Subconcepts: Torture, Mourning, Patience
Region: Sydney, Australia
Description: An Australian artist has endured a seven hour performance of water torture to convey the anxiety she felt after the loss of her sister. Lottie Consalvo lay on a bed while a black liquid kept dripping onto her forehead for seven hours.
For the most part, torture is associated with physical pain. The image it creates in our mind is extremely gruesome and generally involves a lot of blood. We do not take into consideration all the other torture methods that are being employed on people. What we fail to understand is that a torture method targeting the mind instead of the body could have much more effective and painful results. Once the captive is damaged internally and mentally, the physical strength would not carry a significance for the person any longer.
One of the torture methods which targets the mind instead of the body is the “Chinese water-dropping torture”. This method is very similar to what Consalvo has portrayed in Sydney. This technique requires the captive to be tied on to a surface where he/she would be forced to lay down. Then, a small drop of water would continually be dropped onto the forehead of the captive. This water drop does not cause any physical pain on the captive, however, as time passes, the mind which starts to get extremely irritated by its repetition, perceives it as a painful process. The water-dropping method can go as far as driving the victim insane. The torture progresses very slowly. As the mind focuses more and more on the water drop, a feeling of claustrophobia arises. Every second adds more pressure to the mind, making the process more unbearable. Every victim’s ability to endure differs since no one’s mind acts the same way. Only those who are strong enough to train their minds get to keep their sanity.
Lottie Consalvo has managed to endure this method of torture for seven interrupted hours. For her, the first few drops felt like a “bomb”, however, it got easier as she managed to train her mind. She actually managed to fight the destructive impact of time. This was only made possible by the sorrow caused by her sister’s death. She was able to transform her personal pain into a method of endurance. Instead of focusing on the repetition, she focused on her own feelings about the loss of her sister. She found a way to escape a mental torture.
Sub-Concept: Holocaust, sympathy, risk
Description: Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, was part of the Nazi Party. Through bribes and persuasion, he was able to save 1200 Jews by hiring them to work in his factory. Although he hired Jews because they were the cheapest labor at the time and initially only cared about profits, something changed after he saw Jews being forced into the carts by Nazis. Soon, his sole focus was to save as many lives as possible.
Interpretation: As part of the Nazi Party and completely money driven, Oskar Schindler did not seem like the type of person who would abundantly give millions of dollars away to save lives. However, he ended up being one of the greatest heroes during the Holocaust, saving 1200 Jews. Despite the dangers of being arrested as a war criminal, he did all he could to save the lives of as many Jews as he could. Although it was certain that the Jews would be sent to concentration camps or to the gas chambers, Schindler was able to spare them multiple times and give countless of people a second chance to live. Although it seemed like a hopeless situation and the Jews were fated to doom, Schindler did all he could to change their fate.
First, he gave the Nazis luxury items and large bribes to keep his workers safe when they were suspicious that he was treating them too well. Then, when 300 females were sent to Auschwitz and were about to be sent to the gas chambers, Schindler did all he could to save them with bribes of black market goods. Through the bribes, they were able to return to the factory.
One person can completely change the fate of others through action. If Schindler had not done what he had done, 1200 Jews would have perished and have met the same fate as millions of other Jews. By doing all he could and actually ending up penniless, he was able to save many lives. Unlike in literature where nobody can escape the power of fate, in this real life example, one person was able to completely alter the fate of many people. Although it wasn’t easy to change the Nazi’s predetermined course to completely liquidate all Jews near the end of the war, through his continuous efforts, he was able to convince them to let the Jews continue working in the factory.
Name: Charlotte Widjaja
Sub-Concepts: Animality, Images, Pleasure
Description: Current quarterback for the New York Jets of the NFL, Michael Vick, was charged with several felonies in 2007 for creating, operating, and participating in his own dog fighting venture called, “Bad Newz Kennels.”
Interpretation: In 2007, Vick’s cousin was arrested on drug charges and gave officers Vick’s address to use as his own. After obtaining a second search warrant on Vick’s property, federal officers discovered the entire Bad Newz Kennels operation. They found dogs chained to car axles, blood stains in the fighting arenas, nine pit bull carcasses, two skeletal remains, empty shell cases, and syringes. Vick admitted to killing his dogs in several different ways if they did not show sufficient aggressiveness during their practices and in the ring, during their fights. Some dogs were shot in the head with a .22 caliber pistol, others were hung from a tree by a 2 x 4 nylon cord. Some dogs were also drowned in 5 gallons of water in a bucket, and others were hosed down and then electrocuted. Among all this, officers also discovered a rape stand, a mechanism used to strap down a female dog, with her head completely restrained, while Vick, the registered dog breeder, would allow the male dogs to rape the female dog. Vick, his three associates, and all those who participated in the dog fighting operation gave up the well-being and sanity of these dogs, animals that societies and humans have come to love, adore, and treat as member of the family. Vick has created the exact opposite image of the dogs as the household, loving pet. Instead, this peaceful image is sacrificed to create an aggressive, cruel, killer image. Every ideal, image, and belief that society holds in a dog’s places in the community is given up at the expense of the entertainment of other humans. In this way, dog fighting parallels past forms of entertainment, such as gladiator fights, in which men were sacrificed for the enjoyment and thrill of other men. Today, dogs bear the burden of becoming objectified so that humans may use their bodies, and ability to fight as their entertainment, pleasure and joy of the day. However, dogs are seemingly more disposable than men, making the breeding and training process much easier. If a dog does not perform up to par with the owner’s expectations, a shot in the head would suffice, and the owner is on to the next dog to train.
As Vick and other owners of dog fighting operations continue to objectify dogs, they further forgo their own sense of humanity, and touch base with their sense of animality. Interestingly, many of these dog owners view themselves as superior beings compared to the filthy dogs, who can be trained to follow orders and fight on behalf of others. Yet, as men watch these dogs fight, they display a lack the compassion, thought, and appreciation for other beings in nature; components that separate us from an animal. Thus, ironically, those who participate in these dog fights have lowered themselves to the same level as the common animal.
Name: Kenza Mouaqit
Region: United States
Sub-Concepts: Solitude, Emotion/Mood
Description: Language is a code used to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings. Every person has a special way of communicating their thoughts and opinions through language, but there are definitely some social rules that are necessary for one’s message to be comprehended by the general public. Theses social rules are unfortunately not comprehended by people with autism. Autism is a developmental disorder which impacts one’s communicational social skills.
Interpretation: Within today’s society, it is necessary to be able to communicate effectively through social skills. However, many autistic children lack these skills and have a hard time communicating with the general public. For instance, they “are less likely to understand words with social meanings such as ‘hello’ and ‘you’”. These words lead to their confusion. Over time these children develop the need of solitude as no one seems to be on the same level of communication as them. It is not clear whether this is a need, or whether they have forced themselves to be in solitude, as no one understands them. These children show signs of a lack of expressive language. They will not be able to convey their emotion and moods in the same way as others. This may be a reason to why many autistic children develop other superior skills – to replace their missing skills in the communication of their emotions and mood. Today’s society highly values communication, as it is perceived as necessary. To what extent is society accepting of people those who can’t communicate their needs and thoughts in the same way? Are there any tools that can help these children with autism develop their social skills over time? Do we really need theses social skills to communicate?
