice. These men were fully aware that they would die due to the radiation they would be exposed to in the radioactive waters; however, they heroically and voluntarily gave up their lives in an effort to protect millions of others from harm’s way. The Chernobyl Three prevented mass destruction of lives and land by abandoning everything they had lived and worked for. Most people in this situation may desire to act courageously but would be unable to do so because of a fear of losing everything. Nonetheless, the willing abandonment displayed by these men showcased their true desire to act for the benefit of others. Sacrifice of any kind is almost never easy to make, but the stakes were too high in this situation for these men to make any other decision. This form of sacrifice is incredible and should be celebrated by society. Unfortunately, many instances of this selfless type of sacrifice goes unnoticed, but it is important to bring attention to these acts when possible. While this happened many years ago, the impact of their sacrifice is still felt today. Had they never been willing to give up their lives, a large explosion may have occurred that could have significantly furthered the damage and long-term impact of the disaster at Chernobyl. So while The Chernobyl Three were not able to reap the rewards of their sacrifice, their act will forever be remembered as it exhibits the huge benefits attached to certain difficult sacrifices.

    Link: http://www.scotsman.com/news/stephen-mcginty-lead-coffins-and-a-nation-s-thanks-for-the-chernobyl-suicide-squad-1-1532289

  2. Disrupting the Nature of Memories

    Name: Tan Sertthin

    Concept: Memory/ Forgetting
    Sub-Concepts: Digital Age, Memory Preservation,

    Description: Memories that are captured and commonly posted on social media disrupts the nature of memory. However, digitally stored memories allow a whole new network to connect and celebrate with individuals from all around the world.


    Generation Y is currently composed of 2-32 year olds who are tech savy, trendsetters, and social media participants. They are trained at a young age navigate through a massive global network. Social Media is a platform connecting individuals from all around the world to share moments and learn from each other. Every special memory we make, we post it online to share to the whole public.

    Storing memories in photo albums and diaries are becoming less popular in our generation. Memories are influenced by the comments and opinions from the society. The amount of “likes” or recognition we get on social media subconsciously influences our way of creating and preserving memories. The article mentions about how Google search engine affects our ability to remember. We do not need to rely on our skills to store memories because we have technology to store our memories digitally.

    However, we can use social media as a tool for community empowerment. Tags on social media (for example like hashtags, blog tags, and pages) are solutions to social conflicts of forming a unified community. There are support groups online that enable individuals to feel comfortable to share memories with their online community. Those memories are clearly heard and reflected by the help of other people who are passionate about the specific causes. This is an opportunity for people who are brave enough to share memories with the community to learn about differences to find a commonality.

    Link: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/14/memories-in-the-digital-age

  3. Rebekah Wade says:

    Rebekah Wade
    Region: Ordos, China
    Concept: Madness
    Sub-Concepts: Abandonment, Reality/Illusion, Time

    Description: About 20 years ago, China began construction on a metropolis in arid Ordos, China: the Kangbashi New Area. The city seems to have all the basic urban amenities: skyscrapers, apartment buildings, malls, museums. However, it is missing one thing: people. Built for over one million inhabitants, only a few thousand reside in this ghost town. Despite the public’s blatant disinterest, the Chinese government continues to construct, convinced that eventually this vacant city will be vivacious.


    For most, when one makes a mistake, they learn from it. One is able to recognize where he or she went wrong, and aims to act in a way that will lead to a different, more successful outcome. However, when mad, one is unable to acknowledge the error of his or her actions. Rather, any “failures” are merely a result of the world’s lack of wisdom and understanding. The mad mind views their actions as right, and perpetually proceeds along their one-way path of thinking until others eventually see the viability and correctness in their thought and behavior.

    The Chinese government’s ignorant narrow-mindedness possesses the qualities that constitute madness. The Kangbashi New Area was incepted under a reasonable notion: create a metropolis for the 1.5 million residents of Ordos proper, the old section of town, so that they can live in an urbanized landscape. However, after years of vacancy, why does the government continue to construct business and residential buildings? Have they not learned from their mistakes? Like a defiant child who continues to disobey despite their parent’s perpetual correction, or a mass murderer who is unable to recognize the error in their ways, the government is incapable of seeing their actions as wrong. Despite Kangbashi’s current status of ghost city, the government will not stop pouring money into this compilation of deserted concrete constructions. Vacant skyscrapers, museum walls absent of art, malls with no merchants, this metropolis continues to decay. A scene of a post-apocalyptic world, Kangbashi sees little life. Many have acknowledged the futility in having a business or living here – for who would come to their store? Who would be their neighbor? Many have acknowledged the desolation that marks this deserted metropolis; however, the government is blind to this city’s exponential decay. Their madness has caused them to continue construction – they know that in time others will see the justness in their behavior.

