Bert Olivier

Language: An emotive issue

Why is language such an emotive issue? Primarily because it goes to the heart of what we are as speaking beings, as Jacques Lacan would no doubt retort. Language is what differentiates between humans and other animals insofar as it is a symbolic system where every signifier (word, image, or gesture) corresponds with a signified…

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Educational disparities at an international level

For some time now, it has been the case that internationalisation of education cannot be separated from globalisation as a multifaceted phenomenon. This inevitably raises the question of whether such globalisation, especially given its inseparability from advanced (electronic) communicational developments (partly as a means to the sharing of knowledge and, unavoidably, economic prosperity), is judged…

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John Fowles’ beguiling literary art

Undoubtedly one of the great exponents of the novel in English, recently deceased John Fowles, wrote novels that, in addition to gripping narratives, integrated many insights and elements from disciplines such as natural science and psychoanalysis, sometimes in such a manner that these elements functioned as drivers for narrative action. A case in point is…

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The weakness of the ANC

The current elective conference of the ANC makes me think, involuntarily, of the decline of this once-proud, 105-year old organisation, to the point where it has been too weak to do the obvious thing, namely to ‘recall’ (their chosen euphemism for discharge, or fire) their current (and soon-to-be-replaced) president, Jacob Zuma. The funny thing, which…

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A challenging archaeological perspective

In the world of archaeology it seems that it takes a long time for what Thomas Kuhn called a “paradigm switch” to take place. By this phrase – as is well-known – Kuhn (1962) meant a sudden abandonment of a certain fundamental conception of a science, which has held sway for some time, in favour…

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The urgency for ‘critical theory’ to wake up to the extinction of the ‘human’

I recently attended an exciting event: the inaugural symposium of what is set to become the South African Society of Critical Theory (SASCT) at the University of the Free State, arranged by colleagues in the philosophy department, where I work. ‘Exciting’ because its formation is long overdue in a world that is facing a bigger…

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‘Westworld': The shape of the future?

In a previous post I elaborated on an art exhibition at the Venice Biennale of 2017, which thematised the bio-technologies that are in the process of colonising the biosphere on Earth today, arguably with unpredictably deleterious consequences for humans and other living beings. The 2016/17 HBO bio-science-fiction television series, Westworld, based on a similarly-titled Michael…

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Pauw’s revelations and democracy

One might wonder – as many South Africans probably do – why there have been, and probably will be, no consequences for those implicated by the revelations in Jacques Pauw’s recent book, The President’s Keepers (NB Publishers, 2017). And I don’t mean only in the light of his revelations (it’s still a bit early); I…

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What makes for a good life: Scott’s ‘A Good Year’

On the way to and back from Tokyo, I treated myself on two viewings (after seeing it once, I could not resist watching it again) of Ridley Scott’s uplifting film, ‘A Good Year’ (20th Century Fox, 2006), and was impressed, once again, by the director’s ability to work convincingly in different genres. After all, judging…

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‘A River Runs through It’

The film by the name, ‘A River Runs through It’ (Redford 1992) is based on an autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean, similarly titled ‘A River Runs through It and Other Storie’s (Maclean 2017; Kindle edition). He was the older brother in the Maclean family, living in Western Montana – one of the most beautiful states…

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