Food insecurity — the lack of regular access to enough nutritious food for growth, development, health, and activity — continues to be a major global problem. 2.37 billion people did not have access to safe and nutritious food in 2020 and worldwide undernourishment and hunger are on the rise. The world is off-track to meet the United Nations target of achieving zero hunger by 2030 — and this was true even before the coronavirus pandemic, which has deepened the hunger crisis in the most vulnerable regions.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on September 7, 2021.
Kanna is a psychoactive succulent plant native to South Africa. San hunter-gatherers (or Bushmen), as well as Khoi pastoralists (or Hottentots), have used kanna for millennia, before written reports of the uses of these plants by European explorers and settlers emerged. These indigenous peoples have used kanna — the Khoi word for the plant — as a masticatory (something you chew for pleasure or to increase saliva). The literal translation of the Afrikaans name for the plant, ‘kougoed’, is ‘something to chew’. Kanna has also traditionally been used for the relief of thirst and hunger, to combat fatigue, as medicines, and for social and spiritual purposes.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on September 2, 2021.
With international travel coming to a halt during the pandemic (or at least becoming cumbersome and prone to cancellation), I’ve been waiting patiently for the time when I can hop on a plane again and go on some trips that I’ve been planning.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on August 31, 2021.
‘Drugs’, much like ‘religion’, evade a precise definition. There are standard, dictionary definitions of the term ‘drug’, either a substance (other than food) that influences motor, sensory, cognitive, or other bodily processes, or a substance that is used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease. Drugs are generally understood to be either psychoactive drugs or medicinal drugs. However, the two categories clearly cross over: many drugs are both psychoactive and medicinal, such as morphine. But societies also make distinctions, normative in nature, within these categories. For example, some psychoactive drugs are deemed good by some and bad by others. Drinking alcohol may be socially acceptable, but recreational heroin use generally is not.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on August 23, 2021.
In his short polemic, Jews Don’t Count, the writer and comedian David Baddiel argues that progressives have left out one identity in their commitment to anti-racism and identity politics. As will be obvious: this group is the Jewish people. Here Baddiel makes the case — with incisiveness, nuance, and even-handedness (in my opinion) — for the prevalence of passive antisemitism in contemporary society, with much of the focus being on the UK.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on August 9, 2021.
By 2050, there will be two million more people on the planet, who, like the population today, will be demanding cheap meat, eggs, and dairy. Given the massive environmental threats posed by animal agriculture, the situation will only get worse as the global population increases. So what can be done?
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on August 2, 2021.
In my first post on asemic writing, I ended by pointing to the paradoxical nature of this art form: the marks involved are at once meaningless (since they have no semantic meaning) and meaningful (since, as an art form, there can be meaning behind their creation — the intention, emotion, or state of mind expressed — and how the viewer interprets the marks). As the artist Ekaterina Samigulina, “The content of asemic writing is meaningless, period. It is void as a signifier that failed to make its way to its signified. But it is not meaningless as an act, as a gesture…”
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on July 27, 2021.
As much as psychedelics hold great promise in alleviating all kinds of psychological distress, they are not a mental health panacea, which they are sometimes touted to be. Based on positive media stories surrounding psychedelic research and anecdotal reports of people being forever cured of chronic, severe mental illnesses, it’s easy to get the impression that a profound psychedelic experience is a silver bullet for every case of, say, major depression, and that once healed, depression won’t return.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on July 19, 2021.
Julius Bahnsen (1830–1881) was a German philosopher and disciple of Arthur Schopenhauer. The historian Frederick C. Beiser, in his book Weltschmerz: Pessimism in German Philosophy, 1860–1900, describes Bahnsen’s philosophical views, along with other key German pessimistic philosophers and followers of Schopenhauer, such as Julius Frauenstädt, Eduard von Hartmann, and Philipp Mainländer.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on July 12, 2021.
Pseudographia is the term I use to refer to either the practice of automatic asemic writing, that is, meaningless, artistic writing created in an unconscious way, or the unconscious drive to engage in such writing. I have recently been revisiting the work of the Belgian poet and artist Henri Michaux, as I feel his asemic writing is the perfect example of pseudographia.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on June 28, 2021.