Sources for a Film about Vaslav Nijinsky

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Shhh!  Don’t tell anybody, but I’m working on a screenplay about art, love, innocence, arrogance and schizophrenia, focusing on the life and death of two artists: Vaslav Nijinsky and Friedrich Hölderlin.

It will be an open-source project, conducted on this blog, my twitter feed and my website, in the spirit of “As We May Think,” a 1945 Atlantic Monthly essay by Vannevar Bush. (Bush’s vision of the memex led to the development of the hyperlink and the World Wide Web.)

I’m starting with this post listing my initial sources, which I will update here until I can figure a way to best document on my website.

  • Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness by Richard Buckle
  • The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky (ed., Romola de Pulszky)
  • The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky (ed., Joan Acocella)
  • Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn As Told by a Friend by Thomas Mann
  • Les Ballets Russes de Nijinsky (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1w6cg5I10c)
  • Nijinsky 1912-L’Après-midi d’un Faune (full version)
  • Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev – L’apres midi d’un Faune
  • “The Castaway” by William Cowper
  • The Greeks and the Irrational by E.R. Dodds
  • Schizophrenia as a Human Process by Harry Stack Sullivan, M.D.
  • The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

I’m using these open platforms because it suits my purposes but to be honest, I won’t be unhappy if nobody follows my progress.  (I think I’m the best person to realize this scenario, but if circumstances make that impossible, I want to leave a record for somebody out there who can continue the work.)

Traditional Livelihoods, Conservation & Meadow Ecology in Jiuzhaigou National Park

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Traditional Livelihoods, Conservation and Meadow Ecology in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan, China

Urgenson L, Schmidt AH, Combs J, Harrell S, Hinckley T, Yang Q, Ma Z, Yongxian L, Hongliang L, MacIver A
Hum Ecol. 2014 Jun;42(3):481-491
PubMed Central PMC4474163

Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, Sichuan, China, Wǔhuā Hǎi rize valley 日则沟
Wǔhuā Hǎi Rize Valley 日则沟, Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan, China [Source: Wikimedia Commons, chensiyuan]
Investigators from the University of Washington, Oberlin College, Jiuzhaigou National Park, Aarhus University, Sichuan University and University of Chicago employed archaeological excavation, ethnographic interviews, remote sensing and vegetation surveys to examine the implications of two national reforestation programs to increase forest cover and exclude local land use in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve.

From the Introduction:

“Despite international recognition that biodiversity conservation should respect and account for indigenous cultures, the role of human land-uses in preserving ecosystems is a subject of debate, with practical implications for management of protected areas. On one side, land-use is viewed as outside the natural range of variability and thus detrimental to biodiversity conservation. On the other side, landscapes are portrayed as products of human-environment interactions and human disturbance as potentially beneficial to biodiversity. In reality, the extent to which land-use either aids or inhibits conservation depends on the nature and extent of human activities and their historic role in shaping the distributions of species and habitats. Understanding these linkages allows us to evaluate conservation practices critically and to formulate management policies that support biological diversity and local cultures.”

On the basis of archaeological excavations, ethnographic interviews, remote sensing and vegetation surveys, the team found that the landscape of Jiuzhaigou National Park is the product of more than 2,000 years of human-ecosystem interactions that may have enriched biodiversity and ecosystem services through the creation of meadow patches in a landscape dominated by forests. In their conclusion, the authors propose that governments and NGOs rethink conservation that demands removal of human land-use in order to return the land to a “natural” state:

“The results of this interdisciplinary study suggest that long-term human land-use, including traditional-scale agriculture and pastoralism, created and maintained montane meadows in [Jiuzhaigou National Park]. The cessation of human land-use and intentional planting of trees have resulted in substantial loss of meadows with potentially profound implications for the Park’s conservation aims. Continued loss of these meadow habitats may result in changes in ecological systems, with lower diversity, fewer ecosystem services, and loss of cultural meaning and traditional knowledge over time.

