Koyaanisqatsi: Is Technology Really So Separate From Nature?

My first exposure to Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 time-lapse masterpiece was at an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the ‘Post Moderns’. It featured the now universally recognisable accelerated footage of taillights pumping through the city to the rhythm of alternating traffic flows, creating an eerily arterial display. What was interesting about the use of this footage in this particular exhibition was that it was shown under the pretext of the death of futurism and the birth of dystopia, sandwiched as it was between clips of the bleak futuristic skyline of Blade Runner (which I must admit has a beguiling beauty all of its own) and chaotic images of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. While footage from Koyaanisqatsi, complete with the stark minimalist composition of Phillip Glass, did not feel out of place in this exhibition, I couldn’t shake the notion that there was more to it than merely a bleak vision of man’s conquest over the Earth. This became more apparent when I watched the film in its entirety. Read More…

Challenging Political Correctness At University

A while ago I wrote a piece on “dissident academics” who are challenging groupthink and PC on campus.

Since then, Jonathan Haidt, a brilliant writer and social psychologist, has formed an organisation called Heterodox Academy which brings together academics who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo.

Here he is talking about the initiative. If it catches on and becomes more mainstream that will bode extremely well for the future of intellectual diversity.

 

John McEnroe vs. Serena Williams: When Did The “Battle of the Sexes” Become So Humourless?

 

The po-faced commentariat have got their knickers in a twist over remarks John McEnroe made about his fellow tennis pro Serena Williams last week.

In an NPR interview, John McEnroe was quoted as saying that if Williams was to compete on the men’s circuit she would be ranked at 700 in the world, a steep drop from her current number one position in women’s tennis.

Immediately, McEnroe was accused of sexism and was absurdly asked on an NBC chat show to apologise for his comments. Read More…

Those Who Criticised Otto Warmbier’s “Privilege” Should Be Ashamed of Themselves

 

On Monday night we learned the sad news that Otto Warmbier, an American student who had been detained in North Korea since 2016 for allegedly (I am very sceptical) stealing a propaganda poster, has died, only a week after he was returned to his family in a vegetative state.

God only knows what happened to Otto whilst he was held captive. According to the US government’s Human Rights website, “starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape, forced abortion, and infanticide are commonplace” in North Korean prison camps. These claims are supported by research undertaken by Amnesty International and Anti-Slavery International, who have also reported inmate’s being forced to eat wild rats and frogs to survive. Read More…

Civilisation Is Good Because It Is Optimistic About Our Past

It is common knowlege that the true measure of an artwork’s greatness is how it stands the test of time. The Civilisation documentary series, produced by the BBC in 1969 and presented by the late art historian Kenneth Clark, has certainly done so.

It is down to Clark’s excellent editorial judgment that a series with the rather grand task of curating the most iconic and influential creations of western civilisation never seems over the top. This is because Clark does not gush or sentimentalise; he seems to possess a sharp sense of realism; and he often steps back and simply lets the art speak for itself. Read More…

We Need A Cultural Shift If We Are To Prevail In The War Against Terror

Like so many of us I have been trying for the past few days to gather my thoughts and reflections about the events in Manchester. As a political writer, the Jihadist onslaught against Western civil society over the past few years, drains the creative energy from me, replaced by anger and sorrow. I run out of new things to say about a phenomenon which is now increasingly commonplace, normalised even by some estimations. I run out of adjectives to describe the attacks and the terrorists responsible: horrifying, brutal, sadistic, evil. The English language has its limits.

That being said, something does seem to have shifted in this case. I feel a little queasy even suggesting that, as if our society didn’t get the memo a decade ago, or after one of the numerous attacks since. In just over a month, it will be twelve years to the day since the 7/7 attacks in London. Since then, the only respites we have enjoyed from the cancer of Jihadism have been granted by our security services, whose work in general has been highly praiseworthy, stopping attacks before they happen.

But still we fail. Our leaders fail us in their empty platitudes. We fail to assert the virtue of our civilisation and our corollary duty to prevail. We fail to have honest conversations about the root of the problem. We fail in our creeping normalisation of terror. Read More…