Your Only Chance To Survive Is To Leave With Us
Name: Cade Miller
Location: San Diego, California
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.
Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault
Name: Alexis Yioulos
Region: Columbia University
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
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.
Changing One’s Fate through Plastic Surgery
Name: Aileen Oh
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.
I FREEZE PEOPLE TO CHEAT DEATH
Name: Natalie Reta
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
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.
When Hoarding Becomes Dangerous
Name: Angela Price
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.
STROKE OF GENIUS
Name: Kayla Clark
Sub–Concepts: 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.
Name: Charlotte Widjaja
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.
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.
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.
Islamic State advance halts archaeological research in Iraqi Kurdistan
Name: Deniz Ozmen
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.
Alberto Rodriguez Rico
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
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.
Name: Stela Maksutaj
Region/Concept: US/ Seduction
Sub-concepts: 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
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.
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.
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.
Name: Hein Myat Win Lwin
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
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
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.
The Lone Wolf Archetype
Name: Kevin Dooley
Sub Concepts: Animality, Abandonment, Fear
Region: United States of America
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.
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.
Syria’s Civil War Creating Refugees
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
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.
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
Sub-Concepts: Pain, Pleasure, Violence
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.
Name: Aakash Daryanani
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.