Bert Olivier

Dietmar Brehm’s ‘The Murder Mystery': Sado-porn or genius noir?

Dietmar Brehm’s The Murder Mystery (1992) is a powerfully disconcerting film of only about 15 minutes’ duration. It has been described as sado-pornographic – a description I do not agree with, except for the “sado-“ prefix, which is accurate if this alludes to the impression created by the fragmentary, disjointed, “noir-ish” images flickering across the…

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Is there a crisis of credibility in the human sciences?

On a previous occasion I elaborated on the growing natural scientific evidence that the world is at “Red Alert” status regarding a looming ecological crisis. The question arises, whether the human sciences (humanities and social sciences) are in agreement with their natural science colleagues on this issue. In light of the incontrovertible evidence in this…

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Star Trek, technology and being human

When I lived in the US, I made sure to catch at least one episode of the original Star Trek television series, conceived by Gene Roddenberry in the 1960s, which has spawned at least 10 feature films to date. Had I wanted to, it could have been up to half a dozen a night, on…

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The bees are disappearing – a lesson on life

It seems that the most arrogant of creatures, erroneously titled “homo sapiens sapiens” (the doubly wise human, supposedly), who is proving daily that cleverness does not equal wisdom, may have set in motion a process (among many others) that, if it continues, may eradicate one of nature’s marvels, the honey bee (Apis Mellifera). And not…

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Capitalism and/as suffering

No one in their right mind would associate capitalism with suffering, would they? Isn’t it about enjoyment of commodities, ostentatious consumption, celebrity life and wealth accumulation? And what is there about all this that could be connected with “suffering”? Of course, one could elaborate, as Hardt and Negri do in Multitude (2005) and elsewhere, about…

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Some thoughts on the crisis in higher education

The recently released Council on Higher Education (CHE) report on the state of higher education in South Africa is ringing alarm bells all over the country at universities, as may be expected, given the dismal picture it paints of the higher education landscape. Understandably, school education is implicated, and identified as the main reason for…

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Total Recall and the neverending dream of liberation from oppression

I sometimes wonder whether people have noticed that many movies (as well as novels and short stories, which are not my concern here) thematise the fight for liberation from some or other dictatorial regime that oppresses people, often depicted as the working class. Just off the top of my head I can think of several:…

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A world where time replaces money as currency

Isn’t it amazing how a huge money-spinner of a film, made on a budget of millions, obviously in anticipation of making a sizeable profit in moviehouse-attendance and on DVDs, can tap into something that goes diametrically against the grain of its own production rationale? What it taps into, is the latent desire on the part…

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From science fiction to fact? “I, Robot” and real robotics.

In Alex Proyas’s I, Robot, a relatively recent science fiction neo-noir film, Spooner, the noir detective tasked to solve the suspected murder of a brilliant scientist and robotics expert in the not-too-distant future, hates robots. The reason? When he was involved in a car accident some time before, he was rescued from his sinking car…

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Is there a need for cyber-ethics?

The recent spate of events where governments, magazine-employees and various other social actors have acted in ways that have invited spirited debate about the justifiability of their actions, lead to an unavoidable question: Is there a need for cyber-ethics? It all depends on what one means by “cyber-ethics”, of course. If this means the need…

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