    To the Chinese government, their actions embody patience and persistence; they have faith in their people! They know some are slow to recognize what is right, and they are confident that one day the rest of the world will see the wisdom in their ways.

    When mad, one’s delusional mind blinds them. They are incapable of seeing the error in their behavior and cannot see the world as it is, even as it begins to decay and erode around them. As the concrete constructs they continue to create come crumbling down, the Chinese government smiles in ignorance, for they believe it will only be a matter of time until their city of ghosts is filled with the living.

    Links: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1975397_2094513,00.html

  4. Name: Jared Silber
    Concept: Solitude
    Sub-concepts: Time, Spirituality, Peace
    Region: Pacific Northwest (U.S.), Sweden

    Fine! I’ll go live in the woods.

    Description: The reasons for once-social citizens to seek living in solitude span from severe social trauma, such as divorce, to self-initiated isolation in order to escape social expectations and regiments. Additionally, men are more likely to seek long-term solitude than women, according to the director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago.

    Interpretation: Whether escaping from unhappy experiences or departing under good terms, those who seek isolation are often trying to prove an independence from society and accomplices. Obviously if a man moves to the coast of Washington and lives alone for 16 years, he is okay living by himself (as covered in the article). However, his initial reasons for solitude stemmed from a recent divorce. And while he claims to not be in any trauma, his voiced explanation of not having “to answer to anybody” seems like residual chest-pumping from his unsuccessful marriage. These men and women, living alone in shacks, cabins and houses with varying levels of annual human contact, claim to not be “misanthropic” or “recluse,” only by virtue of the fact that they’re satisfied with their situation. And yet, there they are, void of all the people that once accompanied them through life.

    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/garden/15alone.html?pagewanted=all

  5. Name: Ryan Narod
    Region: USA/Canada
    Concept: Desire
    Sub-Concepts: Conformity, Power

    Description: Asch’s experiment highlights the power of conformity in a decidedly simple format. Participants in the original 1970’s experiment were shown a single line next to a grouping of lines and were asked which one corresponded to the length of the first line. Confederates that answered before the participant would sometimes say the incorrect answer. When there was no pressure from the confederates to conform, the error rate was less than 1%, but in the experimental group where confederates sometimes gave an incorrect answer, 75% of the participants gave a wrong answer at least once. Clearly, they would have been able to know the right answer but the social pressure and self-doubt after the majority of the confederates answered led participants to conform.

    This experiment highlights the intersection of desire and identity that I explored in the context of The Woman in the Dunes. My theory was that the desire to define ourselves can be conflicted with the desire to let others define our identities. On the mainland, Nikki succumbs to the desire to fit in and his struggle to define his own identity is manifested in his search. However, if he succeeds, his name will be tethered to that insect’s Latin name, and he will not truly be an individual. On the island, when his struggle to survive and escape overcomes his search for insects he is able to define himself. As Asch’s experiments show the power of the majority has substantial influence on the both an individual’s cognitions, thoughts and belief, and applied behavior. The desire to conform has been advantageous evolutionarily for group formation and success, but the dark side can be when people in groups or social situations are led to commit unthinkable acts, such as the Holocaust. Group polarization, also known as risky shift, is when a group makes a decision more extreme than inclinations of individual members. On a small scale, groups of young people engage in dangerous and reckless behavior when influenced by group mentality, such as the case in Hamilton, Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/hamilton-teen-gangs-little-men-playing-big-men-games-1.2779243). Looking at the bigger picture, organizations formed an innocuous principle can morph into lethal missions over time.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments

