The Lives of Things by José Saramago is published today, the 38th anniversary of Portugal's Carnation Revolution. One of the stories, Revenge, is published today in the Morning Star:
The boy was coming from the river. Barefoot, with his trousers rolled up above his knees, his legs covered in mud.
He was wearing a red shirt, open in front where the first hairs of puberty on his chest were beginning to blacken. He had dark hair, damp with the sweat that was trickling down his slender neck. He was bent slightly forward under the weight of the long oars, from which were hanging green strands of water-weeds still dripping. The boat kept swaying in the murky water, and nearby, as if spying, the globulous eyes of a frog suddenly appeared. Then the frog moved suddenly and disappeared. A minute later the surface of the river was smooth and tranquil and shining like the boy's eyes. The exhalation of the mud released slow, flaccid bubbles of gas which were swept away by the current. In the oppressive heat of the afternoon, the tall poplars swayed gently, and, in a flurry, like a flower suddenly blossoming in mid-air, a blue bird flew past, skimming the water. The boy raised his head. On the other side of the river, a girl was watching him without moving. The boy raised his free hand and his entire body traced out some inaudible word. The river flowed slowly...
Visit the Morning Star to read the full story .
Jeff Wall, Citizen, 1996, black-and-white photograph, 71 1/4 x 92 1/8".
The man sleeping in a public park in Jeff Wall's Citizen, 1996, represents an act of criticism, a transgression of borders, an inspiring example of both potential and practical citizenship. Ever since seeing Wall's photograph at Documenta 10 in 1997, whenever I see anyone asleep in a public park-whether someone homeless or someone, like the man in this image, who looks like he or she has a home to go to-I cannot help thinking of him or her as claiming a share in a public space. And if citizens can assert their right to sleep in public, they can also rebel against a sign prohibiting the erection of tents, such as the one that addresses visitors to Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
Stephen Graham appeared on Radio 4's Thinking Allowed to discuss Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism with Laurie Taylor and Melissa Butcher of the Open University.
Graham explains how military ideas of controlling space, honed in war zone cities like Baghdad, are being repackaged and sold to civilian police in Western cities. Concepts like 'smart' CCTV which attempts to identify suspicious behaviours in urban crowds, & the creation of fortified enclaves in certain areas, modelled on the Iraqi Green Zone, and the use of surveillance drones are all being imported back to Western cities after being developed in foreign warzones.
Graham views these new methods as more Minority Report than Big Brother - new CCTV technologies are designed to attempt to prempt terrorist attacks by scanning crowds, learning from previous incidents and trying to predict suspicious activity through monitoring behaviour.
An extract from Paul Mason's Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions is published in the Guardian's G2 supplement today. Mason explains the role of technology and the importance of the network in recent global unrest.
Social media and new technology were crucial in shaping the revolutions of 2011, just as they shaped industry, finance and mass culture in the preceding decade. What's important is not that the Egyptian youth used Facebook, or that the British students used Twitter and the Greek rioters organised via Indymedia, but what they used these media for - and what such technology does to hierarchies, ideas and actions.
Here, the crucial concept is the network - whose impact on politics has been a long time coming. The network's basic law was explained by Bell Telephone boss Theodore Vail as early as 1908: the more people who use the network, the more useful it becomes to each user. (The most obvious impact of the "network effect" has been on the media and ideology. Long before people started using Twitter to foment social unrest, mainstream journalists noticed - to their dismay -that the size of one's public persona or pay cheque carried no guarantee of popularity online. People's status rises and falls with the reliability and truthfulness of what they contribute.)
Slavoj Zizek in an interview for Germany's Deutsche Welle television, talking about Occupy, communism and the need for a reinvention of democracy.