common sense knowledge

unraveling the taken for granted

The World Tasted: Dušan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie August 17, 2009

Filed under: memories,revolution,sexual revolution — abject @ 10:08 am

Many, including myself, were initially shocked and repelled by Makavejev’s most complex, explosive and assaulting film. In Sweet Movie, Eros and Thanatos are not concepts but forces. Wilhelm Reich, François Rabelais and Jonathan Swift, rather than Sigmund Freud, seem to inspire this never-safe journey, grounded in the senses, a journey which seems like it has land mines placed along the way. Sweet Movie is Makavejev’s furthest and most daring departure from traditional realist narrative. It is a mixture of humour, horror, eroticism, music, colour, defilement, excrement and murder. Once again, the film combines fiction and documentary, but this time the connections collide more harshly.

As we have seen, it takes Miss World and the audience to the commune where the members participate in a “utopia of regression”. In twin narrative threads – deadly adventures in capitalism and totalitarianism – Miss World, prized for her abstinence and virginity, but rejected by her husband, Mr. Dollars (John Vernon), will eventually writhe and drown in a bath of chocolate while making a television commercial; meanwhile Anna Planeta (a blonde-haired Anna Prucnal), prostitute of the revolution, on a corpse-filled boat bearing the giant head of Karl Marx, makes love with Un Marin du Potemkin (A Sailor from the Potemkin, aka Luv Bakunin; Pierre Clémenti), in a bed of sugar, stabbing him with her dagger, his sacrificed red blood curling through the white grains. Whilst Luv is content to die a martyr’s death, like Vakulinchuk (Aleksandr Antonov) in Sergei Eisenstein’s Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, 1925), most controversial for audiences today is Planeta’s bridal/maternal striptease for a group of boys enticed onto her barge by candy while Russian Orthodox liturgical music plays on the soundtrack. Read here a movie critique by Lorraine Mortimer.


regime of money March 23, 2008

Filed under: ecosocialism,video — abject @ 9:28 pm

the secret railroad March 2, 2008

Filed under: memories,video — abject @ 11:46 pm

gender and mathematical ability December 20, 2007

Filed under: feminism,gender — abject @ 9:29 am

Despite the attention paid to claims of substantial differences in various types of abilities—including mathematical, spatial, and verbal—between the sexes, it is remarkable that most research finds these differences to be trivial or small (even assuming that they can be measured properly and that all intervening factors can be accounted for). For example, using large national datasets on mathematical performance among children in the United States, sociologists Erin Leahey and Guang Guo found that there was only “a slight, late-emerging male advantage in mathematics among the general population of students,” with “no male advantage until later in high school, where the largest gender difference is 1.5%.” Furthermore, they did not even find large differences among high-scoring students, where it is commonly assumed that males will be most dominant. Using meta-analysis of existing research, psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde and her colleagues have found that not only are differences in mathematical performance across genders typically small, they have generally decreased over time (indicating that they are mutable), often favor women, particularly at younger ages, and that the gender that scores higher differs across ethnic groups. Furthermore, research shows that differences in mathematical performance among children across nations dwarf gender differences within nations.These types of findings have led Hyde to propose the “gender similarities hypothesis,” which holds that men and women are similar on most psychological variables, counter to the widespread, but largely unsupported, assumption that there are substantial gender differences. Read here the rest of the paper “Gender and Mathematical Ability: The Toll of Biological Determinism” by Richard York and Brett Clark


the trouble with being human these days November 8, 2007

Filed under: identity,social knowledge — abject @ 10:20 pm

Inevitably, the undermining of familiar institutions, an aspect of modernity that has certainly been intensified in recent years, has had important consequences for people’s sense of identity. There is nothing new about the observation that national and class-based identities (both of which had seemed almost definitively modern) have been upset by the end of the Cold War and various other developments discussed under the heading of ‘globalisation’. Similarly, Bauman notes that while the workplace was traditionally a very important source of personal identity, changes in the economy have rendered it far less reliable. He suggests that the enduring identities once associated with work have given way to looser and more provisional identities, and conceptions of community, that are subject to constant change and renegotiation. Indeed, Bauman points to a more profound transformation of how we understand what it means to be human in the absence of transcendent ideologies (traditional or otherwise) such as have characterised modernity until recently.  Read here  a review of  Baumans’ book identity.


Feminism of the Anti-Capitalist Left September 4, 2007

Filed under: feminism,gender — abject @ 11:58 am

1. Feminism and democratic, progressive and revolutionary currents

Feminism must be declined in its plural, feminisms, as women belong to various classes and cultures and have different political reference points. For example, there is a form of feminism in Italy among right-wing parliamentarians and career women, who lay claim to their share of power with the aid of traditional feminist arguments, decry the dynamics of exclusion and marginalization and demand anti-discriminatory measures.



savage capitalism-the ecosocialist alternative

Filed under: ecosocialism — abject @ 11:52 am

This is an edited version of the main document discussed at the September 1/2 annual general meeting of Socialist Resistance in Britain. The document explains why Socialist Resistance is changing its political programme, perspectives and public profile towards being an anti-capitalist, ecosocialist organisation. This is to make explicit a change in it’s perspectives that has been underway for at least a year and now needs to be signaled publicly. At the core of this change is the contention that free-market, privatising neoliberalism has over 20 years arrived at a new and deadly phase – what we call ‘savage capitalism’. The document explains why now only a socialist response that centrally addresses the environmental crisis is adequate to the current period.