Tag Archives | Culture

The Grateful Dead were decades ahead of their time

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Grateful Dead performed a farewell series of shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field, celebrating 50 years as a band.

Reading about these final sets brought me back to the 1970s, when I attended a New Hampshire summer camp as a boy.

During those summers, I’d noticed that my counselors were steeped in the culture of the band. It wasn’t just endless discussions of shows, songs, versions of songs and surprising set lists (Would they ever play Dark Star? Would Phil ever sing again?); it was also a dedication to the ethos of understated generosity, environmental stewardship and a nonjudgmental attitude to other people’s lifestyles.

That was the spirit of the band and their fans, known as Deadheads.

Even then, the band was an outlier in a music industry that has always enjoyed a fair dose of control over artists, imaging, marketing and ticket sales. And the almost stereotypical image of the money-grubbing music executive of the midcentury rock-and-roll era (exemplified by Tom Hanks’ character in the 1996 film That Thing You Do) seems, in retrospect, quite accurate.… Read the rest

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The Psychology of Revenge: Biology, Evolution and Culture

Murder of Agamemnon

“Revenge is a dish best served cold…”
(Ancient Klingon Proverb)

This post originally appeared on Philosophical Disquisitions

When I was younger I longed for revenge. I remember school-companions doing unspeakably cruel things to me — stealing my lunch, laughing at my misfortune and so forth (hey, it all seemed cruel at the time). I would carefully plot my revenge. The revenge almost always consisted of performing some similarly unspeakably cruel act towards them. Occasionally, my thoughts turned to violence. Sometimes I even lashed out in response.

I’m less inclined towards revenge these days. Indeed, I am almost comically non-confrontational in all aspects of my life. But I still feel the pangs. When wronged, I’ll briefly get a bit hot under the collar and my thoughts will turn to violence once more. I’ll also empathise with the characters in the innumerable revenge narratives that permeate popular culture, willing them on and feeling a faint twinge of pleasure when they succeed.… Read the rest

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Is there a Self in Selfies?

Agnes Martin's Gabriel Still

What is the significance of taking a selfie? Philosopher Alexander García Düttmann explores the potential of the selfie as both a feature of the culture industry and as a creative act in the work of Walt Whitman and Agnes Martin.


Alexander García Düttmann at Four by Three Magazine:

The answer is probably: no, it is unlikely that there is a self in selfies. As one gives this answer, well aware that perhaps no one cares for the kind of self one is denying to the image called selfie, a faint echo makes itself heard, the echo of an aphorism Adorno coined in the 1940s. It reads: “In many people it is already an impertinence to say ‘I’.”[1]

But does it matter? Must one appeal to some deeper, or more authentic, sense of selfhood, to an I that escapes the selfie’s eye, and ridicule an expression that refers more to an act than to an entity, to the act of stretching out one’s arms, of using a prosthesis with a small and handy camera attached to its extremity and of catching a digital glimpse of oneself, a glimpse contained in, and forming on the surface of, the artifact’s screen, an image immediately available to viewing?… Read the rest

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The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved to the Matrix

swirl-optical-illusion

Sigmund Fraud Via Waking Times:

“In prison, illusions can offer comfort.” – Nelson Mandela

For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the deceptive act is committed, and for the fool, reality then becomes inexplicably built upon on a lie. That is, until the fool wakes up and recognizes the truth in the fact that he has been duped.

Maintaining the suspension of disbelief in the illusion, however, is often more comforting than acknowledging the magician’s secrets.

We live in a world of illusion. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from planted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into this authoritarian-corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are trained that certain aspects of our society are untouchable truths, and that particular ways of being and behaving are preferred.

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Melvin Way’s meanderings offer the possibility of a parallel universe in “GAGA CITY”

WAY-NY047

Melvin Way Untitled, 2003 Ballpoint pen on paper, Scotch tape 7 x 3 inches

 

All image credits Courtesy of Christian Berst Art Brut (New York/Paris).

Melvin Way invented the Dell computer, founded collegiate and educational institutions all over the Northeastern United States, and wrote songs that were recorded and popularized by the Supremes. He had a ticket on the last Amtrak train that crashed near Philadelphia, but missed it, intentionally, because “something just wasn’t right.” Way’s enormously important intellectual and cultural accomplishments might explain the 6.2 million dollars he made last year. But what would you expect from a man who graduated high school fourteen times (ten times in South Carolina and four times in New York City) and who also happens to be “post-mortal?”

