If practice makes perfect, and nothing’s ever perfect, why practise? This piece considers the various different kinds of practice that go into making an adept and talented musician. Thinking through the problem from a range of viewpoints, from that of neurology to that of a six-year-old child, Anita Datta reflects on attitudes towards practice and considers the array of possible results.
Gilbert and George’s new exhibition, Scapegoating Pictures for London, stirs controversy, as per usual: for going too far, by portraying their immediate environment and including, for the first time, many references to Islam. Are these criticisms as empty as their canisters of
laughing gas? What are these works really depicting?
This June, Gay Shame, a radical queer anti-assimilation group, led a protest against a prison-themed kink party. They say they are ‘Pro-sex and anti-prison’ but neither they nor their opponents have a clear sense of what to say about kink itself.
Madcaps and mad hatters: this piece stems from the feeling that there is something a little mad about a hat. Polly Dickson thinks about Magritte, and Carroll’s Hatter, and about seeing faces in things.
Australia is often portrayed from within and without as the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’. With the new Abbott government in office, this fantasy has become politicised to the point of infatuation. Nikita Simpson questions what amnesia makes this possible. Beginning with the plight of Indigenous Australians, she questions if the mentality of Terra Nullius is by no means dead.
In a famous essay he published in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted a future of material abundance and abundant leisure. Keynes’s essay has resurfaced today with the growth of automation and high levels of unemployment. In the interim his fellow King’s graduates advanced and chronicled the scientific and technical improvements that Keynes wrote characterize the modern age. In this essay, William Hoffman tracks computer genius Alan Turing, the technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser, Charles Nicholl, who wrote a biography of Leonardo da Vinci, and the science journalist Nicholas Wade.
Anita Datta explores the elusive procedure by which musicians come together to create the special and emotional product of human culture we call music. How do people singing in a choir, for instance, come to affect and respond to each other in the process of creating music?
Exhibitions marking the beginning of the First World War are almost mandatory in British museums this year. At the same time, the question of how to remember or examine the events of 1914 has caused division, particularly following Michael Gove’s criticisms of academic history. In this article, the first in the new column ‘Picture Politics,’ Anna Blair looks at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s La Grande Guerre and the ways in which the prints on display serve as an exercise in examining detail, both attracting the viewer and deepening their awareness of the horrors of war.
Simone de Beauvoir is famous for her work on feminism, but Deidre Bair’s biography suggests that de Beauvoir’s relationship with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was fraught with jealousy and self-sacrifice. Sarah Stein Lubrano writes that we shouldn’t be surprised.
How can we respond to the challenges of combining activism and scholarship in regard to the topic of sexuality? This question is important when, in the context of continuing worldwide inequality, queer activists cannot allow governments and corporations to be the only entities acting at the global level. In particular, how are activists and scholars who are in some sense Western work for goals of social justice and make use of their privilege without having that privilege detract from the work of non-Westerners? In this article Tom Boellstorff discusses three possible strategies for responding to this state of affairs, based on his own experiences in Indonesia and elsewhere.
In the first column in the series Flummox curated by Polly Dickson, Johannes Lenhard juxtaposes two different ways of dealing with money, with cash. Diving into two ‘everyday’ encounters, he reflects on his personal observations among rich and poor. Wildly abstracting from the intricacies of the situations, he is surprised how the former are paradoxically afraid of cash, while the latter feel connected through touching, polishing, collecting and playing with coins and notes.
Owen Holland reviews 1984, Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan’s stage adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-production between Headlong, the Nottingham Playhouse theatre company and the Almeida Theatre. It will continue to run at the London Playhouse theatre until August 23rd. This article elaborates the current political resonances of the production in the light of some twentieth-century co-optations of Orwell’s novel. It comments on the decisions made in adapting the novel for the stage, keeping half an eye on Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian glass-world, the Bauhaus and Lionel Trilling.
Across Europe, the question of whether quotas should be enforced for the highest-ranking corporate positions as a means to addressing gender injustice is under vigorous discussion. Much of the debate has focused on the European Commission’s (2012) draft directive COM 614, which would place an “obligation of means” on listed companies to ensure that at least 40% of non-executive directors (or 30% of all directors) of each corporate board are female by 2020. Jude Browne (Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) considers the philosophical arguments that underlie the main challenges to quota policy and concludes that a much greater emphasis should be placed on the structural causes of gender inequality in employing institutions. From this, Browne outlines the beginnings of an alternative quota policy: the Critical Mass Marker approach.
Cryptocurrencies are another step in the evolution of a society in which mathematics and cryptography can replace or augment traditional trust-based centralized infrastructure in financial services and monetary politics. While flawed, they can serve as a catalyst for an important debate of the future of currency.
Related: read Johannes Lenhard’s analysis of alternative currencies.
With climate change already unfolding across the globe, Ragnhild Freng Dale argues that it is high time we, as a planet and as a university, wean our energy systems off the addiction to fossil fuels. We need to cut our intimate ties to an industry profiting from the destruction of the planet.