Nonsense in Tongue
Name: Kevin Manesh
Region: United States
Sub-concepts: Fear, Reality/Illusion, Language
Description: Kenny St Best is a top gospel artiste as well as a top talk show host turned-politician. With over 16 years of stage experience, she explains what she does to prepare herself for getting on stage. In particular, she speaks in tongue for seven minutes before getting on stage to get herself ready.
There is nonsense within many things but it is not always negative. We see nonsense within revelations and more specifically in church Baptists when they speak in tongue during these revelations. Speaking in tongue is an example of experiential language. St Best receives unhuman-like energy when she speaks the “Word of God”. This ritual may seem like nonsense to many but it works for her. Perhaps she is her own victim of the nonsense she implements. Maybe she unconsciously blinds her from reality in order to promote her skills and her mental state. Despite the truth behind this ritual, it is a smart technique nonetheless.
Within language, we commonly see nonsense in foreign languages due to the incomprehensiveness it fosters but we can understand foreign sounds because they fall under the category of a universal language. But even in this unity of language there is nonsense. Although she mutters sounds that can be interpreted, they are specific to her so they are ultimately confusing and prove to be nonsense to others. This is similar to the idea that we are afraid of sounds even if we are familiar to them because there is still a glimpse of incomprehensiveness behind them. If we hear moaning without seeing the source, we cannot decipher whether or not it is pain or pleasure. This paradox proves true in this case in terms of understanding. We do not know the true source of her capabilities which we see in the interviewer when she accuses St Best of using stimulants.
Alberto Rodriguez Rico
Sub concepts: war, violence, rebel
Description: The Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN) is a Mexican paramilitar organization that emerged in 1994 during the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Salinas was a significantly polemical president since he did large improvements in the Mexican economy, but at the end of his term he committed a mistake that manifested itself with the Tequila Crisis in 1994. This was the worst devaluation of the Mexican currency (peso) and affected many families. EZLN’s manifestation claimed to give voice to the ethnic minorities in Mexico and fight for the initial cause of the independence. They are hidden in the south of Mexico deep inside the jungle. They have channeled their discontent with violent actions that range from violent public protests, attacks to internationals and recruitment of young boys for their guerilla purposes. This groups accuse Mexico to live under the universal illusion in which ethnic minorities do not have a voice even though the law claims equality.
The original native individuals that lived in the Americas have always been treated as minorities ever since the colonization of the Americas by the Europeans, who came to our land and destroyed everything they found. Consequently we have been educated to think under the illusion that not native people are superior to the local population by considering them ignorant and uncivilized. Now a days the laws protects these minorities but society still lives under the absolute illusion that natives are minorities, consequence of their ignorance. However, we can observe that they are just different. Their cultures are significantly rich and has large amounts of knowledge which society ignores. They give another perspective which is ignored by the universal world which rules Mexico and claims that money and politics is the only valuable motivation to live. It is interesting how the law has been amended to change this, but the society has not changed at all. This cultural claim has a long time in the Mexican’s mind.
Since long time ago the native people have not decided to follow the rules that have been imposed. They have preferred to be confined in rural areas in the mountains than to surrender to society’s universal rules. They will not leave their culture behind. However this decision has brought consequences such as extreme poverty and a negative living condition. The submersion of minorities was once created by authorities to aim for control of the country as a whole and to create unity. Interestingly the EZLN is a proof that this had not been the case. They fight against the universal Mexico in which the native people are ignored and live immersed in poverty. They are the manifestation of the centuries of accumulation of grief for attempting to be imposed an absolute truth. However the whole actions of EZLN are violent, either subjective or objective. They attempt for disunity among Mexicans and organize rebellions which kill innocent people. They were part of Atenco which was a polemical episode in Mexico’s history during 2006. It was a public fight between the government and the poor people for a submerged part of Mexico’s City. The repression by the leaders of this group led to act violently without control and endangering the country as a whole.
“Tres Artículos Sobre El EZLN, a 19 Años De Su Aparición.” – Aristegui Noticias. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://aristeguinoticias.com/0201/mexico/tres-articulos-sobre-el-ezln-a-19-anos-de-su-aparicion/>.
Name: Alexis Yioulos
Region: Davidson, North Carolina
Sub-concepts: Vagrancy, Limitation, Divinity
Description: A sculpture of Jesus as a vagrant was placed outside of an episcopal church in an affluent area of North Carolina, disturbing community members who mistook the statue for a homeless person.
There is something pitifully comical about this scenario: it exposes certain hypocrisies within religious disposition, presenting a divide between dogma and practice. Beyond that, we are forced to more closely consider the power of the vagrant. The only indication that this statue is Jesus is the crucifixion wounds on his feet, which is befitting given that feet are considered holy, and that they also bear the brunt of the vagrant’s travels.
The vagrant exists on the fringes—why don’t we centralize him? What are we afraid of, removed from, and why? Our apathy is partly rooted in a lack of understanding of historical development, and partly rooted in convenience and comfort. In this particular neighborhood, monetary wealth plays a role in this dynamic. Monetary wealth is limited and limiting; it enables us to create social divisions and indirectly enforce them. In a capitalist structure, monetary value supersedes all other value; human value especially holds little space in that structure, positioning it in opposition to many dogmatic structures.
The vagrant wanders, traversing those physical and social divisions without hesitation or fear, which is particularly threatening to the capitalist and those who blindly follow the capitalist. The vagrant has nothing to lose, and is therefore the closest of us to the divine: the vagrant is untouchable, unknowable, and sees what most do not. One must experience filth, deprivation, and rejection in order to construct a matrix of value outside of the physical and monetary. We must construct and obsessively reaffirm our supremacy with artificial matrices of value; the vagrant only need be.
