Support Aeon

‘Content that goes beyond the two-hour news cycle. Thinking that grounds.’

Adam Ward, Canada, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

Muxes

9 minutes

Poetry of perception: ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’

2 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

In southern Mexico, a long-acknowledged ‘third gender’ is not masculine or feminine

‘…women are women and men are men. And muxes, well, they are muxes.’

The indigenous Zapotec communities of southern Mexico have long acknowledged ‘muxes’ as a third gender of people who are assigned as male at birth, but eventually become drawn to traditionally female roles. This can include dressing in feminine attire, taking on ‘women’s work’ and engaging in romantic relationships with men. Anthropologists believe the culture’s acceptance of gender-mixing predates European contact, and has survived the strict gender dichotomy imposed by Spanish Catholic colonisers. The director Ivan Olita’s short documentary Muxes sketches the lives of several muxes living in the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, where, once heavily discriminated against by society at large, they’ve made significant strides towards acceptance and respect over the last decade.

Director: Ivan Olita

Website: Bravó, NOWNESS

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

‘Then – fit our Vision to the Dark’: exploring sight with Emily Dickinson

Written by Emily Dickinson during the depths of the US Civil War, the untitled poem known as ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’ conjures hope and perseverance amid waves of chaos and uncertainty. In this animation, the UK filmmaker and illustrator Hannah Jacobs visualises the poem in fleeting scenes that oscillate between vibrant colour and darkness, through which human figures careen. Beginning with an epigraph drawing a parallel between artistic and scientific discovery, the video was created for an online neuroscience course at Harvard University as part of a series that explores the human sensory experience through poetry and animation.

Animator: Hannah Jacobs

Producer: Nadja Oertelt

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Life emerges, evolves and fights for supremacy in this 1929 avant-garde classic

The New Zealand-born artist Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901-80), better known as Len Lye, is renowned for his work in kinetic sculpture and experimental film, and is widely considered one of the most innovative modernists of the 20th century. Lye’s first film, Tusalava (1929), produced over two years following a move to London, was born of the city’s emerging experimental film scene and Lye’s abiding interest in Maori, Aboriginal and Samoan art. Composed of some 7,000 hand-drawn images, the abstract animation synthesises modern and ancient art as it depicts simple life forms emerging, evolving and coming into conflict. As with the influence of African art on Pablo Picasso, Lye’s use of so-called ‘primitivism’ has been both praised for introducing non-Western perspectives to Western art, and criticised for cultural appropriation. The film was originally paired with a now-lost piano score from the UK-born composer Jack Ellitt. This version features the UK composer Eugene Goossens’s composition Rhythmic Dance (1928), which Lye later suggested as an alternative accompaniment.

Director: Len Lye

Score: Eugene Goossens

Websites: The Len Lye Foundation, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

If simple logic isn’t working with your internet company, try Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory

This tongue-in-cheek animation from the US YouTuber Henry Reich – the mind behind MinutePhysics – is a creative exercise in how not to lose your cool when faced with the abyss of illogic. Recalling the mundane, mindnumbing tribulations of trying to get a straight answer on billing from his internet service provider (ISP), Reich concludes that the company isn’t just guilty of subpar customer service – their policies also break nearly every fundamental law of modern mathematics. Reich’s clever excoriation of telecommunication companies was created for The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest), an annual ‘celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theories’.

Video by MinutePhysics

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Mind control and zombification do exist. Just look at these crickets

Warning: this video is not for the squeamish.

Mayflies make a quick and nutritious snack for crickets. But, rather unfortunately for the cricket population of California, some mayflies are home to hairworms (nematomorphs) – parasitic creatures that will stop at nothing to make their way back to water. Once consumed, hairworms feed off crickets from the inside, absorbing all of their lipids, and eventually putting the cricket in a state of developmental and reproductive limbo. Worse still, once these fast-growing parasites reach their adult length of one to two feet, they zombify their hosts, unleashing brain chemicals that make the infected crickets wander aimlessly until they hit water, where the worms make their final escape and start the whole cycle anew. By studying this process, scientists hope to learn more about how brain parasites might affect human behaviour. The ordeal is captured in microscopic detail in this episode of the often creepy, always fascinating science documentary series Deep Look. Read more about the video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Gabriela Quirós

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Cinematographer: Josh Cassidy

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

In southern Mexico, a long-acknowledged ‘third gender’ is not masculine or feminine

‘…women are women and men are men. And muxes, well, they are muxes.’

The indigenous Zapotec communities of southern Mexico have long acknowledged ‘muxes’ as a third gender of people who are assigned as male at birth, but eventually become drawn to traditionally female roles. This can include dressing in feminine attire, taking on ‘women’s work’ and engaging in romantic relationships with men. Anthropologists believe the culture’s acceptance of gender-mixing predates European contact, and has survived the strict gender dichotomy imposed by Spanish Catholic colonisers. The director Ivan Olita’s short documentary Muxes sketches the lives of several muxes living in the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, where, once heavily discriminated against by society at large, they’ve made significant strides towards acceptance and respect over the last decade.

Director: Ivan Olita

Website: Bravó, NOWNESS

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter
Aeon is not-for-profit
and free for everyone
Make a donation
Essay/
Teaching and learning
The growth mindset problem

A generation of schoolchildren is being exhorted to believe in their brain’s elasticity. Does it really help them learn?

Carl Hendrick

Essay/
Childhood and adolescence
The telling

When a parent dies by suicide, how the children are told casts a permanent shadow on their understanding of life and loss

Jesse Bering