The sublime indifference of waves

Who could fail to be moved by aerial images yesterday of the slew of  mud, flaming buildings, vehicles, boats, and water, sliding inexorably across the landscape of the Fukushima, Ibaraki and Miyagi prefectures in Japan. The human tragedy was in full view as the white specs fleeing along country roads were eventually consumed by the debris’ indifferent course.More

We are all multiples

Digital photographs do not just come in ones, twos and as exquisite selections, but in vast numbers, arrayed in file stores, as outputs on web search engines, as well as social media and photo sharing sites. They appear as thumbnails arrayed on grids like postage stamps on the pages of an album. Stamps make little…More

Architecture as the last fortress

In an essay about architecture, the philosopher Jacques Derrida focuses on the importance accorded by architects to concepts of home, dwelling and hearth, the nostalgia within modern architecture for a centre, an origin, a set of primary principles, an ordering, including belief in the sacred origins of architecture. He also notes how architecture aims for…More

The king’s speech impediment

Tom Hooper’s film The King’s Speech demonstrates the vital importance of the human voice in establishing and maintaining power. If you can’t get the words out then you will never assert authority.More

Profile yourself (Narcissus on line)

Concern in the press about cyberbullying, identity theft, and other online risks have all but eclipsed the interesting influences the Internet has on professional life. Social media are turning professionals into celebrity wannabes.More

Otaku architecture

Otaku is a Japanese word for a category of individual, typically a youth, who is obsessed with anime (Japanese animations), manga (comics), and other pop culture forms. He or she prefers to be alone, may be lonely, lacks social skills and stays at home. The otaku keeps unsociable hours: staying up for 40 hours then…More

Electronic commerce, philosophy and the Greek city

Much has been said of the parallels between the network economy and the agora (or forum), the centre of commerce of the ancient cities of Greece and the Roman empire. There are further spaces that feature prominently in ancient philosophy: the stoa (that bounded the marketplace or agora), the academy, the garden, and the household.…More

Zero Stars

The ubiquitous star ratings that accompany listings of hotels, books, films, restaurants, apps and blogs reveal the human propensity constantly to evaluate the world, and to share our opinions with others. Anyone can rate a product by scoring it from 1 to 5, though of course not everyone does, and there are unaccounted biases. Though random…More

Superlatives

I’ve adopted the habit when viewing a television documentary on some cultural achievement of counting the minutes before the first occurrence of that most English of adjectives “extraordinary,” as in “the Taj Mahal is an extraordinary masterpiece.” Some presenters may reinforce the assessment by letting the viewer in on the fact that the structure is…More

Walking the line

Painter Paul Klee first travelled across the Mediterranean to Tunisia in 1914 and made many repeat visits to the romantic cliff top village of Sidi Bou Said near Carthage. Klee’s diaries report how the light and colour of the place were a substantial influence on his palette.More