Search results for "culture "

One year ago today

Author: joe

Wednesday, 31 May, 2006 - 22:11

It was a year ago today, seargent pepper, um, sorry, I wrote the first post on Menticulture. I still have no idea what it's all about, although the categories tell me it's about podcast, science, learning, media, art and the endlessly_self-similar_universe.

Whatever, 31 May 2006 is a good day to say "Are we just going to hopskotch across these?"

Categories: menticulture, blog, first, anniversary,
Comments: 0

Listening and hearing

Author: joe

Friday, 07 April, 2006 - 09:53

This year's Reith lectures which began broadcasting on Radio 4 this morning are delivered by Daniel Barenboim, composer, and address the fact that western culture today is a visual culture - and what we are missing out on by allowing our ears to be aneasthetised to music.

It's absolutely fascinating, and extremely enjoyable to hear him bat away condescending and stupid questions from people like David Mellor. He also talks about the idea of conscious naivete - that state a musician is in when the discipline of the instrument and the knowledge of a piece of music is subsumed, and the performance of the music can become truly possible.

I wonder if it is at all possible to achieve that kind of 'performance' in a visual medium - what could it mean? How does a visual artist 'perform' at all? When you play music, and forget what your fingers are doing, and feel only the music coming out, you can say you are performing. Can a visual artist ever say the same?

Whatever the case, the Reith lectures are unfailingly brilliant - last year's lectures about the progress of technology were fascinating - and marred only by the fact that the BBC insist on having Sue fucking Lawley chair them.

Categories: music, sound, culture, lecture, bbc,
Comments: 1

The Other

Author: joe

Monday, 20 June, 2005 - 21:01


In the car from Bristol to Bournemouth, Andrew Marr of Start the Week, Radio 4, guides the discussion from archaeology to genetics to science and ethics to existentialism to the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004.

History is written with the cultural references of the historian. That Britain absorbed Romans, Vikings, and Normans, amongst others, can only be interpreted today in the muddy air of the populist media's xenophobia, and the political expediency of the exploitation of "normal people's" fears.

But there is no such thing as "normal" - the existentialists taught us that. They also taught us to deconstruct the discourse of "the Other". The thread of Orientalism which describes foreign cultures as exotic, alien and inhabited by a heart of darkness, and its dissection by feminists and others, has fed into our intellectual legacy - the legacy which in Britain is only admitted to with a shamed face in even the most rarified circles. The Other is still there to be un-foreigned - un-othered.

And so there is still the need for it to be stated, apparently, that "they" understand the scientific reasons for the earthquake and subsequent tidal wave and the destruction it brought.


The utilisation and appropriation of cultural assumptions is not always malign. Sally and I discuss the idea that Michael Burke's land-mark report on the Ethopian famine in the '80s may well have been trawled over by academia and cultural theorists as exemplary of the "Othering" of Africa in the West, but that is not to say that one reporter's use of emotive cultural references which reinforce our stereotypes did not have the desired effect of waking millions of people to the intolerable injustice which operates in the sphere of political geography and real-politik. Just one of those people was Bob Geldof.


BBC 1. Geldof in Africa. How do you express a Western viewpoint on Africa without reinforcing its otherness - the singlemost stubborn obstacle to action? Use your own voice. Geldof superimposes himself onto an exotic, alien landscape, the heart of the dark origins of humanity, with a voice which is inflected with his own awareness, and acknowledges that any generalisations are his own. There is no all-knowing narrator here, who explains to us what we do not know. There is Bob who gives us his understanding of what we already feel.

This is brilliant.

Bob introduces us to a nomadic tribe which has been ever more nomadic since the introduction of a tax which forces them to move on every two weeks, disrupting their tradition of following the seasons. "These people are doing a runner form a poll-tax".

Un-othering can be written with the cultural references of those un-othering.


Radio 4. Ferry across the Mekong. The West has a remarkable ability to stand by and overlook genocide - in Cambodia and Rwanda, to name but two. Here is a fascinating piece of programming which alerts us to a wider world and its concerns.

But, more importantly, will the final of Celebrity Love Island attract a larger audience?

Categories: other, geldof, culture, media,
Comments: 1