  6. Jaehee Park / Space
    Old boy (Korean film), Hospitals
    Enclosed space, ant hallucination
    Ant hallucinations occur when people are alone in an enclosed space such as hospitals or empty rooms for an extended amount of time.
    What does being trapped in an enclosed place do to your psyche? It could be a result of confinement, alienation, loneliness, and a hyper awareness of space. In Park Chan-wook’s film Old Boy, Oh Dae-su, the protagonist of the movie, is imprisoned in a room for fifteen years. In one scene, he hallucinates that he is swarmed by ants. Later in the movie, another character in the movie (Mido) talks about ant hallucinations. Mido says “If you’re alone, you see ants. People I have met who are very alone have all hallucinated about ants. I once tried to work out why. Ants move around in large groups, you know. So I suppose very lonely people keep thinking about ants.” She says that people hallucinate about ants, because of their desire to be part of society again or they want to somehow not feel lonely.
    Hallucinations can occur in enclosed spaces such as hospitals. According to the nytimes there have been many instances of elderly patients hallucinating in hospitals without the aid of drugs. Mr. Kaplan (age 84) explains his hallucination experience in the hospital: “Thousands of tiny little creatures, some on horseback, waving arms, carrying weapons like some grand Renaissance battle were trying to turn people into zombies. Their leader was a woman with no mouth but a very precisely cut hole in her throat.” His hallucination included ants along with zombies, creatures, and monsters. What do the encounter with the creature mean?
    Hallucinations can of course occur through drugs. Many hallucinations were of ants: “[22 yr old patient] after 16 days of cocaine treatment reported seeing ants on his clothes, in his food, on nursing personnel and throughout his room; his euphoric mood was punctuated by irritability and pressured speech.” Ants have come up in many hallucinations in all age groups. They are tiny creatures that are not at all intimidating or harmful alone. But in swarms, they cause terror and distress. It’s interesting that confinement and/or solitude can evoke ant hallucinations.

    Resources: http://www.quora.com/Oldboy-2003-movie/What-does-the-hallucination-of-ants-symbolise-or-mean-during-Oh-Dae-sus-fifteen-year-imprisonment , http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/science/21delirium.html?src=me&ref=general&gwt=pay , http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/28/us/cocaine-treatment-is-said-to-cause-paranoia.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI%3A16%22%7D

  7. Name: Ellie Gulin-Davis
    Concept: Nothingness
    Sub-concepts: Power, time, space, reality/illusion, destruction, transformation

    Description: “Nothingness Theory” by Corey D. Kaup published in 2003. According to the author nothingness is “the connecting point for everything (…) the arc of birth and death, the cycles of a sound wave, and the return of water to the ocean”

    Interpretation: Our society tends to think of nothingness as the absence or destruction of something that at this point ceased to exist. The way Kaup describes the process is by referring to it as an eternal universal pull to uniformity. The absorption of smaller and less power powerful matter (or people) by the bigger and more powerful. The less powerful ceases to exist to become a part of something else, not only leaving nothingness but also expanding the standardization.
    If we think of this theory in terms of people, we can see why the more powerful would be interested in either destroying or absorbing others who think or act differently – they upset the bigger power, they go against the ideals of the majority and this is offensive to human standards and might represent a risk to its “balance”. According to Kaup, however, everything, if given the necessary amount of time, will inevitably become a part of the whole. Again in the people example, the different might be convinced to think or act like the majority; the majority might change their way of thinking and eventually engage the different; and in more extreme cases, one day the different will die and will join the uniformity of the earth.
    Kaup also adds that nothingness is not permanent, but a necessary part of a cycle. Even the universe is believed to have started from nothingness billions of years ago. So absence and destruction are necessary for creation. It is the connecting point between beginnings and ends.


  8. Name: Jared Wolf
    Region/Concept; Bern, Switzerland/ Transformation
    Sub-concepts: LSD, Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelics
    Description: Eight patients with terminal cancer travelled to Bern, Switzerland to participate in a drug trial that gave him LSD and had them engage in talk therapy. The study found that the participant’s anxiety went down by twenty percent, but their cognition was not impaired. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published the results, but with eight participants, the results are not statistically significant and might be the result of a placebo.

    As UCLA neuroscientist and writer Sam Harris pointed out in a blog post last spring, the Aztecs took hallucinations, but they also sacrificed people, so clearly LSD and psilocybin aren’t the magic bullet into creating a utopian society. Still, any chemical that induces feelings of love, compassion, and serenity should be looked seriously for it’s therapeutic potential, especially if there are no lasting health concerns. While behavioral medications likes Prozac and Adderall are meant to alleviate suffering, why should we ignore drugs that promote feelings of well being?

    This is partly due to the cultural context in which these drugs are introduced to us (A doctor prescribes Prozac, a hippy gives us mushrooms) and given today’s political climate, it’s unlikely that the therapeutic potential of psychedelics will fully be explored in a responsible and controlled setting like a laboratory. Still, ideally we would live in a society that wouldn’t demonize these drugs just because they create odd, out of the norm, sensations.

    The New York Times was right to point out that this might that the patients positive’s reactions to the experiment might be due to a placebo. Get someone high, especially if they have cancer, and they might be desperate enough to convince themselves that they learned something. Still, I don’t doubt the authenticity of their experience, and it’s worth looking at seriously.

