SPIRITUAL SOAP: Weird & Güd - Power in Numbers
What do you know about conjoined twins? Not enough, I say.
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
Weird & Güd is the joining of my 2 best useless qualities — hypercriticism & rabbit-hole-style research — into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week. It’s not procrastination if it culminates in a newsletter.
Illustrations from the Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514)
Chang and Eng: the OG Siamese twins. They were born in Thailand back when it was called Siam — hence the popularization of the term Siamese Twins. These bros were interesting and definitely weird, not even because they were conjoined twins, but because when they were done touring the world they bought land and started farming in North Carolina, married a pair of sisters, and had 21 kids. Whew, there is a lot to unpack there and I’m not the one who’s gonna do it. What happens when one conjoined twin dies before the other? The history on this is grim, weird, and very interesting.
姥捨て (Ubasute): Translated as “abandonment of an elderly woman,” ubasute is seen as mainly folklore born of resource scarcity. East Asian culture is viewed through the benevolent stereotype of deep reverence for assumedly wise elders but in hard times it doesn’t matter how reverent you are or how wise someone is if they can’t pull their weight. The logic behind ubasute is the pre-pre-apocalyptic world that mirrors our current post-apocalyptic imaginings in which we eat our pet dogs and use our friend’s bones to build weapons. Relax, it’s just folklore. Though there are just enough cases of brutal manifestations of modern-day ubasute to keep the tale hot. Worse than the occasional insane person is the steadily increasing number of sane but desperate Japanese families performing a modified version of ubasute today. Maybe old people are right — kids really ain’t shit.
The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考 Narayama-bushi Kō) 1958, famously & beautifully depicts the legend of ubasute.
Human Progress: this website is a data lover’s dream with a positivist bent. You can track the statistical changes in quality of life as measured by values like democracy strength, life expectancy, and income per person since your birth year. You can also find data on everything from climate to capital punishment and have that data displayed in over 6 different forms like world maps, bar graphs, or ranked lists that will depict the change for each year of collection. Who needs friends when you have this much data??
Democracy in the US has not done well since my birth (great power inspires great fear).
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
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