Movies I've watched recently:
Quite exciting at times paired with a slow pace in every way, this film shows a Swedish detective coming to Norway, trying to solve a murder. The detective is unable to sleep, which is dealt with in an interesting way: is what the detective sees reliable or not, as the film progresses? At times it feels a bit slow, but mostly, I think it works. It's a far cry from stressed-out films at any point, and kept me interested throughout.0.3
A quite nice little film, although too packaged for Hollywood, for my taste; still, it's nicely wrapped up. Quite in the vein of "A Beautiful Mind", it follows the genius mind of Alan Turing as he searches to break the Enigma cipher, i.e. the code machine used by the nazis during WW2. It bounces between Turing's aspergeroid personality, his growing up, his intolerable self, his homosexuality and back, where he faces obstacles, success and, ultimately, death. The obvious irony: he worked to save people from death, but was himself condemned to it, and posthumously "saved" by the UK monarchy, which is a farce and condemnable by itself. All in all: entertaining, and well made.0.3
The long review is here: http://niklasblog.com/?p=170930.3
This is one of the most radiant documentaries that I've seen in years. It deals with how Afghanistan was built-up by a US company in the 1950s, where dams were implemented in order to modernise the entire country. Loads of money was pumped in, but to little avail. The dams didn't work apart from generating insane levels of salt, that only allowed poppies to grow. And that's how the opium and heroin started flowing. Anyway, from the get-go, the documentary shows reality, and - lo and behold - treats the viewer as a thinking being. I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw the start of the documentary, but it's literally plastered with images from reality, and far from only shot by the film makers. The viewer is served a metaphor of Tarkovsky's "Solaris", where the protagonist - spoiler alert! - at the end of the movie no longer knows what to trust. Spoiler off! Anyway, thanks to imagery like this, we know what to know: the banks, the corporations, the governments have created the mess that Afghanistan is currently left in, a state of near-anarchy and corruption, due to its "liberators", who rather are its captors and the reason to why organisations such as IS and cliques like al-Quaida exist. See this. It's eye-opening and commendable. It breathes and lives humanity.0.3
One can tell that Dan Futterman - who wrote "Capote" - has been here. The film breathes where it could have been cramped by excess dialogue or soundtrack, but instead, one gets a seldom seen insight into the head of a wrestler - played by Channing Tatum - who otherwise could have been portrayed as a thick slab of concrete, not to mention his coach - played by Steve Carrell - a rich man who tries to solve his problems (seemingly all based around his will to impress his mother) by throwing money at them. This is a deeply human and somewhat scary film that allows the viewer to make its own mind up. The components really blend to make this film work, and it's very well written, directed, acted and shot. The photography alone makes this film worth watching, but the script brings this to such heights. See it!0.3
March 2nd, 2015
From the book:
WOMAN: It seems to me that as a social system, anarchism makes such bottom-line sense that it was necessary to discredit the word, and take it out of people’s whole vocabulary and thinking—so you just have a reflex of fear when you hear it.
CHOMSKY: Yeah, anarchism has always been regarded as the ultimate evil by people with power. So in Woodrow Wilson’s Red Scare [a 1919 campaign against “subversives” in the U.S.], they were harsh on socialists, but they murdered anarchists—they were really bad news. See, the idea that people could be free is extremely frightening to anybody with power.
That’s why the 1960s have such a bad reputation. I mean, there’s a big literature about the Sixties, and it’s mostly written by intellectuals, because they’re the people who write books, so naturally it has a very bad name—because they hated it. You could see it in the faculty clubs at the time: people were just traumatized by the idea that students were suddenly asking questions and not just copying things down. In fact, when people like Allan Bloom [author of The Closing of the American Mind] write as if the foundations of civilization were collapsing in the Sixties, from their point of view that’s exactly right: they were. Because the foundations of civilization are, “I’m a big professor, and I tell you what to say, and what to think, and you write it down in your notebooks, and you repeat it.”