Name: Charlotte Widjaja
Sub-concepts: Fear, Abandonment, Time
Description: Ryan White, from Kokomo, Indiana, was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 13 in 1984, and was told by doctors that he had approximately six months to live. With the limited knowledge regarding AIDS during this time, parents, students, and teachers of Western Middle School rallied against White’s return to school.
Interpretation: In the 1980s, research and factual information regarding AIDS and HIVS were relatively scarce as people remained ignorant to the topic, often automatically assuming that the gay community could only contract AIDS. However, as a hemophiliac at birth, White contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood treatment. After his diagnosis, 50 faculty members, and about 117 parents gathered together to sign a petition to have the school board ban White from returning Western Middle School. Eventually, the principle abided by the majority and agreed to ban Ryan White. The people’s decision of banning White from school illustrates the concept of an individual being sacrificed for the majority of the people, often due the majority’s ignorance or lack of knowledge on a topic. Due to the majority’s ignorance of AIDS and HIV, many people assumed White was infected with AIDS because he was either gay or had participated in unconventional activities and his contraction of the disease was a result of God’s punishment. For the safety and peace of mind of Kokomo, the majority was able to disregard the pains, emotions, fears, and struggle of a 13 year old boy diagnosed with AIDS in order to rally the community to banish this child from his home. These actions brought about by the faculty and parents of Kokomo seem cruel, insensitive, and brutal from the view point of White and his family. However, the sacrifice of this child for essentially the greater good of Kokomo, to prevent AIDS from spreading in the community, can be seen an act that defines and follows exactly the meaning of sacrifice. Within sacrifice is the word sacred, in which a sacrifice is meant to be a sacred act, an offering to a something of a higher level of meaning. In this case, the people’s decision to give up, to offer, and to forgo White through banishment is a sacred act that was performed for the sake of Kokomo’s residents and their health. The idea that one person is singled out the save the majority or that the fall of one person is worth the sacrifice if it saves ten more people are strongly in effect.
The concept of fear plays deeply into sacrifice in that is often a strong driving force to lead people to resort to act of sacrifice. The people of Kokomo feared that White would spread AIDS throughout the community, and that his supposedly unconventional actions directly deemed him an outcast. Fear drove people to rally against this child, regardless of their lack of knowledge regarding the disease, how White may have contracted it, and how it can be spread. Interestingly, the relation of White’s infection of AIDS with the belief that it was a product of God’s punishment places fear and religion side by side. Religion is not only used as a reasoning for a child’s sudden infection of AIDS, but also as a way to justify the people’s action of banishment as a result of their fear. In essence, if God was willing to punish White through a curse as severe as AIDS, the people’s move to ban White from school is acceptable. The concept of offering one person to save the rest, a seemingly simple concept, governs our modern day society from having an over-arching democratic society, to the way we vote in student organizations, to the way we determine right from wrong, and insane from sane. The list of sacrifices performed for the sake of the majority can go on as it becomes evident that this is a prevailing concept in the 21st century modern society.
Region: Albany, New York
Sub-concepts: Addiction, Homeless, Destruction
Description: The son of Kevin and Diane Flood has been controlled by a heroin addiction after dropping out of high school due to dropping grades and a marijuana habit that got him into trouble at school. His parents have spent almost $400,000 attempting to help their son Dan get and stay clean, but Dan’s addiction has only gotten worse, as he has been kicked out of all of the treatment centers and rehab facilities his parents have paid for. Eventually, Kevin and Diane were left no choice but to kick Dan out of their house and he has now become homeless due to his terrible choices. The pain of giving up tortures his parents every day, but they were left no choice.
Interpretation: The Flood family was a normal, happy family until Dan’s addiction began causing issues for the family. The Flood’s believed that they were raising their children to be stellar students and to make the right choices but somewhere along the path, Dan took the wrong turn. The Flood’s attempted to support Dan for as long as possible, doing everything in their power to help him get back on the right track and become clean again. Every attempt they made, Dan ruined by relapsing back into drug use or finding a new way to get high in the rehab facility Eventually, Kevin and Diane were too overwhelmed with Dan’s drug use and had no other choice but to kick him out of the house. It takes a lot for supportive parents to give up on their child, but Dan gave them no other option. Soon after he was kicked out, Dan’s habits also got his couch surfing privileges taken away by his friends. He was now homeless and living on the streets, making money by asking passersby for their extra change or whatever they could afford to give him. When his parent’s first discovered his homelessness, they were overcome with fear that terrible things were going to happen to him on the streets of Albany. Violence against homeless people is not uncommon on the streets of large cities, especially if gang violence is prominent in the area. The pain their son’s addiction had caused them just got worse and worse as each day passed. The Flood’s are constantly worrying about Dan’s wellbeing. Sometimes they even awaken during the night and are struck by terror that Dan may have been murdered or overdosed, so they call all of the local hospitals and morgues to see if he has been identified. Addiction causes a lot of terrible problems for not only the user but also the surrounding family and friends that are affected by the user’s decisions. No parent wants to kick their son out of their house, but when faced with no other choice, it is sometimes necessary to work through the pain that it may cause in hopes of helping their son. Addiction is one root cause for so much pain in society, but the issue is, people use addiction to escape pain. It is a never ending cycle of destruction.
Name: Ryan Narod
Abu Ghraib was a prison in Iraq where POWS were tortured, raped, and murdered by members of the United States Army and CIA. Some soldiers were discharged and others are still serving prison time.
