• Styles Yugen

Shinrinyoku

The world is mad. Not that it went mad, or was anything otherwise; it has always been mad.

We live in a mad world. The evidence is all around us, from murderers, war, rich against the poor. At the end of the day madness is a human trait and the more interconnected we are, the easier it is for us to hear a voice from another planet, another station, or even another city, that preaches madness.

Individually, people aren’t nearly as mad as we are together. Imagine, for a moment, a single person deep in a secluded wood. They have tools, food, everything they need to live a comfortable life. But they’re alone in that forest--no outside connection to others or governments or corporations.

How mad are they? How likely are they to start a crusade? How likely are they to become a murderer? How likely is it that they are going to become just another rich snob, disconnected from how the majority lives?

They’re not.

I would say that no matter how isolated a person is, they will always harbor a spark of madness. But when that spark is fanned, is blown upon, it grows massively until the flames draw others in.

Anger.

Groupthink.

All manner of things that a single person in the woods wouldn’t dream of being a part of; that same person in an interconnected world would easily, willingly, and enthusiastically take part in.

It’s disgusting.


It’s revolting.

But at the end of the day it’s part of the human condition, and what can we really do to combat it?

Well, you magnificent bastards, whenever I’m down, or angry, or feeling pressured into something, I go deep into the woods and forget about it all to center myself.

There’s an old Japanese word for it: Shinrinyoko. And I think they nailed it. There’s something therapeutic about going where there’s nothing but nature and decompressing, forgetting the group think, the next big thing on the news, and remembering who you are before media jams who you should be through your eyes. So the next time you see the next big thing on a screen, or hear about it on the street, remember what the you deep in that isolated wood would do. Don’t get drawn into an inferno of someone else’s making, you’ll only get burned in their stead.


Styles Yugen, signing off.


Shinrinyoku: when you go deep into the woods to relax and improve your health.


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Science Fiction and the pursuit of escapism, 2020.