Bert Olivier

Pandora’s box has opened…again!

Everyone knows the story, or myth, of Pandora (etymologically meaning ‘all-gifted’ or perhaps ‘all-giving’), who was ancient Greek mythology’s counterpart to Eve of the Old Testament — that is, the first woman created by the gods (out of earth, or clay), all of whom gave her a gift of some kind. Her notoriety derives from…

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‘Beyond Humanism’ in Wroclaw, Poland

We are in the beautiful and ancient city of Wroclaw, Poland (the former Breslau, in German), at the 10th International ‘Beyond Humanism’ conference, where theorists of post- and transhumanism come together (in a different country) every year. It is the third of these inter- and multidisciplinary conferences that we have attended, and as before, the…

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The destructive approach to nature: ‘Geostorm’

We are in Porto, Portugal, for an interdisciplinary international conference, and already we are impressed by the beauty of this old city. As usual, because I find seats on a passenger jet too uncomfortable to sleep, I used the time to catch up on some movies, including I, Tonya, with Margot Robbie’s Oscar-quality performance in…

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The arts and transformation of the self and the world: ‘Take the Lead’

Recently, I had the privilege of delivering the opening address at the launch of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s volume of poetry, ‘Ek skryf met Bloed en Bene’ (read it here), at the newly established art gallery on her and her husband, Ian Punt’s Kredouw Olive Estate, in the Swartberg. Surrounding myself and all the guests gathered there…

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Inequality and violent protests in South Africa

In 2014 I wrote a piece for this site on the work of psychoanalyst, Paul Verhaeghe, specifically the book in which he writes about the link between inequality in a market-based society and health problems across a wide spectrum. In addition to stress and anxiety symptoms, Verhaeghe pointed to something confirmed by other researchers too,…

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How technological control undermines human desire

Contrary to what most people believe, the world is approaching the dystopian totalitarian society portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984, although ours does not, at first sight, appear to be totalitarian. And yet it is every bit as controlled, albeit in a much more subtle way. The Canadian thinker, Gilbert Germain, homes in on this state…

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The world has not learnt anything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Gothic’ (proto-)science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published when the author was only 20 years old. It was the fruit of a contest among herself and two other literary figures — her future husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and another poet, Lord…

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Kingsolver’s narrative indictment of colonisation: The Poisonwood Bible

I have written about Barbara Kingsolver’s (and other figures’, such as Salman Rushdie’s) novelistic art here before and even referred to The Poisonwood Bible cursorily — but recently the effect of colonisation on the inhabitants of certain continents (in this case Africa) has occupied my attention afresh. Hence this post, specifically on Kingsolver’s masterpiece, The…

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Marx at 200: As relevant as ever

Today (5 May 2018) is the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth in the German city of Trier, and all over the world people are celebrating his contribution to our self-understanding through the political, economic and social theories he (sometimes with his friend and colleague, Friedrich Engels) penned during his lifetime. The anniversary celebrations are…

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The allure of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s poetry

Poetry is alluring. Who is there so insensitive among us that evocative poetic phrases would not move us? Yes, I know – there are indeed such people, but I believe that even they, when given the opportunity to learn from a gifted teacher, would develop a modicum of receptivity to poetry. Blake’s “He who binds…

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