Bert Olivier

Homo and Gyna Consumens

One of the most perspicacious social theorists of our time, Zygmunt Bauman, has given us a compelling, if not wholly original sketch of the contemporary consumer, or what he calls “Homo consumens”. I prefer to add “Gyna” (woman) to “Homo” (man), not only for feminist reasons of representing all the members of the human race,…

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What is enlightenment?

The question has sometimes been asked (and answered) in philosophy, whether the historical Enlightenment has been sustained. Adorno and Horkheimer, for instance – in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) – claimed that the historical Enlightenment had dialectically been transformed into the subjection to, if not enslavement by, technical rationality and an impersonal system of administration. Willi…

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Validating Ian Parker’s work

The following is an excerpt (posted here with editor Grahame Hayes’ permission) from a longer review I wrote for Psychology in Society 41 of Ian Parker’s book Lacanian Psychoanalysis – Revolutions in Subjectivity (Routledge 2011). I post it on TL to give interested people an idea of Parker’s scholarship and just how scandalous Manchester Metropolitan…

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Protesting against critical psychologist Ian Parker’s suspension

From various sources, located in different countries across the globe, I have received the message, in inverted commas, below, signed by China Mills. It concerns the suspension, from Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, of Ian Parker, one of the best known and most influential critical psychologists in the world today, who is also a practising…

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Einstein in new contexts

Many students who discover, for the first time, the way that a concept’s meaning can subtly change from one context to the next, are so taken with this that they jump to the relativistic conclusion, namely, that new contexts change a concept in such a manner that, in the new context, it is incomparably different…

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The capitalist

One gets a clue regarding the status of the capitalist subject in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1987: 457-458) where the downside of capitalism is put in clearer perspective than in Anti-Oedipus (where capital is depicted as a gigantic “body-without-organs” to which “desiring-machines” attach themselves intermittently, at different points – something that lends itself…

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The art paradox

Theodor Adorno captured the paradoxical nature of art nicely when he remarked that it goes without saying that nothing about art goes without saying. What his observation does not make explicit (although it is implied) is that art’s paradoxical character lends itself to being elaborated upon by identifying several paradoxes at the heart of this…

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The genius of Foucault

Few 20th century thinkers have provided as much food for thought on the humanities and the social sciences (that is, the “human sciences”) as Michel Foucault. And the way he does it rescues the human sciences from those uninformed people who contrast them with the so-called “hard (natural) sciences”, the object-field of which – as…

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What Lacan can teach us about capitalism

Jacques Lacan’s theory of discourse is every bit as heuristically powerful as Michel Foucault’s, and in some respects more sophisticated and subtle, although the two theories are compatible. Broadly speaking, Foucault thinks of discourse as language in so far as it bears the imprint of (conflicting) interests – which means that discourse is inseparable from…

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The technology and theology of ‘Battlestar Galactica’

One of my all-time favourite science-fiction series, Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, which ran for four seasons in the US – from 2003 to 2009 – and was an expansion of and imaginative re-elaboration on the Glen Larson 1978 television series by the same name, is much more than meets the eye. This is true…

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