Bert Olivier

The recurring historical struggle for freedom

Several things that I experienced recently contributed to a renewed reflection, on my part, on the meaning of freedom. Much has been written about it, and I, like everyone interested in the topic, have my favourite authors in this regard. Here, however, I want to take these experiences as my point of departure. The first…

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Modernism, postmodernism and poststructuralism, the difference

One clue to understanding the difference between modernism, postmodernism and poststructuralism lies in the ancient “quarrel” between Parmenides and Heraclitus. Parmenides argued that only being is, and becoming is not. Things of the world of perception, the world of the Many, of time and change, are subject to becoming, and therefore ARE not in the…

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Vuyo Mbuli treated everyone equally

When I saw the report in the Mail & Guardian about the death of Vuyo Mbuli, I could not believe my eyes — he still seemed so young, and life-loving. But then, death does not really discriminate between the young and the old. Still, it was saddening to learn that Vuyo, who has always come…

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South Africans present their papers at the Theoretical Psychology Conference in Chile

Here in Santiago, Chile, a number of South Africans have made thought-provoking contributions to the International Theoretical Psychology Conference at the Pontifical Catholic University. Almost without exception, the South Africans’ presentations were of the critical-psychological variety. Claire Haggard of UCT, for instance, explored the spatial situatedness of human bodies in phenomenological terms through the work…

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Critical psychology in Santiago, Chile

When it is your first time in Santiago, Chile, you may be forgiven for being somewhat taken aback by the friendliness and warmth of the people in this South American country. Few people here speak English, but it has happened several times that, when we stop to consult our map, someone comes up to us…

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Resisting the dehumanising architecture of the ‘space of flows’

Against the background of my previous post on “The ‘space of flows and the social elites of today”, it is illuminating to take note of Manuel Castells’s (The Rise of the Network Society, 2010: Chapter 6, Section 6) interpretation of contemporary, “postmodern” architecture as an architecture that has been redefined by the space of flows…

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The ‘space of flows’ and the social elites of today

In Manuel Castells’s influential book, The Rise of the Network Society (Second edition, 2010, Chapter 6), he devotes a very revealing discussion to what he describes as the dominant spatial form of the network society, namely the “space of flows”. In his theorisation of the novel, now dominant spatial mode – the “space of flows”…

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The age of the indebted, mediatised, securitised and depoliticised

In Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s latest book Declaration (Argo Navis, 2012) — although, probably given its brevity (just over a hundred pages) compared to the books comprising their trilogy (Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth), they refer to it as a “pamphlet” — they articulate the global crisis of the present era in terms of four…

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How the largest movement in history is restoring justice to the world

Paul Hawken, writer of Blessed Unrest — How the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it coming (Penguin 2007), is an indefatigable speaker and champion for environmental justice, who gave more than a thousand talks on the environment in the course of 15 years, before writing the book….

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Painting, equality and the ‘aesthetic regime of art’

There is a painting by Degas in the Philadelphia Art Museum that illustrates well what Jacques Ranciére means by the “aesthetic regime of art” (one of three “regimes”, the other two of which — the “ethical regime of images” and the “representative regime of art” — preceded the “aesthetic regime” historically). It shows a man…

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