Alberto Rodriguez Rico
Prohibition that Enhances
Sub concepts: repression, prohibition, fear
Description: Alcohol consumption is a significant addiction related to humans. However, from 1920 to 1933 the US government prohibited alcohol consumption inside the country. This policy was intended to reduce consumption for alcohol, reduce the tax burden by prisons and poorhouses, reduce corruption and reduce violence in the country. This experiment was a fail since none of the reasons for its approval actually occurred as they planned. Alcohol consumption fell in the first year of prohibition but it increased in the long term. Money spent in alcohol also increased; the same happened with the corruption of public officers and violence in the streets.
As mentioned above alcohol is an antique human addiction which transcends centuries. The governments experiment was to plant the seeds of a negative stereotype against alcohol in the US. By doing that they assumed the expected results will be positive and help the country in the long term. Historically they have been able to control their population by the use of these policies; to create a law forbidding alcohol increased the negativity of the illusion to the concept since it was negative not only for society but for the country’s as a whole. The problem they experienced was that people have already tried alcohol, they were used to alcohol and sympathized with it. Therefore the prohibition failed to create a negative illusion behind alcohol. As a consequence of this people were not fearing to consume alcohol, they have already destroyed the illusion since they have experiences its real effects.
This lack of illusion made the prohibition a mere tool to create obstacles to obtain the product, which created public discontent. The first year of the prohibition consumption fell as a consequence of the lack of preparedness of the population to this measure. Underground market and the population was not ready to deal with that measure. They had to create new channels of distribution, acquire resources and design the new logistics. Thus during the next years consumption rose again as the result of an adequate adaptation of Americans to this reform. Alcohol was already in their lives, so sellers found a way to continue to sell alcohol despite it was against the law. The prohibited nature behind the use of alcohol also motivated people to increase its consumption since our nature tends to feel attracted to the forbidden feature of an object. However the scarcity of alcohol produced as a consequence of the prohibition did have an effect in the market. Increased the prices of it which that explains why people where spending more than before in this addiction. This is what is interesting about vices, people will consume them despite their price. We can even observe this with very poor individuals who might not have food for survive, but still consider vices as part of their little income. This is the result of the instantaneous pleasure that the vice offers.
“Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure.” Cato Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/alcohol-prohibition-was-failure>.
Name: Solomon Zheng
Sub-concepts: Abandonment, Fear
Region: New York City, NY
Description: The bar and bowling venue “The Gutter” was closed the after a visit by Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted Ebola after treating Ebola victims in Africa.
As Ebola has taken away nearly five thousand lives, the virus has become a symbol of death, which materializes itself not only in the forms of its grisly death toll, but also various locales associated with its appearance. From being festive to gloomy, boisterous to silent, unknown to known, “The Gutter” transformed into a no-man’s land overnight after the release of the news that Dr. Spencer, a visitor to the bar, was tested positive for Ebola. As Ebola is not visible to naked human eyes, we are not able to detect where its next outbreak is going to be. Thus, our fear of death—a survival instinct—has transformed it into an omnipresent threat that we try to avoid at all costs. As we desperately try to fight this invisible yet omnipresent fear, we assign it physical counterparts, which we made famous by labeling them “deadly,” so that we could illude ourselves to believe that we have physically shunned away from the danger it entails. Abandoned to be famous, “The Gutter” thus transformed from an ordinary entertainment venue into a physical manifestations of our fear of death.
Name: Kayla Clark
Sub–Concepts: Desire and Fate
Region: Saudi Arabia
Omar Borkan Al Gala, an actor and photographer from Dubai, was told to leave Saudi Arabia for being too handsome. The United Arab Emirates delegates’ reasoning behind this was that he might “corrupt impressionable women.” A couple of other men were asked to leave during the annual Janadriyah festival; however, Omar made the headlines because he was the most gorgeous out of the bunch.
Omar Borkan Al Gala was not asked to leave because of his ability to corrupt the minds of women. Omar Borkan Al Gala was asked…told to leave because his beauty was so cruel that it reminded the United Arab Emirates of how beautiful they weren’t. My theory is that cruelty takes on the shape of beauty in order to remind us humans of how imperfect we are. Cruel beauty is like darkness in that it forces one to face the other facets of their self. Individuals tend to equate their outer appearances to their actual self-worth. When cruel beauty presents itself and reminds one that their physical appearance hold little to no value, one has to determine the value of their other characteristics.
Omar Borkan Al Gala’s case is a prime example of people not being happy with the other characteristics of their self. If one solely bases their existence on the beauty that they exert on to the world, then when that’s stripped away, one is left with nothing. Cruel beauty bring on a very cruel reality that everyone isn’t as exceptional and inordinate as they believe.
The Kiss – by Gustav Klimt
Name: Ryan Narod
Description: The Kiss was completed by Gustav Klimt in 1908. His golden style was his signature in the arts and crafts movement.
This painting explores intimacy and desire between two lovers. The only hint of naturalism lies in their expressions, which contrasts the use of decorative patterns. Klimt’s use of gold taps into ancient connotations of ecstasy and preciousness and catches the viewer’s eye in a gripping and attention seeking manner. The painting demands to be oogled. It also nods to art history and the use of gold in religious paintings in churches and mosaics, mainly as halos representing important holy figures. Klimt furthers plays off this reappropriation of idols by crowning his figures with a ring of flowers, which are echoed in the pattern on their garbs. The undertones of erotica and violent rape-like passion offended many when the painting was unveiled. They were shocked that it was surrounded by such overt constructs of worship. At the same time this painting is not trying to anger the viewer. Klimt idealizes desire between two lovers and makes it seem effortless and tender. By placing the figures in a religious context, he works to “undemonize” the act of passion. Klimt paints desire as a merging of two figures into a bell like arrangement and indicates that desire can mean giving yourself over completely to someone else, literally your fabric merging with their pattern.
Name: Charlotte Widjaja
Sub-concepts: Power, Destruction, Pain, Transformation
Description: Britney Starling talks about her hazing experience when rushing for the sorority, Zeta Phi Beta at the University of California, Berkeley. The hazing involved with this sorority was so severe that Britney was forced to take a medical leave from school due to the trauma she sustained.
Interpretation: Britney Starling studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she decided to go through recruitment to rush for the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. However, her hopes of joining a unifying and encouraging community quickly died as extreme hazing became the main obstacle during recruitment. Starling shares that she was forced to act as a garbage can for other girls in the sorority by gathering any trash they accumulated, and stuffing as much as she could into her pockets. She had to also publically wipe juice off the floor with her back. The sisters of Zeta Phi Beta required Starling, along with other pledges, to stay awake and standing all night without using the bathroom. At one point, Starling’s leg gave out, and a sister of the sorority allegedly hit Starling’s ankle with a book. The type of sacrifice involved in joining Zeta Phi Beta at UC Berkeley, ranges from emotional sacrifice to physical sacrifice. The girls who decide to rush for this sorority, along with other sororities that enact hazing at numerous other colleges, willingly sacrifice their mind and body to the sorority. Whether the sisters of a sorority require pledges to be beaten with paddles, chug incredible amounts of alcohol, fed pills to make them vomit on each other, stay in freezing showers, crawl through mud in the woods, be physically beaten, or be forced to take a hit of cocaine, the pledges still decide to take part in such activities for fear of becoming an outcast, and for their desire to be part of the sorority. In the process becoming initiates of a sorority, girls, more so than boys that are pledging to a fraternity, sacrifice their emotional health by often being publically humiliated and abused. The extreme to which some pledges of a sorority are willing to sacrifice is mind blowing and unimaginable. The pledges are willing to essentially give themselves over to a group of conniving ladies, so that they can join the same exact movement that is the root of all their current emotional and physical pain experienced during recruitment. At the opposite end, the sisters of a sorority that are pro-hazing have no problem sacrificing the well-being and health of other girls. These sisters are aware of each potential new member’s deep desire toward joining their particular sorority, and use that knowledge against the pledges, forcing them to take part in a wide array of degrading activities. Refusal to participate and endure the hazing is detrimental to that girl’s relationship with the sisters of the sorority, ultimately casting her as an outsider of the group.