The horrible crimes committed against these prisoners highlights the fuzzy area that delineates what is your duty to keep your country safe and what crosses the line into evil and criminal acts. The US Department of Justice authorized certain terror tactics and waived international humanitarian laws for interrogating foreign detainees. The soldiers used some of their own resistance to interrogation training, R2I, on the prisoners. These particular abuses attacked their self worth without physically harming the prisoners. Other crimes were sexual and bloody crimes where prisoners were beaten or forced into humiliating position for hours on end. One prisoner was murdered.
Two arguments arise when analyzing what went wrong at Abu Gharib: bad apples or bad barrel, which can also be framed as the dispositions of the guards, or a situation that played an integral role in influencing their behavior. Some argue that a culture of violence and compliance was created, but it also possible that they had these desires themselves and that is how they found their way into the situation. Their predispositions, personalities, and prior experience lead them to the army then to a certain position then to this particular prison. It is harder to analyze the situational effects as the guards and severely abused prisoners are the only ones who know what the environment was truly like. However, the pictures, many taken as boasts on cell phone camera, indicate a tortuous chamber of guards with ultimate power to inflict any pain on a whim. The root of the desire and the perpetration of the violence are inexorably intertwined in this situation. As a case study the event furthers a nature versus nurture debate that will always leave those who study it with an ambiguous answer.
Name: Dwiarta Alim
Sub-Concepts: Endurance, Guilt, Honor, Bravery
The ancient art of decorating one’s body with scars are an elaborate part of local culture in Ethiopian tribes. These scars develop into delicate patterns of raised flesh to intricate dotted patterns as an expression of beauty and cultural identity.
People around the world have long used their own bodies as canvases for the expression of their beauty, be it through tattoos or piercings. However, the act of tattooing and scarification rituals scarring are extremely painful. Ethiopian tribes have long used this technique of tattooing for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, scars are thought to beautify the body, and this journey for beauty through scarification often begins during one’s childhood, especially for young girls. This ritual is completed to offset puberty, the first menstrual cycle and childbirth. Although there are other reasons for the practice of scarification, the quest for beauty is nearly always part of the goal. Secondly, scarification is performed on boys and men to reflect bravery and their ambidextrous skills; scarring is incredibly painful, and requires great endurance to get through the ritual. To cry in the process would humiliate and taint the boy or man’s identity in the tribe. Furthermore, the number of scarring on a person’s body directly correlates directly with one’s strength. The more scars, the more respected one is within the tribe. The third implementation for scarring is family pride. As Ethiopian tribes are patriarchal, one coming of age ceremony for a young man asks his sisters to endure a ritual beating that leaves their backs scarred and bloody. These scars are viewed as signs of love and respect from the sisters for their brother, bringing honor to the entire family. The ritual is only complete if the sisters do not show any sign of pain.
Name: Mónica Quirós
Region: Hong Kong
Sub-concepts: Resistance, Resilience, Sovereignty
Event: After the Chinese government announced its plan to strip Hong Kong to their right to democratic elections, students and activists followed by the general Hong Kong population took the streets to protests their loss of sovereignty and right to democracy. After the military approached the crowds with tear gas and water tanks, people used umbrellas to protect themselves. The widespread use of umbrellas has made them an icon symbol of the protests now known as the “umbrella revolution”.
Loss can be very personal and it is often times inevitable. One of the few losses that allows its subjects to take control, is the loss of sovereignty and freedom. Few events move masses as protests against an oppressive government, because when a single action takes away from millions of people, the loss creates unity that enables the possibility of action. Widespread losses have the power to fuel revolution because the impotence of the individuals combines to become the power of the masses. At the extreme limit of loss of sovereignty, the individual has little to lose as an individual, but as soon it incorporates himself into the masses, he is taken over by the intoxicating illusion that there is a possibility to recover practically everything has been lost.
The symbol of the umbrella in the revolution has become extremely significant, and although it has historically represented compliance, through this revolution it has become a symbol of resistance. Umbrellas protect you from unwanted foreign elements, therefore holding them agains the military are a visual representation of protecting their sovereignty against those who want to take it away. It is noteworthy that Hong Kong has always been, to a certain extent, under Chinese control, but the idea of democracy is now also being corrupted. Therefore, umbrellas represent unwillingness to allow others to enter the ideal they have constructed of their society; through them, the idealism becomes tangible and the loss is defeated at least temporarily.
Name: Ayse Onen
Subconcepts: Destruction/Creation, Memory
Region: New Orleans
Description: Sculptor Loren Schwerd rebuilt the houses that were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina by using human hair extensions and wigs that were found outside in the remains of St. Claude Beauty Supply after the hurricane hit the city.
Interpretation: We are such helpless creatures in the face of destruction. Things emerge and disappear, and in some instances we do not even realize the process. What is intriguing is that, we become increasingly indifferent to the forms of social and natural destruction happening around us. Almost every day we hear about emergence of natural disasters, diseases, social conflicts, wars and many other forms of destruction and degradation. However, as such instances keep increasing, we tend to grow more indifferent to them. Something carrying an immense force affecting the existence of a being do not succeed in holding a place in our minds. Even if we feel this fake sense of worry, pain, and despair when we first hear about the incident, with time we increasingly grow accustomed to it. Right after these fake emotions fade away is when we start to forget. As more time passes over the initial incident, our mind quickly covers up the traces it has left in our memories. The only way to prevent forgetting can be achieved through creating. Our minds need a contingent element to hold on to rather than being limited to an abstract image or thought. As in many other cases, time degrades the impact the incident leaves in our memories. When we look throughout the history, it is seen how great happenings tend to be forgotten. When looked at the Hurricane Katrina case, we see a similar pattern. A disaster which dominated the US headlines for weeks and even months now stands in the corner of the history, just like many other forms of destruction.
