Lying awake at night I pondered that oft-quoted line of Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘I am responsible for everything, except for my very responsibility’. In a moment of gripped curiosity I reached for a phone, laptop or anything connected to the Wi-Fi in order to google the reference. Yes there it was, but it was, like almost
When a public figure—tasked with the democratic, modern liberal job of holding government to account on behalf of the people—instead openly and publicly expresses the eugenic question of whom the government should let die for the sake of the economy, then it has become clear just how far the public sphere has shifted from being
Here we are, politicising a health crisis. And here we are repeating the obvious: a crisis, of any kind, is already a lens in which politics invariably appears, usually clarified, sometimes magnified, and always polarising. The global pandemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoV-2 (popularly Covid-19 or Coronavirus) is exactly such a lens.
With the ‘urban renaissance’ of the eighteenth century came new forms of sociality which included unprecedented levels of social mixing.1 One of the spaces in which these forms occurred is the pleasure garden, and this literature review collates varying perspectives on Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in the mid eighteenth century. While Vauxhall has been studied far
In the 14th Century a man named Francesco Petrarca, surprised at the sophistication and subtlety of the classical works he was beginning to read, came to feel that he was living in a dark age. Petrarch could not have known that six centuries later a similar feeling would wash across the academic world; a feeling
Cruelty and vulgarity are being normalised as acceptable forms of entertainment. I accept that entertainment has by its very nature a dark side — which I will admit to enjoying up to a certain point. We have invented collocations and terms like ‘biting wit’ and ‘mordant perspicuity’ to cover this ancient tradition of enjoying a
Mark Twain probably never said this. It’s another case of the Mass Memory Discrepancy Effect, or if you prefer, the Mandela Effect, or still again, cultural mnemohistory (this is my preferred term). It’s strangely ‘meta’ then that the saying describes its own social genesis as a saying. Knowledge spreads, with many loud and knowledgeable people
The Need-Fire (alt. Force-Fire, meaning ‘forced fire’) tradition depended on a structure of exception. In a superstition widely chronicled across Old Europe it was popularly believed that the efficacy of the need-fire (to cure ills, to establish normality where sickness — of animals, relations, etc — had taken hold) depended on the extinguishment of all
Today no-one can in good conscience doubt that we are heading for a postcapitalist future. The question is what form this future will take. The old market-driven dream of competitive private individual entrepreneurialism is dead in the water, but the new tendency has not been towards socialisation but towards massive monopolistic rentism.