The element of destruction takes on a role in hazing practices and a sorority’s sacrifice of the emotional and physical health of their pledges. The pledges who are aware of their sacrifice to the sorority, experience the destruction of who they are, and most everything they value. This destruction is in the form of physical and mental destruction. The physical destruction occurs as some pledges are beaten, punched, and abused with wooden paddles, while the mental destruction occurs as these girls are socially humiliated, and publically embarrassed. The mental and physical destruction strips down any values, any form of ego, or self-image so that each pledge is bare naked with nothing to their name, and most times, worse off than before recruitment begun. With destruction comes transformation, in which the girls, who make it through all the hazing, enter the sorority with a completely new mindset. They have sacrificed an incredible amount of themselves to be in a sorority that now these pledges experience an influx of pride and passion for their sorority. This in turn, leads to commitment to the sorority and its rituals, values, and traditions. An appreciation for the sorority’s rituals is recognized, and the new initiates are now willing to haze the next semester’s incoming pledge class, leading to a cycle of public sacrifice.
Name: Michael Winter
Geographical Location: Tana Toraja, Indonesia
Sub-concept: Death, Honor, Ritual
Description: Tana Toraja’s deceased are exhumed, decorated, and displayed as part of a community’s death ritual.
The Tana Toraja regency of Indonesia takes a unique approach to honoring the dead. Funerals in the area are multi-day parties, a far cry from the short, somber affairs of the western world. Most interesting, however, is what happens after the funeral; depending on which sub community they are from, families exhume the bodies of their ancestors every 1 to 5 years as part of a large public ritual. The dead are removed from their resting place – sometimes a coffin, often just a shroud – and cleaned, dressed in new clothes, and displayed for all to see. It has even become normal to take pictures of, and with, the newly decorated corpses.
In order for this ritual to be pleasing for the dead, the lifeless body must remain able to perceive time. Without the perception of time, the perception of change is impossible; to understand change, one must compare a situation at time “x” with the same situation at time “x+1.” Thus, the deceased would only benefit from the ritual of cleaning and clothing if they could differentiate between “now” and “before.” Assuming the community would only undertake this ritual if they thought it effective, we can infer that they believe that the perception of time remains within our physical body beyond our death.
This belief, taken to its logical conclusion, represents death as a frighteningly claustrophobic ordeal. To remain perceptually trapped in the corpse, unable to affect your surrounding in the slightest yet compelled to perceive the infinite march of time, seems a most terrifying fate. Time in this sense becomes a sort of prison, forcing you to experience existence, presumably against your will. Perhaps an absolute death might be more comforting in the end.
Aztec Myth of Celestial Princesses Seducing Men and Sacrificing Children
Name: Stela Maksutaj
Region/Concept: Mexico 15th century, Seduction
Sub-concepts: Vengeance, Sacrifice
Description: The Aztec’s believed that there was a goddess of fertility, Cihauacoatl, which convinced Cihuateteo women to human sacrifice in honor of her name. The Cihuateteo were women that died from childbirth that came back to life to prey on young children and seduce young men in the village. They would cause madness, drink blood, and take energy from their victims.
Interpretation: The Cihuateteo were honorable for giving their own lives for the lives of their children, being considered warriors. When deceased, the Cihuateteo descended to the underworld and were seduced by the goddess of fertility. Treated as fallen warriors, and honored as goddesses themselves due to their honor of death by childbirth, the goddess appeased the souls of the Cihuateteo. Craving an honorable afterlife, the dead mothers are enticed into human sacrifice. The goddess of fertility convinces the Cihuateteo of motives for such sacrifices, intensifying their worship for her, and vengeance of their own death with every sacrifice. The Cihuateteo targeted children out of vengeance for not having their own children, and longing satisfaction of knowing they are not the only ones who should suffer. The human sacrifice of children honored the Cihauacoatl goddess, but also strengthened the anger the Cihuateteo embodied.
The Cihuateteo were seduced into enticing men to commit adultery, satisfying Cihauacoatl in various ways. The Cihuateteo’s targeted the source of their pain. Since a man got them pregnant, and the pregnancy led to their death, it made sense to sacrifice man. Through the use of sorcery and enticement of committing adultery, Cihuateteo justified their sacrifices. A man that commits adultery has committed an immoral act, and betrayed the sacredness of family. One that betrays his family deserves to be sacrificed to honor fertility and purify themselves through their afterlife. Cihauacoatl successfully seduces the Cihuateteo to sacrifice in her name, and seduces them to ,in turn, to seduce man into being immoral.
Name: Jaehee Park / Concept: Space
Sub-concepts: animal, mythic creatures, secrecy
A jellyfish invasion paralyzes Swedish reactor. A giant swarm of moon jellyfish forced the shutdown of the world’s largest boiling water reactor because it had clogged the cooling water intake pipes at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant on the Baltic Sea. Clogging the cooling water intake can cause a massive nuclear meltdown because heat formed in the reactor accumulates and eventually melts the structure.
Nuclear power plants are often situated next to seas or any large bodies of water so that they have constant access to cooling liquids. The cold sea water takes heat away from the nuclear reactor and is outputted back into the sea. The warmed water causes jellyfish blooms which cause problems for nuclear plants. In this case, the jellyfish had entered pipes 60 feet below the surface of the sea. Once they are in the pipe system, they are unable to move past the high pressure filtration or the heating chambers so they are not a threat to the “core” of the nuclear reactor. But their massive numbers can clog pipes, forcing a massive 1400 megawatt unit to shut down.
The jellyfish arrive silently, aligned, and in pulsating movements. They are like mythical monsters that can be deadly in mass quantities. Jellyfish has qualities of mythic creatures since thousands of them travel soundlessly and their attack is more frightening because of their stillness and secrecy. In fact, the mythical monster was named after a jellyfish part. The medusa is the “bell” of the jellyfish that can range between 5 to 40 cm in diameter. Moon jellyfish also have vampiric qualities as they are equipped with venom filled nematocysts on their tentacles to help them capture preys. The medusa (jellyfish) comes from a vast open space—the sea—that escapes geographical confines of the earth. They operate in subterranean, secret spaces (they move into nuclear plant pipes 60 feet below the surface of the sea) and can cause mass destructions and fear.
