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Comment posted by U15553029, at 19:07 20 May 2014
19:07 20 May 2014
Thank you for this very interesting piece. I always enjoy your narrative line and way of connecting things.
The collage of video clips is always a real treat. I use an app to download them and play them later, using VLC — which allows me to correct the aspect ratio.
As for the content, the older I get the more impossible it seems that anything will ever change for the better on the macro level. And so I enjoy your blog on the level of high-quality entertainment: the illusion of motion through knowledge… that's as good as it gets and we all end up in the same place. As the song goes, "Six feet of dirt make us all the same size."
Thank you, Mr. Curtis. We'll never meet, but I think of you as a friend.
Comment posted by the-jury-consultant, at 12:39 12 May 2014
12:39 12 May 2014
A number of intriguing points. One of which I would like to question.
The two notions of power that you set out; patrician and neoliberal (hyper-rational individualism & the body as a machine) both appear undesirable. In the case you lay out, neoliberalism is a power structure that often leads to suspicions regarding those who serve in power, and a widespread culture of distrust currently pervades modern democratic countries.
More desirable, according to yourself, is the transcending of everyday perceptions, in a politically orientated manner, in which to produce a more different power structure than that which exists today.
Knight saw the upper echelons of society as governed by 'shady' interests of a 'world order'. In a similar fashion, a number of commentators identify with this culture of suspicion (for example, Alex Jones, David Icke etc). They use this suspicion to invoke alternative worlds. But perhaps not desirable worlds, because they are trapped within this limiting culture of suspicion. Their world is a paranoid dream world. Now I understand that when you say "if that imagination can be integrated into a new kind of politics - then those worlds could be brought into existence" you mean that we leave the old neoliberal power structure and its culture of suspicion behind in which to form an alternative power structure.
However, my point here is to highlight whether this is possible. In particular, I suggest to you that imagination is culturally circumscribed. Just like Alex Jones, we too are doomed to an imagination that is not transcendent but immanent, i.e. we cannot escape our cultural trappings, but we can find routes through from within them. When Alex Jones suggests an alternative world free of a 'world order', it is trapped within the cultural notions of suspicion and paranoia that generate our world view currently. This is inescapable. However, more positively, we can imagine new possibilities or becomings (not worlds), from within our own culture. Therefore, I suggest that the idea that the "human imagination has the power to conceive of worlds that have never existed before" is essentially wrong. Imagination is not transcendent, but rather a product of a society's contemporary discourse.
This is not to say imagination reproduces discourse and the same power structures. Rather, imagination is immanent, finding new paths, but from within the same nexus of cutural and social understandings. Suggesting that we use imagination to conceive of radically different worlds is thus helpful for our current predicament, but to believe that you will discover a totally transcendent viewpoint of the world that eliminates previous 'ways of being' is naive.
Comment posted by U16044158, at 06:04 6 Apr 2014
06:04 6 Apr 2014
An interesting conjunction of lives again... thanks Adam.
I wonder if you (or the BBC Web media people) can do anything about the very poor performance of the video streaming app has had in Australia over the last year or more. I'm on a very fast metropolitan optic fibre connection, but the video stream pauses every half a minute or so, and then resumes after several seconds. As your video curation and editing are so crucial to making this blog what it is, it's very disappointing to get such low quality streaming. (I've switched browsers, and reloaded the page several times - no effect).
I also notice that since a year or so ago, all 4x3 PAL video (the majority of your material) is stretched into the the wrong aspect ratio by the streaming, when in the past your clips faithfully reproduced the original media. I trust that this is not your choice, but a default in the streaming software. Can you work around it to stop us getting 16x9 stretched pictures that make everyone look short and wide.
Your faithful reader/watcher,
Comment posted by U14500213, at 20:30 2 Apr 2014
20:30 2 Apr 2014
According to Yuri Bezmenov:
KGB subversion, was mostly paying and advising various anti-government groups; as opposed to the espionage depicted in the MI5 film. After all, does an enemy need to control, when destroying a system by funding mavericks is simpler and quicker.
Comment posted by U16082734, at 17:36 28 May 2014
17:36 28 May 2014
Dear Mr. Curtis,
I'm most impressed by your extraordinary documentary series for the BBC- e.g. The Trap, The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares;... I think you may be the one who could really illuminate the dark absurdities of nuclear weapons- both historically through the cold war, and in the current era. I wonder if you've considered tackling that one.
Comment posted by U16075322, at 20:56 17 May 2014
20:56 17 May 2014
Would the voiceover describing that MI5 training film belong to Tom Mangold by any chance? He seems to be taking it at face value, in contrast to Adam's skeptical tone. Was this part of a Panorama expose of the "Soviet Menace" I wonder?
Comment posted by U16072086, at 21:04 11 May 2014
21:04 11 May 2014
Are there any better recordings?
Comment posted by U16055920, at 12:53 18 Apr 2014
12:53 18 Apr 2014
As the blog mentions Russell Brand I would be very interested in hearing the Adam Curtis version of Brand's relationship with the Goldsmiths, particularly given his brilliant documentary about the Mayfair Set that painted such a vivid picture of James Goldsmith.
Comment posted by U16053869, at 12:54 16 Apr 2014
12:54 16 Apr 2014
Idle hands indeed.
Comment posted by Steffan Llysdinam, at 10:39 13 Apr 2014
10:39 13 Apr 2014
Fascinating story as ever Adam. Thank you.
But I'm more fascinated now by the comments made above by 'josephine'.
Comment posted by Jon, at 14:24 9 Apr 2014
14:24 9 Apr 2014
I thought this piece was more indicative of how genuine political and social criticism is so easily overshadowed by sensationalist garbage, the sexual proclivities of the powerful, bizarre conspiracy theories, and various cause célèbre, sapping the energy and credibility of any movement or individuals outside the mainstream on any side of the political spectrum, although we are living in a very right leaning world these days.
