My Mushroom Burial Suit by Jae Rhim Lee
There it is, that topic we don’t want to talk about: death. Most people, including myself, don’t want to talk about death until it is upon us or a loved one. What I love about Jae Rhim Lee’s My Mushroom Burial Suit is her incredible innovation and practicality around the inevitable. Jae Rhim takes ownership of death and ecological footprints to the next level by not only planning her funeral, but by planning exactly how she will decompose and further benefit the environment.
My mushroom burial suit by Jae Rhim Lee
Three traits were chosen from Jason Ohler’s rubric to critique this story.
(10 points each)
Originality/Voice/Creativity—Did the story exhibit an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective?
My Mushroom Burial Suit has one of the most unique perspectives I have ever encountered. Jae is not shying away from the tough topic of death, but rather delving into the decomposition of it. She coins the new words: Infinity Burial Project, Infinity Mushrooms, Body Decopiculture + Toxin Remediation, Mushroom Death Suit, and Decompinauts of the Decompiculture Society. I appreciate her blending of art, science, and culture to create a completely new way of connecting death and preserving the planet. The originality of Jae’s idea may even be pushing Ted Talks to another level of creativity. Perhaps this new way of thinking will inspire more conversations around death, loss of loved ones, and one’s body ultimate gift of good citizenship.
Research—Was the story well researched and documented?
Jae has thoroughly researched toxins and mushrooms for her decompiculture cause. She explains toxins in the body, which include BPA, preservatives, pesticides and heavy metals like lead and mercury. She further explains that in current burial practices, cremation releases toxins, mainly mercury, into the air we breathe, while formaldehyde, used to preserve bodies for burials, is making funeral workers sick.
In the flipside of her toxin research, Jae is documenting growth of toxin-cleaning mushrooms in petri dishes and the decomposition process. She cultivates mushroom strains that feed on her own hair, skin and finger nails in the hopes they will recognize and feed on her body upon her death. Once deceased, she will be placed in her researched dendritic patterned suit that houses mushroom spores. The last step being the insertion of a decompiculture capsule to allow mushroom spores to decompose her from the inside out.
Flow/Organization/Pacing—Did the story flow well, moving from part to part without bumps or disorientation?
It is clear that Jae is passionate about her work with human decomposition and the environment. She builds the story nicely by providing good context around toxins in humans and our environment. The only thing I find that disturbs her story flow is her frequent use of her notes, which causes constant disengagement from her audience. Otherwise she is eloquent and poised in spreading her message: radical acceptance of death and decomposition through our intimate connection to our environment.