Name: Caitie Benoit
Region: United States
Sub-concepts: Self-harm, abuse, pressure
Interpretation: In the United States, self-harm is becoming a serious issue and concern especially for young females in society today. There are many different forms of self-harm including over or under eating, cutting, or burning oneself. Self-harm is thought to be a form of coping and a way of dealing with situations that are occurring in one’s life. It allows the person to transform mental pain into physical pain. Mental pain is often more difficult to deal with and to get rid of because there is not ending point to the pain. The mental pain is always with you, unlike physical pain which disappears when the injury is gone. People also use self-harm as a way of being in control of their pain. Similar to what we have discussed in class with the prisoners reopening their wounds and making them deeper, self-harmers often harm themselves in order to redirect the pain into something that he or she is able to control. If they cannot control their own pain, the pain is able to control the victim instead. Self-harm is often a result of bullying which is another major concern in society today. The bullying not only causes emotional pain, but it also can encourage physical pain. The pressure to become more “popular” and to avoid being grouped with the losers of their class, the children strive to be liked. When nothing is able to change or redirect the bullying, they turn to self-harm to relieve some of the pressure, stress, and pain from the bullying. Unfortunately, self-harm can also lead to other, worse issues, such as suicide. One problem with self-harm is that if the bleeding or the harm is unable to be stopped, things can go wrong. People can accidently give themselves a fatal blow or cut and pass away as the result. The bullying and pressure that is evident and only growing in the United States are causing huge issues especially for the youth today. It only takes one wrong move to ruin a life forever and we have to do something to help prevent young lives from being taken by self-harm. Mental pain is the root cause of these issues and the desire to be able to take control of the pain they are being faced to feel causing them to turn to self-harm. It’s a dangerous form of coping that leads to many deaths in the world today. Losing control is a scary feeling, but trying to regain control is even scarier.
Name: Cade Miller
Location: The first quadrant of the United States
Sub-concepts: Time, Nonsense, Artifice
Description: Time Cube is a theory posited by Otis Eugene Ray in 1997 that states the world is not exactly round as we have thought since the advent of the opposition to the geo-centric worldview, but rather is a cube with four sides (the top and bottom are not sides, of course).
Interpretation: Gene Ray’s theory of time cube is certainly confusing for those in the spherical world that consider themselves sane. In 1997, he posited the theory that instead of the normal assumption of time being split into a single twenty-four day from midnight to midnight, that the world is split into a four sided cube with four simultaneously days rotating within one single rotation of the Earth. Gene ray has been interviewed by many television shows, has been hosted at a many colleges (most notably MIT) and has created quite and internet sensation for anyone who tends to find the strange outpourings of the web.
In this theory 4 is the supreme number and the days are split arbitrarily at midnight, 6 A.M., noon, and 6 P.M. as well as defining a few other splits in the world. The theory also suggests that there are four corners to race which are black, white, Asian, and Indian, as well are four corners of the human face consisting of the face, each ear, and the back of the head. This pseudo-scientific cosmological theory shows no mercy. On the website dedicated to it, the page scrolls on and on for what seems like forever, with multicolored, bold and centered font, and the grammar is absolutely atrocious. The problem with this theory is that it is seemingly not falsifiable, with Gene Ray offering ten thousand dollars to any institution or professor that can prove him wrong. This seems like an impossible task, because when questioned why it is a four-sided cube instead of what one would naturally assume to be a six-sided cube, Gene Ray becomes defensive and calls people stupid. He says that people don’t call the ceiling and floor sides of a room, and that one who does so would be a moron.
The takeaway here is that it is possible to subvert metaphysics using nonsense, and there is no way out for those who don’t look for truth. This theory creates a fake metaphysics that cannot be proven, but it can be argued against. However, attempts to disprove this crackpot theory ultimately fail because there is absolutely no proof to the existence of a time cube, even though Ray says that NASA photos shows this phenomenon. He claims that space photos shows a cubic ring of lava surrounding the equator, and uses a clear paperweight with a globe inside to represent the time cube. The point here is to always be careful when considering things which people take to be inherent, and the dangers that belief can cause. At least there is not a huge following of this theory, and most consider Gene Ray to be insane. This kind of caution when listening to people’s opinions on the nature of things can be extended to all theories which have at least a bit of doubt or a gap in logic or proof to them.
Losing Movement and Art
Region: North America
Sub-concepts: Inevitability, Decay, Pain
Event: Artist Jon Imber was diagnosed with ALS( Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and continued to create art as he lost his ability to control his muscles and move.
People who suffer from ALS know that they are on the slow and painful road to the complete loss of their physical faculties and they can do nothing but to wait to suffer every second of it. There is a difference between this painful process of slow, continuous loss and suddenly losing something .When you lose something completely, even if it is sudden and unexpected, it is done and whatever you lost is gone forever. Nonetheless, when it comes to losing something in a continuous way, the uncertainty and the anticipation hunt you constantly; they become heavier than the loss itself.
In Jon Imber’s case, losing his motion also means losing what he is passionate about; his continuous efforts to keep on painting can represent both denial and deep acceptance. His resilience might come off as resistance, because in a way going from painting with his right, to his left, to painting with his forehead means that he doesn’t want to acknowledge what he has lost; however, it also represents the fact that he knows that continuous loss will be a part of the rest of his life and that he can’t stop living it even if he wanted to. With a progressive disease, there is both absolute certainty and complete unpredictability. The progressive loss becomes less significant because having encountered it, you know what it is. In a way, what you have lived up to that point is no longer unpredictable; however, the perpetual shadow of the pendant loss, of now knowing what it will be like or how you will deal with it, overpowers everything.
Short version: http://www.catemcquaid.com/?p=1990
Sub-Concept: Exclusivity, Uniqueness, Power
Ferrari recently released a new car that is available via invitation only. The car company has only produced six of the elusive cars so far, and has sold them to reputable Ferrari lovers in the U.S. and Europe.
Adding another layer of exclusivity to an already difficult to purchase car seems redundant, and yet Ferrari makes headlines for doing it. An interesting question to consider is whether or not Ferrari makers also gain pleasure in making these cars. If they enjoy their job and they are passionate about what they do then sure, but it would be difficult to say whether the exclusivity of the car and it being out of many of their reaches makes it pleasurable to work with every day. For the select few who can afford to purchase one, the pleasure complex is definitely there, and this recent round of innovation and new car development has made thousands of people asking how they can get their hands on one.
There are many different manifestations of pleasure. For the people who can afford to buy this Ferrari, the exclusivity of the car combined with their ability to buy it, and for those who were invited to actually do so there’s an even greater pleasure complex. For the extremely rich however, it’s not all it’s made out to be. There is a principle that says no matter how wealthy a person gets, eventually he or she will get used to their current situation and always want more. Pleasure gets slightly complicated in those scenarios because of how difficult it can be reach the same levels that were possible before significant improvements to one’s lifestyle. This also brings about the idea of pleasure being a relative emotion. For someone who is very poor, a new Ferrari would mean the world to them. For someone on the opposite end of the spectrum, there would only be minimal joy to most in getting the new car. The recent move by Ferrari therefore has some merit behind it. Being able to go beyond the satisfaction of just buying a car, they are now making it much harder for people to get their hands on one. The experience is therefore no longer relative, because they aren’t able to compare it to anything they have had to deal with before. Anyone who could afford a Ferrari before now has a greater relative pleasure sensation in getting something that they know others can’t get who are on their same economic level. Each of the different manipulations and manifestations of pleasure are pegged by Ferrari’s new car, and it will interesting to see what moves they decide to make next.
Name: Angela Price
Sub-concepts: transformation, pleasure
Region: New Jersey
Description: Patricia Krentcil, a 45 year old mother from New Jersey is an avid tanner. She is addicted to tanning and is excessively dark but does not believe she is addicted. Her addiction was so bad that she even brought her 6 year old daughter to the tanning salon with her.
