robertogreco + mortality   30

Orion Magazine | Beyond Hope
"THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have — or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective — to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ’50s and ’60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition — like hope in some future heaven — is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe — or maybe you would — how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.

I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn’t drive them extinct. If coho want to leave us because they don’t like how they’re being treated — and who could blame them? — I will say goodbye, and I will miss them, but if they do not want to leave, I will not allow civilization to kill them off.

When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free — truly free — to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what (and whom) we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction — the use of any excuse to justify inaction — reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does.

I told him I disagreed.

Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked.

Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.

Why?

Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.

A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems — you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself — and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they — those in power — cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell — you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who … [more]
derrickjensen  activism  crisis  fear  hope  nihilism  love  vulnerability  survival  monsanto  weyerhaeuser  johnosborn  humans  life  living  presence  present  hereandnow  action  agency  emotions  rage  sorrow  joy  despair  happiness  satisfaction  dissatisfaction  feelings  exploitation  mortality  death  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Are Killing So Many Young Americans That the Country’s Average Lifespan Is Falling | Time
"Young Americans are dying in rising numbers because of drugs, alcohol and suicide, according to new federal data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) issued its annual comprehensive health and mortality report, which analyzes trends in death rates by cause and demographic. Drugs, alcohol and suicide, the report says, have contributed to the first drops in U.S. life expectancy since 1993. While U.S. life expectancy rose from 77.8 to 78.6 years between 2006 and 2016, the trend reversed during the end of the decade, leading to a 0.3-year decline between 2014 and 2016 — in large part because of rising rates of drug overdoses, suicide and liver disease, as well as Alzheimer’s.

Death rates for Americans ages 15 to 44 rose by around 5% each year between 2013 and 2016, and drugs, alcohol and suicide are chiefly to blame, the CDC report says.

Drug overdoses alone killed more than 63,600 people in 2016, the report says. Among men ages 24 to 35, overdose rates rose by more than 25% each year between 2014 and 2016; nearly 50 out of every 100,000 people in this population died of overdose-related causes by 2016. Women ages 45 to 54 had the most overdoses overall, but those ages 15 to 24 saw the highest rate of increase: about a 19% jump per year between 2014 and 2016.

Alcohol is also a major public health concern. Liver disease replaced HIV as the sixth-leading killer of adults ages 25 to 44 in 2016. Among men and women ages 25 to 34, deaths from liver disease and cirrhosis increased by about 11% and 8% per year, respectively, between 2006 and 2016. Older adults, however, still die of liver disease at much higher rates than young adults.

Suicide, meanwhile, is on the rise in nearly every demographic — but a few trends emerged. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24, increasing by 7% in this group each year between 2014 and 2016. It’s also the third-leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 44, killing almost 17 of every 100,000 people in this population in 2016. Suicide rates even rose among children ages 1 to 14, increasing around 9% each year during the study period — though fewer than one of every 100,000 people in this group died by suicide in 2016.

And while men still die by suicide much more frequently than women, increasing rates among young women are starting to narrow that gap. Suicide rates among young and teenage girls rose by 70% between 2010 and 2016, according to previous CDC data.

Nearly three-quarters of the Americans who died in 2016 were older than 65. Rates of many common killers decreased in this population during the preceding decade; deaths from heart disease and cancer, the top two killers of adults older than 65, both declined, as did those from strokes.The exception, however, was Alzheimers, the death rate of which rose by 21%. According to separate CDC data released Thursday, that trend is likely to continue. The number of people affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementias is projected to double by 2060, rising from 5 million people (1.6% of the U.S. population) in 2014 to an estimated 13.9 million people (3.3% of the population) in 2060, according to the CDC."
drugs  alcohol  lifeexpectancy  2018  us  disease  suicide  anxietydepression  mentalhealth  cdc  epidemics  youth  teens  gender  data  health  mortality  society 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Study Finds the Poorest Americans Die Younger Than the Poorest Costa Ricans - The Atlantic
"One of the many things economic development buys is longer life. In countries with per-capita GDPs of $1,000 to 2,000 per year, like Haiti, people can expect to die when they’re about 60, but when that figure rises to $40,000 per year, like in Japan, people live until they’re about 80 on average.

This is, however, not the case among poor Americans, who are dying younger in greater numbers, or in so-called “overachiever” countries like Costa Rica, where people live about as long as Norwegians even though they’re about as poor as Iraqis.

Now, a surprising new study shows that in terms of mortality, it’s actually better to be poor in Costa Rica than poor in the U.S.

According to research published by Luis Rosero-Bixbya from the Universidad de Costa Rica and William H. Dow from the University of California, Berkeley, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the richest Americans do indeed live longer than the richest Costa Ricans—something you’d expect when comparing a global economic powerhouse to a tiny Latin American country. But Costa Ricans in the lowest fourth of the country’s income spectrum have a significantly lower age-adjusted mortality rate than their counterparts in the United States.

“From a life-expectancy standpoint, it is thus better to live in Costa Rica for low-[income] individuals, whereas it is better to live in the United States for high-[income] people younger than 65,” Rosero-Bixbya and Dow write.