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Emory Douglas: The Art of The Black Panthers


Emory Douglas: The Art of The Black Panthers from Dress Code on Vimeo.

Emory Douglas was the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Through archival footage and conversations with Emory we share his story, alongside the rise and fall of the Panthers. He used his art as a weapon in the Black Panther Party’s struggle for civil rights and today Emory continues to give a voice to the voiceless. His art and what The Panthers fought for are still as relevant as ever.

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Who wrote the works of Shakespeare? (Answer: Shakespeare)

Front Cover for KindleLast week would have been Shakespeare’s 451st birthday, had he been as immortal as his work. Some might say that you’d need to have lived that long to have garnered the experience, the wisdom, and even to have had the time (or sufficient typing monkeys) to have been both so prolific and profound as Shakespeare.

In the latest podcast from The Eternities, Nick Buchanan, author of What Happens in Shakespeare’s King Lear, explains why he believes it entirely possible that this one remarkable man could indeed have been the sole author.

“The folks who argue that [it couldn’t possibly have been] Shakespeare really dislike the idea that he didn’t go to university and he was a country boy. How dare he become this great playwright!”

Those who question Shakespeare’s authorship offer several alternatives – typically aristocrats – the most popular current candidate being Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, while others have argued for highly educated urban intellectuals such as Francis Bacon.… Read the rest

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Confronting Western Views of Mental Wellness and Mental Illness

Dr. John Read, PhD, at the recent ISEPP (Intl. Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry) Conference in Los Angeles, worked for nearly 20 years as a clinical psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and USA before joining the University of Auckland (New Zealand) in 1994. While there he published over 100 papers primarily on the relationship between adverse life events and psychosis. In February 2015, Dr. Read took up the post of Professor of Clinical Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. He’s on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis and editor of ISPS’s scientific journal Psychosis. John has co-authored or co-edited 3 books and is also the editor of the widely esteemed book, “Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia” (Routledge, 2004) which has sold over 10,000 copies.

This interview clip is for a film called Crazywise, a documentary that confronts western cultural views of mental wellness and mental illness with ones from elsewhere in the world.

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Detroit’s Alter Road divide

alter road and brooks street

A fence erected just past the Alter Rd and Brooks St intersection, preventing travelers by foot and vehicle from getting into Grosse Pointe Park by that road

Michigan’s 8 Mile road became world famous with the rise of Eminem. We all know the story. One side is in the city of Detroit, one side is the city of Warren. One side is mostly white, the other mostly black. Both sides of 8 Mile are poverty stricken neighborhoods yet the locals see 8 Mile as more than a divide between cities, they see it as a divide between cultures and peoples. Less famous is Detroit’s other Berlin wall of a road, Alter road. Unlike 8 Mile it runs completely within the limits of Detroit but residents view it as a dividing line of cultures and lifestyles between the poverty stricken blight of Detroit and an affluent predominantly white Grosse Pointe Park.

The divide is more visible here than it is at 8 Mile.… Read the rest

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Should libertarians hate the internet? A Nozickian Argument against Social Networks

RobertNozick-ASU

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

My title is needlessly provocative, and may ultimately disappoint, but bear with me a moment. I’ve recently been reading Andrew Keen’s book The Internet is not the Answer. It is an interesting, occasionally insightful, but all too often hyperbolic, personalised and repetitive critique of the internet age. I recommend it, albeit in small doses. But this is a digression. I do not wish to give a full review here. Instead, I wish to dwell on one idea that struck me while I read it.

In the fourth chapter of the book, entitled “The Personal Revolution”, Keen launches into a scathing critique of the “Instagram”-generation. He excoriates them for being a selfie-obsessed, narcissistic and attention-seeking generation, increasingly parochial and disengaged from the world. But he reserves his major criticisms for the company itself, which is simply one of the many large-scale internet networks that provides a social space or platform in which we can upload, share and search one another’s content (Google, Facebook and Youtube being the other obvious examples – and yes I know Youtube is owned by Google).… Read the rest

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