Bert Olivier

Ethics always comes too late for power

If there is one lesson I have learned from Foucault, it is this: Ethics always comes too late for power. What I mean by this is that human beings – even philosophers – have a tendency to rationalise, in ethical or moral terms, about the actual decisions and choices one makes in the world, and…

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Climate change: We have passed the 11th hour

In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio — one of the few so-called celebrities in the world who seems to care about matters ecological — produced a disturbing film on runaway climate change called The 11th Hour, directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. Like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth before it, it was a wake-up call,…

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The seductions and betrayals of technology

We live in a time of unmitigated technophilia, or love of technology. It was not always so. Since the earliest of times people have shown their intuitive awareness of the ambivalence of technology. In ancient Greek myths, for instance, one encounters the awareness that technology as a kind of prosthetic empowers humans to do what…

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Crime: There is something rotten in the state of South Africa

Driving to work this morning I heard the news about the fatal shooting of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain Senzo Meyiwa. Saddening and extremely disturbing as it is, the irony of the matter is that it is even more saddening that the vast majority of people who fall senseless victims to the apparently never-ending…

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Transcendence: The clash of humanity and technology

Near the beginning of the 2014 thought-provoking science fiction film, Transcendence (directed by Wally Pfister2014), one of the main characters, Max Waters (Paul Bettany), walks into and through a deserted house into a little courtyard, bends down next to some sunflowers (the only healthy plants in the garden), thinking aloud to himself that “he” (his…

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Nuclear power carries risks that are simply not worth taking

In the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s recent lone ranger escapade to Russia, evidently to secure Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assistance regarding South Africa’s energy needs — the status of which seems to be uncertain at present because of accusations and denials of him acting unilaterally flying to and fro — the question, whether one…

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How the movie ‘Noah’ reflects our ecological failures

Most people who are familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible know the story of Noah, who was chosen by God, or “the Creator” as the deity is referred to in this remarkable film, to give humanity another chance. Except that, in Darren Aronofsky’s version of the story, Noah understands his task differently: not…

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Travels through Schizoville

On a recent trip to the Netherlands we had a first-hand experience of what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari mean when they claim that the typical “malady” of today is schizophrenia — what Ian Buchanan calls “an everyday schizophrenia in which the absurd is simply ‘how things are’ ”. Once you have been alerted to it,…

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Is this what our future looks like?

There have been all kinds of signs that the future of our societies will probably entail much higher levels of control than is the case at present. The National Security Agency’s illegitimate surveillance, not merely of American citizens’, but of other peoples’ private communications as well, is but one premonition of the shape of things…

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‘Maleficent': A sea-change in popular culture

Maleficent (Disney 2014; directed by Robert Stromberg) is a magnificent film, and it almost seems more than fortuitous that the eponymous, powerful faerie is not called Malevolent, but bears a name that rhymes with “magnificent”. Judging by this recent re-imagining of the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, which was rendered in its classic Disney animated movie…

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