Experiencing Mu: Urban Agriculture for the Peaceful Dissolution of the City in Japan
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To speak of the city apart from agriculture is to deny a very real part of human wellbeing in a plethora of ways. We absolutely need both food and a connection to nature for nourishment and happiness. The problems of the city, agriculture, nature and a potential ecological crisis are dynamically interconnected. Anthropogenic climate change, or to use a more accurate term – climate chaos, is the result of a dualistic worldview that detaches man from nature. There is no name for the dominant worldview that we are currently experiencing, perhaps because we are stuck in it. However, we can name it here as the Materialist paradigm (or materialism). The Materialist paradigm is a gross societal assumption that the physical world is the extant of reality and all mental and spiritual phenomena are a result of interactions of matter within the body. Of course, not all people on earth hold this worldview as the totality of all reality, even scientists. It is, however, the default authority in government, finance, business, international relations, and social relations. It is the authority that says that there must be sufficient data to back up claims. It is the authority that says our DNA determines most of our fate. And it also says that the scientific method is favored over human emotions. The problem of materialism is not so much science itself, but it is with the simple act of looking towards the outside world for all meaning and solutions to problems. The result is to look further and further into the reaches of the universe or to look deeper and deeper into the tiniest of subatomic particles for truth. Scientists are currently looking for the ultimate reality by smashing subatomic particles together and extremely high speeds in what is known as a particle accelerator. The most advanced of these devices is called the Large Hadron Collider on the border of France and Switzerland. The collider is in search of evidence that can prove a grand unifying theory of physics that will explain the nature of the universe by finding the Higgs particle that gives mass to everything (Gleiser, 2011). This reductionist process has been extended to all things physical and social. For cities, the result has been to separate uses in a very simple manner using Euclidean Zoning. It has also resulted in a fragmented urban structure that relies on technology and massive amounts of energy to hold things together. For agriculture, the result has been to determine the minimum chemical compounds that plants need to grow and using technological means for production. The materialist paradigm has very wide reaching socio-‐economic implications including the atomization of society, the compulsion to consume in a futile attempt to fulfill needs and globalized economies founded on consumption and debt. The very distinction of city from nature is a result of the dualistic worldview that dominates our time. Experiencing Mu is an application of how we can return to oneness through farming using ideas and context from Japan and the East. Japan is the backdrop of this discussion but the entire world is the focus.