Charlie: A Few Perspectives…

paris-march-wide-shotCharlie Hebdo offices, Paris, 7th January 2015.
Another sudden intensification in our evolving multi-dimensional global conflict.

A few perspectives…

The western mainstream almost unanimously responded to events as a barbaric and failed attack on freedom. The massive, instant #JeSuisCharlie grief&solidarity movement appeared to uphold and defend the core liberal values (or rhetoric) of free speech and democracy. This cry was swiftly taken up by global politicians of all stripes – although a wide-angle shot shows their united ‘leadership of the march’ in Paris as a photo-op set-up in an empty street.

Right-wing commentators used the occasion to make absurd tragi-comic slurs about Islam, while in the real world French Muslims tried to navigate the complexity of their situation – and feelings.

It has mostly been left to Muslim and peripheral voices to interrogate the depth causes of the attacks and suggest responsibility might lie with the West’s own violence towards the Arab and Muslim world. Or that they were part of a Jihadist ‘false-flag’ strategy to radicalise European Muslims through “sharpening contradictions” – or even that this actually had nothing to do with religion, free speech or the clash of civilisations, but should be seen as a message from the dispossesed.

Meanwhile, in the quiet spaces, human beings (of liberal, Muslim, Jewish, secular and many other origins, sometimes mixed) have been reflecting on the internal and worldly challenges catalysed by the situation and meditating on the question “How do we respond?”
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[image still from TV news]
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Visions of the Visionmakers

Dreamy, leftfield portrait of contemporary photography by Tyrone Lebon.
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Photographing the Unseen

20140626-lens-weston-slide-MZDE-superJumboAfter a near-death experience, the photographer Kim Weston re-awakened a dream of being an artist. She went back her to roots, creating “Seen, Unseen”, a subtle document of an African-American family, layered with meditations on culture, photography and the sacred. Read article & watch slideshow

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Building the Dream

There’s many dreamers out there with visions for new ways of living. The instigators of Kalu Yala are having a go at co-creating “the world’s most sustainable modern town” in the Panamanian jungle.

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After the Fall

After-the-Fall_tumblr_inline_n8pif0zode1se9q8s“After the Fall” – Photographs by Hin Chua.
View here >>
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Windows Onto a New Era

FinkNewEra12952842485-85.4_57The New Era windows factory in Chicago is a worker-owned cooperative. There are thousands of cooperative businesses in America and around the world, but New Era is remarkable in that it emerged, phoenix-like, from exploitative corporate ownership into an effective operation based on equal rights and consensus decision-making.

Astra Taylor chart the story of how the original company’s owners pretended to close down the factory and sack the entire workforce, only to try and take the machines to another, more profitable location. The workers, inspired by Argentinian horizontalidad factory occupations and the Basque Mondragon Co-ops, refused to leave, took over the factory and eventually managed to buy the facilities for a song and set-up New Era.

Read the full article by Astra Taylor >>

 

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Non-Linear Confusion – Political Control circa 2014

Adam Curtis presents his theory of how political and economic elites have gone beyond propaganda into deliberately crafting confusion and informational overload in order to neutralise public understanding and opposition. This summary traces the methods back to a long-time advisor to Russian President Putin, who emerged from avant-garde art to develop informational ‘non-linear warfare’.

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The Long Walk from Eden into the World

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Reportage journalist Paul Salopek is re-tracing the footsteps of humanity’s ancient ancestors, literally walking from Ethiopia in Africa, into Palestine/Israel and across the globe.
Out of Eden Walk tracks the progress of what is planned as a 7-year walking journey around the world and across the arc of time.

His latest dispatch is a fascinating meditation on the historical and contemporary complexities of the Holy Land and the Levant, cradles of agriculture, monotheism and cities – in fact civilisation as we know it. Read the article >>

Photograph from Samaria-Sebaste by John Stanmeyer. View the gallery >>
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Legal Rights for Mother Earth

bolivia-rightsDepending on who’s asking, the idea of giving legal rights to nature may seem completely outlandish or entirely sensible. Bolivia, which currently has a government with an indigenous majority is in a process of enshrining legal rights for the natural world.

It’s not without paradox, for the economy of the country is reliant on extractive industries such as mining and natural gas production, but it’s nevertheless a milestone in the diverse global movement expressed by some as eradicating ecocide.

