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The Canary in the Machine

For many generations canaries were used as an indicator of air quality in coal mines. When the canary stopped singing or died, the miners knew they had to return to the surface quickly. Since then, we use the expression “canary in the coal mine” to refer to a person or event that provides early warning of a disaster.

In today’s world we might speak of the “canary in the machine” rather than the canary in the coal mine, since the universe we inhabit, and the undetectable threats to life that come with it, are technological rather than natural.

People who are isolated, ignored or rejected are particularly suited to the role of “canaries in the machine” for, like mimosa pudica, the “sensitive plant”, they respond to the slightest pressure and withdraw into themselves when the touch of life is replaced by the shock of the machine.




The Sea and LifePollinationResilienceThe Art of the GraftThe Canary in the MachineThe Grain of Sand and the Blade of GrassSocial GardeningThe Bird that tells the HoursMidas the Dis-enchanter, or Instrumental Reason



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Jacques Dufresne's

The editor of L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora and well known newspaper chronicler and philosopher, analyses actuality through the looking glass of Belonging.
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