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Content Categorized ‘From the Editor’

Material Life

Oh, plastic, scourge of the Anthropocene, shaped into adorable shapes and dyed multifarious colors; plastic, who will be with us forever: it’s easy to forget about you, but when I remember you’re here, I’m annoyed and freaked out all at once. I’ve been thinking about plastic more than usual as we prepare this Body Issue. Petrochemically derived plastic is, more and more, part of our bodies, and the evidence for its hazards grows steadily clearer. Not only does this material stick around for thousands of years, it disintegrates into smaller and smaller particles that attract and concentrate toxins in seas, soil, living things. It pervades even the air, according to studies published in 2016 and new work out this year, lodging in lungs and carrying the same toxins to those chambers. Tali Weinberg’s woven data map Bound, featured in this issue, speaks to these hazards and the hazards of climate change all at once. Beginning with plastic medical tubing, she marks out data on annual average temperatures in cities and countries around the world, then shows that data by wrapping the tubing with hand-dyed, color-coded thread.

Fidelity to Fact

April—every day a new flower scent to try to identify; every day warmer—and I’m thinking yet again about a perennial conundrum. Amid distraction, and amid so much information, how to hold in mind the many present threats to ecological balance?