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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: New Utopia
Posted: March 17, 2017 at 7:43 am
Last updated14:30, March 17 2017
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ
Utopia multimedia festival in Huatoki Plaza is set for busy weekend
A new type of festivalthat seemusicians, street artists and sculptors collaborate together to create and showcase their talents has come to New Plymouth.
The Utopia Multimedia festival, which runs till March 26, iscurated by well known New Plymouth art and music festival organiser Anand Rose, sculptor Steve Molloy and artist Phil Jones in conjunction with the New Plymouth District Council.
Rose said the aim of the long running event was to increase the vibrancy in the CBD area through art.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ
Phil Jones' work is well known around New Plymouth.
Although the festival has been running for a weekthis weekend looks set to be a busy one with visitors flocking in from around NZ for the Womad festival .
READ MORE: *Arts snippets: Coming up in Taranaki's arts and entertainment scene *Central city gets 'free taste of Womad' during pop-up concert *Jet-powered push bike can reach speeds of 120kmh
"Womadweekend will be a big one,"Rose said.
"We're really looking forward to hosting people from outside of town and showingthem what we can offer"
ProminentNew Plymouth artist Phil Jones, whose mural ofeelgraces the Huatoki plazaand who is also responsible for turning electricity transformer boxes into works of art, has a studio in the plaza that provides thebackdrop for the festival.
The studio isa vibrant and funkyopenbunker typespace that houses a DJ booth, comfy chairsand an eclectic mix of art work.
"Phil's studio is the perfect environment for the festival, it provides a good indoor/outdoor flow for people," Rose said.
Positive feedback after a successful launch last weekend had organisers optimistic about hosting future festivals, perhaps even expanding.
"We're definitely looking to build on it in the future" Rose said.
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Posted: March 12, 2017 at 8:35 pm
MARCH 11, 2017
THE FLOODS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY revealed a salient fact that wasnt very important before: lower Manhattan is indeed much lower than upper Manhattan, like by about fifty vertical feet on average. In Kim Stanley Robinsons New York 2140, out this month, this now extremely important fact has combined with rising sea levels to transform the city into what its inhabitants have come to call a SuperVenice: a hacked-together improvisation they navigate via water taxis, skybridges, airships, and private boats they store in the ruined lower floors of skyscrapers. The world has recovered from two massive economic depressions following the two Pulses two decades-long periods of rapid sea level rise following major ice-sheet collapses in Antarctica and is now mostly soldiering on again as normal. In fact, New York becomes something of a frontier city again, in its own way a boom town. Flooded with squatters, climate refugees, and other persons rendered undocumented by the midcentury loss of huge swaths of paper and digital records, the city may have lost its crown as the capital of global finance to Denver, but its still one hell of a town. Its doing so well by 2140, in fact, that some of those fantastically rich Denverites, 124 years from now, are even starting to see New York real estate as a buying opportunity, the next great target for re-gentrification.
Where most contemporary histories of the future imagine climate change as either an annoying irritation or else the end of history the disaster that will end civilization in New York 2140 Robinson cuts more of a middle path. Climate change does indeed prove utterly catastrophic in this novel, laying waste to the coastal cities where a startling percentage of the worlds population currently lives, and devastating a huge amount of infrastructure and fixed capital, costing trillions of dollars but humans are incredibly versatile problem-solvers, and we adapt. Technical solutions like sea walls and skybridges are really only the start of what would be necessary in a flooded Manhattan. Think of the immense social changes, the legal, economic, and architectural structures that would need to be innovated when huge areas of major cities are permanently underwater, or indeed become part of the intertidal zone. Even by 2140, nearly 100 years after the start of the crisis, the long work of retrofitting civilization to rising sea levels goes on, and not all of it is even that unhappy; its no secret that the capitalists use the same phrase to denote both crisis and opportunity, creative destruction. Theres even an investment fund keyed to up-to-the-minute oceanographic data, which you can buy, sell, or short based on your predictions of sea level change from tsunamis, storm surge, and other ecocatastrophic fluctuations.
Befitting its setting, the eco in New York 2140 is as much economy as ecology; climate disaster becomes just another black-swan market event no one could have predicted, with winners (mostly rich people) and losers (mostly the rest of us). And true to Robinsons famous political orientation toward utopian speculations, it falls to his 2140 characters to disrupt the cycle of bubble, crash, and bailout that has run nearly uninterrupted across multiple economic depressions since we all got it wrong the first time, way back in 2008. His protagonists are an unlikely group: a couple of homeless hackers, a YouTube-style celebrity, a hedge fund manager, an NYPD detective, a city organizer, a super, some kids all living in the abandoned Met Life building, to which they have somewhat dubious squatters rights. But ingenuity and accident give them an unexpected opening to make a real difference in the larger world, and they decide to grab it.