The difference does not come down to income inequality, as measured by the Gini index. Inequality is higher in Costa Rica than in the U.S. However, life expectancy outcomes are more unequal across the economic spectrum in the U.S. than in Costa Rica. Poor Americans under 65 die at a rate 3.4 times higher than their rich counterparts, while that difference is just 1.5 in Costa Rica.

The authors are not sure why, but they have a few guesses:

• Universal health care: In 2011, 86 percent of Costa Ricans were covered by the country’s public health-insurance system. The rest get subsidized or free care, depending on their ability to pay. The study authors found that 35 percent of the poorest Americans are uninsured, compared with just 15 percent of the poorest Costa Ricans. Meanwhile, the country’s per-capita health expenditures are a tenth of America’s.

• ​Obesity: One way the authors tried to determine the reason for the disparity was by looking at how much various health factors differed within the income spectrum of each country. Costa Ricans are less likely to be obese overall, and there’s less of a difference in the obesity rate between the rich and poor in Costa Rica than in the United States.

• Smoking: The mortality difference among the poor in the two countries is driven mainly by just two causes of death, lung cancer, and heart disease. “U.S. men have four times higher risk of dying by lung cancer and 54 percent higher risk of dying by heart diseases than Costa Rican men,” the authors note. The smoking rates of the poorest Americans are much higher than that of the richest Americans, while the rate doesn’t vary nearly as much in Costa Rica.

This study provides further evidence that in the U.S., money buys health, to an extent not seen in other countries. There’s nothing that puts that in stark relief like looking at the long, healthy lives of poor foreigners."
us  costarica  inequality  poverty  healthcare  obesity  2016  olgakhazan  mortality  health  economics  socialsafetynet  universalhealthcare  disparity  smoking 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Rob Grayson - ““People whose governing habit is the...
““People whose governing habit is the relinquishment of power, competence, and responsibility, and whose characteristic suffering is the anxiety of futility, make excellent spenders,” wrote Wendell Berry in The Unsettling of America. “They are the ideal consumers. By inducing in them little panics of boredom, powerlessness, sexual failure, mortality, paranoia, they can be made to buy (or vote for) virtually anything that is ‘attractively packaged.’” And there are no shortages of experiences that, for a price, promise to stimulate us, make us powerful, sexy, invincible, admired, beautiful, and unique.”

— Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/131415265782 ]
chrishedges  power  consumerism  boredom  powerlessness  mortality  paranoia  spectacle  literacy  government  politics  wendellberry  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Last Photo | PhotoShelter Blog
"Ever since junior high school, I was the kid with the camera. And many years later, I’m still the guy who shows up to every life event with camera in hand to document the lives of my friends.

I used to carry around a hulking DSLR, but the weight bothers me, and the large size feels too intrusive for the everyday. I don’t want to interrupt life by taking photos, I simply want them to remember the fractions of a second that end up representing curated slices of life.

Within my archive of hundreds of thousands of photos, there are many that represent the last photo I will ever take of someone or some place. Some of these photos are inconsequential. They might capture a blurry stranger in the background, or perhaps a one-time friend forged through a glass of wine in a distant land.

Then there are the ones that matter.

***

There is a strange inflection point in life when more people you know are dying or getting sick than getting married and having kids. Suddenly, the act of taking a photo isn’t about eliciting FOMO and instant nostalgia on social media, but rather a tiny memorial of all the experiences that make up a rich life.

This doesn’t mean the act of taking a photo should be morbid. Perhaps it means that in a world where the avalanche of images has rendered so much photography worthless, there are still photos that are priceless. And for the photographer, not only is the image valuable, but so is the memory of taking the photo.

***

[photo]

The guy in the back with the pencil. That’s B and this is high school trigonometry taken with my Olympus OM-4. I remember the class vividly because Mrs. Field was a great teacher, and the class often felt celebratory. It was math, but we were having a good time.

B was a funny, cool kid. He was a senior when I was a junior, and at the time, the difference seemed interminably large. We were never friends, but there was always a sense of camaraderie in that classroom. After the year ended, B graduated, and he would otherwise be a footnote in my memory except for one thing.

That summer, he died.

People often say that teens feel invincible. I’m not sure this is accurate. I think that they simply don’t think about death because they haven’t encountered it. There is no point of reference. They have a whole life ahead of them. At least they’re supposed to.

B was the first kid I knew who died, and although I remember being floored by such a notion then, it didn’t affect me the way that it does now. Now I think about the tragedy of a life unfulfilled. What would he have become? Something exceptional? Something average? No doubt, something important to someone else, as he was on his last day.

This last photo is nothing. It’s a photobomb before photobombing was a thing. He’s not even supposed to be in the picture. Yet, there he is. The last photo is everything.

***

[photo]

Sara was one of my first hires in the early days of Web 1.0 at HotJobs. Despite an uncertain start, she blossomed, and became a big part of the department. Eventually she married, and she asked me to photograph her wedding. She moved to Seattle with her husband, and started work as a project manager.

People move, life carries on, friendships fade. But one day I got a call from our mutual friend Amanda, who urged me to go visit Sara.

I hadn’t seen her in years, and she somehow found herself with Stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 35. It was the type of dire situation that led us to plan an early Christmas, and the day before we were set to celebrate, we gathered in her bedroom to shoot the breeze.

