Bert Olivier

“Names Unvoiced but not Unknown”: Cleone Cull’s surrealist art

Judging by the recently opened exhibition of multimedia drawings by Eastern Cape artist Cleone Cull – who spent years teaching fine art, first at the Port Elizabeth Technikon and later at the School of Music, Art and Design of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – art is thriving in this corner of South Africa. Cleone…

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Philosophy of provisionality

Everything we do as humans is provisional. Because of time’s eroding power, everything is revisable. There is a reason for the word “decision” being a part of our language. Not accidentally, the term derives from the Latin for “cut”; in other words, when we decide something, we make a volitional “cut” of sorts in the…

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The follies of humankind, through the eyes of a young girl

In this time of economic and ecological uncertainty, which has, tellingly, given rise to the philosophical genre of “extinction studies” (see http://thoughtleader.co.za/bertolivier/2014/06/30/human-extinction-its-not-just-science-fiction/), it may be wise to remind ourselves that the human folly which has given rise to the fraught state of the present, globally, is nothing new. Human history is littered with such follies,…

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Brexit, capital as meta-body, and mytochondria

So it did happen in the end. Brexit. Against expectations, judging by the polls immediately before the referendum on 23 June. But looking back, it is not surprising that it happened. Most of those voting to leave are older voters, whose emotional ties to a Britain before the “free movement” immigration from European Union countries…

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Ubuntu and eco-feminism as an antidote to neoliberalism

How many people have noticed that neoliberal capitalism undermines the values of ubuntu (“I am because others are”) as a traditional African practice? And how many know that ubuntu and ecofeminism share some fundamental principles and values? I know of at least one such person, and her work in this regard is extremely significant. In…

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The Tshwane protests, Freud and how to control a crowd

It is regrettable that so many thinking people today – even those in the discipline of psychology – regard the work of the founder of psychoanalysis (which is by no means synonymous with psychology) as being of no more than historical importance, and Sigmund Freud himself as a historical curiosity. And yet, Freud is more…

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Anthro-pessimism, robots and Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’

What does the demonstrable pessimism regarding robots and their projected “attitude” towards humans in recent science fictional films tell us about our understanding (or perhaps imagining) of artificial intelligence? To be sure, let me state at the outset there are exceptions to this, even in some of the most pessimistic instances of such films –…

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Why American market capitalism is broken

Yes, you’ve read correctly. You may not know who Rana Foroohar is, so let me inform you that she is a highly respected business and economic journalist working for TIME magazine, who has just published a book called Makers and Takers, published in May (Crown publishers), in which she makes this (to some startling) announcement….

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Why cartoons are linked to human freedom

There is a very obvious reason why cartoons are inseparably linked to human freedom. And here I don’t mean the Walt Disney variety, or indeed any cartoon film, although they are clearly connected to “artistic freedom” insofar as one’s creativity sets the bounds for the imagination as source of the construction of such films. What…

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How transgressive ‘minor’ discourses can subvert hegemonic neoliberalism

We are in Madrid for a conference on “the posthuman”, and taking in the wonderful art and architecture in this capital city of Spain, including the treasures of the Prado, such as their Goya, Velazquez and Bosch collections. Several papers at this thought-and-action-provoking gathering of scholars committed to change in a world being suffocating by…

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