The ‘Earthship’ — or ‘Earthship Biotecture’ — is an architectural concept that arose in the late 1970s, formulated by the architect Michael Reynolds. His aim, which underlies the concept, was to design and create a home that would do three things: first, it would encapsulate sustainable architecture by relying on local materials or recycled materials; second, the homes would depend on natural energy sources in order to be off-grid; and third, they would be designed in such a way that a person with no specialised construction skills could build their home.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 12, 2021.
Cosmic Pessimism (2015) is a collection of aphorisms, fragments, and prose poems by the philosopher Eugene Thacker. Thacker, who is also Professor of Media Studies at The New School in New York City, offers many unique thoughts on pessimism and the human condition in this very short book. He explores various themes of pessimism: futility, doom, failure, spite, sorrow, and nothingness. He expresses his thoughts on these subjects in a lyrical style reminiscent of Emil Cioran (this renowned Romanian pessimist has clearly inspired Thacker’s voice and is referenced throughout Cosmic Pessimism). Thacker’s writing style is often so Cioranian that some readers familiar with Cioran might feel that this style is a form of imitation, rather than the result of inspiration.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 8, 2021.
Justin Bower is a Los Angeles-based artist who creates oil paintings that have the appearance of being digitised, yet they are, in fact, entirely hand-painted. His portraits feature anonymous subjects with expressive, glitchy faces, attesting to our close relationship with technology. His exhibit “The Humiliations” is intended to show how we are losing our free will through our increasing subservience to technology. In our day-to-day lives, we are dependent on our devices and the use of them is now inevitable.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 5, 2021.
It is possible for anyone, regardless of his or her religious or metaphysical beliefs, to have a mystical experience. These mystical states of consciousness have been accessible since time immemorial. You can find accounts of profound altered states in ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures and in the descriptions of the Eleusinian Mysteries, those secret rituals held in ancient Greece that involved the consumption of kykeon, a beverage which some authors purport contained psychoactive ergot alkaloids. Mystical states can feature a range of intriguing elements, including ecstasy and the experience of the ‘divine’, ‘sacred’, or ‘holy’.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on March 30, 2021.
In his essay The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), the French existentialist Albert Camus lays out his exposition of the human condition. He draws on the ancient Greek myth of King Sisyphus in order to typify what it means to exist as a human in day-to-day life, which is a rather bleak picture it turns out. However, Camus offers us a form of salvation, a Camusian kind of existential revolt, which can help us deal with the absurdity of existence.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on March 18, 2021.
It can be hard to know exactly what a sustainable diet looks like. For instance, a study from the University of Oxford, published in Climatic Change, found that the vegan diet produces the least greenhouse gases. Comparisons were made between meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. In this way, a plant-based diet would be considered the most sustainable. But is it not possible to include some animal products in one’s diet in a sustainable way? After all, the flexitarian diet, which involves the occasional consumption of fish and meat, may also be sustainable. This is because — referring back to the Oxford study — low meat-eaters have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to high meat-eaters, and only a slightly larger footprint compared to a vegetarian diet.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on March 8, 2021.
The evolution of the human brain has always been shrouded in mystery. This is because the organ tripled in size over the course of nearly seven million years, a pace of evolution that is unheard of in the natural world. Most of this growth occurred in the past two million years, during which time the brain doubled in size; although there was another major increase in volume, too, which took place between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago. The modern human brain is three times larger than the brains of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on March 1, 2021.
If you’re a writer, no matter what type, part of the rewarding nature of the craft lies in the potential to improve and take your writing in novel directions. There are always new skills that you can pick up, new ways you can write, and new lessons to learn. By reading the works of other writers and even listening to their writing advice, as well as practising your own writing, you can take your work in different directions. Sometimes, however, you might feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your writing. This might take the form of writer’s block…
It is fair to say that much of antinatalist thought is underpinned by a rejectionist philosophy, a nay-saying attitude toward life, a pessimism about the state of human life and the world at large. The line between such pessimism and antinatalism seems logical: if you believe existence is — overall — a bad deal, an unlucky hand, then it makes sense to view procreation as morally bankrupt. Why create more suffering when doing so is both unnecessary and preventable? However, I would like to challenge the commonplace notion that antinatalism has to be pessimistic, nihilistic, and misanthropic; a moral position only fit for the curmudgeonly.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on February 22, 2021.
I have long been fascinated by the artistic drive to create imaginary languages. Countless numbers of them exist. And some of them have made their way into public consciousness since they have been integrated into the fictional worlds and universes portrayed in popular books and television shows. These fictional languages include Elvish in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Alienese in Futurama, Na’vi in Avatar, Dothraki in Game of Thrones, Klingon in Star Trek (this language was created by the linguist Marc Okrand), and the Atlantean language in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (this one was also formulated by Okrand).
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on February 10, 2021.