Bert Olivier

Don’t let the ANC bully you

I recall a conversation I had with my Iranian-American friend Farhang Erfani when I was living in the US and despairing for that country after George W Bush’s (to my mind) fraudulent election as president ahead of Al Gore. When I expressed my misgivings about America’s future under ”presidents” like George Dubya, he pointed out…

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A sci-fi novel that shaped a generation

When William Gibson’s science-fiction, “cyberpunk” novel Neuromancer, was published in 1984, ultimately winning the three most sought-after awards in the science-fiction world (The Nebula Award, The Philip K Dick Award and the Hugo Award) few people could prognosticate that it represented an imaginative projection of such magnitude that it would shape the way an entire…

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Korea – an amazing country

During our recent visit to Korea — “South” Korea, that is, although Koreans simply refer to their country as “Korea” — we were astonished by many things, probably too many to discuss here, but I shall try to give a reasonably representative account of the things about the country and its people that we found…

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Marikana: From Foucault’s ‘bio-power’ to Agamben’s ‘Homo Sacer’

Readers of Michel Foucault will know that when he turned to Greek and (especially) Roman antiquity in his genealogical investigation of human sexuality, he found there admirable personal ethical practices, conducive to a high degree of autonomy under the rubric of “the care of the self”. In earlier genealogical studies, however, the picture that emerged…

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The lens of roman noir: Ishiguro’s ‘When we were Orphans’

Kazuo Ishiguro is famed chiefly as winner of the Booker Prize for his novel, The Remains of the Day, the virtues of which are beyond dispute, but will not be discussed here. Instead I want to concentrate on his novel of 2000 (shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize), When We Were Orphans – a masterpiece…

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Update on attempt by MMU to suspend Ian Parker (2)

Here is the rest of the account regarding events surrounding Ian Parker at MMU in the UK: “The worst outcome for the neoliberal university is that it fails to persuade its staff that anyone who complains has a problem, and MMU has done its level best to make it seem that the problem here was…

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Update on attempt by MMU to suspend Ian Parker (1)

I was recently sent an update by a friend on the attempt, by Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, to dismiss renowned critical psychologist, Ian Parker, under the heading: “Neoliberalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, and an alternative”. The valuable account, by someone who obviously has access to all the relevant information, and who knows how…

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Walking in the city of Seoul

Walking the streets of Seoul – the “Soul of Asia” – whenever we have had the time, after giving a seminar at a Korean university at the invitation of a friend, has reminded me of Michel de Certeau’s now classic study, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), part of which is entitled “Walking in the…

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Musing on music

“Korean flamenco” might appear to be an oxymoron, and in a sense it is. After all, flamenco is as Spanish as one can get in the realm of music … and indigenous Korean music is nothing like it. But last night we – the delegates to a conference on English literature organised by the English…

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Jacques Ranciére – the philosopher of equality

It was about time that someone restored equality to its rightful place in the constellation of philosophical concepts, after decades of the valorisation of “difference” in various forms. And who better than a citizen of the country that gave us the battle-cry, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!” Jacques Ranciére is that person, and refreshingly – in a…

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