Sara’s friend, Jennifer, grabbed my camera and shot the last photo. Not even cancer could restrain her booming laugh; her skeletal frame still capable of supporting her huge grin.

The last photo is a happy one. I remember it because John was there. Declan was there. Amanda was there. V was there. Sara smoked a joint to ease the pain before it became legal. It was good to be amongst old friends – even one last time.

***

[photo with caption “My grandfather on his 100th birthday”]

Grandparents are a shield against mortality.

With them, two generations of life stand before you — your parents and their parents — protecting you from the uncertainty of death. Once you lose your grandparents, life feels more precarious.

I am fortunate. All my grandparents lived into their 90s or 100s. My maternal grandmother was the last. For years after her husband died at 100, she lived quietly in a room adjacent to my parents’ in Honolulu. Although she had slowed physically, her mind was still sharp, and I would sometimes find her in the yard doing leg lifts.

In a world of overconsumption, hers was simple. No need for anything, save her television and La-Z-Boy. She tried pizza for the first time around the age of 90, and loved it. But other than that, her life had a predictable rhythm that was rarely interrupted.

Then one day, my father found her straining to breathe. The doctors think she suffered a heart attack. The paramedics took her to the ICU, but we finally brought her home for hospice. What was supposed to only be a week, stretched to several months — she was always resilient.

This isn’t the last photo I took of her. But it’s the one I am willing to share. A wave of wiry, salt and pepper hair of a woman who lived a simple, yet tremendous life. The last photo will not be one of pain and suffering. It will be dignified. What a fabulous head of hair!

[photo]

Fujiko Murabayashi passed away in 2015 at the age of 99.

***

Despite how it sounds, I don’t obsess over the last photo. If anything, these photos simply remind me to live a full life. They have meaning beyond the over hashtagged, hyper-curated lives displayed on social media because these images have little relevance to anyone besides me. Yet, they are most important to me — a personal treasure of pixels representing the lives that graced mine."
photography  memory  loss  allenmurabayashi  nostalgia  death  life  grandparents  friends  relationships  mortality  acquaintances  living  via:markllobrera 
july 2015 by robertogreco
— some news
"The meaning-making machinery of the mind is, like life itself, grotesquely ceaseless, operating at normal speed in times of trauma. But resisting the drive to “redeem horror by transforming it into existential wisdom” —in Kundera’s words— seems appropriate, because part of mourning is refusing to accept that a loss can be redeemed. (Although I will accept that, too, eventually)."



"I spend a little while every day now on the phone with lawyers, or people at the coroner’s office, or other officials who balance their bedside manner against the need for efficient processing of such messes. Our friends have been deeply supportive, of course; everyone has, and this is very often so in periods of anguish. It’s all very moving and complicating; it changes the way the world looks and feels to be reminded intimately of the comings-and-goings of persons just like oneself, full and irreducible and now never to be understood; and all the people surrounding them, bearing grief and distracted from the rhythms of life by bereavement, fear, pain; and then all those around them, supporting them and helping, giving time and attention and so on. Anyway I know everyone knows these feelings, but right now, they partly suffuse our lives, even as our lives begin to go on and we find happiness again in the usual minutiae, are carried along like everyone else by time away from the excruciating moment."
death  mourning  millsbaker  2015  milankundera  meaningmaking  life  living  happiness  grief  bereavement  fear  pain  dying  mortality 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Jon Hall: acceptance of mortality
"In the face of impermanence and death, it takes courage to love the things of this world and to believe that praising them is our noblest calling. Rilke’s is not a conditional courage, dependent on an afterlife. Nor is it a stoic courage, keeping a stiff upper lip when shattered by loss. It is courage born of the ever-unexpected discovery that acceptance of mortality yields an expansion of being. In naming what is doomed to disappear, naming the way it keeps streaming through our hands, we can hear the song that streaming makes." —Joana Macy, from her book A Year with Rilke.
mortality  rilke  joanamacy  courage  afterlife  impermanence  ephemerality  death  ephemeral 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer - NYTimes.com
"A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
cancer  death  life  neuroscience  living  oliversacks  2015  legacy  individuality  davidhume  health  dying  mortality  audacity  clarity  goodbyes  perspective  humanism  privilege  adventure  consciousness 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The reality | Music for Deckchairs
"Here’s a story that ought to be filling us all with hope: a big tale of resilience, creativity, cooperation and opportunity, driven by a remarkable and gifted Australian. Look at him here: he is young, and healthy, and doing so much good. He has time left. If I was his mother watching this, I’d be awash with pride at what he’s achieved."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAP2xWlEfNU ]

"But his reality is this: that right at this minute plans are being made for him to be taken to a field, tied to a post and shot. Let’s not mince words, this is what we mean by “death penalty” and “firing squad”, and anyone who is still championing this as a just outcome needs to look much more closely at the violence in the details. There is nothing at all separating this killing from that of Kenji Goto, and the only whisper of daylight between this and the shooting of Kajieme Powell is the premeditation, the forced contemplation of what’s to come. Nothing at all distinguishes what his mother will feel when his body is returned, from the grief of Junko Ishido.