What Loren Schwerd has managed to accomplish is extraordinary. She has not only turned an image of destruction into creation, but she accomplished this through linking certain materials that carried contradicting implications. Schwerd decided to rebuild the destroyed houses by using hair remains found after the hurricane hit the city. Hair is one of the only components of human body that takes a very long time to degrade, even after death. Similarly, it is one of the most durable elements on earth. Long after our bodies decompose, our hair still continues to remain. Schwerd uses a timeless and an extremely durable component to portrait an image of destruction. Her use of two contradicting but yet perfectly complementary elements create strong implications in our memory. The hair conveys the sense that the rebuilt structures are far more durable and strong than the ones that got destroyed during the hurricane. Schwerd’s portraits indicates that destruction should not result in oblivion, but rather, should become timeless in our memories.
Name: Deniz Ozmen
Sub-concept: Power and Reality/Illusion
Description: In his blog in Huffington Post, Michael Brenner talks about a growing psychological phenomenon since the attack on the world trade center. “Terror Psychosis” as Brenner labels it, is basically a type of psychosis that evolved as a result of targeting any disorganized small scale cell groups that are shown as anti-American and/or pro-Islamic in any case thus creating a false reality for American citizens. As a result this has caused people to believe that these so called “threats” are the actual truth and could possibly hurt anyone anytime, even though that is very unlikely. As a result of this false imagery the U.S government was able to conduct and pass any law that would make any private information about anyone accessible easily or allowed them to act as they wish by allowing certain laws about terrorism and any matter of national security.
The definition of psychosis is a loss of contact with reality that usually includes false beliefs about what is taking place or who one is. In other words it is a case of constructing a very tall and thick wall that would not show anything happening at the other side of the wall, without the person even knowing it. After a while this wall becomes a normality in one’s mind thus allowing truth and fiction to become one. After this point there is nothing much to do about the person as that person will have developed its own sense of truth regardless of factors. Walls tend to impose a sense protection from any unknown entity at all times, walls allow people to hide behind them and eventually “protect” one, even though the person that is being “protected” never sees the threat. After a certain time the attacker is irrelevant to the owner of the wall. The only important thing for the owner is that if the wall will stand still against any attack. Ultimately as the owner gets more and more dependent on the wall he/she becomes more reliable to any material that would “fortify” the wall. After this point anyone could do anything to that person as the person leaves reality day by day and finally creating an alternative dimension of reality for themselves.
This is where destruction comes in. Although usually implied as an action that tends to create more harm than good, destruction in case of the wall is the only solution to a growing problem, but the trick here is that destruction will not be the ultimate solution but a part of solution. The first instinct to do would be to try to blow the wall to show that even the strongest wall could never resist forever. In other words, demonstrate other threats to people that are closer to them and that they could kill them even easier than terrorism. Destruction sheds light to the dark space behind the wall to show that staying behind a wall never works because in truth you will be always in a constant position which everyone will know about whereas it would harder to find a mobile person. In other words destruction is a tool that always be used in cases like these. Being able to touch the unknown and even hurting the unknown allows the person to see that nothing looks like as it seems.
Name: Rebekah Wade
Sub-Concepts: Death, desire, cruelty
Description: Throughout Africa, especially in Tanzania, albinos are faced to endure a life marked by fear. Ostracized from their community, most of society is prejudice and discriminatory towards those who have this genetic mutation. However, to the mad minds of witchdoctors and their followers, albinos are subjects of desire – their stark limbs are a necessary component in the creation of coveted concoctions and potions.
Over 200,000 Tanzanians live a life filled with worry and terror. Albinism has cursed their existence, and everyday is spent in hiding. Their individual names do not matter – society knows them as either “muzungu” which is Swahili for “white man” or “zeru zeru,” meaning, “ghost.” With such labels, the albino is stripped of his individuality, denied his heritage and ethnicity, and robbed of his humanity.
Most of civilization is discriminatory towards albinos; however, there are some who idolize and desire the white limbs of this rare breed. Like those who hunt for the carcass of an animal in order to feast on its meat for a meal, locals are instructed under witchdoctors to pursue and kill albinos, for their extremities are necessary ingredients in their potions called “muti.” It is a common conviction that those who have a lighter complexion can create a stronger “muti” than the average man, so the albinos are the primary prey for these predators. A living albino is more desirable because it is believed that if one cuts the victim while he or she is still alive, the increased pain makes the “muti” even more potent and powerful. Such subjects are more difficult to acquire, so many settle on purchasing a mutilated corpse from a dealer for around $75,000.
When one is mad, they often desire objects the rest of society detests. One may initially see these killings as prejudice acts of violence against a minority; however, if these witchdoctors truly hated the albinos they adamantly sought after, why would they burry the white corpses next to deceased tribal chiefs? Most of society may label these witchdoctors as mad because of their mere act of killing; however, the real madness lies in their extreme adoration and longing to obtain the superhuman characteristics of the albino.
The mad sacrifice those they hope to be one day – the mad sacrifice those they long to emulate. Is such an act one rooted in jealousy, or is their adoration so deep that such slaughter is a sacred sacrifice? Those many see as cursed and forced to endure an ostracized life of loneliness, the mad see such figures as otherworldly embodiments of power and purpose – their principal purpose being to serve as the primary ingredient in the witchdoctors’ potently powerful potions.
Name: Solomon Zheng
Region: London, then Global
Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) aims to transform physical violence seen in many rebellions into buffooneries that tackle the morale of the opponents.
