"It's not so much that we're taking the issue of verisimilitude or truth to another level, it's that the historical base of motion pictures has shifted. They're closer to animation than documentary, with this change." - J. Hoberman, author of Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?)
In the last decade, film's capacity to provide an immersive experience has increased dramatically, from 3-D glasses to progressively uncanny CGI representations of humanoid creatures. While the 3-D box office boom and its subsequent falloff remain the subject of some debate, two of the three highest grossing films of all time were rendered using the relatively new technology. What might this mean, asks J. Hoberman, for the medium or film, and for the increasingly imbricated relationship between art and reality?
According to the BBC, Madrid is expected to propose £39bn ($50bn; £31bn) worth of public sector cuts, tax raises and structural liberalizations. Most demonstrators, indeed I imagine, most people in Spain, believe that the new austerity measures are economically suicidal for the people. As Costas Lapavitsas point out in Crisis in the Eurozone, Spanish unemployment “has risen faster than in other countries once the crisis of 2007-9 materialised.” It “seems to expland rapidly in Spain at the first sign of economic difficulty” (p.14). El Pais reports that according to a study by the Association of Temporary Employment Agencies [AGETT], the number of long-term unemployed has quadrupled since the crisis began five years ago, topping 5.69 million in June 2012. Furthermore, the rate of joblessnes at the end of June was 24.6%, making it "the highest in the European Union and more than double the average in the EU." And it's no surprise that the majority of the demonstraters were youths as the rate for workers under 25 is over 50%.
The fall of the Eastern Bloc seemed to spell the end for an alternative to neoliberalism. But the year of unrest that was 2011 gave lie to that notion. The Left is resurgent once again, with writers like Jodi Dean, Slavoj Žižek, and Alain Badiou assiduously attempting to explain the mechanisms behind the mass political movements that occupied streets and plazas in cities like Cairo, Madrid, Athens, and New York.
Alain Badiou’s Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings is one of the many attempts to explain the nature of the protests and riots that roiled the world last year. And it has sparked some debate. In their long and detailed critical engagement with the book in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jasper Bernes and Joshua Clover commend how “ [Badiou] measures the extension of the riot in terms of spread in physical space and across social categories.”
Throughout the review they analyze Badiou's notion of the communist Idea, a theoretical framework that, according to Badiou, lies behind "Los Indignados", Occupy Wall Street, and the occupation of Tahrir Square:
But for those familiar with Badiou’s philosophy and his reliance on logical proof, axiom, and argument from first principles, it will come as no surprise that, for him, communist practice follows behind communist idea. The primacy of the idea is unmistakable in Badiou, not least because it appears in majuscule: “Idea,” rather than “idea.” Glossing his own title early on, he insists that “The only possible reawakening is the popular initiative in which the power of an Idea will take root.”
They also go on to summarize Badiou’s solution for the current crisis of capitalism:
Standing on its head Marx’s statement that “Mankind only sets itself such tasks as it is able to solve,” Badiou writes that “History does not contain within itself a solution to the problems it places on the agenda.” The solution he imagines emerges from beyond history, from the rational process of the Idea and its faithful adherents, who translate the truth of present struggles into winning organizational structures and disciplines.
Visit the Los Angeles Review of Books to read the review in full.
González, who recently published the paperback edition of the best-selling News For All the People: The Epic Story of Race and The American Media with Verso Books, uses his investigative prowess to tell another crucial counter-history in "Harvest of Empire," based on his book by the same name. In addressing the current immigration crisis, the film explores the connections between U.S. intervention abroad and the swelling waves of migration from Latin America. As González reminds us at the beginning of the film:
Watch Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now discussing Harvest of Empire:
They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government's actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.
In the ideology of the state at that time, a journalist was supposed to be a soldier on the ideological frontline-- Artur Domosławski
For the many people who were unable to attend last night's fully booked Kapuściński event at the Frontline Club with author Artur Domosławski, the entire conversation and Q&A is now available online.
Chaired by Victoria Brittain, former associate foreign editor at the Guardian and unapologetic Kapuściński fan, the event was both a celebration of Domosławski's book and Kapuściński's life and writing. But the question was also proposed at the start of the evening of the often blurry relationship between journalism and literature, and whether Kapuściński’s style was reminiscent of reportage rather than journalism.
Kapuściński's life, like his writing, was rich and enigmatic. On the publication of The Emperor in the 1980s, it was read by many as an allegory of the 'court' of the Communist Party in Poland during the 1970s. “The Emperor is the best Polish novel of the twentieth century" was what one of Kapuściński's friends was reported to have said. Domosławski tends to believe that Kapuściński would not disagree.
Domosławski and Brittain were also joined by John Ryle, the writer and specialist in Eastern Africa, a topic of much of Kapuściński's writing, as well as Antonia Lloyd-Jones, the English translator of Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life.