    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/health/lsd-reconsidered-for-therapy.html?_r=0

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Milk of Paradise
    Name: Zachary Bastarache
    Concept: Sensation
    Sub-concepts: Desire, Pleasure, Emotion/mood
    I have chosen two articles that focus around the opium plant, and its effect on the human mind and body. The first article is a firsthand experience of taking opium, how the person felt, what they thought, how they reacted. The second is a more factual piece about opium use in the past especially in ancient times when it was thought to have incredible medical uses.
    Opium has been a very popular drug throughout history because of its joyous side effects. After taking opium in a number of different ways it is impossible to be in mourning and will “prevent the excessive crying of baby”, and was even first referenced to as the “plant of joy”. Drugs that can make a human feel no pain, no grief, and rid the mind of sadness. Opium causes a numbing happiness; it causes you to only feel joy and pleasure. It’s something that used to be used in households in Egypt for centuries so why do humans long for these sensations so badly. I have heard people say before that if you feel no pain than you would never appreciate happiness and isn’t that the epitome of an opium den. In an opium den its dark it’s dirty, just a bunch of people lying around doing nothing. To an outsider who isn’t in that den who isn’t on that drug it looks sad, even depressing, but to the opium user the high is euphoric, and uplifting. The user has zero worries, only the sensation of pleasure and happiness.
    In the first article the person who took the opium described his high as “We drifted in and out, talking occasionally for the first hour or so and then silent for a couple more hours before just going out completely. Smoking opium is like orally imbibing lethargy and goodwill. The warmth is immeasurable. The dreams are wonderful. Practically zero hangover.” too an outsider watching you would just see a man sleeping, but to the drug user he feels as though he has even bettered himself. Having his emotions and passions shift into places of only pleasure. This is something that people crave to feel no pain to be able to pass coping, it is not only opium that humans use to cover up pain and anguish there are all drugs that can mask pain and drown it out. Its human nature to want to drown out pain and drugs are what can do that for some.



  10. MAN EATEN BY A WHITE TIGER – full video & graphic

    WATCH VIDEO FIRST: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTUujV5EPTE

    Concept: Fear

    Geographical Location: New Delhi, India

    Sub-concepts: violence, animalistic, man vs. nature, impulse, insanity, fate

    Description: Unfortunately in India this past week, a man jumped over these metal gates in a zoo into a tiger zone. The man was face to face with this huge white tiger and the people above him were recording the scene instead of doing something significant to help. Apparently, it took the zoo’s security 20 minutes to get there! By that time, it was too late. In the video, you can see the man doing everything he deems possible and reasonable at the time to avoid being devoured by the tiger, while one spectator was trying to throw rocks to divert the tiger from the man, but unfortunately nothing worked – it was only a matter of minutes.

    It has been a while since I have watched a video and felt this much fear and empathetic fear as I did while watching this video. This is how much the media today has distorted and masked our fear of violence. As I said, this video holds two fears: the fear of the man in front the white tiger and the fear of the viewer watching this man. The fear of the man is undeniably a fear that is so strong that it narrow’s the man’s options to figuring out how to escape. This is the kind of fear one is most fearful of, as it is one that makes you unable to think straight and make smart choices. This fear is one that completely clouds one’s judgments and overtakes the rational mind. When you feel it, your senses heighten to an alarming extreme and you feel your body shake, your palms and face sweat, your hands and knees tremble, your teeth clicking, and your eyes water of tears. People say when faced with this fear all you can do is stay quiet and not move, but put anyone in front of a white tiger, hungry for food and just watch.
    The second type of fear that is portrayed in the video and that is just as painful to watch is the fear experienced as a viewer. As the viewer, you have no hope when you watch the video, or else it wouldn’t be a prominent video – this is what makes it even more fearful. Usually we think that for something to be extremely fearful, it must be unknown, but the truth is that (with not much explanation) sometimes when it is known it’s even more fearful. This is because now you’re awaiting that moment and you know that the person in the video still has hope, when he/she should know that it is over. When watching the video, you start to experience the same kind of disturbing feelings that the victim is experiencing, but the difference is that you keep experiencing those feelings even after watching the video because you know that it is done and you were powerless. After watching the video, you now start to feel a different kind of fear: the fear of reliving this moment in your thoughts or in real life. What would I do? You start asking yourself. And then you get this weird eagerness to pass along this fear of the viewer to someone else as a way of combatting it, if more people feel it.