Interpretation: Patricia’s excessive tanning is putting her own life at risk. Tanning uses ultraviolet rays to transform the color of ones skin. This transformation allows the user to feel more self-confident and happier. Some people say a good tan makes one look healthier and more attractive. She states that she went tanning for 12 years 3-4 times a week which is an excessive amount of visits to the tanning salon. The normal amount is 1-2 times a week for a couple weeks. The fact that she went for 12 years shows she is not confident at all in herself. She needs excess sunlight and that extra confidence boost to be able to live her life. This is extremely harmful for her and even her family. She wants to transform her body into one that she thinks is appealing but that others view as a waste and pathetic. There is a disorder called Body dysmorphic disorder in which people believe they are ugly and their bodies are deformed. To them it seems as though they are not how they want to be so therefore they go to extremes to order to appear to themselves better looking and ‘normal’ looking. When to others who see the transformation, they see a drastic problem and not a bettering of the person. This can also be extremely mentally disheartening on the person because seeing others scared or disgusted with what they thought was a beautiful transformation shows them that in reality, they still are not pretty enough. This forces them to sink back into the excessive addiction, in this case tanning, until they are happy with themselves. They will never be pleased though, because others do not see the transformation as they hope.
Illogical Concerns behind Cape Wind Power
Name: Kevin Manesh
Region: Massachusetts Cape, United States
Sub-concepts: Sacrifice, Desire, Loss, Nature
Description: In an age where resources are becoming more expensive and traditional methods of harvesting energy are detrimental to the environment (CO2 emissions), there is a push for renewable energies that are also more green. Amongst many methods is offshore wind power which generates electricity by rotating a turbine. One of the most efficient areas for the first large scale US projects is off the shore of the cape in Massachusetts, but there is significant opposition to the plan.
This article relays the misconception of wind turbines in their development off the coast of Cape Cod. There is controversy but the direct reason for it is fabricated by other lies. For example, the supposed reasons for the opposition of implementing these turbines are that they “blight the view off the Massachusetts cape, kill birds and harm fishing”. Killing birds is not actually an issue since new turbines all emit supersonic sound frequencies that direct birds away. Also, the concern that they harm fishing is another misconception. While there is no proof that they would harm relevant fishing, these turbines can have surrounding cages which prevent any harm to fish. The fisherman will not be affected by this space since it is a small relative to all the other open waters. Even if it did have any effect on fishing, the benefits of clean renewable energy severely outweigh these effects, proving this to be an illogical argument.
The only apparent valid reason for the opposition is that people, specifically the Kennedy family, do not want their property value to decline as a result of seeing these turbines in the distance. In particular, they are “faintly visible on the skyline… particularly during clear days” which in itself is such a minor detail of the difference on the visual aesthetic of the Cape. One could even argue that these wind turbines could increase property value as they would actually be visually appealing, not to mention the benefits of cheaper local energy sources. All in all, his dilemma includes nonsense for justification. This single reason is a true belief but it cannot hold on its own to convince the community not to build the wind turbines. As a result, opponents utilize falsified statements of nonsense (as I mentioned before) as excuses to justify a single reason that is not justifiable on its own because it is nonsense when one compares the advantages this project has for the economy. Thus, we see that the only way to make nonsense effective in misleading people is to simply add more nonsense. One can sometimes see the truth behind nonsense, so including more of it will further cover the truth and make it less probable for it to be unveiled.
Nonsense can be a powerful tool but it is often used selfishly. It is intentionally presenting something as what it is not which makes it dangerous. If people can reveal the truth behind nonsense they will be frustrated because it is like someone attempted to rob them of truth. Therefore, it is not effective in gaining one’s empathy. This topic also involved many lawsuits from these opponents which is hard to fathom from an ethical point of view due to the sheer selfishness it is driven by. There is an energy crisis, yet all these individuals are concerned with is maintaining their high property value. A petty sacrifice for the betterment of the world is not an option for them which is ludicrous.
Name: Deniz Ozmen
Sub-concept: Fear, movement, objects
Description: Incidents are being reported in France, regarding people dressed as clowns and assaulting the public. The police is on high alert as increasing number of similar cases are happening daily. The clown appearance is said to be used by vigilantes and assaulters. There has also been additional news coming from Britain regarding similar incidents in the past weeks. The authorities has asked people to stop talking about these incidents on social media as they believe giving credit encourages people to continue with their acts.
Like everything, destruction in most cases requires a face when it is displayed in public. Having a face or symbol that resembles similarity and eventually creating familiarity. With this physical projection to the public will be able to identify the incoming friend or foe and thus be able to take immediate action accordingly. Over the past years there has been a lot of similar gestures and costumes that was easy to identify in the world thanks to social media. Most noticeable one in these last few years were the “V for Vendetta” masks that millions wore during “Occupy Gezi Parki” a civil movement against the current legislations regarding the redevelopment of Istanbul and later on the entire country. These masks allowed the protesters to identify themselves even though they did not knew each other in the first place. Despite this fact people were able to form alliances in order to create a larger power to protest and also a sense connectivity among all the people wearing the same mask and marching towards the objective. In case of the clowns, the situation is not that clear as the clown symbolizes, in this case, both the vigilantes and the assaulters who have different objectives yet use destruction as a means to an end. Therefore the face of a clown has become the face of destruction regardless of the purpose whereas the clowns everyone is familiar with continues to lose its credibility in time. Clowns, although not all of them, are designed to create a sense of familiarity that enables the person to enjoy themselves and the acts of these clumsy yet very talented performers. This unspoken alliance between the clowns and the audience is being destroyed with every new case released.
So, how could a symbol of amusement became the face of destruction? What was it that makes clowns funny but also scary at the same time? The answer is simple; destruction on its own is naked. Since it is naked everyone is able to recognize itself from a distance easily. In fact, since everyone is able to recognize it so easily, taking measurements against it is very easy, thus making destructions job much harder. Eventually, it is a must for destruction to disguise itself. This disguise should be able to confuse people to enable enough time to convey devious plans. This is where the image of the clown comes in. The clown’s image consists of two layers: One layer is the friendly and funny part where it is the clown’s duty to entertain people to spread amusement. The second part is the sketchy side of a clown’s face, hiding everything under heavy makeup and that big red nose. The second part is an ally with destruction, allowing destruction to cloak itself within everyday life.
Name: Emre Kulluk
Sub-Concepts: Space, Desire, Transformation
Description: United States has world’s highest incarceration rate by 2.26 million prisoners and they cost taxpayers around $68 billion annually. So, what is life like in these correctional facilities for the inmates? What is the source of violence in prisons? How do they fight with powerlessness?
Interpretation: From the power perspective, prisons are both the most complex and the most interesting structures in the world. The mission of a prison is basically to punish people according to the power of law under the surveillance of the state and this very mission makes it the utmost place to investigate power since people who performed something above their power limit are getting punished through the ultimate power in the country, power of law. Interestingness of prisons is, in a limited space, it contains a population who at least once, ideologically, had more power than the state. Also, it is the same reason that makes it very complex because to be able to manage these people with artificial power requires extreme amount of power, which is an amount of power only a government would have. Therefore, it is possible to say that prisons are the circus of power structures under the supreme power, legislation
Despite to the presence of the supreme power, it is very difficult to manage these people and make them live peacefully. Violence in prison is one of the most problematic issues and it is very challenging to prevent these occurrences. Confinement and freedom limitation creates powerlessness for the imprisoned ones. For these people who once believed they have enough power to do something that the laws do not allow, lack of power evokes their temper. When their temper merges with the perception of imprisonment and powerlessness it results in violence. In most cases, source of violence is an inner power settling and when an individual is not capable of reflecting his/her power as desired, as a way to demonstrate power, that individual uses violence. The idea of imprisonment is based on the demand of the positive transformation of the individual and during this process there are lots of inner power settlings. Violence is just a way to establish power and within this huge population, there are a lot of people who is seeking for the power they once possessed.
