Another work of genius by Adam Curtis was on BBC last night. In the UK, Episode 1 will be on the BBC’s i-player, In any case, it will probably be repeated a few times before the next episode (Monday, 30th. )
Amazingly thought-provoking. It fills your mind with images and ideas. I would certainly disagree with some of his arguments. (I can’t believe that Ayn Rand was really a major influence on the development of Silicon Valley individualism, no matter how many techy people called their kids Rand, for example. ) The programme is so engaging that I found myself arguing political/social/ecological points with the tv screen.
Curtis presents masterly transparent propaganda. Propaganda in the purest sense – spreading ideas, trying to make people change their minds. Transparent because he is explicit about what he is saying and communicates in a form that makes it explicit that he is spreading ideas. With blinding creative skill. He wants to make the viewer think creatively and recognise and question other propoganda.
Even if you’re not in the UK, you can read an interview with Adam Curtis and watch an intro clip on the Register.
The Register interview actually makes his point of view a lot clearer than the first episode. (But watching the programme is a pure joy. The interview is no substitute)
Challenging Utopian theories about the web:
I was suspicious of it because I hadn’t noticed power had disappeared. The real bastions of power are as they were, and are more concentrated. So I decided to trace those ideas back to their source. It leads you back to an absolutely fascinating area, which you can loosely call cybernetics, and also information theory.(from the Register)
He has a blog on the BBC. This is a source of major treats, such as “A is for Atom” which has an old documentary he made which dealt with the design of reactor at Fukushima Daiich. Or Rupert Murdoch – a portrait of Satan
Based on the top Google searches that brought stray readers here today, there would be zillions of visitors to any post that referred to:
* morris dancers or morris dancing
* adam curtis or charlie brooker
* quiche gay
* chip 666
* fine art
* castle with a moat or fairytale castle
* Viking names
* 5 fruit and veg a day
These searches do actually reach posts – usually from long ago. Sometimes I have to search this site myself, to find any post relating to a weird search term, because the idea that some particular searches brought anyone here seems inherently unlikely.
If we’d known that we’d hit the popularity motherlode with these topics, maybe we should have had the foresight to make the target posts more interesting.
I’m taking the opposite tack and using these words – nay, even tagging with them – just for the comedic satisfaction of seeing the number of hits go through the roof today. I.e., a day when there is no actual content in the post.
So, sorry, if you came here because of one of these search terms. Just think of yourself as taking part in a non-peer-reviewed experiment with the nature of internet “popularity.” Without any analysis of the results, either. But then, this experiment won’t give rise to any spurious pseudo-science or pseudo-consultation in the media, so it’s all good.
This is a link to Adam Curtis’s page on the BBC website. This has some engaging clips from his new “interactive theatre” show in Manchester. This seems the longest.
Interactive theatre does sound as if it might be beyond boring. Bear with me.
Charlie Brooker wrote about it in today’s Guardian supplement.
About now a sizable percentage of you will be thinking “that sounds wanky”, and starting to back away. Don’t. Because it’s also … well, it’s also a funhouse. To be honest, no one really knows what it is. After a struggle, Curtis himself says it’s “a psycho-political theme experience in which you become a central character. It’s going to be frightening. A walk of enchantment and menace.”
Adam Curtis has made some brilliant TV documentaries. (Wikipedia entry) These clips deal with the same issues, although in a more abstract way. Dare I say “visceral?”
If you prefer a bit more clarity of argument, you might want to try and find Curtis’s more verbally coherent documentaries elsewhere, on Youtube, frinstance.
This is how the BBC described his 2005 Power of Nightmares about how the war on terror was used to generate fear and consolidate neo-con power.