DOLAND, JOSHUA's blog

Final Project Proposal - Challenging Human Exceptionalism through Empedoclean Notions of Universal Kinship and Metempsychosis

I recently published and presented a piece at NYU on Empedocles, a pre-Socratic who argued towards an ecological perspective of human situatedness in the wider biosphere (or perhaps even just among all things which have being). 

For my final project I'd like to first set out Empedocles' basic notions, likely borrowing on my previous work, and discuss both universal kinship and metempsychosis as well as they ways Empedocles' gets to these ideas. 

Pigs and Rats - Appreciating the Unappreciated

In western culture at least, pigs and rats are typically associated with a lot of undesirable characteristics. Pigs are often associated with slobbishness and slothfulness - and rats are often associated with disloyalty, dirtiness and disease. 

While these associations are pretty wide spread in western culture, they aren't built on a firm foundation. In reality, both pigs and rats are incredibly intelligent creatures, who have greatly contributed to our understand of the world, and deserve to be respected as fellow members of the bio-sphere. 

Midterm Recap - Challenging Mundanity

At the risk of painting with too broad of strokes, much of the course up to this point has been dedicated to examining things which prima facie seem mundane, yet which upon further inspection host a wealth of complexity. In order to reflect this, the center of my diagram is a typical depiction of a house and a yard - its unremarkable and easily overlooked.

Mycological Musings

Over the weekend I was on Catalina island, fixing bikes in my bike shop at Emerald Bay. I planned to keep an eye out for fungi - particularly along this one trail where I remember they're usually being little stalks here and there. 

One afternoon I took a break from my work and headed over to hike up this hill and look around, but where I remember there always being fungal blooms there were none - though there were funnel spider webs which I never remembered seeing.

Biotechnology and Art - The Gross Biology in Baking Bread

The first step in beginning this project was procuring the ingredients - my Mom was on her way to the grocery store regardless and picked up yeast - the one ingredient which we didn't have. When she heard that I was making bread, she suggested I use a recipe of her's for making challah, a popular bread in Asheknasi Jewish culture. 

After some time I was ready to start, and lined up all of my ingredients. 

Biotechnology and Art - Dyeing with Invasive Plants

I really have no particular interest in the art of making or using dyes, and so my expectations were not exactly high for this workshop. That being said, I thought that it was really excellent - while there was some focus on the practical steps by which to make dyes from plants, the conversation was mostly dedicated to the nature of humans to their environment as well as the general notion of an invasive species. We discussed a bunch of different topics in ecology including fire based ecosystems, something I found particularly interesting.

Some Thoughts on Pencils and my Work

Its been quite some time since I last used a pencil; the experience was grueling. First I had to hunt down a pencil in my house which proved quite difficult; then I had to find a sharpener, eventually settling for an old hand-crank one that was built into the side of a closet. The sharpener was horrible and would sharpen the wood to a point while leaving the lead embedded. Once I finally managed to get a reasonable point I began to draw - I realized I really don't know how to draw leaves so I went for a sort of cacti like tree.

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