Bert Olivier

A challenging archaeological perspective

In the world of archaeology it seems that it takes a long time for what Thomas Kuhn called a “paradigm switch” to take place. By this phrase – as is well-known – Kuhn (1962) meant a sudden abandonment of a certain fundamental conception of a science, which has held sway for some time, in favour…

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The urgency for ‘critical theory’ to wake up to the extinction of the ‘human’

I recently attended an exciting event: the inaugural symposium of what is set to become the South African Society of Critical Theory (SASCT) at the University of the Free State, arranged by colleagues in the philosophy department, where I work. ‘Exciting’ because its formation is long overdue in a world that is facing a bigger…

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‘Westworld': The shape of the future?

In a previous post I elaborated on an art exhibition at the Venice Biennale of 2017, which thematised the bio-technologies that are in the process of colonising the biosphere on Earth today, arguably with unpredictably deleterious consequences for humans and other living beings. The 2016/17 HBO bio-science-fiction television series, Westworld, based on a similarly-titled Michael…

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Pauw’s revelations and democracy

One might wonder – as many South Africans probably do – why there have been, and probably will be, no consequences for those implicated by the revelations in Jacques Pauw’s recent book, The President’s Keepers (NB Publishers, 2017). And I don’t mean only in the light of his revelations (it’s still a bit early); I…

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What makes for a good life: Scott’s ‘A Good Year’

On the way to and back from Tokyo, I treated myself on two viewings (after seeing it once, I could not resist watching it again) of Ridley Scott’s uplifting film, ‘A Good Year’ (20th Century Fox, 2006), and was impressed, once again, by the director’s ability to work convincingly in different genres. After all, judging…

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‘A River Runs through It’

The film by the name, ‘A River Runs through It’ (Redford 1992) is based on an autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean, similarly titled ‘A River Runs through It and Other Storie’s (Maclean 2017; Kindle edition). He was the older brother in the Maclean family, living in Western Montana – one of the most beautiful states…

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The high cost of technologically controlling our social environment

Few people are in the position, or have the means, to be able to know just how detrimental the incremental control of our social environment – and our own feelings – by technological means really is. In a nutshell, it is a process that is gradually extinguishing the very core of our being. In his…

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Does theory guarantee emancipatory action?

The triumph of neoliberalism globally, with the exception of a few pockets of resistance, signifies the weakness of theory, that is, of the claims that theory is endowed with the resources to transform the world through a kind of enlightenment followed by emancipatory action. What evidence is there, however, that neoliberal capitalism reigns supreme in…

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‘In Bruges': Film-making at its best

Martin McDonagh’s dark crime-comedy In Bruges (Universal Studios 2008) represents film-making at its best. Without excessive reliance on the special effects with which Hollywood is infatuated (and infected), and simply by employing the basics of cinema – successive images and sounds – it manages to draw its audiences into the unlikely world of professional assassins,…

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Does humanity have enough redeeming features to deserve to survive?

The short answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ The long answer takes a bit longer to formulate, but here goes. Humanity does have redeeming features, or virtues, if you like – of course it does. The human species is a very creative bunch. Humans created the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel,…

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