If you get up and say, “I don’t understand why I should read Plato, I think it’s nonsense,” that’s destroying the foundations of civilization. But maybe it’s a perfectly sensible question—plenty of philosophers have said it, so why isn’t it a sensible question? As with any mass popular movement, there was a lot of crazy stuff going on in the Sixties—but that’s the only thing that makes it into history: the crazy stuff around the periphery. The main things that were going on are out of history—and that’s because they had a kind of libertarian character, and there is nothing more frightening to people with power.
One of the things I like best about Chomsky, is that, regardless of whether you hail or diss him, you’re bound to understand what he’s talking about. It’s always clear-cut, referenced throughout and simple, even when dealing with complex and even advanced matters at times, but if you just re-read that stuff if it feels hard to get, you will get it.
To begin with, he both discusses what anarchism has been, is and is not, which is vital.
The anarchist historian Rudolf Rocker, who presents a systematic conception of the development of anarchist thought towards anarchosyndicalism, along lines that bear comparison to Guérin’s work, puts the matter well when he writes that anarchism is not a fixed, self-enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account. The less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the society in which it has grown.
His thoughts on anarchy are massive, intrinsic and needed. He exudes socialism and anarchism where he discusses matters as far-flung as language, freedom, politics and philosophy of today as well as during the days of Descartes, George Bush and how corporate capitalism has taken over to be the lingua franca state of life for many people.
In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means of production, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring about “the third and last emancipatory phase of history,” the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers (Fourier, 1848).
And he often exemplifies how anarchism lives, not only in the mind, but very closely:
MAN: Then how can we build a social contract which is cooperative in nature, but at the same time recognizes individual humanity? It seems to me that there’s always going to be a very tense polar pull there.
CHOMSKY: Where’s the polar pull—between what and what?
MAN: Between a collective value and an individual value.
CHOMSKY: I guess I don’t see why there has to be any contradiction there at all. It seems to me that a crucial aspect of humanity is being a part of functioning communities—so if we can create social bonds in which people find satisfaction, we’ve done it: there’s no contradiction. Look, you can’t really figure out what problems are going to arise in group situations unless you experiment with them—it’s like physics: you can’t just sit around and think what the world would be like under such and such conditions, you’ve got to experiment and learn how things actually work out. And one of the things I think you learn from the kibbutz experiment is that you can in fact construct quite viable and successful democratic structures—but there are still going to be problems that come along. And one of the problems that people just have to face is the effect of group pressures to conform. I think everybody knows about this from families. Living in a family is a crucial part of human life, you don’t want to give it up. On the other hand, there plainly are problems that go along with it—nobody has to be told that. And a serious problem, which becomes almost pathological when it arises in a close-knit group, is exclusion—and to avoid exclusion often means doing things you wouldn’t want to do if you had your own way. But that’s just a part of living, to be faced with human problems like that. Actually, I’m not a great enthusiast of Marx, but one comment he made seems appropriate here. I’m quoting, so pardon the sexist language, but somewhere or other he said: socialism is an effort to try to solve man’s animal problems, and after having solved the animal problems, then we can face the human problems—but it’s not a part of socialism to solve the human problems; socialism is an effort to get you to the point where you can face the human problems. And I think the kind of thing you’re concerned about is a human problem—and those are going to be there. Humans are very complicated creatures, and have lots of ways of torturing themselves in their inter-personal relations. Everybody knows that, without soap operas.
The chapter on language and freedom goes into anarchy from a linguistic route, even as it’s very human. The chapter on Spain and the anarcho-syndicalistic ideas that grew into action from there is also really interesting.
All in all: very recommendable, even if you’re not into politics. It’s mind-bending in a good way.
February 27th, 2015
Yes. They’re back. And they’re furry.
Super Furry Animals are going to play a handful of dates in the UK in the start of May. Here’s hoping for a coming album and major tour, but until then, they’re reissuing “Mwng” in a deluxe version, which you may read more of here – and pre-order the album.
Here’s “Ymaelodi Â’r Ymylon”, one of the tracks off “Mwng”.