Bert Olivier

Virtual reality just innocuous fun?

The cover of a recent edition of Time magazine (August 17 2015), shows a guy with what seems like a pair of goggles on his face, in jeans and a golf shirt, jumping into the air against the backdrop of a beach scene. Except … the “goggles” are not “look-through”, like normal goggles; he is…

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Why do we so often misunderstand one another? Derrida on communication

The other night we enjoyed a fabulous poetry evening at the local branch of the Alliance Francaise, with several poets presenting their poetry, from the increasingly well-known poetess, Lelethu to the well-known Brian Walter, with his Helenvale poets and the Afrikaans poet and literary critic Marius Crous. Because, being a Francophile myself, I have been…

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A prodigious task facing the humanities: The creation of a new vocabulary

How does one articulate and make sense of the momentous changes that have taken place in the last three decades or so across the world, and that have not nearly run their course, if the existing vocabulary in the humanities is rapidly being unmasked as belonging to a different conceptual dispensation or “paradigm” – one…

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Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and American gun culture

A recent article on Yahoo addresses an interview with Miley Cyrus in which she expressed the view that she is often labelled a bad role model while, by contrast, the pop star with the squeaky clean image, Taylor Swift, is seen as the good role model. This divergence, she argued, hides double standards, more particularly…

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Movies and robots: society’s unconscious anxiety?

How much importance should one attach to recurrent cinematic themes involving humanity-destructive robots, which arguably represent what might be called society’s collective anxiety about technology gone seriously wrong? Cinema could perhaps be understood in Freudian terms as the collective dreams of society, which, not unlike ordinary dreams (sometimes nightmares), function as “wish-fulfilment”. Nightmares are also…

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The humanities and the advent of the ‘posthuman’

One of the most promising and exciting developments in recent thought has been the emergence of the “posthuman” as a distinct field within, and simultaneously transcending, the humanities. It comes from within this disciplinary field insofar as thinkers working in humanities disciplines such as philosophy and literary departments have contributed to what can perhaps be…

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Read Yanis Varoufakis’s “The Global Minotaur”!

Until recently, Yanis Varoufakis was the Greek Minister of Finance, who resigned after the Greek populace voted overwhelmingly against the imposition of more austerity measures against them in order to service the country’s crippling debt — resigned, because he believed that would give Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, more negotiating space with the representatives of…

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Bravo Greece!

The outcome of the Greek referendum on whether to accept the stringent conditions for another “bailout”, laid down by its creditors, should be applauded as an unambiguous manifestation of the democratic public spirit that refuses to continue allowing the neoliberal economic regime to put money before people. It also testifies to historical amnesia on the…

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Crime, capital and economic apartheid

In the book Blank: Architecture, Apartheid and After (edited by H Judin and I Vladislavic; David Philip Publishers, Cape Town 1998), Lindsay Bremner’s contribution, “Crime and the emerging landscape of post-apartheid Johannesburg” (pp. 48-63) uncovered the roots of racial segregation in the origins of Johannesburg as a gold mining camp in 1886. During the apartheid…

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Florence, Siena and the ‘space of flows’

We are in Florence for a conference, in what is to my mind the most enchanting part of Italy, namely Tuscany. Because I have always been interested in art and architecture, and in principle we don’t take taxis, but walk everywhere we go, we have already seen the most beautiful buildings and urban landscapes, framed…

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