Jon Ronson in Conversation with Adam Curtis
January 15, 2015
Jon Ronson: I’ve known you nearly 20 years, but I have no idea how you spend your days. I have a mental picture of you in your own special archive room in some BBC building, day after day, hacking through arcane archive like Doctor Livingstone, trying to find some marriage of your ideas and someone else’s pictures. Is that what it’s like? Do you have a special room? If so, what does it look like? Does it have windows? Do you get annoyed if people disturb you?
Adam Curtis: I don’t have a special room. Most of the archive I watch is stored down in a giant series of anonymous sheds in West London. A lot of it I can borrow and watch in giant BBC open plan offices. It is a bit odd, because as well as ordering up films directly related to what I’m researching, I also order all kinds of other stuff that I think might have images that I could use – guided by my instinct and imagination. So people walking past see me watching this endless strange collage of material. From a film about Mrs Thatcher giving fashion tips on how to dress well in 1987, to a programme about people who had visions during epileptic fits, to a documentary about Hells Angels taking a weekend mini-break on a canal barge in the British countryside in 1973. I do get people asking why I’m watching this odd mix. It can be difficult to explain because, to be honest, I don’t really know myself sometimes. I’ve just let my mind drift.
What I look for in the archive are shots that I can use to create a mood that gives power and force to the story I’m telling. So much factual stuff on television and film is so insistently literal, like doomy Arvo Pärt music over pictures of bad things that have happened. And they think that’s emotion. But those are cliches that actually make you feel strangely unemotional.
What I don’t tell anyone about are the hidden levels in the BBC archive – the stuff that’s there that isn’t on the normal catalogues. The secret levels of images from, what, 70 years of continuous filming?
Did you know many African countries continue to pay colonial tax to France since their independence till today!
When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of french colonial empire, and opted for the country independence, the french colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury the french administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from french colonization.
Three thousand French left the country, taking all their property and destroying anything that which could not be moved: schools, nurseries, public administration buildings were crumbled; cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged; horses, cows in the farms were killed, and food in warehouses were burned or poisoned.
The purpose of this outrageous act was to send a clear message to all other colonies that the consequences for rejecting France would be very high.
Slowly fear spread trough the african elite, and none after the Guinea events ever found the courage to follow the example of Sékou Touré, whose slogan was “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.”
LONDON — Share prices went through the roof, speculation ran wild and money poured into ill-fated ventures before the boom turned, inevitably and catastrophically, to bust.
After that financial crash in 1720, called the South Sea Bubble, the British government was forced to undertake a bailout that eventually left several million pounds of debt on its books. Almost three centuries later, Britons are still paying interest on a small part of that obligation.
The subtitle of the Pompidou Centre’s retrospective of the 20th century’s best-known photographer could be: Almost Everything You Know About Henri Cartier-Bresson is Wrong. Or, at least, Long Overdue a Rethink.Its curator, Clement Cheroux, has risen to the unspoken challenge that any Cartier-Bresson exhibition now presents: how to shed new light on the life and work of an artist who so defined the medium that yet another celebration of his genius might seem superfluous.
“As for the indicators, they are tools of knowledge and management (gestion) of the realities that they indicate. But the tools of knowledge and management of wealth that was « managed in common » must themselves be… common. For if the management is indeed common, then its tools must not be imposed from the outside that is exterior to the managing collective. Clearly, this implies that there must be new indicators of wealth which should be elaborated under the responsability and with the co-acitivity of its «stakeholders» (that of experts, but not only them). (transl. A. M.)
(“Quant aux indicateurs, ce sont des outils de connaissance et de gestion des réalités qu’ils indiquent. Mais des outils de connaissance et de gestion de richesses « gérées en commun » ne peuvent être que… communs. Si la gestion est commune, ses outils ne peuvent pas être imposés de l’extérieur du collectif de gestion. En clair, cela implique que les nouveaux indicateurs de richesse doivent être élaborés et utilisés sous la coresponsabilité et avec la co-activité des « parties prenantes » (dont des experts, mais pas seulement eux).”)
Neoliberalism: A Bibliographic Review
by William Davies
The term ‘neoliberalism’ has become increasingly familiar over recent years. The term was relatively unheard-of until the 1990s, but was then adopted principally by the critics of a perceived free market orthodoxy, which was spreading around the world under the auspices of the ‘Washington Consensus’. The ‘anti-globalisation movement’, which rose to prominence with the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organisation, further advanced the pejorative sense of neoliberalism as a form of market fundamentalism, imposed upon developing nations by the United States government and multilateral institutions. The assumption underlying this account of neoliberalism was typically that it arose with the elections of ‘new right’ political leaders, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in particular, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. But there was relatively little scholarly work done at this time on the longer history of neoliberal thought preceding that political shift. Continue reading overview of neoliberalism literature→