Unlike seemingly everyone I knew in high school, college, and graduate school, Ive never actually lived in New York City, though I did grow up in New Jersey, and have spent enough time there that I still feel the usual sort of warm glow about the place. To the extent that the East Coast/West Coast divide replicates in science fiction as it does across most contemporary pop cultural genres, Robinson is a Californian sojourning in New York, but to this Jersey kid he got the details impressively right, even down to a sidelong glance at my beloved Meadowlands. At times, the book actually felt a bit over-researched to me, with too many characters talking about what used to be at this site or that, before the flood, but I came to understand that this was not simply as-you-know-Bob overexposition; it was also a token of the immense trauma they and everyone in Future New York is still living through. What else would you think about, as you flew through a strange web of skybridges and ziplines crisscrossing the ruins of what used to be the greatest city in the world? Of course they talk and think often about how things used to be, back when the world was normal. They live with that temporal confusion every day. (I will concede, however, even as an unrepentant Robinson booster, that the people of 2140 seem awfully well informed about nuts-and-bolts details of the 2008 financial crisis.)
It is undeniably clear that Robinsons project has become the construction of a huge metatextual history of the future, not unlike those sagas imagined by Asimov or Heinlein in the Golden Age of Science Fiction, distributed across overlapping but distinct and mutually irreconcilable texts. Each new Robinson book comments on and complicates the vision of the future espoused by earlier ones, typically by refocusing our attention on some heretofore overlooked component of the problem. Here, for instance, an event that featured in the background of his other future histories including the Mars books ice sheet collapse moves to the foreground, while the question of outer space exploration and colonization is now bracketed entirely. Likewise, the question of animals in an era of mass extinction (what one character in New York 2140 calls not the Anthropocene but the Anthropocide) which was a major theme in Robinsons novel 2312 returns here in unexpected ways, some more optimistic but most rather less so. There are decent people trying to make a positive difference by working for government, like in Science in the Capital, and even some hope somehow squeezed out of the United Statess necrotic political process, if you can imagine such a thing. If the narrative situations in these books sometimes coincide, if sometimes the starting points for these stories seem a bit similar, this shouldnt be altogether shocking or offensive to us; to whatever extent the future flows out of physical, biological, and historical law it will be largely path-dependent, and with only so much variation among possibilities.
This formal similarity of possible futures, all branching out from a single history, has often been an explicit concern of Robinsons. He once published a companion to the Mars trilogy in The Martians, which contains stories in which some aspects of the Mars narrative go different ways; he also published an essay, Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions, which spells out several possible futures that might have come out of his alternate history story The Lucky Strike (many of them strongly undercutting the optimism of the original story). This fascination with theme and variation turns out to be unexpectedly manifest in New York 2140 as well, whose opening chapter appeared in modified, alternate-universe form in Fredric Jamesons An American Utopia last summer as Mutt and Jeff Push the Button. Whereas it was oriented toward Jamesons discussion of universal conscription as a vision of a classless anticapitalist utopia in that book, here Mutt and Jeff set the table instead for the revolutionary financial hacks of New York 2140.
Like Galileos Dream, 2312, and Aurora before it, New York 2140 remixes many of Robinsons key futurological themes, once again with a significantly more pessimistic orientation. One of the many competing narrative voices in New York 2140, a historian (or at least history-minded amateur) who is only referred to as a citizen, seems to exist in metafictional relationship with the rest of the text, living in 2140 New York along with the others but simultaneously understanding himself to be part of a constructed and perhaps somewhat tunnel-visioned narrative. The a citizen narrator seems to understand himself to be in a sort of ongoing argument with interlocutors who dont want him to be too pessimistic, who dont want to hear a bunch of boo-hooing and giving-upness, but who also need to be made to understand that there arent actually happy endings in history, just people coming together to make choices that can make things better or make them worse (and so we should strive to make them better). Like most of the recent Robinson novels in what I would call his postScience in the Capital Middle Period and remixing, in different ways, the ends of both 2312 and Aurora New York 2140 ends on a note of strong ambiguity. The heroes have achieved many of their goals but there was no guarantee of permanence to anything they did, and the pushback was ferocious as always, because people are crazy and history never ends, and good is accomplished against the immense black-hole gravity of greed and fear. And out there of course, forever hovering over everything like the sword of Damocles, is the rest of the ice sheet, the climatological monster weve summoned and can neither control nor banish, which could slide into the ocean at any time, and throw everything theyve built into utter chaos once again.