Are they professional clowns? Are they simply rebels disguised in clowns? The CIRCA members are in fact a combination of both professional clowns and active rebels. Unlike many social movements and rebellions, CIRCA focuses on inner transformation of not only rebels, but also the opponents. To become a member of the clown army, one first has to transform not just his or her body by hiding under a layer of chicanery, but also reprogram his or her mind into that of a child; through acting and thinking like clowns, the CIRCA members become real clowns. With this transformation, it would be difficult for the opponents would not be able to take them seriously. Thus, the clowns have the commonly perceived privilege to attempt various whimsical acts against and make funny requests towards their opponents without facing serious consequences. The combination of innocuous and child-like behaviors, combined with unperceivable political intents, makes the clown army all the more unpredictable and fearful. Shielded behind this nonviolent weapon of doubt and mischief, CIRCA melts down the defenses of the enemies, transforms and breaks down the uniform and orderly military group into a chaotic and bewildered crowd.
Name: Lawson Hung
Sub-concepts: Sex, Pedophelia, Disgrace
Description: A child rapist is raped, stitched by medics, and re-raped by 20 prisoners.
Daryell Dickson Menenzes Xavier sexually assaulted and murdered his 12 month old son. The fact that his inmates then rape him afterwards is a vigilante movement that is meant to balance the disgrace that Daryell had convicted. Daryell had disgraced himself by raping his baby son. He had brought shame upon his own name, and should have been expecting to receive the treatment that he got from 20 of his fellow inmates. Daryell’s action was a disgusting one, a grotesque move that can not be undone. It may not even be enough that he was raped repeatedly by his inmates to balance the violence of the crime that Daryell convicted. The child is an innocent being, one who has done no wrong. A 12-month old child has not had enough time on Earth to convict crimes or even learn the human morals and accepted standards of righteousness. A 12-month old child definitely has not done enough wrongs deserving to be raped and murdered by his own father. Furthermore, a 12-month old child can not retaliate to his being raped.
This is not to say that what the prisoners did was morally correct, but it at least in some sense brings justice to the child’s death. Prisons are a place where there are no rules, expect those put in place by the guards. Even then, those rules are loosely enforced, since there is no point in enforcing them. All prisoners are ones who have convicted crimes and deserve to be where they are. They have their own code of conduct and their own justice system, effectively turning them into vigilantes. They bring about justice in their own ways.
To make up for the severity of Daryell’s crime, the inmates re-raped him after he had been stitched up by medics. This brings about the question how far should vigilantism go in bringing justice. Some say that this was a disgusting crime on the prisoners’ part, and that they had taken it too far. Others say that Daryell got only what he deserved, that it was what he reaped for when he raped his own son.
Name: Emre Kulluk
Sub-Concepts: Excess, Desire
Region: Ankara, Turkey
Description: The new Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, instead of moving to Ataturk’s presidential palace, moves into the new 1000 room presidential palace which is thirty times larger than the White House and even four times larger than the monumental Palace of Versailles.
Interpretation: Recep Tayyip Erdogan is just another powerful figure who already left enough marks and became a notable individual in the ever-chaotic Middle East. During the time he served as the prime minister, between 2002 and 2014, he was able to increase the amount of power he possessed year by year with his domestic and international accomplishments. As a result of the power he generated, he was able to change the presidential election system and thus, he became the first president that was chosen by the people of Turkey. He possess a great amount of power that he named his era as the “New Turkey”
An important day for the “New Turkey” was the first Independence Day under Erdogan’s reign. On October 29th 2014, the 91st anniversary of Republic of Turkey, the new presidential palace in Ankara, which was ordered by Erdogan while he was the prime minister and was built according to his orders, was opened. Although it will serve as the presidential palace, the grandiose building is named as “Ak Saray” by pro-Erdogan media which reflects the influence and the power of Erdogan since it is an evocation to his party “Ak Parti”. Furthermore, ‘Ak’ means ‘White’ in Turkish, thus, it also carries another allusion to the symbol of ultimate power in the modern world “White House”. It is told that the president prefers to call this mega structure “Ak Saray” instead of Cumhurbaşkanlığı Sarayı, probably because the wording makes him feel content and more powerful. With its 1.37 Billion Turkish Liras price tag, it is the most expensive building every built in the country and one of the biggest presidential residence all around the world. It is obvious that Erdogan wanted to prove his power, once again, to his nation and to the world with this specific structure. When the opposition wanted to stop the project, he outrageously responded and said “No one can prevent the completion of this building. If they are powerful enough, let them come and demolish it.” like a dictator. When his desire to vitalize Neo-Ottomanism and be the Sultan of the modern era merged with economic power, this excessive and lavish palace was born. The construction was compensated by the government budget which is about an extra $10 to pay as tax for every single Turkish citizen.
It looks like Erdogan is very jealous about the subtle, romantic and potent link between the people of Turkey and the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan is trying the challenge Ataturk’s power in any chance he gets. Other than not wanting to call Ataturk as Ataturk since it means the Father of Turks and he wants to be the new Father of Turks in his Neo-Ottoman ideology, he removed the picture of Ataturk from the classrooms in schools and now he refused to live in Ataturk’s presidential palace and built a new one for himself which is just enormous compared to Ataturk’s beautiful, loyal heritage Cankaya Palace. Like Ceausescu of Romania, Gaddafi of Libya or Saddam of Iraq, Erdogan now resides in the gigantic new presidential palace which reflects his desire for more power. Most likely, ending of his era will be like those other politicians who lost their consciousness and believed that they are singularly more powerful than the totality of the nation. When that day comes, this palace will be one of the monuments that will be under the threat of destruction.
Use of tongs: for handling food and for burning testicles
November 5, 2014
Sub-Concepts: Rape, Communion, Revenge
Description: A father invites his daughter’s rapist for dinner. Then he tortures the rapist by burning his genitals with heated tongs and finally strangles him to death.