None of us are going to live for ever, and this is why mortality really is inseparable from love. We all wonder how, when, in what condition we’ll end our turn; we wonder who will be with us, and how they will get up and carry on without us when we stop. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, an intensely personal discussion of what happens to individuals and their families at the end of life, suggests that this is why humans really cannot bear the idea of dying. So we go on suffering because we don’t know how to accept that what’s around the next bend—the next birthday, the next family wedding—isn’t going to be part of our life time. The weather will continue, the buildings will stay up and the clocks won’t stop; it’s just that we won’t be here to see it, and people we love will have to go on without us.

Gawande and many others are now arguing that it’s vital to good healthcare that we learn to make peace with human dying, and let that direct us towards living while we’re here in a way that reflects our values. This isn’t a simple thing: it takes time to untangle our own values and beliefs from those of our community and the cultures that shape us. It’s easy to get taken up with the things that seem to matter to others, the achievements that are celebrated, the stuff that is envied. But in the end we all have a fairly strong sense of what we each really care about—what we would go on doing if it was the last day of our lives.

UK palliative care specialist and cancer patient Kate Granger, for example, has taught me a great deal about what it means to value work, and to fight to continue working while thinking that this might be the last year for doing anything at all. Lisa Bonchek Adams advocates tirelessly for the right of patients with metastatic breast cancer to have their condition recognised as a disease stage that can be lived with, and in so doing she continues to love and care for her children, her family and friends. Both have made hard personal choices to continue in treatment, and to do this in public, because this is what enables them to go on living with purpose.

This is Gawande’s point: we each approach the question of what it would take to live the best possible day today on our own terms, whatever the constraints we’re facing. This isn’t just a question for people who are sick; the best possible day is a wish we can all offer each other, for the simple reason that we’re all mortal too. And this really should be the basis for how we treat each other, how we value each other’s time, and how we react to the knowledge that someone is facing their death. This isn’t just about ethics in institutional or constitutional decision-making, or state sovereignty: we stop in our tracks for death, and we try to bring every possible resource of care and hope to the end of someone’s life, because one day that’s exactly how it will be for each of us.

"How people die and how we participate in their deaths is as much about us as about them. Our own humanity is at stake."
– Eric Manheimer, MD, Twelve Patients

And so I can’t make peace with this dying at all. I wander round the house thinking about him, and I know that thousands of us are doing exactly the same, right at this moment. Those close to him have said goodbye and look exhausted with grief. I can’t imagine their pain.

Execution strips all possibility of dignity or care from the event of dying, which is why it’s used wherever the aim is to brutalise and terrify. The aim isn’t simply to end life, but to cause its end to be a spectacle, and to force the whole world to contemplate the violence and abjection of life being ended in this way. Kenji Goto’s mother, pleading for his release, said that she would sacrifice her life for his, and we all knew that this was an unbearable cruelty that she should be made to suffer the knowledge of his death, and her exclusion from it. Nothing is different here.

Myuran Sukumaran is an Australian artist. With persistence and vision he has created a studio and an educational enterprise filled with generosity, and inspired an incredible campaign to try to keep him alive. And at this last minute, he’s still there painting, caring for his family, thinking it all through, making a portrait of himself and the island of Nusakambangan, where prisoners are taken to be shot.

He is one of us, and he is still alive. Don’t disturb him. Let him paint."
balinine  mortality  atulgawande  2015  via:audreywatters  myuransukumaran  crime  punishment  deathpenalty  australia  indonesia  rehabilitation  dignity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mono no aware - Wikipedia
“Mono no aware (物の哀れ?), literally “the pathos of things”, and also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō?), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. “Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of beauty – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last. It’s basically about being both saddened and appreciative of transience – and also about the relationship between life and death. In Japan, there are four very distinct seasons, and you really become aware of life and mortality and transience. You become aware of how significant those moments are.””
via:caseygollan  japanese  culture  language  ephemeral  ephemerality  impermanence  mononoaware  sadness  wistfulness  life  japan  words  transience  things  beauty  mortality  death 
october 2014 by robertogreco
On Being Let Down: iPhone 6 and the Politics of Disappointment — Medium
"And what we see now is, I believe, the opening of another sigh of great disappointment. Religion, drugs, space travel and digital culture: all of it has let us down. All of it left us disappointed.

***

It runs deep.

Capitalism promised great leisure and riches. We have been let down.

Politics promised great change. We have been let down.

Look at the fall-out from the Scottish referendum on independence. Look at the young men going to fight with IS. Look at political apathy and the overriding sense of cynicism. We are living in an age of almost universal disappointment.

In the 1580s Montaigne wrote that ‘to philosophise is to learn how to die.’ He could perhaps have written that it was to learn to deal with disappointment. Death, at its core, presents itself as the fundamental disappointment: after all that, is this it? Dust, rising for such a short while, only to return to dust?

The key question of our time is then this: how can we move beyond disappointment? In Montaigne’s terms, is there life after this death? Once we have faced up to the inevitability of our fall back into the earth, how do we then live? It’s to this question of resurrection — this ‘rising again’ — that Getting High turns as it concludes. The book is something of a memoir too in that this journey through religious, hedonistic, technological and political disappointment — and beyond — is a very personal one.