It reminded me of Michael Jacksons successful control of the press by creating the Wacko Jacko persona that dominated the headlines, while he led a far more questionable personal life. The problem with presenting a media piece in this way, which I think unfortunately pervades the author's work, is that this superficial treatment is automatically present and very hard to filter out.
Peter Wright is perhaps somewhat unfairly treated, although you could characterise his anti-establishment activities as a form of ultra patriotism. I would give more credence to his view that the decades of seemingly impossible operational failures he endured at the hands of a remarkably well informed Soviet embassy could have been the result of a highly placed mole as the extraordinary official reluctance to face up to the level of betrayal by Britain's spies, particularly in the face of American suspicion, of the period shows.
Ultimately I think that to consider these imaginitive distractions as empowering is to indulge in what Orwell so well described as doublethink. They are merely an expression of how well genuine critical debate has been marginalised.
Comment posted by U14318546, at 21:23 3 Apr 2014
21:23 3 Apr 2014
Not sure if you left it out deliberately but there was a civic moment when the George Davies campaign went mainstream and that was when the campaigners dug up the wicket at Headingly, poured oil on the turf and a Test Match had to be abandoned. It was the lead item on every news bulletin. The shock and awe at Lords HQ must have been seismic.
Comment posted by U15195469, at 14:50 3 Apr 2014
14:50 3 Apr 2014
Suspicion and paranoia, sometimes justified, other times not, is certainly the way of the day, but one should never forget where that suspicion can ultimately lead if given free reign. People like Alex Jones and his followers are the end radical product of our age, who see conspiracy and deceit behind everything they turn they eyes to.
Is this what the future is going to be like? Endless suspicion and hatred towards everything with a name and an identity? Alex Jones says that transhumanists want to kill 90% of the human species. I'll just leave that hanging there. The I really don't want to think of the conclusions that his listeners draw from his feverish paranoia. Especially when I'm the self-identified target of those conclusions.
The power of the human imagination to imagine new worlds and then work to bring them into reality is awesome indeed. But equally horrifying are the nightmares of suspicion. I don't see how our current mistrust of everything in authority is going to result in anything but new kinds of horrors, especially when that mistrust is extended to anyone who says they want to change the world.
Comment posted by Ben Brewis, at 12:32 3 Apr 2014
12:32 3 Apr 2014
A very interesting an engaging (as ever) article from Mr Curtis.
Reading this a day after starting a book about bringing about sympathetic outcomes through imagination... strange how that always works out, kind of like it was brought about through imagination.
The systems the people in power are using are crystallising themselves into our collective future.
Comment posted by LaughingLemon, at 21:20 2 Apr 2014
21:20 2 Apr 2014
What I especially like about From Hell is the copious notes in the back. Moore's research is facinating!
Also, if you look under a certain railway bridge coming out of Barking station, you see "George Davis is Innocent!" Nostaligia!
Comment posted by U14434455, at 14:35 9 Apr 2014
14:35 9 Apr 2014
Seems likely if you own a lexus and work for an oil company you will be shot dead in front of your family in a foiled attempt to hijack your car. Although, if you search for N. Mockford AND P. Campsie, both oil executives murdered for their cars outside restaurants by car hijackers on motorbikes, you will get no results in search engines. I queried in another blog post, why the N. Mockford story has had no updates since 28th October 2012. This story was widely reported, as Belgian authorities had blocked reporting on the story for two weeks following the incident, however following a flurry of reporting, all stories, all mention of Mockford, disappears after the 28th. Strange, how two murders with similar elements have found no reported correlation, until now.
Comment posted by U15985562, at 23:59 6 Apr 2014
23:59 6 Apr 2014
One thing I forgot... The only reason Massive Attack, etc. contacted you was because one eyed pscho boy had his stalking/hackers follow me to Columbia University were I was using the open WiFi and watching one of your documentaries that I had bookmarked. It happened twice with 2 separate stalker/hacker at Columbia University. They seem to forget about video cameras in each room and in the hallways at CU.
Adam, it clearly illustrates your moral character, tonguing a celebrity rather than remove someone from physical danger and criminal activity. You could have anonymously reported what you knew to Scotland Yard and requested that they forward the information to the police.
Comment posted by U14258464, at 22:56 5 Apr 2014
22:56 5 Apr 2014
Great stuff, my only real complaint about your blog is that you don't post often enough. But I understand that you are a busy man, and that these stories take longer to put together than the average blog post.
However, I have to nitpick your description of Moore's From Hell. For one, you have misunderstood Moore's view of time: to him, our perception of time is not the result of an "oppressive society", but rather a product of our psychological or biological make up. Only by performing acts of magic, which Gull's murders are supposed to be, can anyone see through the illusion of change and understand the unchanging nature of time.
Your understanding of what "hard AI (?)" people are trying to say is also quite shallow. I don't think any serious scientist in the field thinks that electrical fields is all there to the human mind. The point here is that electrical activity is correlated with conscious experience. I believe that is a fairly mainstream belief in neuroscience today, and has little to do with AI. The hard AI folk you may be alluding to here certainly wouldn't be content with just that insight; they would say that you need a very detailed understanding of the brain, right down to the cellular level, if you want to simulate it, a feat that is generally acknowledged to be at least a few decades away if not longer.
Comment posted by U15985562, at 22:07 5 Apr 2014
22:07 5 Apr 2014
Congratulations Adam! My, what a small and petty man you are. You have really shown your hand. After writing this article, I have reported you to the Feds and police. Don't be surprised when the trustees of the BBC question you.
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