Archive for the 'Politics/Society' Category

Red Book

May 26, 2010

The Red Book, also known as the Liber Novus ( Latin for A New Book) is a mysterious book. Written between 1914 and 1930 by  Carl Jung it is almost 100 years old but has only been shown publicly since 2009. The Red Book contains the story of a man who enters midlife, loses his soul and finds it again. Or how Miranda July puts it

think of it less like a book and more like your diary during the part of your life when you were going through such darkness you thought it would never end. Remember that?! You wrote in your diary a lot during that time because on some level you knew that each demon, each nightmare you survived was transforming you in a way that would always matter. The book is about how Jung recovers his soul, recovers meaning in his life through enabling the rebirth of the image of God in his soul.

So why has it only been available to scholars recently? Apparently the book was written when Jung fell out with fellow analytic psychologist Sigmund Freud, which some say was partly caused by a psychological breakdown. Some of the very few who had a chance to read it said it to be fascinating yet worrying and the work of a psychotic. Jung produced the book using a technique called Active Imagination, with figures appearing that, for Jung, brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. So potentially it is dangerous and freighting, but to me it sounds fascinating.

Until 2001 Jung’s heirs refused to permit publication and only after persuasion by different scholars was it finally published in 2009.


Rock Star Science

April 22, 2010

Science is important. Science can be fun. And most of all science is very interesting. If you, like me, always struggled in school to feel a genuine passion for physics, chemistry or maths it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. People like Professor Brian Cox, a particle physicist, Royal Society research fellow and professor at the University of Manchester, are therefore important to publicise science. As a frequent presenter for various BBC programs he does a great job, making science look accessible and interesting. . It’s important because he creates interest and can change preconceptions about what sort of people scientists are. Maybe it helps that he used to be in a band.

Here’s a short five minute interview with him in the science museum. And yes, he smiles a lot.

Bye Bye

April 17, 2010

I have always been fascinated by iconic images, photographs that are imprinted in the collective memory of groups of people, be it local, national or global. That is why I like this project by creative director Michael Schirner, who used all his retouching skills to delete people out of famous images.

The results are strangely familiar photographs which your mind quickly fills with the missing content. The project is exhibited at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg until 25 April and at Galerie Ascan until 29 May.

To Do

April 15, 2010

I have just finished reading The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton. With the thought that it is work what makes and defines who we are, de Botton goes on an investigation of different work areas and places – ranging from Cargo Ship Spotting, Biscuit Manufacture, Rocket Science and many more. As a fan of documentaries and documentary writing I enjoyed reading about seemingly unimportant tasks, but which are all part of a smooth running society. De Bottons view of things, sometimes a bit sad and melancholic but more often very poetic and beautiful, is inspiring and seems to be a good way to look at life in all its detail.

Towards the end the author visits a plane cemetery in Mojave, California. Inspired by the scenario and the rotting evidence of human labour he states Death is hard to keep in mind when there is work to be done: it seems not so much taboo as unlikely.

This does sound a bit dark but is actually quite positive. Realising that whatever we do will probably not matter in a couple of decades, and how small we and our actions are, in the big scale of things, is deliberating. If one realises that work is in the end only a way to spend time until we die, which it essentially is, it takes a lot of pressure of finding the “right” thing to do, as long as it keeps you busy, your thoughts occupied and sometimes even makes you happy. And that’s it.

Now all you have to do is to decide whether you want to make biscuits, paint pictures or become a particle physicist.

21 Pledges

March 21, 2010

Yesterday I went to The Battle for Politics, a one-day public summit, organised by the Institute of Ideas. With regards to the upcoming general election the debate dealt with the question of voting, especially with the “none-of-the-above” option in mind. Many people are of the impression that none of the political parties have clear ideological differences anymore, a phenomenon not only visible in the UK. In fact, it is much more about politicians and personalities, partly due to media coverage of politics, so one can’t blame them. Nevertheless, there are still many unresolved issues, which is why the IoI came up with 21 Pledges for Progress 2010 which people should put to their local MP’s and find out where they stand on it. Some pledges I find really worthwhile are:

Revoke unnecessary and nonsensical health and safety rules and guidelines in the interests of countering today’s risk-averse, safety-first climate of fear.

Limit the police’s power to detain people without charge to 24 hours rather than 28 days, in the interests of civil liberties and due process.

Abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords in the interests of a fully elected legislature and executive.

Support the arts financially, for their own sake, in the interests of liberating them from ever more prescriptive and politicised instrumental demands.

The Battle for Politics also touched on other issues such as immigration, the welfare state and the relationship between science and politics. All very interesting and way to much to recall it all here. What became clear to me though was that I am always fascinated by accumulations of knowledgeable, passionate people who care for something and are not afraid to stand up for it. I love the English debating culture and hope to take some of that skill with me should I return to Germany at some point.