No death is as painful as a death planned out by an enemy or someone you have wronged. The person that suffered physically and emotionally in the incident that led to this event was the daughter. However, sometimes the person who loves the victim experiences the same pain—in this case, the father. It was evident that the father felt the pangs from the aftermath of his daughter’s rape, for he desired the worse physical pain imaginable for the culprit as well as deprived him of the possibility to feel pleasure in the future. An object involved in a plan so meticulous and brutal as the one just mentioned naturally causes more damage than objects used by owners who did not have as strong of a motive to inflict pain. Furthermore, the object used also expressed the emotions of the owner. The object, tongs, was used to serve his enemy food. This act of communion is deceiving and causes the enemy to let his guard down. After all, physical blows hurt more when they are unexpected. The same object was then heated up and used to destroy the same thing that tainted his daughter, the enemy’s genitals. Heating of the object causes a change in the appearance of the object. The red/orange of the tongs when heated up represents the rage of the owner as well as his desire for revenge. Moreover, the steam rising from the heated item demonstrates the father’s malicious intent.
Any object can be turned into a weapon, even objects that we generally find innocuous. Tongs is a tool that helps us grab food and place it on our plates. It is a harmless object of convenience and practicality. But incorporated into a plan of revenge and it becomes an instrument of torture as it did in the above mentioned incident. Due to the object’s seemingly harmless appearance and the association that tongs have with food, the target is put at ease in the beginning. It is normally a tool for people to share food. In this case, the father is sharing the pain both he and his daughter felt. The rapist told the daughter to stay silent about the incident but he is the one who is silenced in the end.
Taylor Swift’s new video “Blank Space” shocks fans
Sub-concepts: Jealousy, Anger, Seduction
Description: Taylor Swift the stereo typically “good girl,” who is known for creating bubbly, happy music has turned the tables with her new song “Blank Space.” The newly released video for the song has fans intrigued by the violent themes and nature behind the song.
Interpretation: In her new video, Taylor Swift begins by falling in love with a new, suave boy who randomly enters her life. As the video progresses she reveals that their relationship is only temporary stating that their love “will be forever or go down in flames.” Once she finds a flaw in her new man she rejects him as a caregiver and breaks him down emotionally and physically, eventually killing him. This rejection leaves a blank space in her life which is fills with the next unknowing man. The whole video is a build up to the eventual abandonment that each man leaves. The abandonment is the “Blank Space,” that she continually refers to and is the title of the song. The main violence that is seen through this abandonment is seen when she is ripping his clothing, stabbing pictures of him, and sobbing hysterically. This is all part of the emotional turmoil she evokes on him. She even admits that people “say I am insane” adding to the violent dramatization. The video ends with physical torment, she is seen straddling his motionless body, continually pushing his head from side to side, and biting his lip. At this point we assume that he is dead since he is unresponsive and positioned as if he had just fallen. This level of seduction illustrates the completion of the abandonment from love. Taylor has transformed from bubbly girl in the beginning to ruthless killer after he abandons her as a caregiver. She realizes that he is gone since she has killed him but doesn’t want to be left alone so she bites his lip as a “final kiss goodbye.” There are also multiple signs of anger when she is seen cutting down a tree they carved their names into, painting dark red lines all over his portraits, and the insinuation that she poisoned his apple. Conclusively, the abandonment in this video is seen through the abandonment of care from the man and the abandonment of a male figure after his death. Through both of these abandonments, Taylor is left alone and anxious by the relationship they once had, leaving her desperate to find another man.
Las Vegas Hoarder
Sub-Concepts: Obsession, Desire, Solitude
Region: Las Vegas, 2012
Description: 55 year old, Kenneth Epstein was forced to leave his home after having been cited numerous times by code enforcement. After his mother had passed, Epstein’s obsessive compulsive disorder exponentially grew and he started to hoard everything in a duplex he inherited from his mother. When evacuated from the place, authorities found 9 dead cats, 33 living cats, 6 refrigerators or decaying food (so bad that the meat was liquefied), and stacks of materials so high that the only way to maneuver throughout the out the house was to crawl on top of the stacks.
Interpretation: This particular hoarding example can be seen as the cause of depression from the loss of a family member. To cope with the pain or to focus our attention from the depression individuals can be seen being infatuated with the things that remind them of the person. Their obsession with the items impedes on their normal life style in soon will start to take over (an extreme case that we see here). Kenneth Epstein, not only was he overcome with the desire to remain in his mother’s duplex, but he also was taken over by depression which was the launching point of his immobility and hoarding.
Depression here initiated Kenneth to remain in the house because it was the thing that was the closest he had to his mother. It as well propelled him to have a loss of motivation to do anything or care for anything. With this lack of care of his well-being and for the others around him combined with the desire to remain in the duplex and keep everything, resulted in what the authorities found in Epstein’s home. This combination halted his movements both physically and mentally. In terms of physical movement, Epstein was forced to crawl around his house. This act of crawling can be seen as a regression of his independence. The act of crawling shows that the person is not strong enough to stand on his own and in a way shows his dependence on something else to support him. The something else was all of his mother’s things that he kept in the house. Epstein also barricaded himself in his house restraining himself from leaving the home showing his bondage to the home and his lack of connectivity with the things outside. The implications that we can see from this example is that if we either become too depressed that we lose all will, obsess over the things from our deceased loved ones, or a combination of the two, it would halt us from our everyday lives. We would no longer be independent and have the freedom to pursue our individual goals, but rather we would be bounded to our homes/things and live our lives around those items.
Name: Jeremy Fathy
Sub-Concepts: Power, Excess, Transformation
Description: Empress Dowager Cixi’s greed and quest for power in China played a large part in the fall of the Qing Dynasty and set the country and its people back many years.
