Things found, found interesting.
Ah, the clarity of the Irish. Here’s one Irish writer’s take on “Brextinction:”
It was never about Europe. Brexit is Britain’s reckoning with itself. Brexit is just the vehicle by which a fractured state has come to realise that its politics are no longer fit for purpose. – Fintan O’Toole, the Guardian, Jan. 18, 2019
“Brexit is really just the vehicle that has delivered a fraught state to a place where it can no longer pretend to be a settled and functioning democracy.”
O’Toole writes of “Brextinction.” But much of his analysis can be applied to other places suffering similar “invisible subsidence of the political order … the unravelling of an imagined community.”
All communities are imagined. We create them, with our deeds and stories. The storied United Kingdom is starting a new tale, but it’s not alone. Most of the world is currently in rewrite mode. And we are all the authors, choosing whether our new stories will be thrillers, horrors, romances, or dramas – all To Be Announced.
Most every “Western” truth-seeking and social institution is now under attack, especially in the Anglo democracies. Western ideas about freedom and sovereignty are premised on the Kantian “think for yourself,” Enlightenment, liberal democracy story, which enthralled us in recent centuries. If Immanuel Kant’s cry is silenced, what will replace it? That’s the global battleground of ideas. Here’s a relevant piece:
Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science. He spent decades deconstructing the ways that scientists claim their authority. Can his ideas help them regain that authority today? – Ava Kofman, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 25, 2018
“What journalists, scientists and other experts fail to grasp, Latour argues, is that “facts remain robust only when they are supported by a common culture, by institutions that can be trusted, by a more or less decent public life, by more or less reliable media.” With the rise of alternative facts, it has become clear that whether or not a statement is believed depends far less on its veracity than on the conditions of its “construction” — that is, who is making it, to whom it’s being addressed and from which institutions it emerges and is made visible.”
Latour – whose latest book is Down to Earth – argues that the academic and esoteric Science Wars in the 1990s, between “realists,” who held that facts were objective and free-standing, and “social constructionists,” were a prelude to our current post-truth era.
My interpretation: What if the root problem of post truth is the destruction of the broad consensus which allowed us to live well, more or less, together? The shattering of shared stories, shared understandings, shared experiences and, yes, a shared daily “paper” or nightly news to inform us? These were always mythical and imperfect, but served as the glue weaving together lives. Without them, what?
File under “nostalgia.”
Ansel Adams in a New Light: The National Parks are in partial shutdown. But America’s wilderness shines in a show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that reveals how human intervention has changed purple mountains’ majesty.– Vicki Goldberg, the New York Times, Jan. 17, 2019
“Though Ansel Adams remains extravagantly popular and landscape photographers across America and the world continue to provide us with luscious images, probably the largest number of landscape photographs people see, on television, the web, on mobile and in newspapers, are images of environmental destruction that is at least partially due to climate change: flooded beaches, rivers, towns, and islands, shrinking glaciers, forest fires feeding on drought, hurricane damage of cities and fields. All scientific predictions say this will grow worse unless strong action is taken soon.
“Beautiful landscapes are good for the eye, the mind, the spirit.
“One day images of them may be all that we have left.”
Smile (and frown?)
This video was made by Gaspar Palacio for the Film Riot and Filmstro one minute short film challenge last year. I was tempted to give it a pass, not being much interested in survivalists, but it was recommended by someone who never wastes anyone’s time. Give it a shot, I say, and enjoy (?) the surprise.
When the siren rings in the distance, a family has to get inside the shelter… Nothing will ever be the same again.
In Paris a few years ago I ran across this sculpture by Jean Marais, at Place Marcel Aymé in Montmartre.
Marais’s creation was inspired by a whimsical 1943 story by Marcel Aymé about a character named Dutilleul, who walked through walls. (You can read more in this Wikipedia entry.)
Dutilleul remains in my imagination: a man who could pass easily through all barriers – until he became careless, and forever trapped.