Other than violence, another way to prove power for these people who are fighting with lack of power internally is to gain power and demonstrate it through their body. Prisoners are allowed to have one to two hours of free time where they can exercise, watch TV, socialize or call their families, depending on the prison. Most of the prisoners prefer to exercise and gain power in order to be able to protect themselves in case of any disturbance. Exercising and gaining more power is the only possible way to fight with the psychology of powerlessness in prison. A more muscular appearance would help that individual to have, perceptually, higher levels of power within their powerlessness.
So, the whole idea of confinement is like sandpapering process of human beings. The duration in jail aims to decontaminate the extra powers of individuals that are not allowed by the law and establish its maximal power through rubbing those non-essential powers. As a final product, there will be individuals who know their power boundaries.
Victimize Those Who Hold Uncommon Objects
October 25, 2014
Sub-Concepts: Imitation, Threat, Cosplay
Description: Utah police officers shot a man with a fake samurai sword. Cosplay outside of Halloween week and in public is dangerous.
Brandishing any object out of the norm in public generates suspicion and could lead to detention of the individual who carries the object. While any object can be easily turned into a weapon, it is often the objects that resemble what society deems as traditional weapons—guns, knives, swords, grenades, objects of the like—that produces fear in the public. Individuals carrying objects that pose a threat to the public are subsequently threatened by the police. In the news article, a man was carrying a fake samurai sword which led some to believe he was cosplaying. Others found the sword to be a threat as it was out of the ordinary to see a weapon in public and called the police. Without confirming whether or not the sword was real, the police shot the victim assuming that the victim had intentions of harming them. If objects can generate both fear of the known and unknown, it would be objects that resemble traditional weapons. The public knows the weapon is dangerous and thus fears the object and those that carry the object. They fear the known, the ability of those objects. But what leads them to call for help is the possibility of the individual using the object, the unknown.
The actions the public take when they see these objects depend on the environment in which they are accustomed to as well as the exposure they have to the media. News of shootings and stabbings are not unheard of. We all know there are dangerous individuals in the world we live in. The uncertainty of whether or not an individual we see, holding a seemingly dangerous object, will use it to kill or not is what pushes the public to call for safety. However, the results are not always pleasant. In this case, the individual had no intentions of hurting anyone for the object was only used to enhance his costume and cannot actually cut anyone. But he ended up dying because of the uncertainty the public had. Utah, where the man was shot, also had open-carry laws. Essentially the man was not breaking any rules either, but doubt and human’s physiological need for safety caused the death of an innocent man. If this had occurred in a state or neighborhood where cosplay is common, then the result may not have been the same. Objects may communicate very different messages to different people. The reception by the public depends on exposure to the objects and their ways of thinking.
Are Video Games to blame for Mass Murder?
Sub-concepts: Murder, Technology, Death
Description: In this article, they discuss a possible correlation between mass murderers and video game use. They believe that these video games allow murderers to abandon their former selves and act on the violent behavior these video games promote.
Interpretation: Although this article does point out that many murderers are video games users I am skeptical that these two points are related. One particular case they analyzed was the mass murderer at Virginia Tech University in 2007. The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and reportedly played a lot of violent video games. One such game he played was “Counterstrike,” which similar to all violent video games rewards you for the violence you commit. The main argument taken from this is that these games promote violence showing others that violence is acceptable. In other words, people abandon what they know as right and wrong just because a video game deems it as acceptable. However, if this is true then shouldn’t all people who play “Counterstrike” be mass murderers? Also, wouldn’t this cause other extensions of media such as violent movies and books also reward participants for violent behavior? Any movie or book that contains a figure killing others as the “good guy” would also be promoting violent behavior. Due to this fact, that would mean that most people are mass murderers because almost everyone has seen a James Bond movie or read a book about war. Despite the argument I’ve stated, it can be said that players do abandon a part of themselves when playing a video game. We are taught as a society to reject violence and cruelty, however in these games by killing the end “boss” or destroying a structure blocking your path you are rewarded with “special orbs” or “extra lives,” depending on the game. The idea that players temporarily abandon their normal habits when playing video games is most definitely a true statement. It is not true however that this abandonment is connected to mass murder.
Russian artist cuts off earlobe in protest at use of forced psychiatry on dissidents
Name: Hein Myat Win Lwin
Sub-Concepts: Pain, Movement, Sacrifice, Transofrmation
On the wall of the Serbsky psychiatry center, Pytor Pavlensky sliced off a part of his ear lobe in protest against the police using psychiatry to achieve political goals. He was later brought down by the police and went sent to the hospital but it appears that he does not have long-lasting problems concerning his severed earlobe.
In the article, it discusses about the protests of a Russian artist who performs self-mutilation as a mean of protest against the Russian government. There is fragmentation in the physical sense that he sliced off a piece of his ear but the main source of fragmentation that will be discussed in the interpretation stems from the very source behind his protest. The artist is protesting against the psychiatric diagnoses by Russian psychiatry centers whose underlying interest apparently aligns with politics rather than mental health of its patients. Thereby, figures that prove to be an impediment to the political goals of Russia are often diagnosed as mentally unstable and are indefinitely kept away from society as they are detained in psychiatry centers. Therefore, similar to the previous communist regimes there is a purge of people that does not “fit” in the ideology of the Russian government. The location and the choice of body part to mutilate can be interpreted as an intentional message constructed by the protesting artist. First of all, the location that he picked conveys an obvious and direct message as he chooses the very psychiatry centers that gives false diagnoses in order to play an oppressive role in the Russian government. However, his choice in cutting his ear-lobe can serve as a symbolism for the government’s method of cutting off its communication with the people that opposes its views in society. Thereby, an interpretation can be that the artist is posing as the government itself as he stands on top of the wall of the psychiatry center thereby symbolizing the government’s powers and influence over these facilities as he cuts off his ear lobe. Moreover, another form of symbolism manifests due to the fact that he did not cut off his ear but merely his earlobe which does not have a direct relation over his function to hear. However, even though the ear lobe itself serves no function towards communication, the artist will not be able to hear after severing his earlobe due to the pain and trauma that will be caused in the process thereby effectively rendering him deaf. He does so in order to shine a light on the similar process that the Russian government uses to silence its protesters as they do not directly silence them through arrest or punishment for treason but instead frames the situation in a way where they are supposed “helping” these people while achieving their underlying intention of silencing them. Thereby, the fragmentation of the artist’s ear lobe can be compared to the fragmentation of communication through indirect means rather than completely denying communication as a whole.
Name: Dwiarta Alim
Sub-Concepts: Loss, Immolation, Sacrifice, Rebirth, Devotion
The practice of sati, or the burning of the widow, is derived not from the Hindu religion but rather from a manifestation of some orthodox religion in India in which a widow self-immolates herself on her dead husband’s pyre. The act of sati was believed to be voluntary for the widow, but there were many instances in which women were forced to commit sati, sometimes even dragged against their own wishes to the lighted pyre. The first practice of sati was believed to be performed by the goddess, Sati, who was the consort of Lord Shiva. She burnt herself to ashes in protest against her father who did not acknowledge her marriage with Lord Shiva. This act of sacrifice was in the attempt to be reborn again as the new consort of Shiva, in which she was incarnated into Parvati.
