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Aokigahara by Tony Mckenna

In anthropology, Asia, community, society, sociology on April 3, 2014 at 23:57

From: Aokigahara: A place where people come to end their lives by Tony Mckenna, Adbusters, https://www.adbusters.org

For you are in Aokigahara — and Aokigahara is a place where people come to end their lives. It is estimated that one hundred people die here each year. The ribbons are a precaution; if the person who is contemplating suicide changes their mind at the last moment, he or she will be able to find their way back to the world of the living once more. Ribbons are required because compasses simply don’t function in this place. Something about the iron concentration in the ground interferes with them — though inevitably, such naturalistic explanation has been superseded by all types of supernatural ones; the forest is so spooky and still, it is hard not to infer the ghostly presence of all the souls that have perished here.

… The more modern modes of suicide are, therefore, an expression of alienation; if anything, the act of killing oneself in a group allows the alienated individual to experience a single, ultimate act of ‘purpose’ through a level of social integration which the uncertainty and fragmentation of modern existence has denied them. If the excess of internalized ‘shafu’ provides an impetus toward suicide, its lack can also provide a singular drive toward self-immolation. Among the new generation in Japan today, it is the depth and intensity of isolation, of alienation, which more and more allows them to heed the Suicide Forest’s siren calls.

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Reposted with permission from: Adbusters

Pandora’s Boxes by Heather Millar

In biology, chemistry, ecology, environment, nature, physics, science on April 3, 2014 at 23:49

From: Pandora’s Boxes by Heather Millar, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

Wiesner and his colleagues spent several months designing the experiments that will help them outline some general ecological principles of the unique nanoverse. He knew they wanted to test the particles in a system, but a full-scale ecosystem would be too big, too unmanageable, so they had to find a way to container-ize nature. They considered all sorts of receptacles: kiddie pools (too flimsy), simple holes in the ground (too dirty, too difficult to harvest for analysis), concrete boxes (crack in winter). Finally, they settled upon wooden boxes lined with nonreactive, industrial rubber: cheap to build, easy to reuse, and convenient to harvest.

Some published research has shown that inhaled nanoparticles actually become more toxic as they get smaller. Nano–titanium dioxide, one of the most commonly used nanoparticles (Pop-Tarts, sunblock), has been shown to damage DNA in animals and prematurely corrode metals. Carbon nanotubes seem to penetrate lungs even more deeply than asbestos.

What little we know about the environmental effects of nanoparticles—and it isn’t very much—also raises some red flags. Nanoparticles from consumer products have been found in sewage wastewater, where they can inhibit bacteria that help break down the waste. They’ve been found to accumulate in plants and stunt their growth. Another study has shown that gold nanoparticles become more concentrated as they move up the food chain from plants to herbivores.

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Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

Short Attention Span Theater by Peggy Nelson

In art, culture, information, media on April 3, 2014 at 23:40

From: Short Attention Span Theater by Peggy Nelson, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

In advertising, our craving for novelty and interruption, and our drive to find patterns and make sense of it all, are lassoed together in the Costco corral. Billboards interrupt our landscapes, exhortations interrupt our songs, short videos interrupt longer videos. Shopping even interrupts shopping, as your activity is tracked through your credit cards, and targeted ads appear on your Facebook page. Phrases, fonts, songs, colors, memes — all these and more have been copyrighted, trademarked, branded, stamped with association. Soon claims will not even need to be staked, as we discover and deploy the exact frequency of yellow that makes you buy. Everywhere these signals invert their surroundings into noise, and capture our attention, even if only for a moment. But those moments accumulate, and we sequence the chaos into patterns and narratives.

There’s precedent for interruptant art in culture-jamming. We can take existing messages and alter them, for art or anarchy. But we can do more that that; there’s plenty of “there” there. Every minute brings more of it. We can seed our own messages, our own forms, our own voices, hesitant and partial though they may be, into the cultural space. In accumulation, small signals may form, if not a presence, than a pressure in the day, a direction, a bent to one’s life.

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

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