Our findings from Jiuzhaigou have more general application for conservation practice. The inhabitants of Jiuzhaigou, as in many other areas, have lived as part of the cultural landscape over millennia, and in doing so have significantly shaped the patterns of biodiversity that we see on the landscape. This leads us to rethink conservation that demands removal of human land-use in order to return it to a “natural” state. Our findings are relevant to conservation in protected areas where there is an interest in maintaining existing ecological and cultural structures.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Foraging for Wild Edible Plants in New York City’s Parks: 
Practical Considerations & Recommendations

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Green Shading Indicates Areas within a 10-Minute Walk of a Park, NYC
Green Shading Indicates Areas within a 10-Minute Walk of a Park, NYC [Source: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation]
What Is a City Park?
On their website, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) claims stewardship of “approximately 29,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City.” [1] Beyond the parks themselves (e.g., Central Park, Prospect Park), these properties include athletic fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, recreational facilities, nature centers, golf courses, and beaches.

What Are the City’s Rules Covering Foraging in the Parks?
Unauthorized foraging is covered under the city’s prohibited uses of the parks, and carries penalties including fines and imprisonment. I’ll quote directly from NYC Park’s Rules & Regulations: [2]

§1-04 Prohibited Uses
Destruction or Abuse of Trees, Plants, Flowers, Shrubs and Grass

  • No person shall deface, write upon, injure, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any trees under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.
  • No person shall deface, write upon, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any plants, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

§1-07 Penalties

  • Any violation of these Rules other than Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than ninety days imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both, in accordance with § 533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

  • Any violation of Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than one year imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $15,000, or both.

  • Any violation of these Rules shall also constitute a violation triable by the Environmental Control Board and punishable by a civil penalty of not more than $10,000, in accordance with §533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

Does the City Arrest and Prosecute Foragers?
Media reports indicate that the city hasn’t been taking legal action against foragers — aside from issuing summonses — since the 1980s, following the arrest of forager Steve Brill, for gathering dandelions in Central Park. The city dropped the charges after media-savvy Brill parlayed his arrest into national print and broadcast coverage that was mostly sympathetic to him. [3]

However, the city stepped up enforcement of anti-foraging regulations during the Bloomberg administration, directing park rangers and enforcement-patrol officers “to keep an eye out for foragers and chase them off,” according to the New York Times. [4]

On the basis of a recent Google search, it appears the de Blasio administration hasn’t yet made an announcement about its policy toward foragers; however, in email correspondence published in Gothamist in December 2014, a spokeswoman for the Central Park Conservancy (a private, not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park under a contract with the city [5] expressed the Conservancy’s vigorous opposition to foraging:

“When individuals forage in Central Park, they’re actively destroying the carefully planned and maintained work of those 200 employees, as well as destroying the experience intended to be shared by 40 million annual visitors.” [6]

What’s a Would-Be Forager to Do?
The city’s argument that unrestricted foraging in the parks is not sustainable has some merit. Unschooled foragers can yank out vulnerable plants like American ginger and ramps by the roots, [7] and some foragers engage in practices that might better be called poaching, as reported by the Times:

“Beverly McDermott, director of Friends of Kissena Park in Flushing, Queens, has confronted foragers directly when she has seen them hauling away everything from plants to top soil to turtles. A garden in the 242-acre park that Mrs. McDermott helped revive a decade ago has been repeatedly pillaged, with herbs, flowers and a whole weeping cherry tree disappearing.”

[On a personal note, in the early 1980s, one sunset after an idyllic afternoon in Central Park, I was surprised to see an old man who looked for all the world like Santa Claus lure several ducklings from the Lake into a canvas poke, which he then tossed over his shoulder and toted off into the darkness. No adult duck was nearby, so perhaps they were his pet ducklings, heading home to a comfy bathtub after a day of free swim? Or perhaps he planned to cook them up like squab? Maybe it’s this ambiguity that defines the conscientious park user’s attitude toward foragers.]

New York City’s parks comprise one of the largest and most biologically diverse networks of urban forests in the world. Within our parks, artificial landscapes and wild areas are host to thousands of native plants and invasive species, many of which could serve as a free source of nutritious food for New Yorkers.

