If You Have Time, I Think I Would Find The Answers To These Questions Helpful

  • What is the top thing that your ideological opponents misrepresent about your position?
  • What is the top thing that your opponents say is a tenet of your position, but about which there is in fact much disagreement between you and your allies?
  • What’s the worst argument that people on your side put forward for your position?
  • What’s your opponent’s best argument?

Borges, Maynard, Funes, Harper’s and Depp

Long time followers will be aware of my love of the writing of Jorge Luis Borges. A couple of this week’s news stories have a Borgesian flavour to them. Or rather, they give rise to old themes that Borges articulates very well. #

The first of these is ‘The Letter’ – an open letter signed by prominent writers and academics published in Harper’s Magazine, bemoaning the rise of cancel culture. It seems to have divided Twitter, with many people criticising the generic text based upon those who signed it. #

Continue reading “Borges, Maynard, Funes, Harper’s and Depp”

Sometimes ‘Cancel Culture’ *Is* A Free Speech Issue

A letter in Harper’s Magazine, supporting the principle of free speech and bemoaning ‘cancel culture,’ has caused something of a stir. At least, on Twitter.

In itself, the letter is unobjectionable. However, many people think it is an ill-timed, coded rebuke to the social justice campaigns of the moment:

I think the uproar is more about the timing and the context in which this letter engages (BLM, TERF wars etc), which feels very dog whistle-y.

@sysh

Others have ridiculed its premise and the signatories. They say that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences, and that if an audience reacts negatively to something they find offensive, that is merely a manifestation of free speech.

Continue reading “Sometimes ‘Cancel Culture’ *Is* A Free Speech Issue”

I Made a Zine to Summarise Donoghue v Stevenson, a Landmark Case in the Tort of Negligence

I am enjoying Austin Kleon’s obsession with zines and decided to make one for myself.

I chose to summarise Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100, a landmark case in the development of the tort of negligence, and also for manufacturers liability for defective products. Continue reading “I Made a Zine to Summarise Donoghue v Stevenson, a Landmark Case in the Tort of Negligence”

Journalists Under Attack

I’m incredibly busy with a couple of major things at the moment made more difficult by the lockdown.

(No, not A Thousand And One Recaps — that’s ticking along just fine).

As a result of my distractions, have not had time to post about the appalling UK coronavirus death rate, the preposterous lockdown sabotage by Dominic Cummings, the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, or the atrocious glorification of violence by Donald Trump that has finally caused Twitter to place warnings next to his Tweets.

My silence on all these issues is not to be taken as due to a lack of opinion, or sufficient emotion about each of them. I just don’t have time.

Continue reading “Journalists Under Attack”

ZOOMSHIFT

It is often said that constraints can fuel creativity. Well, the COVID-19 lockdown is a pretty big constraint.

Amid the sadness and death, it has been interesting to see the new art and culture that is already emerging. Creativity working up against the boundaries we have set for ourselves. Artists looking afresh at the technology we are using to communicate, and wondering what new modes of design and storytelling they might enable.

The most obvious example of this is video conferencing software. The grids of images that apps like Zoom use to display the other people in the chat have become part of our visual culture. I really enjoyed the Maltesers ‘Isolation Life’ series of adverts, and I love the video for ‘Phenom’ by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (intriguing song, too). Continue reading “ZOOMSHIFT”

COVID19, Free Speech and the Right to Receive Information

In 2004, the writer Orhan Pamuk gave the inaugural Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture, at the Prague Writer’s Festival. Among his remarks, he said this:

I have personally known writers who have chosen to raise forbidden topics purely because they were forbidden. I think I am no different. Because when another writer in another house is not free, no writer is free. This, indeed, is the spirit that informs the solidarity felt by PEN, by writers all over the world.

Orhan Pamuk

I would often use the highlighted bit of that quote in English PEN’s marketing communications. I thought it would appeal to the worldliness of other writers, their solidarity and empathy with fellow wordsmiths.

But occasionally I would worry that the proper meaning of that quote was properly understood. Because taken literally, it’s obviously untrue. The fact that Ahmet Altan (to pick another Turkish novelist) is currently in prison and censored does not stop me writing my derivative science fiction or my bad poetry. Continue reading “COVID19, Free Speech and the Right to Receive Information”

The Zines of Austin Kleon and the Collages of Yasmine Seale

Here are two similar projects that turn on the art of collaging and remixing.

First, Austin Kelon’s flock of zines.

A zine (/zi?n/ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is most commonly a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Usually zines are the product of a person, or of a very small group.

Last month Austin posted a tutorial on how to make an 8-page zine from a single sheet of paper. (It’s also possible to make 14-page zines too).

Continue reading “The Zines of Austin Kleon and the Collages of Yasmine Seale”