In this age of ascending feminism and focus on equality and human rights, it is difficult to assimilate this disturbing practice of sati into our modern world. Indeed, the practice is outlawed and illegal in today’s India, yet it occurs up to the present day and is still regarded by some as the ultimate form of womanly devotion and sacrifice. In 1987, a young bride of eight months, Roop Kanwar, became a widow and performed sati, burning herself to the death on her late husband’s pyre. Many of her relatives tried to dissuade her, but to no avail. She threatened them with sati shraap, a curse inflicted on those who would oppose a sati and bring pure ruin to not only the person but the entire village. She stepped into the pyre and sat, holding her husband’s head while her brother-in-law lit the pyre. As the fire engulfed her, Roop sat serenely talking to her relatives, not showing any sign of pain.
The grief at the death of a loved one is one of the most common reasons for suicides for all societies. Out of injustice, honor and love, Ritual Suicide, is tied to belief in reincarnation and viewed as a sacrifice of the body, but not a mortal sin against the soul. Other famous instances of ritual suicide include Buddhist priests who, in protest of the Vietnam War, immolated themselves to death in the Saigon town square. Although feminists, political leaders and many of India’s rural people have contended that the glorification of sati is a national disgrace and an immoral act, sati performed by a widow facilitates the attainment of spiritual salvation for her dead husband.
Name: Kevin Dooley
Sub Concepts: Power, Death, Sacrifice
Region: United States of America/Iraq
Description: When thinking about the American military, solitude is not a word that is often associated with it. Snipers play a huge role in success of military missions around the world. Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in the history of the United States military, having over 150 confirmed kills.
Interpretation: Although snipers in the United States military travel in a larger unit, they often find solitude in every mission. Most of the time, they have to find cover and wait for hours at a time always ready to fire a shot at any given moment. They have communication with the other members of their unit, but often times have to remain silent so that they do not reveal their location. Chris Kyle’s solitude gave him the strength he needed to successfully complete the missions he was assigned to. He never second guessed a decision to fire his weapon because he was always sure of what he was doing. This confidence must come from within. No matter how much training you receive, you cannot teach confidence. That power came from the hours upon hours of sitting silently in hostile territory scouting targets. It’s almost as if finding dangerous targets was an instinct that he developed. These instincts expand as more missions are undertaken. Snipers have to master the art of stealth, as it is there job to evade detection. That very aspect of the job is also the part that incites the most fear in the enemy.
Snipers are often inspire much more fear in the insurgents than those with automatic weaponry. It’s the idea that you have no idea where the sniper is and even if he is there at all. He could fire a shot with extreme accuracy whenever he feels necessary. Chris Kyle was so feared by the rebels in Iraq, that they were offering a reward for anyone who would bring him back dead. When they placed the bounty on him, they still had no idea what he looked like so they posted a generic picture of an American sniper. This shows how much power that snipers have in their hands. This power is not just in the weapon they use, but the psychological terror that can inflict the enemies. There were times when Kyle was on duty and there was not a specific target that he was on the lookout for, he had to make decisions whether certain individuals were a threat. The most popular story about him was when he had a woman in his crosshairs who seemed to have an explosive on her as she was approaching some marines. He decided to shoot her, which resulted in a grenade she was holding to explode before she wanted it to.
The role a sniper plays in modern warfare cannot be understated. Typically an entire mission relies on the competency of the sniper. Although they are often alone during certain missions, what they do requires a team.
Name: Jeremy Fathy
Region: Soviet Union
Sub-Concepts: Objects, Nature, Destruction
Description: In the 1930s and 1940s, the Soviet Union strapped explosives to dogs and used the dogs to blow up enemy tanks.
Interpretation: In an effort to destroy enemy equipment in World War II, the Soviet Union trained dogs to run towards enemy tanks by starving them and then hiding food under tanks. This caused the dogs (usually German Shepherds) to associate food with tanks, and this association was then used by the Soviet’s to attack their enemies. The dogs would be strapped with explosives hooked up to a detonating lever that would get pulled when they crawled under enemy tanks looking for food. As one can imagine, this would do serious damage to the enemy vehicles but also would obliterate the dogs. Basically, the Soviet’s sacrificed these dogs in order to advance their war-time causes. They took advantage of the dogs and used them as suicide bombers; they turned living beings into objects used for the sake of human destruction. This form of sacrifice is extremely violent and seemingly unjust. What right do people have to use animals as mobile weapons? Because humans see their lives as more valuable than those of the dogs, this sacrifice seemed okay (from this skewed outlook). However, human lives are really only more important in the eyes of humans; this selfish perspective on life leads to the destruction of nature and the treatment of living beings like these dogs as objects. This sacrifice of other living beings thus exemplifies the “anything goes” nature of war and society. Humans will do anything it takes to destroy their enemies and will put innocent creatures in harm’s way without thinking twice. These dogs obviously had no interest in destroying tanks and did not truly understand what they were doing, yet they were manipulated into sacrificing their lives for a cause in which they had no stake. While dogs are the example here, this piece of history highlights humanity’s growing lack of respect for nature and anything “not human” as a whole. This specific sacrifice is completely one-sided as the dogs get nothing in return for blowing themselves up; they do not get real glory nor would they even care about that. Instead, they become objects, lose their natural existence, and become pawns of human senselessness. Even worse, these dogs usually did not successfully blow up the enemy German tanks; sometimes they would run back to Soviet trenches and explode (killing Soviets), and other times the dogs would be shot by German soldiers. Animal sacrifices are not uncommon in human history, but this version of animal sacrifice seems more violent and cruel than others. In a way, when a culture sacrifices an animal to please a god or spirits, it makes logical sense (looking at the situation from their perspective) as the animals’ lives are typically given up in hopes to directly lead to a better situation; however, in the case of the Soviet’s sacrificing the dogs, the animals are killed in order to cause even more destruction and pain (and the benefit then comes indirectly from the “positives” that might come from winning the war in the end).
Name: Rebekah Wade
Sub-Concepts: Space, Time, Reality/Illusion
Description: In the 1970s, Italian photographer Paolo Gioli began his research and experimentation in cinematography. His technical and procedural experimentation and innovation transformed his films into monumental displays of a rebellious artistic form. The auteur destroys the traditional structures of film, and seeks to learn, appropriate, and pollute the functioning of the “black viewing box” – the camera. Gioli implements methods such as the pinhole camera, photo finish, and stop motion animation in an effort to analyze the behavior of light, perception, and movement and reject cinematography’s common practices.
Gioli’s implementation of the pinhole camera disregards film’s partiality to the more natural standard of the horizontal, where subjects move laterally and the camera correspondingly pans and dollies. The eyes of the viewer find this technique the most comfortable, for our eyes are placed side by side, and the human body has more ocular muscles devoted to tracking objects on the horizontal axis rather than the vertical. However, Gioli disregards this standard, and presents each filmstrip from top to bottom. Works such as “Film Stenopeico” exhibit this unnatural verticality, while implementing unprecedented techniques constructed to arouse discomfort and manipulate space and time.
“Film Stenopeico” is made without a movie camera, but rather a pinhole camera. The implementation of such a device flagrantly abandons the technological instrument of the traditional film camera – a device Gioli considered lethal to creativity. The pinhole camera is a hollow metal tube where film is pulled through manually, manipulating and morphing space and time. The subject’s image enters through numerous apertures distributed along one side of the tube, and tiny pinhole “obsucras” are created. When these image points are run through a projector, the end result is a compilation of various flickering paranormal projections of an inanimate subject appearing to move longitudinally and transversally. The product of this vertical downward movement is a removal of framelines – the elimination of such dividing lines disowns the standard of the unchanging horizontal rectangle. The multiple pinholes create a filmstrip that is not always centered, and a series of images that overlap. The viewer is left to the uncomfortable screening of drifting images where the real and the imaginary coalesce and coexist.