  11. Denysha Jackson
    Topic: Mood / Emotion
    Sub Topics: unstable, jealously, hatred
    Location: USA

    Summary: High School student Diane Zamora kills a fellow female student. Zamora’s boyfriend had told her that he cheated on her with the other girl. Afterwards the two engaged in a plan to kill the fellow student.
    As Niki’s desperation fueled his emotions he mad decisions that, if he were not in the dunes, would have put him in court. However outside the fantasy of sand that acts as a God trapping people and molding their thoughts there are actual people who fall into the same trap. The trap of mixing emotions with mood. The American TV show Snapped is a show that constantly shows many people whose dangerous fleeting emotions mixed with their mood and ended up killing someone. As 17-year-old student, Diane Zamora, killed her classmate. No one could go inside Zamora’s mind to really tell her emotions and mood at the time. However to suggest that her boyfriend kill another girl because he that was who he had a side fling with suggests she was insecure but dominating. That was her mood that mixed with her deadly emotions of jealously, anger and need for revenge. When one person wrongs another, it is natural for them to be angry or want revenge. However, suggesting and planning a murder is not normal. Her emotions truly became monstrous. Her mood had intensified her crazy thoughts, as she had to be the one to assert her dominance. She was obviously confident in her relationship with her boyfriend enough to talk it out, and not confident in herself enough to simply break it off with her boyfriend. Her insecurity mixed with her need to assert dominance which mixed with her feelings and that birthed the idea of committing murder.


  12. Name: Alex Sarkissian
    Region: Toronto, Canada
    Sub-Concepts: Fragmented Society
    Description: A seemingly unified society that is completely fragmented.

    Toronto, Canada is frequently praised for being an incredible melting pot of a city. Torontonians often boast about the diversity within their city and the amazing displays of cultures all throughout via festivals, restaurants, and religious institutions.

    However, the reality of the situation is not at all as it appears. Toronto is not one unified, happy, melting pot of different races, culture and ethnicity, it is actually a fragmented mosaic where every piece of the city represents a different ethnic group. On any given drive from the north end to the south of the city, one may drive through little Italy, Korea town, chinatown, Greek village, forest hill (Jewish village) and Rosedale (anglo community). One may think driving through these many pockets, “Wow! Look how all these different communities live happily side by side.” But the truth of the matter is that these many communities do not live side by side as happy neighbors. The communities do not cooperate with one another but rather live within their own boundaries and don’t often leave to visit the others.

    There are only one or two neighborhoods in the heart of downtown that can represent the true idea of a melting pot as Toronto advertised but rest of the greater Toronto area is not at all as advertised.


  13. Name: Tom Gallagher
    Concept: Transgression
    Sub-Concepts: Cruelty, Transformation, Nature
    Description: The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted at Stanford University in 1971, was a study of the psychological causes of conflict between persons of power and persons of powerlessness, specifically prison guards and prisoners. It was meant to last two weeks but was shut down after 6 days.
    Interpretation: The ultimate question that Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo was trying to answer was whether inherent personality traits embedded in either prison guards of prisoners were the causes of much of the conflict within prisons. This conflict included riots and misbehavior on the side of the prisoners, as well as maltreatment of prisoners, acts of abuse, and even torture on the side of the guards. Zimbardo chose 24 out of 70 respondents to act in the experiment on the basis that they seemed to be the most psychologically stable and healthy. This is the first indication that transgression of behavior is taking place within the context of this experiment. The test subjects were deemed sane, or mentally normal by society’s standards. They also happened to be predominately white and middle class, without criminal backgrounds, psychological impairments, or medical problems. In other words, the select participants were not the stereotypical deviants of modern civilization. Before the experiment it was reasonable to conclude that they did not have inherent behavioral gravitation towards violence and cruelty. Throughout the duration of the six days of the experiment, however, these participants exhibited violent and cruel behavior beyond the normal standards of society. The participants that were assigned to being guards took on the role of dominance relatively quickly, taking away the prisoners sense of identity and dignity within the second day. This escalated throughout the experiment with use of physical force, confinement to cells, removal of mattresses, removal of clothes , and general tendencies of sadism. It was stated that most guards were upset when the experiment ended early. The regular students transgressed to a state of utter cruelty when their environment changed to one that expected it of them. This led to the conclusion that the behavior between guards and prisoners might not be inherent within the individuals, but inherent in human nature. Had the subjects received reversed roles and the prisoners were made guards, they would have also transgressed to a state of cruelty. This actually happened when some prisoners were told to punish other prisoners, and did so violently and without remorse. The transgressional element inherent in human nature brings in the importance of environment and social norms. Whether or not we believe as a culture that cruelty is wild or anti-civil, the systematic manner in which the test subjects of the Stanford Prison Experiment transgressed to behaviors of moral-less cruelty and violence brings into question what unnoticed mechanisms and dynamics of power are utilized in our everyday life.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Name: Nick Wong