I don’t want to say too much more here — I’ll save your disappointment for when you read the final version — but suffice to say I believe that there is hope. But before that hope there what I believe we must do is get beyond denial. To accept not just that the iPhone 6 is disappointing, but that every other one will be too, and that all of these devices, all of our contrivances, all of our gadgets, all of our grand schemes and plans, all of it is going to let us down, just as certainly as we will be let down on straps into a hole in the ground some day, just as certainly as we will watch others being let down too.

The Apple is rotten; the promise of omniscience and immortality has turned out to be false. So then, how shall we live?"

[Also posted here: http://www.kesterbrewin.com/2014/09/26/on-being-let-down-iphone-6-and-the-politics-of-disappointment/ ]
kesterbrewin  2014  disappointment  capitalism  latecapitalism  meaning  meaningmaking  consumerism  materialism  hope  montaigne  philosopy  change  politics  religion  purpose  emptiness  iphone  iphone6  death  mortality  omniscience  immortality  micheldemontaigne 
october 2014 by robertogreco
I Believe in the After-Life — Medium
"Those of you who have followed my writing over the past few years will know that I’ve moved outside of an orthodox, theist idea of faith that embraces what some have called ‘the death of God.’

One thing has bugged me about that though: the idea of resurrection is central to Christianity, so in a radical, a-theist reading of faith do we simply abandon resurrection and the idea of an afterlife?

In the face of death it is a bold move to make to refuse the platitudes that we’ll be together again at some future point. That was a very very hard conversation to have, and one that marked the extraordinary theological courage of a man who wasn’t about to compromise on the hard thinking that he had done.

Being Let Down

A few days ago I had the privilege of recording an interview with Simon Critchley, as part of a BBC Radio 4 piece I’m doing that will be aired on 23rd November. I began by asking him about his idea that all philosophy begins in disappointment — which sparked this post ‘on being let down.’

If disappointment is the beginning of philosophy, then its end is perhaps contained in Montaigne’s maxim that ‘to philosophise is to learn how to die.’ In other words, philosophy begins with a let down, and ends by preparing us for the final, greatest let down — that where we are lowered into the ground and buried.

Decreation

When I pressed him on what this philosophical lesson in death might mean, Critchley turned to Simone Weil and her idea of ‘decreation.’ He described this process thus:

The self is a thing that we have — a kind of carapace that we assume over time because of language, culture, circumstances, and we have to tear that down. We have to undo what is creaturely in us, what is given in us, in order to love.

There’s something a little bit masculine, a bit selfish about the idea of the philosophical death, which I think love challenges. Love is that counter-movement to selfishness which demands a huge amount of us.

Weil’s most famous work is called Gravity and Grace, and it struck me that this was perhaps instructive. Gravity is the acceptance of our inevitable descent into the earth, the tearing down of the selfish creature in us that will do anything to resist our finitude. Grace is what happens beyond that death of the self; it is the life that comes after gravity has done its work.

“I Believe in the Afterlife”

At this point in the interview I abandoned my careful notes. This was personal. There was something here I wanted to know. Was this perhaps a way that we could reclaim the idea of resurrection, that after this death we are somehow lifted again?

I’m still processing Critchley’s reply. I’m wary of valourising him, a man whose books have been very important in the development of my own thinking, a man who turned out to be generous in his time and thinking, generous in his self when we met. But, as I think about Nic’s death two years ago, about the family and friends who remain — and as I continue to try to work through and understand this life-after-God— I think there’s something very profound, true and helpful in his answer:

“I believe in the after-life, in so far as I believe in the life of those that come after. And those that come after most closely — kids, those you love or have been close to — you want them to go on.

“I believe in an after-life, not in the sense of a soul’s immortality, but an after-life of those who will continue and go on, and hopefully go on without entirely forgetting us.”

—Simon Critchley

This, for me, is the true after-life. We live in order that when we are gone others are equipped to go on, and to do so without forgetting us. What funds that? Love. The love that has accepted the gravity of our existence, the fact that life will end in let-down, but carries on giving.

‘Some things cannot be stolen,’ Nic painted in bold strokes of paint on one of the last pieces he created.

Our bodies are taken, our looks and sharp minds are looted, our friends, our parents — sometimes even our children.

But as all of this is wrenched away and inevitably falls to the earth, one thing cannot be taken from us, not by gravity nor any force in the universe.

Against the dust of planet love endures into the after-life, still takes the wing and lifts us, perhaps even beyond death.

Perhaps."
death  belief  afterlife  2014  kesterbrewin  simoncritchley  nichughes  grace  self  simoneweil  decreation  love  mortality  resurrection  memory  existence 
october 2014 by robertogreco
An Emphatic Umph: Death and the Afterlife
"The other day, I was spending time with a friend and every time I chuckled, she'd say, That's your brother! That's his laugh! Think about what an insane thing that is to say. I wasn't quite sure I knew what she meant at that juncture but I do know the experience of being possessed by my brother. Usually, I feel it when I'm holding forth. Oh, lord, when I was teaching, I'd be mid-lecture when all I could hear, all I could feel, was my brother spouting — sprouting — up through my mouth, a kind of Ouija board.