Gioli’s techniques and the resultant images embody madness. When mad, one completely disregards societal principles in an effort to pursue his or her obsessions and adorations. In this passionate pursuit, the real and the imaginary may coincide and intermingle. In Gioli’s pursuit for pure creativity, he disregards cinematography standards and embraces mad methods. The end result is equally magical and manic. The viewer must uncomfortably use their ocular muscles devoted to vertical movement and embrace the fact that what they see vertically flickering along the screen is in fact a morphed and manipulated instant of space, matter, and time.
Human Ashes Turned into Diamonds
Name: Thu Tran
Sub-Concepts: Selfishness, Fear, Disintegration
Description: Swiss company Algordanza uses cremated human remains to make diamonds. The business is thriving with customers from twenty-four countries all over the world. The company uses high-tech machinery to compress the ashes with intense heat and pressure for weeks to create the literal one-of-a-kind diamond.
Interpretation: The process of taking loved one’s ashes and creating a material possession seems ghastly, particularly because diamonds are inherently flashy. People buy diamonds for celebratory reasons, and through that, mostly as an exclamation of what they are willing to spend for their love. The customers coming to the Swiss company to make the diamonds are taking straight from the essence of the recently deceased. Something is really strange about that; for the majority of the cases, this decision comes from the living. The deceased have no say in the matter and it is their body that is disintegrating into another form. It is their body that is becoming possessive and the act is like a robbery. For those who take on the large investment, (the process costs from $5,000-$22,000), they desire the loved ones to the point of turning their dead bodies into a wearable accessory. It is a level of selfishness on their part because they cannot stand to let themselves feel the pain of their loved ones leaving the world. Doing anything other than the usual cremation or burial is still very odd to our society, but it is becoming more and more mainstream.
“Black Lives Matter” Protest in Boston
Sub-Concepts: Displacement, Identity, Excess
Region: Boston, Massachusetts
Description: Protestors launched a Newbury Street Shutdown on Saturday to show that they “remain committed to being active in the movement against racist policing and police violence both local and nationally”. There were about 1000 people who said they’d attended the event via Facebook and there were over 150 people on Newbury Street according to the Boston Police Department.
Interpretation: Protestors in Boston are rising up to combat the issue of police violence and the racial profiling against African Americans. With increasing situations of police brutality, these protestors have found that there is power in having a large number of people in the middle of the city specifically in areas that are highly concentrated like Newbury Street. This protest caused much confusion and disorder as the protestors were standing in the middle of the intersection causing traffic to build-up and detour routes to be put up to mitigate the back up. One thing that is interesting to point out is that these protestors were only standing in the intersection for a couple of minutes, yet it caused such mayhem within that period of time. The act of the protest resulted in displacement of the usual traffic that goes through the area. In the city things are always moving and there is no stopping. Any stopping that occurs is at stoplights, but we get so annoyed and disgruntled about having to wait for those few moments. The act of displacing the traffic is powerful because it forced everyone who passed by there to slow down and take in what was actually going on and what was being presented.
Name: Jared Silber
Sub-concepts: Isolation, Space, Time, Nature
Location: The seven seas
Description: In 2010, Laura Dekker (then 14 years old) started a journey to circumnavigate the world in a 38-foot sailboat—alone. After completing her 1 ½ year journey, she became the youngest person to do so.
Interpretation: Since she was 10 years old, Laura Dekker was doing multi-week sailing trips by herself. Solo sailing trips have been idolized in popular culture—from Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea to Robert Redford’s movie All is Lost—and attempted in real life for decades, the first one being completed in 1890. Now image being on a vessel the size of a school bus for weeks at a time—six to seven in Laura’s case—before docking and having to take care of your well-being. No one is there to feed, medicate, or care for you. Add to that managing your trajectory, speed, and boat integrity (the failure to do properly would result in your death). The second link posted below speaks to the two most important parts of solo sailing: being able to perform the technical sailing abilities well and doing them alone. Laura was alone for more than a month at a time and only saw her parents on four occasions over her 17-month journey. Along with surviving rogue waves and strong tempests, she was able to survive the loneliness of the open ocean. She does not talk about whether she was lonely out there, but I expect that she and other solo sailors combat loneliness by focusing on the formidable task at hand.
Name: Aakash Daryanani
Sub-Concepts: Sacrifice, Destruction
Description: Originally reserved only for the samurai, Seppuku is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It was part of the samurai honor code where they would voluntary kill themselves to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of the enemies; or, it was used as capital punishment for samurai who had committed an action that brought shame to the samurai code and cult collectively.
Interpretation: Seppuku is, all-in-all, an honorable way to commit suicide or an honorable way to die if the samurai were to break some or all rules in Bushido, which literally translate to the “samurai’s way.” Bushido mostly stresses on the combination of frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. The act of Seppuku took place mainly in two places – the battlefield or at a formal affair with other samurais, which usually happens in a Tatami room or on a gravel clearing in a garden.
On the battlefield, Seppuku may not take place how it is supposed to. Obviously, samurais are wearing armor on the battlefield and the enemy could potentially be charging. There’s no time to take all the armor off, slice your stomach from left to right, and let your intestines gobble out of your stomach. On the battlefield, samurai would usually just stab themselves in the neck or slash their arms and veins so that they can instantly die. While this is not the traditional way to do it, the death is more instant and it allows the samurai to get out of the potential death at the hands of the enemy, or get out of potential capture and torture.
The traditional way, as mentioned, takes place in a Tatami room or a gravel clearing in a garden. The samurai would dress up in an all-white gown, which represents purity. The samurai would write a short poem that had to signify the samurai’s state of mind as well as the season (like cherry blossom season). The samurai would be offered some food, a cup of saké, and a washcloth. Once the foods and drink were consumed, the actual suicide and death would take place, as the samurai would slice his stomach, and another would make sure he is dead by sometimes slicing his head off. The traditional way can often be seen as a very decadent way of committing suicide. The samurai dresses up so well and goes through such a ritual just to eventually die. He/she knows death is imminent, but still dresses up to look fancy and traditional for death.
The act of Seppuku in general is considered to be very honorable. People in general talk about suicide and call people who commit suicide cowards or so because they’re taking away their life and ending it so quickly. It is quite ironic, however, that the samurai see this ritual as an honorable way to die, and people who are not the samurai find this cool, awesome, and intense. If a man who is facing financial burden slits his throat, he is a coward for running away from his problems, but a samurai slitting his throat on the battlefield is honorable and understandable. At the end of the day, despite how “honorable,” the suicide actually is derived from “running away from your problems.” So why is it that people view the samurai’s suicide as more honorable and respectful? It is because the samurai are not just ordinary people. The people that commit suicide because of financial burdens or so, relate to the people that think samurai Seppuku is cool because they work similar jobs, go through similar problems, and live a fairly, ordinary life. The samurai, however, have this code of honor and that’s what is cool. I can guarantee you, if in the past, someone influential wrote a code and got followers, people would adhere to that code and find it honorable. While I may never know what it’s like to be a samurai, I also find it pretty damn cool how they commit suicide to prevent death by the enemy’s hand or torture by the enemy. I, too, am perverse.