    Concept: Nature

    Sub-concepts: Dust, Natural, Sand, Trapt

    Description: “Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.” – John Steinbeck (from “The Grapes of Wrath”)

    Interpretation: The Grapes of Wrath is a book that incorporates the dustbowl incident of the 1930’s. This was a period when there was a tremendous amount of dust created from the dry soil during the drought. This is similar to the experience that Niki Junpei has in our recent readings of The Woman in the Dunes. The dust is described to be everywhere, just like the sand that is consuming everything for Niki. This relates to my topic of nature because here nature is portrayed to be omnipresent almost to the extent of a God. In literature nature is closely related to being a supernatural power and in these texts it makes them seem it is a plague that you cannot escape from. However, at the same time the dust is like the inexistent from what we’ve talked about in class, it has no need to exist, it doesn’t want to exist, it is just there. It also threatens the existence inadvertently like forcing the characters in The Grapes of Wrath to flee to California.

    Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl

  15. Name: Irfaan Kazi

    Concept/Location: Abandonment/Ohio

    Sub-concept: Nothingness, Ignorance

    Description: An 11 year old boy stumbles into an abandoned house and finds a man hanging by a rope around his neck, mummifying for the past five years.
    Interpretation: An abandoned house brings about an uneasy feeling because it resonates with our understanding of a home but then completely distorts our familiarity with it. It creates that eerie feeling because it does not serve the purpose of providing a home, but instead harbors the idea of extreme emptiness inside. For five years it has repelled the wandering thoughts of the neighborhood through its uncanny distortion, until society’s innocence within a boy ventured inside the property.
    Finding the body after all those years extends the idea that the house, through the absence it emanated, still warded off society from nosing around, even though it was in the middle of the town. A great repellant of human activity is nothingness, mainly because people have no relation or connection to venture into the vast and unknown space of nothingness, and to leave into such a foreign environment is devastating. However, an even greater repellant is the distortion of familiarity with something completely foreign, which creates a power feeling of uncertainly. Something we are attached to in our everyday lives can also be something of complete unfamiliarity, our worst nightmare. Acknowledging that our sole haven and comfort can also become an eerie pit of despair is too much for our minds to comprehend, therefore keeping our thoughts away from it.

    Link: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/18/12-year-old-boy-discovers-something-while-exploring-an-abandoned-house-that-had-his-mom-immediately-dialing-911/

  16. Henry Brown says:

    Concept: Excess

    Sub Concepts: Love Evil

    Region: Salt Lake City Utah

    Description: Serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, murdered as many as 60 women along Route 99 before he was caught in 2001.

    Interpretation: Gary Leon Ridgway was a guy who preyed on young prostitutes. He was actually married 3 times and could never really find love. That is why I believe he committed the excessive murders of prostitutes to find love. Gary Leon Ridgway confessed that he had sex with his victims’ bodies after he murdered them, but claimed he began burying the later victims so that he could resist the urge to commit necrophilia. This shows that he had to kill several women to find the type of love he was looking for. Mr. Ridgway also expressed a lot of evil towards his victims. He was quoted in his confession stating “I would talk to her… and get her mind off of the, sex, anything she was nervous about. And think, you know, she thinks, ‘Oh, this guy cares’… which I didn’t. I just want to, uh, get her in the vehicle and eventually kill her.” This is pure evil because he would manipulate his victims to where they would believe everything would be okay, but the whole time he knew he would kill them and have sex with their corpse. Mr. Leon is one of the worst serial killers in America and is still alerting authorities of missing bodies until this day.


  17. Connor Toomey
    Concept: Animality
    Region: Sri Lanka
    “Meet the Violent Buddhists Starting Riots in Sri Lanka”
    Sub-Concepts: Religion, Intolerance
    The Muslim presence in India is not viewed in good lighting with many Buddhist monks and they have taken action into their own hands and have tried to drive out the Muslims with violent force. These monks carry around guns and burn down Muslim houses and businesses.

