Bert Olivier

Popular art and the homogenisation of viewing subjects globally

The global hype around the HBO television series, Game of Thrones (GoT), which ended with what was apparently generally perceived by fans as an anticlimax of sorts, made me reflect once again on the pertinence of the intellectual work of that indomitable French thinker, Bernard Stiegler, for grasping the way that contemporary electronic technology is…

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Another important European conference for Afrikaans-speaking philosophers

About two years ago I wrote a piece for this site on an important conference for Afrikaans in Europe, which was held in Gent, Belgium, by the NAWG (Nederlands-Afrikaanse Wijsgerige Vereniging, or the Netherlands-Afrikaans Philosophical Society). We are at this biennial conference again, this time in Leiden, Holland, from where it will rotate to South…

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Season 2 of True Detective — A ‘noir’ reflection of our broken society?

When the first season of True Detective was broadcast — with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as two detectives out to solve a case that seemed intractable in the extreme, with a gritty cinematic style and refusal to compromise itself for the sake of satisfying the usual Hollywood saccharine, sentimentalist demands regarding plot structure —…

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Should one question technology’s drive for dominance?

In a sense, the titular question, above, is redundant. Technology is, after all, already dominant — a claim that hardly needs to be substantiated with evidence; it is there for everyone to perceive on a daily basis. Not that the objects of ‘perception’ are self-evident in any straightforward way. In social reality a good deal…

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Notre Dame, spirituality and technology

The recent devastating fire that nearly destroyed the more than 800 year-old Parisian Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame, has put something important in perspective. One could not but notice that the shock caused by this event was not restricted to Paris, or even France, which one might have expected. Understandably, Parisians have always loved this architectural…

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A question of balance…

Two days ago my partner and I went on a whirlwind visit to Gauteng and North-West Province – flying to Johannnesburg and driving from there in a rented car to the Potschefstroom campus of North-West University, where I had been invited to participate in a debate on the question: ‘Is God still necessary for morality?’…

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A world without electricity?

The prospect of living in a ‘world without electricity’ in South Africa has become a spectre that looms ever-larger by the day, as a mismanaged, looted-to-the-bone Eskom struggles to keep the ‘lights on’ — a misleading metaphor, insofar as it stands for the entire electricity-based economy of this country. In the era of fake news…

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Sex as ‘making’ love: Reitman’s ‘No Strings attached’

When is sex just sex, and when does it amount to ‘making love’? ‘Making love’ is an interesting construction, of course, and is usually a reference to having sex, but – considering the verb, ‘making’ in conjunction with the noun, ‘love’, implies much more than — even if it includes — sex. Ivan Reitman’s charming…

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Metaphors (as models), and our own ‘networked’ existence

In The Prison-House of Language (Princeton University Press, 1972) Fredric Jameson opens the Preface with the following thought-provoking remark (p. v): The history of thought is the history of its models. Classical mechanics, the organism, natural selection, the atomic nucleus or electronic field, the computer: such are some of the objects or systems which, first…

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‘Searching for an Electric Peanut (part II)’: Jonathan Silverman’s liminal art

Liminality is a strange phenomenon: The Encarta dictionary online defines it as ‘belonging to the point of conscious awareness below which something cannot be experienced or felt’, which is only one of the ways the term is used, but nevertheless gives a good idea of what is involved when you call something ‘liminal’. The point…

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