I was especially intrigued by Brendan O’Neil, editor of political online magazine sp!ked, whose anger and passion impressed me. Check out the site and get some really good insights and witty, sharp comments about what’s going on around us.

Politics are important and should concern all of us. Sometimes they can be fun and entertaining as well.

Moral Panic

March 9, 2010

Today I came across the term moral panic. Intrigued by the combination of moral and panic I looked it up and according to Wikipedia it is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order. In other words, people panic about increased teenage drug abuse, hooded youth gangs or how the social media turn us all into sociopaths, often fueled by tabloid newspaper reports.

Wikipedia further explains that those who start the panic are often so called moral entrepreneurs (someone who seeks a group to adopt a certain norm) whereas the ones that are a threat to society are folk devils (an outsider who can be blamed for crimes or social problems). This sounds all too familiar. Whether it’s about drugs, satanic cults, sexual topics, obesity or media influences, everything unknown is first and foremost a potential danger to the status quo. The role of the media is especially interesting as they, regardless their orientation, often like to act as agents for certain moral standards.

What’s caused by this is not only a constant level of anxiety but more importantly a chronic mistrust amongst people. I believe this is a sad thing, as most people and unknown lifestyles are usually not dangerous, they are just unfamiliar. We should try to be more open, be interested and try to find out more about things before we condemn them as potentially dangerous and a threat to us.

Disposable memories

February 8, 2010

Here is a project which is simple and very much to my liking. 270 cameras have been disposed in 59 countries. So far 20 have returned, 81 found and passed on while 166 are still missing. It is a great way to collect and tell random stories and images from people all over the world. Some cameras making incredible journeys like traveling from Wales all the way to Greenland and finally to the Antarctica. Find out more about locations of cameras, more stories and how dispose your own here.

Camera 38: Left in a bar in London, and was immediately picked up and taken to Cambodia, coming home in April 2009. Lifetime: 93 days, Distance: ~12630 miles, Countries Visited: England Cambodia, People: 2

Camera 134 Released on Apr 14, 2009 in London, UK by Kolla R. Returned by Abri K.Jun 12, 2009 from South Africa. Lifetime: 44 days, Distance: ~7890 miles, Countries Visited: England South Africa, People: 4

Not a Terrorist!

January 23, 2010

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

More cars

January 17, 2010

This is not intentional, but I came along a project which deals with cars in a very charming way. Austrian civil engineer Hermann Knoflacher, who is well known for his criticism of cars and their effects on humans and the environment, developed a construction, which he calls Gehzeug ( something like walkmobile in English). It is essentially just a wooden frame, with the dimension a car would have, but can be worn by a pedestrian, to illustrate how much space a vehicle uses compared to a single human. Understandably, when Knoflacher hits the streets with his creation, car owners are not amused and he frequently causes traffic jams.

We are increasingly retreating into enclosed environments, more or less out of our own choice, while isolating ourselves from an outside world subjected to noise, pollution and dust created by cars. Knoflacher

It has inspired people in other places, like Thailand, to demonstrate the potentialities of urban areas without cars. Let’s make it happen!

Long time no write…

January 14, 2010

As a result of settling into the new year my postings on this blog have suffered a little. Nevertheless, I have many things in mind I would like to write about.

This year I will start with a thought about a phenomenon I would like to see vanish from our streets sooner than later. It is the Porsche Cayenne. I’m normally not really bothered about cars, but this is just annoyingly apparent. Imagine you live in a city, a big city, like London. The streets are small, mostly jammed and most of them even cost money to drive on. Your day to day travel is, let’s say, bringing your kids to school, going shopping and maybe going to Ikea sometimes. Going to Ikea might count as a bit of a track, BUT this car is a monster, a machine, not much unlike a military jeep. The Cayenne weighs 2 tonnes, needs 22.5l fuel for 100 km, has 500 hp and could probably drive into any wild animal without much damage. This might be useful for going into the wild, but not to drive in a city, AT ALL.

To me this vehicle is a symbol for something much greater, something which I’d like to call Weltangst. It is the almighty protective gadget for you and your whole family. Just think about all the possible threats – terrorism, climate change, recession – if only you’re in your Porsche Cayenne you and your family are safe. So this is what I want to say to the owners: It’s ok, you’ll be safe without it. Trust me, the world is not going to end soon, but you might contribute to it. Why don’t you try a smaller car, or maybe even a bike, public transport – it will all be fine. With this suggestion I would like to herald 2010 and hope that this might be the year when people will not only be driven by fear and starting to trust each other and the world around them more.