Interpretation: When Empress Dowager Cixi rose to power around 1865, China was soon to see great change in large part due to the Empress’ excessive greed and selfishness. While her place in history is of course up for debate, most accounts describe her as a corrupt and greedy leader. In essence, she sacrificed the future of China and its people in exchange for a life of excess and gross personal wealth. For example, the Empress used money that was supposed to be for China’s Navy to build an extravagant summer palace for herself. Of course, this is not how most people think of sacrifice, but acts such as these most definitely reflect the concept of sacrifice; the country’s success was sacrificed in order for the Empress to live with extreme wealth and power. In this specific example, Empress Dowager Cixi essentially gave up some of the Qing Dynasty’s military power in exchange for a personal summer palace. This sacrifice weakened the country and put them at greater risk of foreign invasion. In fact, this selfish sacrifice was one factor that contributed to China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895. She also spent large portions of government funds on fancy banquets and expensive jewels. More generally speaking, foreign influence in China during Empress Dowager Cixi’s reign grew substantially due to in part to her corruption and resistance to change. Many thought that China should work to improve itself internally through new technology and infrastructure investments, but Cixi stuck to her conservative ways, ultimately leading to the fall of the Qing Dynasty. By not acting in the best interest of her country and using her power to live an indulgent life that should did have as a child, Empress Dowager Cixi sacrificed China’s position in the world and ultimately slowed the country’s development as a whole. This historical example of sacrifice reveals the obvious power that leaders hold over their respective countries and/or organizations. While it was mostly greed and excess that resulted in the sacrificial transformation of China in Empress Dowager Cixi’s case, leaders sacrifice the best interests of the people and organizations that depend on them for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, because their influence is immense, this form of sacrifice caused by poor leadership impacts countless lives in the present and in the future. So while sacrifice is typically seen as hurting/changing just one person or a small group, it actually is a much more powerful force that can violently impact millions.
HYVE 3D Environment
Sub-Concept: Illusion, trickery, imagination
In the Montreal School of Design there is a room called HYVE, or hybrid virtual environment, which allows the users to project an entire landscape onto an image that surrounds you. The technology allows people to experience virtual reality without having to wear any special equipment and is considered to be a glimpse into the future of how people interact with technology.
There is scientific research that says just by thinking of doing something, the same muscles in your body are activated as compared to when you are actually doing it. With that function, some paraplegics are now able to control robotic limbs with just their thoughts. Virtual reality operates in many of the same areas of the brain in imagining something without having to actually do it. The question is however, whether or not the pleasure you gain from experiencing these fake events is equal to the pleasure of having experienced the real thing. This is an important question to consider for the future, as more of our daily lives is moving to the digital realm it is not unlikely to imagine that eventually almost every experience can be done virtually. In this example, designers and engineers developed a way for people to interact with their surroundings without the need for any special equipment to be worn by the user. This type of technology eludes to the fact that one day, virtual reality could become synonymous with actual experiences and gaining pleasure from participating.
The idea of pleasure coming from a virtual source threatens the legitimacy of the emotional experience. Understanding the conditions by which emotions are affected by virtual reality can help to determine how to best adapt it in order to optimize pleasure. If you enjoy something and experience happiness from doing so, does it at all impact the strength of the emotion once you discover that it wasn’t real? The contrast between real and virtual experiences and its effect on one’s emotions is a difficult consideration. One argument is that pleasure is gained from the knowledge that something isn’t real, yet appears to be so. Even though the person is aware that what they are doing is fake, they experience an even greater sense of pleasure because of the novelty and cool factor tied to virtual reality experiences. On the other hand, there could be a lessened effect of pleasure because of the fact that the experience is unauthentic to the user. Pleasure could either be a response to the stimuli interacting with the user, or it could be the perception of the event based on the predisposed understanding and expectations of the user. The claim can be made that pleasure gained through the simulation of an experience is just as real as the emotional reaction to the same thing with the understanding that pleasure is purely based on the mental attitude of the individual experiencing it.
Name: Kevin Dooley
Sub Concepts: Fear, Transformation
Region: Vancouver, Canada
Description: As elections draw near in Vancouver, potential mayoral candidates have been faced with the issue of social isolation. There is a growing populations of people in Vancouver who have decided to withdraw from society.
Interpretation: Social isolation is a trend that is becoming a worldwide occurrence. We have heard of there being sections of the world which are becoming increasingly antisocial including parts of the United States and Japan, but there hasn’t been a government campaign in either country to combat this issue. Vancouver has initiated the “Just Say Hello” campaign which is targeting those individuals who feel as though they have isolated themselves from society. It’s very interesting to see this trend as humans as supposed to be social animals. The beginnings of humanity all have stories of tribes or communities which relied on the strength of the community to survive. It seems like now more than ever, society placed a higher importance on the strength of the individual rather than the strength of the community. Even in popular culture, every time you turn on ESPN they are constantly talking about what LeBron ate for breakfast or what the presence of Peyton Manning brings to the Broncos. It seems like the teams that actually play well together and win are overlooked because they do not have that “superstar” on their team.
The story touches on the idea that social isolation may be caused by the growing popularity of social media. I think that there is only a little bit of truth behind this idea. People that are naturally more individualistic are more apt to use social media as the preferred method of communication instead of human interaction. Social media only accentuates the individual’s natural tendency to be alone while those who like to be a part of the public social scene will still be a member of that society.
