topic: culture

a limit on human creativity?

With our creativity, we explore a space of art and culture, of science and technology, that expands outwards in all directions. By perceiving reality more clearly, we develop more sophisticated skills and tools that, in turn, deepen our perception of reality. It seems natural to believe that this virtuous circle is accelerating us towards an infinite horizon. But is this true and, if so, in what way? The further back we look, the less has […]

a bonfire of the vanities?

The Internet could be the ultimate liberation of human creativity: into the hands of anyone with access to it, it puts a printing press and a recording and film studio—all connected to a world-spanning distribution system. By volume of output, by its breadth and quality, it has brought us a New Renaissance. But this revolution casts a shadow. When one of these dotcom colossi offers social spaces where people can meet and discuss and share, […]

anchoring digital texts

A core advantage of digital texts over printed ones is that they remain fluid. Printing a digital text fixes it like a fly in amber. However, a text that exists entirely in a digital form is vulnerable to change, whether accidental or deliberate. If a time came when a printed copy of Moby Dick no longer existed, there would be nothing to stop the integrity of that text being degraded. Even if an accurate digital […]

a new covenant with nature

God gives the spark of life to Adam

It is no surprise that human rights as a formal system, as legislation, should have arisen from the two cataclysms of ‘civil war’ that the Europeans brought upon themselves, and into which they drew so much of the rest of the world. As a way of trying to avoid descent into the horrors of the Rape of Nanking, of the Eastern Front, and of the Holocaust, it is essential, that at the heart of our […]

competition versus brotherhood

A mania for competition so possesses our societies that it is hard to imagine any other way of being, and yet I think it is critical that we free ourselves from its grip. In the West, the Christian churches, from long habit, had an explanation for everything. Alas, with the rise of science, these churches chose to cling to Old Testament ‘certainties’, with the result that, when the cosmology of ‘Creation’ was overturned, the New […]

the experimental past

The study of the history of non-Western societies – especially those that have ‘failed’ – may be one of the most valuable resources that we have to help guide us through the coming ‘time of difficulty’ that we seem to be heading for. Watching a good BBC documentary about Tiwanaku, I was struck by how pertinent to our present climate change woes was the story of these people, not only surviving, but flourishing in an […]

the human virtuality

The greatest danger facing the human race seems to me to be how our collective ‘idea’ of what the world is is progressively moving away from what the world actually is. Without wanting to open up the whole can of worms that is the ‘mind-body problem‘, I think it is not too contentious to state: that the impression we have within each of us of the ‘world’ is only an approximation of that world. After […]

digital texts: a return to aspects of an oral tradition?

storyteller...

Ebooks are the latest stage of a process that began with the invention of writing. The ability to write thoughts and stories down allowed their distribution across space and time: a storyteller no longer needed to be present for his message to be communicated. These advantages are obvious, but there is also a profound disadvantage: that a text is a fossil of the author’s message, and that, disconnected from its living source, it can no […]

how pulp becomes art?

ironman 70s?

Is the following observation obvious? works of pulp that excited the passion of a child, are often translated, in later life, into art… When I was 10 I found, in a corner of my schoolroom, a pile of magazines that happened to contain a comic strip entitled The Trigan Empire – I couldn’t get enough of them. A few years ago I obtained these same strips in book form. As I reread them, I began […]

consuming individuality

It occurs to me that, rather than individualism leading to consumer culture, it is the other way round. Perhaps this is obvious, but it is only recently that I have become aware how – with each choice I make; for the clothing I wear, the furniture I have in my home, the kind of soap I use, the kind of food I choose to eat – I distance myself from my fellow man. I see […]