Bert Olivier

Time is running out – even Charles of Wales is worried

When Britain’s Prince of Wales shows clear signs of agitation at world leaders’ curious paralysis in the face of the rapid deterioration of planetary ecological conditions, it should send a message to everyone concerned. And that means every human being on the planet, where humans are (supposedly) the custodians of planetary “health” but have been…

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In praise of animals – our fellow creatures

Animals – and not just pets, all kinds of animals – do not enjoy the care and acknowledgement of being our veritable brothers and sisters, as living beings, that they should by right receive. This much is beyond debate. The obscene practice of killing rhino for the supposedly medicinal and/or aphrodisiac properties of their horns,…

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What about the dignity of other South Africans then?

The debate surrounding The Spear has, on occasion, been framed in terms of the concept of ‘dignity’, specifically that of the State President. And to be sure, one should grant the persons who occupy that position of responsibility from time-to-time the dignity they deserve. One could also take the argument further by claiming that every…

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On the interpretation of a painting

I did not really want to write this piece, knowing full well that it would be greeted by howls of derision and by vituperative incomprehension in many quarters. But as events unfolded in the wake of the public display, at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, of the Brett Murray painting metaphorically titled The Spear, reaching…

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9/11 – When will the ‘truth’ finally emerge?

In the aftermath of 9/11 signs soon started appearing, first sporadically and later in a more concerted fashion, that all was not what it seemed, and not even what the official commission of inquiry into the circumstances and ‘causes’ of the event said in its report was able to put an end to the questions…

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Turkish delight too

It was like entering a futuristic cave, where a culture’s history washes over visitors in a ceremony of initiation, making it a pleasurable sensation of assimilating its distinctive perspective on the world. It was dark when we entered, but only momentarily, before a feast of colours cascaded, as if from nowhere, dappling faces and surfaces…

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The (ir-)rational market versus democracy

The e-tolling debacle concentrates, in microcosmic format, the tension — if not the opposition — between the market and democracy, even if many regard the “free market” as the zenith of democracy. Or, to put it differently, this tension — which is always there — establishes the economic domain and the political in a specific…

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Disenchanted youth of the world: Tomorrow’s hope

The youth of the world are disenchanted — disenchanted by the older generation’s politics as well as their economics, by their ideologies and their religions and by their inability to halt ecological destruction. And they are the ones who will replace the current leaders of the world. What are the chances that they might just…

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How humans ‘produce’ space

Space is one of the most intimately experienced, and probably least reflected-on phenomena of the human life-world. Like time, it is presupposed in everything we do, although – living, as we do, in an era of what Lyotard and others call “accelerated” time, and therefore constantly being aware of time – we are probably less…

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Is cinema fundamentally conceptual or perceptual?

Looking for different ways in which the human body has been thematised in film makes for interesting research. I was reminded of this recently when acting as examiner for a dissertation written by a master’s student, Martin Rossouw of UFS, in which (among other films) he analysed Charles Chaplin’s 1936 classic, Modern Times. Rossouw demonstrated…

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