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Oblivion

Pope Benedict made a dramatic helicopter exit from the Vatican this week. Dario Morelli in the Huffington Post said, “A precise, wise and great director orchestrated the video of Benedict XVI’s flight toward oblivion.” Of course Benedict will return to the Vatican, God willing, but as emeritus. Considering the authority residing in the figure of the Pope, it’s strange … Continue reading

The dark net wilderness

“There are darker things beyond the Wall,” said Catelyn in George Martin’s A Game of Thrones (22). That’s the bleak wilderness where the wildings live, an uncharted landscape, dangerous, of uncertain extent, and a symbol of the darker reaches of the untamed unconscious. You venture into the wilderness from the safe confines of civility. Hopefully you … Continue reading

How geometry aids recollection

We made our way along the path through the woods and struggled up a steep trail carved out by mountain bikes. Eventually the path flattened and we were on a low ridge, though still under the canopies of hornbeams and beech trees. We caught glimpses of a meadow in the sunlight. A single oak stood before … Continue reading

Mood and movement (and trams)

The trams are running in Edinburgh, after 6 years of construction, stalls and turmoil. It’s a nice ride, described well in a recent post by blogger Gillean Somerville-Arjat: “It doesn’t shoogle or wobble and hurtle you about with sudden braking as the buses do.” I think of gliding down Princes Street on a tram as something like being in a … Continue reading

Melancholy urbanism

I revisited Waverley Cemetery in Sydney a few weeks ago. It covers a valley that looks out to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a site of loss and remembering of course, but it also conforms to the architectural geometry of melancholy. The horizon is sovereign, and reminds the visitor of the reaches of time, distance and … Continue reading

The past is a construct of the mind

“The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us. It fools us into believing it,” according to Matthias in the scifi film Total Recall (2012). It’s common for block busters to include a couple of lines of quotable pop philosophy — as an intellectual challenge amid the fights and chases, especially when the … Continue reading

The melancholy medium

It’s depressing when spoilsports sully the open and aspirational ethos of the Internet with anxieties and obsessions about cyber wars (CNN). Two weeks ago the Independent.ie reported, “North Korea has blamed South Korea and the United States for cyber attacks that temporarily shut down websites at a time of heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear … Continue reading

Old enough to know better

Sylvain Chomet created the animated films Belleville Rendez-Vous and The Illusionist. His earlier successful short film was called The Old Lady and the Pigeons. Art and entertainment often draw on the skilful manipulation of stereotypes, and their exaggeration. Skilful animators such as Chomet make their characters sufficiently recognisable and true to type, but with a … Continue reading

Haunted by media

This is Dying Matters Awareness Week in the UK. We are a “death denying” society inept at dealing with bereavement, planning for the end of life, and making arrangements for after we are gone. On the other hand, thanks to television, films, video games and the Internet, we confront our mortality every waking moment of … Continue reading

Blog archive (and About)

What this blog site is about I draw on philosophy and cultural theory to help understand current affairs, architecture and developments in digital technology. These are not opinion pages, though my strongly held view that academic reflection really matters as we try to understand contemporary living may seep through. These posts are scheduled to appear … Continue reading

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