My brother lives in Manila, in the Philippines. But he also lives right here — in me, as me, with me, at least a little. My sister is dead and she, too, lives right here — in me, as me, with me. Death, the Philippines, across town, it doesn't matte: our possession of and by other people transcends time and space, transcends body and ego. This can, of course, be to our dismay. I have familial forces working in me that I'd like to dispel. In fact, in order not to be a total asshole of a father — the key word here being total — I have to wrestle, stifle, and muffle the paternal voices that live in me, that live as me, that haunt me all the time.

We live with ghosts. This is not some supernatural thing, some mystical claim. Events are not discrete. When something happens, it doesn't just begin then end. It continues to happen more or less. This is called, amongst other things, memory. Memory is not a card catalog of snapshots. Memory is the presence of the past, here and now. It's my tying my shoe, craving rice noodles for dinner, knowing the way to my son's school. It's also the smell of my childhood house; it's falling into a pile of dog shit at the ever sad PS 165 playground and then my five year old ass being asked to strip for a bath by the Jamaican nanny I could never understand; it's the wide, radiant, true smile of my sister as well as her confused, sad, skinny face days before she died; it's the daily screaming of my parents that still echoes in my skull. It's everything that's ever happened to me and is still happening to me, right here, right now.

We are events, each of us. We continue just as the things that happen to us continue. Sure, they seem done and gone but they — but we — persist in various ways, as echoes and sentiments, as shadows and gestures, as scars and dreams."
danielcoffeen  douglain  death  2014  kierkegaard  ghosts  afterlife  religion  buddhism  meaning  meaningmaking  living  consciousness  williamsburroughs  nietzsche  foucault  jacquesderrida  paulricoeur  pauldeman  marclafia  memory  softarchitecture  lisarobertson  mortality  aubreydegrey  immortality  events  experience  time  memories  writing  transcendence  deleuze  plato  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
porpentine and preservation (with image, tweets) · anarchivist · Storify
"Discussing Porpentine's game "Everything you swallow will one day come up like a stone", preservation, and agency"



"This game will be available for 24 hours and then I am deleting it forever.
You can download it here until then.

What you do with it, whether you distribute, share, or cover it, is up to you.

Suicide is a social problem.

Suicide is a social failure.

This game will live through social means only.

This game will not be around forever because the people you fail will not be around forever.

They are never coming back.

This game’s title:

Everything you swallow will one day come up like a stone

This game’s title when you feel uncomfortable with the topic of suicide and would rather indefinitely forestall your inevitable confrontation with reality:



Anyways, this is dedicated to Sasha Menu Courey & all the others.

CW: Rape, suicide, abuse"
death  games  suicide  porpentine  2014  ephemeral  ephemerality  preservation  legacy  forever  mortality 
april 2014 by robertogreco
one human heartbeat
"I've put my heartbeat on the internet.

It's March 25, 2014 and the best technology I've found to save my heartrate is the Basis watch. It saves an average heartrate for each minute. It fails to record any heartrate for ~17.5% of minutes. When there is no data for a minute, you'll see the heartrate from the previous minute.

Basis doesn't provide an open API, so I access the data using a variation of this code. The heartrate you see is from 24 hours ago. This is because the data can only be accessed via usb connection. Twice a day I connect the watch and upload my latest heartrates to the database. I've been doing this for 33 days now.

It's March 25, 2014, and statistics say I have about 16452 days left.

Gotta go.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives... Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.

Annie Dillard The Writing Life [http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/06/07/annie-dillard-the-writing-life-1/ ]

See also...

Roy Scranton's Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
[http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/ ]

Cheryl Strayed's Rumpus Advice Column #64: Tiny Beautiful Things
[http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/ ]"
jenlowe  2014  heart  heartrates  data  code  coding  time  life  mortality  anniedillard  royscranton  cherylstrayed 
march 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA's demolition of AFAM and architectural obsolescence
"In retrospect, Muschamp's effusive wordsmithing borders on hyperbole. Yet in focussing on the cultural context in which the building was born, it captures much of what is missing from current discussion (which tends to be markedly concentrated on functionality and new square footage). If we practice the rules of obsolescence, the death of this signature piece of architecture was designed in at the beginning.

As much as I would want to praise the American Folk Art Museum for pointing a way forward out of that dark time, the structure is no phoenix. From the beginning it was anachronistic. This is its downfall.

Although completed in the new millennium, it is an artefact from the 1990s, or to crib from Portlandia, an artefact from the 1890s. Muschamp's title suggests as much: Fireside Intimacy for Folk Art Museum. "Our builders have largely dedicated themselves to turning back the clock," he writes of Williams and Tsien's obsessive attention to materiality.

The museum is a little too West Coast for midtown - too much like something from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, before computation took command. Its design values everything the current art and real estate markets reject: hominess, idiosyncrasy, craft. By contrast, Diller Scofidio + Renfro's scheme emphasises visibility and publicness. The same could be said for an Apple store.

A message from MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry posted on the museum’s website touts that the new design will "transform the current lobby and ground-floor areas into an expansive public gathering space." Indeed, the much talked-about Art Bay, the 15,500-square-foot, double-height hall in the scheme, walks a fine line between public space and gallery. Fronted with a retractable glass wall and designed for flexibility, the Art Bay is so perfectly attuned to the performance zeitgeist, that it makes Marina Abramović want to twerk.