Read the article >>

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The Liberation of Sitting Still

“With a calm mind we gain a broader perspective, a perspective on our environment. We seek not only our own happiness; instead, calmly looking at the circumstances surrounding us, we regard our environment as our companion and we are able to maintain a calm and peaceful state”

In an intense and sometimes crazy world that is seemingly tipping increasingly into chaos, Zen practice offers a pathway to stilling the mind and learning to maintain that mental stillness in the world.
Zen Master Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi offers a clear, simple 20minute introduction to the basics of Zazen sitting meditation. Bringing the mind to order, by connecting it to the simple order of the body and the breath.

[Note for viewers who don’t understand Japanese! – you may need to turn subtitles on: click the little cog on bottom right menu bar to get the option up.]

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Distilling Presence from our Present Shock

“We live in a different now than has ever been known. Now is not the now of your grandma’s careful attention to detail and rhythm. Today, the world pours in through our beeping mobile device’s calendar, emails, text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. The frantic attempt to respond to all this everything creates what Douglas Rushkoff has dubbed “present shock,” a condition in which we’re assaulted by a present that we ceaselessly grasp to obtain and never quite live in. Not entirely opposed to our technologies, Rushkoff questions how they can better complement our basic rhythms of presence.”

Keenly-contemplated meditation on time, technology and consciousness by Douglass Rushkoff: click play to watch the vid. (just under 8mins)
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The Meaning of Freedom

angela davismeaning-of-freedom-206x300Angela Davis is a veteran of the U.S. civil rights movement and a rare voice for collective movements for change in contemporary America. The Meaning of Freedom is a speech interrogating the reality of liberty in a society that runs on long-term institutionalised racism and has transformed both militarism and incarceration into profit-industries.
Read an extract here >>
Read a short introduction to her vision here >>
Read a new interview discussing race in America >>

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City on the Edge: Kabul

kabul
Despite minimal infrastructure, a lack of stable employment and a chaotic economy built on international aid and corruption, Kabul is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. With a massive conflict-fueled influx of new inhabitants from Afghanistan and beyond, the city’s population of 1.5million inhabitants in 2001 has exploded to 6million now. How can the Afghan capital integrate and hold itself together?

Reportage by Sune Engel Rasmussen >>>
Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA via @guardiannews
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Does being Green mean not having kids?

climate-kids tweet“I (we) don’t have children, at least partly for ecological reasons. That decision is something I reflect upon a lot. I know I’ll feel sad about it in the future, yet news about the state of the world often makes me feel powerfully relieved that I’m not contributing in that way to the overall consumptive mess.”

Reflective blog post from @ChrisTT on the ecological context of becoming a parent, and the original essay by @PaulKingsnorth which provoked this tweet

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A Response to Cuts, Debts & other unhelpful Politics?

free-art-schools-daisy-jones-198-body-image-1418042485When the political purse-holders gradually eliminate financial support for universal education, a number of responses are possible. Protest is one way to respond. Resignation – either through opting out of education, or through studying but only by accruing massive debts – is another. Creating a new, parallel system is another… Cue the emerging model of Free Art Schools…

Read this report by Daisy Jones and check out an example to see how it can work…

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The Eyes in the Sky

Uncle Same watching
Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations have made it clear that American citizens, not to mention those of all Western democracies, are under blanket surveillance. This report by Thomas Gorton outlines one rather surreal mechanism of this 21st-century Orwellianism: Cessna light planes imitating mobile phone towers in order to intercept conversations and data. Read more >>

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The Largest Computer in the World

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A company which started as a bookseller now runs a cloud system running over 2 million servers; essentially amounting to the biggest computer in the world.
A man called Jack Clark gives us the mind-bending numbers >>

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“We Will Need Writers Who Can Remember Freedom…”

Deeply inspiring and radical speech by an American elder standing up for real and free art in the face of the all-consuming profit motive.

Full text here, courtesy of Parker Higgins aka @xor
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The Freedom of the Known

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“If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?”
Prisoners have a unique perspective on the nature – and relativity – of freedom…  The photographic project Windows from Prison seeks to offer moments of relative liberation to people incarcerated in the U.S. federal prison system by bringing them a photograph of a view of their choice. Read  ->>

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Bringing the Trees back to the City…

Bosco-Verticale-by-Boeri-Studio_dezeen_468_0“This is a kind of biological architecture that refuses to adopt a strictly technological and mechanical approach to environmental sustainability…”

Introduction to the idea of an urban Vertical Forest – >>
and a very snazzy computer-modelled promo video for the project here >>
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