Surely we can begin to explore policies to countenance, and even encourage, sustainable foraging of edible wild plants in the city’s parks. An essay in City Atlas suggests convening an expert panel including foraging advocates, the Parks Department, and academic ecologists among others to help the city chart a course for foragers and other stakeholders of the parks to co-exist and for the parks themselves to flourish even more than they do today. [8]

There are models. For example, Sandy Hook in New Jersey, part of the federal Gateway National Recreation Area, allows harvesting of beach plum fruit, berries, and mushrooms to “one quart container per person, per day,” according to a spokesman. [9]

I, for one, plan to advocate for a re-thinking of NYC Park’s existing regulations prohibiting foraging, starting with this essay. In the meantime, would-be foragers may want to follow progress on my blog [10] and Twitter feed [11], while exercising due caution when coming upon that next mouth-watering stand of lamb’s quarters, amaranth, or any of the multitude of wild edible plants in the city’s parks.

References

  1. About the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nycgovparks.org/about
  2. Rules & Regulations of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nycgovparks.org/rules
  3. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  4. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  5. Central Park Conservancy. About Us. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/about-cpc/
  6. NYC Is Your Salad Bar: A Day In The Life Of An Urban Forager. Gothamist, June 12, 2014. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://gothamist.com/2014/06/12/how_to_forage_nyc.php#photo-1
  7. Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad. New York Times, July 29, 2011. Accessed 16 July 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/nyregion/new-york-moves-to-stop-foraging-in-citys-parks.html
  8. Urban foraging: a lost art? City Atlas, July 1, 2013. Accessed on 16 July 2015: http://newyork.thecityatlas.org/lifestyle/heyday-urban-foraging-over-not-ready-published/
  9. Urban foraging: a lost art? City Atlas, July 1, 2013. Accessed on 16 July 2015: http://newyork.thecityatlas.org/lifestyle/heyday-urban-foraging-over-not-ready-published/
  10. http://blog.williamaveryhudson.com/
  11. https://twitter.com/wahwahnyc

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for legal professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current knowledge.

.@Twitter. Who Do You Think You Are? (my thoughts)

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Nick Bilton, writing in the New York Times, has reprised the existential question, What Is Twitter?

Twitter had me at hello.

My epistemological method derives from “As We May Think,” a 1945 Atlantic Monthly essay by Vannevar Bush, President Roosevelt’s science advisor during World War II. Bush’s vision of the memex led to the development of the hyperlink and the World Wide Web.

I propose that Twitter is a revolutionary technology with potential perhaps even beyond the intention of its creators. Namely, a key component of open-access machines for generating knowledge.

With the advent of Twitter, I realized that we finally had all the tools necessary to create our own personal memex machines. I’m working on a prototype, comprising my Twitter feed, this blog, and a website. Stay tuned.

Use it, build it.

Wild Plants Used as Starters for Fermented Beverages by Shui People of China

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Ethnobotany of wild plants used for starting fermented beverages in Shui communities of southwest China

Hong L, Zhuo J, Lei Q, Zhou J, Ahmed S, Wang C, Long Y, Li F, Long C
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 May 28;11:42
PubMed Central PMC4458060

Guizhou Province
Guizhou Province [source: Wikimedia Commons, TUBS]
Investigators at Minzu University of China; Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Yunnan Agricultural University; Kaili University; Montana State University; and Guizhou Normal College conducted field studies to examine the ethnobotany of wild plants used as starters for the preparation of fermented beverages in Shui villages in southwest China and to document knowledge and practices associated with liquor fermentation.

From the abstract:

“While the practice of using wild plants as starters for the preparation of fermented beverages was once prevalent throughout China, this tradition has seen a decline nationally since the 1930s. The traditional technique of preparing fermented beverages from wild plant starters remains well preserved in the Shui communities in southwest China and provides insight on local human-environment interactions and conservation of plant biodiversity for cultural purposes.”