The Tumblr #FolkMoMA, initiated and curated by Ana María León and Quilian Riano, dragged the fate of AFAM - a pre-internet building - into the age of social media. The hashtag set the stage for a robust dialogue on the subject and a much-needed commons for debate, but failed to save architecture from capital forces.

In weighing in to protest or eulogise the passing of the American Folk Art Museum, perhaps what we mourn is not the building per se, but a lingering sentimental belief that architecture is an exception to the rules of obsolescence. This building strived to represent so many intimacies, but ultimately its finely crafted meaning was deemed disposable.

Fingers may point at the ethics of Diller Scofidio + Renfo's decision to take on the project or wag fingers at MoMA's expansionist vision, but the lesson here cuts deeper into our psyche. Architecture, as written in long form, exceeds our own life spans and operates in a time frame of historical continuity. Architecture writ short reminds us of our own mortality, coloured by mercurial taste."
plannedobsolescence  obsolescence  2014  moma  afam  diller+scofidio  ephemerality  mortality  design  architecture  anamaríaleón  quilianriano  mimizeiger  taste  timing  disposability  visibility  publicness  craft  hominess  idiosyncrasy  herbertmuschamp  dillerscofidio  ephemeral 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Ibraaz Talks: Trevor Paglen on Aesthetics | Ibraaz
"Ibraaz Talks is a series of specially curated conversations with artists, curators and writers. Participants are invited to respond to a particular issue or keyword that addresses formal and conceptual issues affecting both their personal practices and contemporary visual culture. Initiated at Art Dubai in 2013, this latest series was staged at SALT Beyoğlu during the opening days of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen and Ibraaz Senior Editor Omar Kholeif ask the question: why aesthetics? The discussion considers the notion of aesthetics in the context of a practice that often deals with ideas of anti-aesthetics. The talk takes into account a project Paglen presented during the Istanbul Biennial with Protocinema titled Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 3) (2013) – a 4-metre tall model for an orbital spacecraft, which considers how such a functional object might operate in a non-functional context."
ibraaztalks  trevorpaglen  2013  aesthetics  objects  function  art  anti-aesthetics  via:javierarbona  economics  politics  taste  relationships  class  inequality  time  mortality  space  satellites  immortality  elitism 
october 2013 by robertogreco
From Fernando Pessoa, “The Book of Disquiet”
"What happens to all those people who, simply because I saw them and saw them again, became part of my life? Tomorrow I too will disappear from the Rua da Prata, the Rua dos Douradores, the Rua dos Fanqueiros. Tomorrow I—the soul that feels and thinks, the universe I am for myself—I myself, yes, tomorrow I will also be the man who stopped walking on these streets, the man others will vaguely evoke, saying, “Whatever became of him?” And everything I do, everything I feel, everything I live, will be nothing more than one pedestrian less in the daily routine of any city anywhere."

— Fernando Pessoa, “The Book of Disquiet”
fernandopessoa  death  life  mortality  insignificance  sonder  universe 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Rhizome | Allan Sekula's Letter to Bill Gates
"November 30, 1999

Dear Bill Gates,

I swam past your dream house the other day, but didn't stop to knock. Frankly, your underwater sensors had me worried. I would have liked to take a look at Winslow Homer's Lost on the Grand Banks. It's a great painting, but, speaking as a friend and fellow citizen, at $30 million you paid too much.

HIGHEST PRICE EVER PAID FOR AN AMERICAN PAINTING!!!

So why are you so interested in a picture of two poor lost dory fishermen, momentarily high on a swell, peering into a wall of fog? They are about as high as they're ever going to be, unless the sea gets uglier. They are going to die, you know, and it won't be a pretty death.

And as for you, Bill, when you're on the Net, are you lost? Or found ?

And the rest of us—lost or found—are we on it, or in it?

Your friend"
allansekula  1999  billgates  paintings  internet  web  mortality  wealth  luddism  via:javierarbona 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Diagnosis - Human - NYTimes.com
"I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine. We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized. Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely."
psychology  grief  depression  add  adhd  diagnosis  2013  tedgup  psychiatry  medicine  mortality  aging  humans  beinghuman  resilience  pharmaceuticals  pain  shortcuts  life  living  society  us  coping 
april 2013 by robertogreco
From Social Business To Superlinear Corporation - The BrainYard - InformationWeek
"…Cities are superlinear; corporations are sublinear…as they [cities] grow bigger, get more productive, creative, energy-efficient, & generally better by just about every interesting metric. Corporations…get less productive, less creative, more wasteful, & generally worse in every way.

Makes intuitive sense, doesn't it? Creative, energetic young people want to live in big cities, but want to work in small companies.

