SAID THE JOKER TO THE THIEF Political Mindfulness and the Crisis of the Left Part 2

There must be some way out of here

The title of this discussion  might at first sight appear to be a plea for some kind of radical escapology.  We are in a mess, how do we get out of it?  There are currently a number of escapisms on offer on the Left. An escape into the past via  nostalgic evocations of a world  of working class community  support which has been  lost .… Read the rest

There must some way out of here: Political mindfulness and the Crisis of the Left

Epigraph or Epitaph? On the poetics of  hope in difficult times

I would like to start these reflections on  Labour’s  historic electoral defeat with two poems. The first is by a Moroccan poet, Abdullatif Laabian, an activist of the Arab Spring, who spent time in prison and now lives in exile in France. The poem is entitled  ‘In Praise of defeat’, but it is , as you will see, not at all defeatist.… Read the rest

Politics’ Other Scene : some reflections on the times of Brexit

On Mindfulness [i]

We are living through a conjuncture which almost defies conjunctural analysis, where politics are taking an increasingly toxic turn and we are indeed entering uncharted waters. Against this background, the propagandists of neo-liberalism urge us to cultivate ‘resilience’ and ‘mindfulness’ as a way of seizing and surviving the present moment. Mindfulness in particular has been popularised as a kind of do-it-yourself therapy, a way of promoting well being by enabling people suffering from anxiety or depression to become more aware of internal mental states and their relation to external circumstances.… Read the rest

Mapping the Anthropocene: Some reflections on a short story by Barry Lopez

 

Today we are all too familiar with  the two cultures of cartography, belonging to the worlds of science and art .  Digital mapping technologies produce   ever more precise   and dramatic visualisations  of big  quantitative  data  sets generated by  the procedural methodologies  of natural and social science. The map’s power to abstract and totalise has never been greater, or more accessible.… Read the rest

Last Posts : on the after affects of the archive

This is the text of a talk given to a conference in Belgrade on  ‘Dialoguing between the Posts 2.0’ in June 2019. I am grateful to Spela Zorko and Sanja Petovska for inviting me and for being such convivial hosts.

Introduction

I  am delighted to have been invited to this conference and to have participated in so many interesting discussions, if only because it has taken me out of my  current discomfort zone which is the madness of Brexit and the fact that our next Prime Minister is likely to be an unreconstructed member of  the political  establishment who still thinks Britain is a providential island surrounded on all sides by a sea of foreign disinformation about its future dealings with the world. … Read the rest

IN SEARCH OF THE ANTIPODEAN

This piece was written for Livingmaps Review and appeared in section of the journal entitled News From Point Nemo.  This is a geographical term denoting the most isolated and inaccessible points in the globe. As the journal’s editor at large, I have used this occasion to explore cartographic and other issues which arise from my travels, in this case to Australia and Japan.… Read the rest

WAITING GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

SOME UNSEASONAL THOUGHTS ON  TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY

This year I am giving a  Brexit Advent Calendar to those of my friends who voted to Leave because they thought it would de-stabilise the political class, liberate us from the bureaucratic toils of Brussels and open up the road to socialism in our  small island state. The online calendar depicts the Houses of Parliament as a gothic ruin, and each day as you prise open one its  shuttered windows  you are told to expect one of the Brexiteers  suitably dressed for the occasion.… Read the rest

Pictures from a not quite gone city: A field  trippers rambling guide to San Francisco

Near Views  from Afar

Schoolboys of my generation learnt one thing  that stuck in our minds about San Francisco : earthquakes. The frequent earthquakes which devastated large parts of the city  had something to do with the San Andreas fault and meant  inhabitants  went about in daily dread of the world collapsing about their ears. Later, watching the eponymous  Hollywood  movie featuring  the great 1906  quake  plus Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald  and Spencer Tracy, confirmed this impression of a city living dangerously, on borrowed time, yet with a magical capacity to renew itself : at the end of the film the ruins  dissolve into a modern rebuilt urban landscape.… Read the rest

FOR THOSE ORPHANED LATE IN LIFE – AN UNSEASONABLE XMAS BLOG

In the age of Instagram and Facebook, when people are constantly  ‘updating their status’,  and keeping family and friends ‘in the loop’ about the smallest detail of their everyday lives, a Xmas  blog  looking back and reflecting on the year’s events, both personal and political, must seem  either redundant or an act of self indulgence, along with too many mince pies.… Read the rest

February Blog There goes the neighbourhood

FEBRUARY BLOG :THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – AN URBAN TRIPTYCH

 

1)  Chic by Growl

 

I recently moved into a new neighbourhood in Islington. My flat is  in  a large Peabody Estate, off the Essex Road, quite close to the area which Ruth Glass  made the object of her famous study on ‘gentrification’. I am living in one of the earliest ‘ model dwellings’  built in the 1860’s for the ‘industrious working classes’ by  the great Canadian philanthropist and which  became  an inspiration for the  development of social housing in Britain.… Read the rest