Werner Herzog, whose movie Nosferatu the Vampyre I saw over a long train ride a couple of weeks ago, talks at length about film-making, his new movie Into the Abyss, his hatred of capital punishment (one of the reasons he doesn’t want to apply for American citizenship), and how movies don’t change anything (he says that his movies tell stories, not make arguments; and ideologies and arguments belong in the political space, media, etc., not in movies).
It is hard not to be amused and even impressed by his idiosyncracies – he once ate his shoes after losing a bet, and he claims that the first thing he does when he walks into a room is to size everybody up and assess who of them could milk a cow. According to him, he could tell that Woody Allen couldn’t handle udders.
Well, check out the video above. Worth all the 25 minutes it takes to watch it.
Kerim Friedman has an excellent post on literacy, communication and social media at the Savage Minds blog. It is hard to carve out an excerpt that does justice to the whole post but let’s try this one:
First, the technology itself is not as important as the social conditions in which it is used. In many cases social media is more a means of communicating what is happening on the ground with the outside world, as diasporic populations keep in touch with their friends and family at home via Facebook and Twitter, than it is a means of organizing activity on the ground. If these social networks exist, families will communicate with them however they can, whether by usenet, fax machine, telegraph, or letter. The second point is that the mere existence of these technologies does not imply that people will necessarily make use of them in a particular way. Certainly there is a huge difference in how Twitter is used at the annual anthropology conferences and at an event like SXSW. And the third point is that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for people to be fascinated by how this technology is being used in Egypt. Certainly it has allows us to voyeuristically participate in world events from afar.
… is the title of a new book by Lucy Norris of the Department of Anthropology, University College, London.
In today’s globally connected marketplace, a wedding sari in rural north India may become a woman’s blouse or cushion cover in a Western boutique. Lucy Norris’s anthropological study of the recycling of clothes in Delhi follows garments as they are gifted, worn, handed on, discarded, recycled, and sold once more. Gifts of clothing are used to make and break relationships within middle-class households, but a growing surplus of unwanted clothing now contributes to a global glut of textile waste. When old clothing is, for instance, bartered for new kitchen utensils, it enters a vast waste commodity system in which it may be resold to the poor or remade into new textiles and exported. Norris traces these local and transnational flows through homes and markets as she tells the stories of the people who work in the largely hidden world of fabric recycling.
Sport has infected other fields with its values. Everything from hairdressing to accountancy now has its own awards ceremony, making mere workers into winners and losers. The recent British election was dominated by televised debates between the main party leaders, which turned a four-week campaign into a three-set match. Heavily previewed and then exhaustively dissected, the debates were sport without the drama, the athleticism, the crowd reaction or even the scoreboard. In the messy aftermath, the place to find out what was happening was not the lead stories, which were often bland and clueless, but the minute-by-minute updates, supplied by deskbound reporters—a trick imported from sport.
A winner-takes-all culture, which would have been abhorrent a generation ago, has spread outwards from banking, with its eight-figure bonuses. It is harder to protest against that when we swallow the extreme economics of sport. Cristiano Ronaldo is paid an estimated £11.3m a year by Real Madrid, or £217,000 a week. And that’s before he slips on his Y-fronts. Tiger Woods was still valued at $82m as a brand byForbes in February, even after 14 mistresses’ worth of dirty laundry.
As a whodunnit, this is “Murder on the Orient Express”. Every suspect had a motive: they all dunnit. And we have let them. Sport, more than most things, is what we make of it. It plays on a screen not just in the corner of the room but in our heads. Its significance largely consists of what we project on to it. We may be watching in much the same numbers, but we are doing so with greater intensity, and inside a wider penumbra of collective consciousness. We all dunnit.