On the macro-scale, this means cities are effectively immortal, while corporations (like humans) are mortal… [and] their lifespan has been falling rapidly…

My theory is straightforward: Cities are open; corporations are closed. People can move into and out of cities freely and basically do whatever they want so long as they can pay the cost of living. So people naturally leave cities that don't work for them and flood into cities that do. This makes cities self-renewing and self-organizing."
lcproject  creativity  bureaucracy  vitality  sustainability  growth  sublinearity  superlinearity  halflifeofcorporations  corporations  deschooling  unschooling  freedom  closedsystems  opensystems  geoffreywest  mortality  scalability  toshare  2011  venkateshrao  cities  scale 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » Slacking as Self-Discovery
"Such wistful desire to evade responsibility exposes childishness of adults now preaching the good news of emerging adulthood. They have decided that taking responsibility for other people — spouses, children, employees & subordinates, neighbors, friends, eventually even parents — & relying on them in turn is the heaviest burden that can befall a person. But what if this is instead the means to happiness? Advocates of emerging adulthood share in common with children a proclivity to see the future as nearly infinite & themselves as, for all practical purposes, immortal. In their view of themselves & their world, it is never too late & there is never any rush. But a few-year increase in the average life expectancy has bought us much less time than they think & has done nothing to mitigate our potential to make irreversible errors & experience gnawing regret. The indefinite extension of childhood doesn’t even approximate the immortality required to free us from these miseries…"

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/3012478205/such-wistful-desire-to-evade-responsibility ]
slackers  responsibility  childhood  self-discovery  parenting  happiness  life  adulthood  immortality  mortality  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
12 Things Really Educated People Know
"1. Establish an individual set of values but recognize those of the surrounding community and of the various cultures of the world.

2. Explore their own ancestry, culture, and place.

3. Are comfortable being alone, yet understand dynamics between people and form healthy relationships.

4. Accept mortality, knowing that every choice affects the generations to come.

5. Create new things and find new experiences.

6. Think for themselves; observe, analyze, and discover truth without relying on the opinions of others.

7. Favor love, curiosity, reverence, and empathy rather than material wealth.

8. Choose a vocation that contributes to the common good.

9. Enjoy a variety of new places and experiences but identify and cherish a place to call home.

10. Express their own voice with confidence.

11. Add value to every encounter and every group of which they are a part.

12. Always ask: “Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities?”"
johntaylorgatto  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  community  self  identity  purpose  glvo  values  culture  personhood  relationships  mortality  creativity  make  making  experience  wisdom  criticalthinking  truth  curiosity  love  reverance  empathy  wealth  well-being  vocation  selflessness  homes  home  confidence  voice  participation  teaching  principles  philosophy  knowledge  life  advice  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Scientific Commons: Sigur Rós's Heima: An Icelandic Psychogeography (2009), 2009 [Tony Mitchell]
[now here: https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/handle/10453/10567 ]

[PDF: https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/bitstream/10453/10567/1/2008008719OK.pdf ]

"examines sonic geography of…Sigur Rós w/ particular reference to Heima, which documents tour…of remote places in home country. Known for causing people to faint or burst into tears during concerts, music could be said to express sonically both isolation of Icelandic location & induce feeling of hermetic isolation in listener through climactic & melodic intensity of sound…Singing both in Icelandic & invented language Hopelandic (vonlenska), Jónsi, gay & blind in one eye, channels a striking form of glossolalia in vocals…group acknowledges strong degree of Icelandic animism in music…have referred to ‘presence of mortality’ in Icelandic landscape & links to stories, sagas, magic & ritual in remote country where ‘majority…believes in elves & power spots…invisible world is always w/ us’…create geomorphic soundscapes which transport active listener into imaginary world…bass player Georg Holm, who is demophobic, has stated, ‘we provide colors & frame & you paint the picture'"

[via: http://twitter.com/ballardian/status/24613154409 ]
glossolalia  vonlenska  sigurros  heima  iceland  music  psychogeography  inventedlanguages  language  emotion  fear  demophobia  sound  animism  landscape  sagas  magic  ritual  mortality  soundscapes  geomorphicsoundscapes  jouissance  identity  myth  isolation  sigurrós  rituals  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Clouds and coins [Read the whole thing.]
"[I]t was the best class I ever had anywhere at any age. It was basically a grab bag of things that people should know, but things that people often never end up learning… The class was a crash course in things that are usually picked up slowly and by accident, like lost coins, over the course of your life. This class was so memorable because it was so little like school, and so much like life. School is basically a way of keeping people occupied — a theatrical set piece designed to take up time and spit out consenting consumers.

Any adult knows that what he really knows he did not learn in school. The gradual accumulation of experience is really how we learn. But unlike school, life is unpredictable, so it would be dangerous to leave the teaching of life to life. Just think how much would get left out of the curriculum, and how hard it would be to standardize tests!"
jonathanharris  education  learning  life  wisdom  unschooling  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  videogames  metaphor  standardizedtesting  schools  schooling  teaching  parenting  east  west  westernworld  easternworld  passivity  accepance  understanding  experience  experientiallearning  emptiness  heroes  identity  knowledge  mortality  replacability  children  making  seeing  building  unpredictability  curriculum  lcproject  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
SPIEGEL Interview with Umberto Eco: 'We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
"The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists -- the shopping list, the will, the menu -- that are also cultural achievements in their own right."
lists  umbertoeco  death  mortality  books  history  culture  art  education  information  literature  philosophy  language 
november 2009 by robertogreco

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