    In Buddhism, animality is one of the evil paths. Animals are seen as savage, unintelligent creatures not capable of reasoning. Therefore, it is odd to see Buddhist monks to acting with such savagery and disregard for the citizens of Sri Lanka because Buddhists believe in reincarnation based off of karma. With basic knowledge of Buddhism and knowing that animality is seen as an evil path, humans are close to the enlightenment. These actions by the monks, which are supposed to be the humans closest to the ultimate Buddhist goal of enlightenment, are shocking even though they are thought to be for the betterment of their society; much like the extermination of the Bosnians was seen as a betterment of the Serbian society. The riots are a purge of Sri Lanka to get rid of the nonviolent Muslims in the area, much like animals do in nature to defend their packs hunting and breeding grounds in nature.
    In this case, religion is the territory being protected, as humans have the idea of intellectual property as animals only see physical property. By the Buddhist priests see the Muslims as a threat to their religion (or philosophy) and proceed to eradicate the intruder to their religious property and to their entirely Buddhist community and way of life.


  18. Sera Gursoy says:

    Name: Gul Sera Gursoy

    Concept: Illusion and Reality

    Geographic Location: Japan

    Sub-Concepts: War, Delusion, Reluctance to accept reality

    Description: Frequently, life is difficult to accept so we create false illusions to allow us to accept reality, although a distorted one. The mind can be incredible sometimes in deluding ourselves.

    Interpretation: Here is a really great one for this week, especially since we are reading The Woman in the Dunes, a novel by a Japanese author. Many people do not know this but after World War II ended, there was still a group of Japanese soldiers who kept on fighting for almost thirty years in the forests, refusing to come out and accept surrender. Above is a picture of one of these men, called Hiroo Onada. Onada fought in the Philippines during the war for Japan and when Japan surrendered, Onada kept on fighting, leading a several-man war against innocent people.

    There are many theories about why Onada would keep on fighting a hopeless cause. He himself said he didn’t know the war was over, but as the article below explains, for years, the government dropped leaflets and played broadcasts saying the war was over and that Onada should come out. I think more likely, Onada just refused to believe the war was over because his whole life revolved around loyalty to the Japanese army; he was also taught that Japan was invincible and could not accept a reality in which Japan was defeated. It’s evident that the human mind can do remarkable things when reality does not please us. Our first instinct is to create an illusion for ourselves so we don’t have to accept the unfortunate reality. Onada is one extreme example of this.

    Link: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/02/a-japanese-soldier-who-continued-fighting-wwii-29-years-after-the-japanese-surrendered-because-he-didnt-know/

    • Name: Steph Hillebrand
      Concept: Movement
      Geographic Location: US (New York)
      Sub-Concepts: Revolution, Economy, Corruption

      “In 2009 the Federal Reserve Bank of New York set out to investigate why US government officials were so blind to the Wall Street crash of 2008. Why were they unable to forecast the oncoming financial crisis?…The fault, according to an independent review by Columbia University Prof David Beim, was that the government regulators were too deferential to the banks they were supposed to oversee”. –Anthony Zurcher
      Unveil the system. Open the curtains. This is the language that is used to metaphorically convey how after years of the economic crisis, of the seemingly impenetrable system’s collapse, the truth about the Federal Bank’s dealings with big banks, such as Goldman Sachs is now under investigation and scrutiny under the public eye. This move is a part of a series of a new trend to challenge authority, to take back into the general population’s hands what has been kept secret and out of our hands since the Industrial Revolution, potentially since the beginning of history. #OccupyWallSt., #ClimateSummit, #heforshe, These are all trends that are moving people to assemble and protest against shady behavior from the architects of the economy and daily life.

      Source link: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-29388019

  19. John Olivo
    Concept: Language
    Sub-concepts: Fear, solitude, anxiety
    Location: Britain
    Silence of the Lambs
    Description: There is an increasing number of children being diagnosed with selective mutism. Selective mutism is a phobia of speaking outside the home.
    Interpretation: Selective mutism is something that is not commonly heard about. It is most common in children between the ages of three and six. The reasons behind the children’s silence is not well understood but seems to stem from anxiety. It is hard to think that young children are suffering from an anxiety so severe that it completely stops them from speaking. However, this anxiety must be within their subconscious. The article mentions how even when the young girl, Lucy, falls on the playground she does not make a sound. To be completely mute outside the home is something that must have a major impairment on life. In school Lucy can get away with using notecards to communicate common actions. However, her development outside of academia must be seriously stunted. I have read article that show time on the playground builds more valuable skills that time in the classroom for young children. Lack of social exposure because of her silence, lack of language, will keep her from leading a normal life.
    This article reminds me of a documentary which I watched several years ago. It described the differences between Neanderthals and homosapiens. The research they found suggested that both were almost identical and both had the potential to develop further yet Neanderthals eventually died out. The key difference between the two was a slight structural difference in the throat. Neanderthals did not have the capacity to communicate as well as homosapiens. The homosapiens were able to develop language which led to their survival. Human life is not possible without language

    Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2124284/The-children-choose-stay-silent-The-sad-surprisingly-common-plight-youngsters-selective-mutism.html

  20. Part 2. (Event Archive)

    Name: Brooke Morton
    Concept: Death
    Region: Salem, Massachusettes
    Sub-Concepts: Pain, Fear, Irony

    In 1692, Giles Corey was killed during the Salem Witch Trials. Corey was accused and because he refused to plead, he had 38 rocks pressed on his chest. His options were to plead or die. His insides were forced out of his mouth in front of his eight children and wife.
    His grave can still be found in Salem, MA today.