The team carried out field surveys with guidance from 149 participants in 20 Shui villages, and documented 103 species in 57 botanical families of wild plants that are traditionally used as starters for preparing fermented beverages. More than 90% of the species have multiple uses in addition to being used as a starter, with medicinal purposes being the most prevalent.

From the background:

“Fermented food and beverages that preserve diverse, locally available resources have been consumed for centuries worldwide as notable dietary components to support household food security and overall wellbeing. Traditionally, such products were associated with cultural identity and social aspects of communities and were most often prepared at the household-scale through the action of microorganisms and their enzymes. Key characteristics of fermented foods and beverages are enhancements to flavor and/or appearance, preserved quality, prolonged shelf-life, reduced cooking time and prebiotic and probiotic properties that have benefits for increasing digestability and bioavailablilty of certain nutrients. Various cultures around the world prepare and consume fermented products to enhance their basic diet including as a side dish, condiment, pickle, confection and beverage. Knowledge on the preparation and attributes of fermented foods and beverages has been transferred from generation to generation and represents traditional ethnobiological knowledge.”

The 149 participants in this survey included 32 men and 117 women between the ages of 23 and 84 years (Shui women are the major harvesters and users of wild plants used as starters for preparing fermented beverages and transfer knowledge orally from mother to daughter). Of 149 participants, 53 key informants were identified who were highly respected in their communities for their rich knowledge of plants used for starters for fermented beverages. These included village elders, traditional brewers of fermented beverages and managers of local liquor distilleries.

The Shui are one of the 55 officially recognized minority nationalities in China. The Shui language belongs to the Kam-Shui language grouping within the Sino-Tibetan language family. From the paper:

“…Shui villages in mountainous valleys and basins are usually located near rivers and even today display the stilted wooden house style. The Shui at the study sites live in clusters of small-scaled villages…. Similar to other indigenous groups in the area, the Shui follow polytheism and animism with worship of ancestors and natural objects including mountains, rocks and ancient trees. Traditional lifestyle is still common in the area and the Shui people are fond of pickles and sour soup in their daily diet. Staple food of the Shuis is rice, together with different local vegetables and meat as protein source. Traditional practices are still common in Shui communities including the production of fermented alcoholic beverages.”

Lygodium japonicum
Lygodium japonicum [source: Wikimedia Commons, James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service]
The plants most frequently mentioned as used as a starter for preparation of fermented alcoholic beverages included Gerbera piloselloides, Lygodium japonicum, Rosa roxburghii, Paederia foetida, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Plantago depressa and Platycodon grandiflorus.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend a holistic approach to further research and development, leading to policies that enhance the transmission of ethnobotancial knowledge toward conservation of biodiversity and associated preservation of cultural systems:

“[Our] findings highlight the rich biodiversity and habitats that local communities draw upon from their surroundings as part of their cultural life to support interpersonal communication and celebrate key occasions. Women’s role as the primary producers involved in making fermented beverages reflects gendered knowledge that is related to societal life and relations to kin. While knowledge of plants used for liquor making has traditionally been orally transferred from mother to daughter, this knowledge is threatened as the younger generations move away from rural areas in search of jobs and a different lifestyle, a pattern witnessed in rural communities worldwide. Efforts are needed to enhance the transmission of ethnobotancial knowledge in Shui communities towards conservation of biodiversity and associated preservation of cultural systems. Increased interest in natural products and artisanal beverages as well as increased regional tourism is attracting new interest in wild plants used in the processing of fermented foods and beverages. If developed with local community interests and conservation in mind, these commercialization and tourism efforts have the potential of helping preserve traditional ethnobotanical knowledge as well as associated biodiversity. Future studies are needed to evaluate the phytochemical profiles, bioactivity, stability and safety of fermented wild plants and their potential for other fermented foods and beverages as well as medicinal purposes. In addition, it is necessary to develop standards for large-scale production and commercialization of these non-timber forest products. These future studies would help provide guidelines for community-based production and ultimately preservation of biological and cultural diversity.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.