Bert Olivier

Mirror wars

The crime novel I referred to in my last post (The diversity of individuals), Leif Persson’s Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End) is a real treasure trove of wisdom on life, love, good, evil, and a host of other things that really matter. It is much more than just a crime novel; it is a…

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The diversity of individuals

Some individuals are gregarious, and others are solitary. It is probably also the case that there is a group in-between these extremes – those people who are neither solitary nor gregarious, but are happy with their own company when alone, and comfortable among others at work, at play and on other social occasions. It is…

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Working class hero

If one takes a good look at John Lennon’s song Working Class Hero it must dawn on you sooner or later that, just like the song Imagine, it is powerfully revolutionary. In addition to targeting the family, school, college or university (Althusser’s apparatuses where ideology is inculcated in subjects), and the class structure of society,…

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Are we facing an ethical vacuum today?

In Living in the End Times (Verso, 2010, p. 324), the man who has been described as the “most dangerous philosopher in the West” (New Republic), Slavoj Žižek, makes the following remark: “The task [today] is to restore civility, not a new ethical substance. Civility is not the same as custom (in the strong sense…

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Keith Hart on money, memory and democratising the economy

Keith Hart begins his thought-provoking book The Memory Bank: Money in an Unequal World (Profile Books, London, 2000) with the statement: “Ours is an age of money. Half the world worships money and the other half thinks of it as the root of all evil. In either case, money makes the world go round. If…

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Cinematic African magic: Cisse’s ‘Yeelen’ at iMPAC short-film festival

In a discussion of African beliefs in magic, Ryszard Kapuscinski (in The Shadow of the Sun, 2002) describes the strange nocturnal behaviour of a group of men, carrying someone on a stretcher on the outskirts of a village where he and his guide were spending the night, dashing furtively from shrub to shrub instead of…

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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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