    The Salem Witch Trials resulted in countless deaths. Their deaths were caused by fear of town citizens. Fear turned families against each other and tore through sanity and logic. It was very easy to accuse someone of being a witch, yet very difficult to prove that it was false. Nearly everyone accused of being a witch was doomed to death.
    The amount of pain that one human forced on another in Giles Corey’s case is unthinkable. There was someone stacking those rocks on him the entire time, through screams that were sooner or later silenced by an inability to breathe, and therefore his death. The pain of being turned on by the community, the pain of being shamed, the physical pain of the weight and knowing that death were all inevitable at the drop of a hat.
    The irony in this method of torture is obvious. The law at the time stated that anyone who did not plead could not be tried. Therefore, Corey was stripped and a heavy board was laid on top of his chest. Rocks and boulders were then stacked atop his chest. Heavy rocks were then stacked on top of Corey’s chest. However, the rocks were crushing his airway making it very difficult for him to talk, and eventually the rocks cut off his air supply altogether.
    The power of fear is violent. Fear of the unknown and fear known are no different. Mary Lewis was fearful of her own conviction and which propelled her to spin her situation and place the magnifying glass on Corey. In open court and under oath, Lewis accused Corey of being a warlock and there was no turning back.
    His death was put on display as an example and used to ward off any other witches or warlocks.


  21. Name: Trevor C Sullivan
    Concept: Metaphysics
    Sub-Concepts: Devil, God, Scapegoats, Sneezing

    Description: God bless you is a common phrase to say to someone after they sneeze. The origin of this comes from the belief that the person who sneezed soul was being expelled from the body.

    The belief that sneezing was a way to expel your soul from your body has been around for centuries. Sneezing is a rather violent human action to generally clear your nose of irritants; however, without proper science one could assume it is the result of a greater force. The initial feeling of a sneeze starts from the chest. This is where many people believe the soul was located and with this they turned to their religions and beliefs for answers. Many Christians believed it was the act of the devil or a demon trying to take your soul. This explanation ties back to explaining how the universe works and why it is there. People want an answer, a solution, and a meaning; thus the success of religion in our society. With sneezing it is the same thing in a smaller scope. Society did not have the tools or understanding to explain the scenario, sneezing, and therefore turned to their religious beliefs in order to explain the predicament.
    The meaning of soul is something more eternal than life. When the body dies the soul may live, and this refers generally to some sort of afterlife. If someone’s soul is under attack it must be the work of something malevolent. This was the rationale for many and hence the Devil, with Christianity being the primary belief, was the culprit. However, if this is the case why is it that the Devil was trying to take by force? The Devil always gives a choice and cares more about one’s “happiness” on earth, which you must pay for in the afterlife. Therefore, as seen with many other examples during the time, the Devil was used as a scapegoat for all things misunderstood which did not help society and God was a scapegoat for all things good.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Name: Alex Sarkissian
    Region: Toronto, Canada
    Sub-Concepts: Fragmented Society

    Description: A seemingly unified society that is completely fragmented.

    Toronto, Canada is frequently praised for being an incredible melting pot of a city. Torontonians often boast about the diversity within their city and the amazing displays of cultures all throughout via festivals, restaurants, and religious institutions.

    However, the reality of the situation is not at all as it appears. Toronto is not one unified, happy, melting pot of different races, culture and ethnicity, it is actually a fragmented mosaic where every piece of the city represents a different ethnic group. On any given drive from the north end to the south of the city, one may drive through little Italy, Korea town, china town, Greek village, forest hill (Jewish village) and Rosedale (anglo community). One may think driving through these many pockets, “Wow! Look how all these different communities live happily side by side.” But the truth of the matter is that these many communities do not live side by side as happy neighbors. The communities do not cooperate with one and other but rather live within their own boundaries and don’t often leave to visit the others.

    There are only one or two neighborhoods in the heart of downtown that can represent the true idea of a melting pot as Toronto advertised but rest of the greater Toronto area is not at all as advertised.

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