It’s interesting to see how we as a society are growing further apart with every generation. I think the main reason for this is that humans today do not trust others as easily as they did in the past. Some of this distrust is warranted because violence is something that we see on the news everyday on the 24-hour news channels. The world is a scary place and there are so many evil people who live in it, but the good still outnumber the evil. It’s just that the news tends to focus on the evil in the world rather than the good.
The Final Frontier
Name: Jared Silber
Sub-concepts: Isolation, Time, Space
Location: (Outer) Space
Description: Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield talks about dealing with isolation in space: “You know, people tend to think that astronauts feel lonely and isolated. But in my experience, the loneliest people I’ve ever met live downtown in cities. And I’ve never met a farmer who felt lonely. I don’t think being distant from a million people is what makes people feel lonely. It’s a psychological, not a geographical thing.” His latest expedition into space spanned four months onboard the ISS.
Interpretation: Hollywood often depict space exploration as painfully lonely. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity, Interstellar all have scenes displaying the deafening silence and isolation that occur aboard space shuttles and stations. We assume that being with only a few other people for months on end in a metal tunnel in the middle of a boundless vacuum would be lonely. Except Col. Hadfield and his fellow astronauts don’t feel alone up in space. His comparison to farmers is telling of the bond they share in having to be largely isolated in order to carry out their tasks. They both have grueling tasks that require their attention for most of the day, distracting their minds from the fact of their separation from their loved ones; there are consciously accepting solitude for a short amount of time. In another piece written by a 40-year veteran of NASA’s command center in Houston, the author draws similarities between astronauts and the crew that sailed with Christopher Columbus and how they dealt with solitude. He cites the obvious use of entertainment and food to combat loneliness; yet on a metaphysical level, the comparison of astronauts to 15th century explores is itself a way to endure the solitude. By thinking back to ancestral explores and the sacrifices they made, astronauts and other present-day pioneers realize they must endure the same solitude experienced by every generation of explores before them and are driven by the notion that must do their part to further explore the frontier.
Like Col. Hadfield said, “It’s a psychological, not a geographical thing.” Col. Hadfield and the other astronauts knew exactly what to expect in space. They had each other, books, intermittent communication with earth; most importantly, they had a limit. People in cities are surrounded in abundance by other people and possibilities for engagement; the loneliness comes from the realization that they have hardly seized any of those opportunities. There is seemingly no limit to how many people city dwellers can interact with, and thus they can never meet a limitless expectation.
Bonus: Col. Hadfield performing “Space Oddity” from the ISS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo
“Shhhhhh…”: Silent Speed-Dating
Name: Thu Tran
Sub-Concepts: Fear, Anxiety, Solitude
Description: Silent speed-dating events in the UK advertise that it will create “a deeper, instantaneous connection” with the date. Absolutely no talking is allowed, and as they say it, it’s a relationship “without the mask of predictable conversations.”
Interpretation: If there is no talking, all that is immediately left on the table for an event of this sort are touching and seeing. However, touching can be seen as too much of a intimidate action with someone you have just met for the first time. Really, all that one can do during the speed-dating is looking at them. Or are they going to end up smelling each other now?
With the rule that there cannot be any talking, our other senses are heightened and we turn overly analytical. We then rely on our other senses to match what we are thinking in our minds. This will obviously create a disconnect between you and the other person. Talking, even if it’s conversing about the weather or the latest movie, is a way for humans to emotionally connect with each other. It is how we begin to develop desire and distaste. It is extremely difficult to communicate otherwise. For this type of event to emerge present-day points to the disparity of communication between human beings. Either we are dissatisfied by the communication we currently have, or there simply is not enough of it to begin with. It is evident by the increase and dependability on our society’s technological advances that we are straying from genuine, face-to-face interactions. It is becoming more common-place to be content and ‘ok’ with superficial interaction. These in turn create a false sense of desire and distaste because our interactions are not real to begin with.
Name: Tom Gallagher
Description: Aztecs of Mesoamerica believed that owed a blood-debt to the gods. In order to repay this debt, their society sacrificed animals and humans to the gods in large public displays. These sacrifices would appease the gods and allow the Aztecs to avert disaster. Common methods of sacrifice included placing a ritualistically painted human on a slab, or alter, and removing their heart to be held up to the sun. This would happen on a pyramid, or temple, that would elevate the priests and sacrifices closer towards the gods. The sacrifices were also orchestrated by drowning, burning, shooting with arrows, death matches, and elaborate mutilation. It is predicted that probably thousands of human sacrifices happened each year, growing in number as the civilization experienced its decline.
Interpretation: The human sacrifices that the Aztecs conducted are viewed as horrific and primitive by most enlightened societies today. It is rather easy to see the change in standards from that civilization and era to present day. Most citizens of the United States, for instance, would clearly have a problem with cutting out the heart and chopping off the head of someone before rolling them down the stairs of a pyramid. Human sacrifice today is seen as a transgression from a stable line of morality today. This line of morality allows us to project into the past and judge the actions of these ancient peoples. Using transgression as a deviation from moral regression, however, one can connect the amount of killings that the Aztecs conducted each year to avert disaster and the amount of killings that the United States conducts each year to avert disaster. Many military operations today are carried out not because of retaliation or defense purposes, but because of preemptive reasoning. This argument basically allows for murder on a massive scale for almost any reason in order to solidify the security of the United States, such as when the Aztecs allowed for mass sacrifices to solidify the security of their own empire. One of the differences, one could argue, between these two examples is that the United States is focused on killing enemies, and not its own citizens. Granted, some states have abolished capital punishment in the United States, but the country has a whole is still a retainer of the death penalty. Whether right or wrong, systematically or dramatically killing for a cause seems to be a universal function of society that transcends time and transgresses from morality. For many civilizations, and most empires, the end justifies the means, even if it means there is a large blood-debt to progress.