Ive taken the highly unusual and possibly ill-advised step of quoting from very late in the book here because of something that I feel must be said: written before Trumps election and released just after his inauguration, New York 2140 stands as the first major science fictional artifact of the Trump era, anticipating even in its articulation of the conditions of victory the fragility of progress and the likelihood of reversal. The story ends at a moment of upswing (like the pie-in-the-sky optimism of November 2008, which felt at the time like an exhilarating moment of liberation) but how can we not hear in those words not only the disappointing and broken struggle of the actual Obama years but also the screeching, lunatic backlash of the Trump era to which we have now all been condemned? Dont be nave! the a citizen narrator implores us. There are no happy endings! Because there are no endings! And possibly there is no happiness either! I felt for a bit reading New York 2140 that perhaps it was no longer right to call Robinson our last great utopian visionary, as he is so often described; maybe even Stan has finally wised up and realized were all doomed. When the misanthropic voice of H. G. Wells pops up in one of the epigram pages that periodically punctuate the novel, to announce, upon first seeing the Manhattan skyline, What a beautiful ruin it will make! it really felt to me, when reading the novel in the bleak, miserable December of 2016, like the piercing stab of the truth, the real truth. We are going to take this beautiful place and make it a ruin, make everything a ruin until everything is dead. In fact, speaking realistically rather than utopically, we probably already have. Climate change is an intensifying feedback loop we cant interrupt and cant reverse; even if we stopped burning carbon tomorrow, itd probably already be too late to stop most of it, and we wont stop burning carbon, especially not post-11/8. Some version of New York 2140 maybe better, likely much worse seems to be the actual future of our civilization, the one our political leaders and titans of industry and artificially intelligent high-speed-trading algorithms driving the invisible hand of the market have, in their infinite wisdom, chosen for us.
So maybe New York 2140 is a genuinely utopian text after all, insofar as it puts the start of the worst of the disaster in the 2050s, when the crooks who did this to us will all be dead, and Ill be in my 70s, even more bitter and dyspeptic about the state of the world than I am now, if thats possible. In 2052, when Robinson imagines the first Pulse starting, assuming of course Trump doesnt kill us all first, my kids will be 40 and 38, both of them just a little older than I am today. Too bad for them, I guess! Too bad for any kids they might want to have, or any kids those kids will have, or any kids theyll have, or
But of course this isnt the full story either, not all of it. New York 2140 has actually clarified for me my previous misunderstanding of Robinsons intellectual project in his Middle Period, where (it has always seemed to me) we keep getting utopia-but-worse, -and-worse, -and-worse-yet. What is actually happening, I realize now, is more complicated than that. In Benjamins Theses on the Concept of History, he writes of the work of historical materialism as a bid to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger. Robinsons project since the Mars books has been to attempt to seize hold of the future as it flashes up at a moment of danger and say a better world is possible yes, even here, and even here. After all, every second of time, Benjamin says in that same essay, is a gate through which the Messiah might enter.
The passage that solidified this new understanding for me was ironically one in which two characters (the aforementioned Mutt and Jeff) find themselves trapped in a Waiting for Godotesque situation with nothing but time, discussing the past. Once upon a time, the Vladimir says to the Estragon, there was a country across the sea, where everyone tried their best to make a community that worked for everyone.
New York. We then see the Vladimir describe the founding of this New York as a place where everyone could be whoever they wanted to be, where who you were before you got there didnt matter a free place, a beautiful place, a gift. Of course its a place that never fully existed in our bad history, but from time to time we saw its glimmers, and in any event its a place we might have had.
Why didnt anyone live there before? the Estragon asks.
Well, thats another story. Actually there were people there already, I have to say, but alas they didnt have immunity to the diseases that the new people brought with them, so most of them died. But the survivors joined this community and taught the newcomers how to take care of the land so that it would stay healthy forever. Oh oh well. So this is all just another utopian dream, a lullaby, a tale for children, an alternate history not all that unlike the one Robinson himself crafted in his own The Years of Rice and Salt. But despite its what-if nature, its really not so far out of the realm of the possible. The lullaby simply imagines people who are just like us, except they chose to seize hold of utopia, together, in their shared moment of danger. It could have happened! It didnt, alas the colonists chose to accelerate the wretched work of genocide instead but it might have. Even in the world-historical disaster that was first contact between the New World and the Old, even in a time of horrific, unthinkable mass death, we can still find seeds for the utopia that might have been founded then instead. Every moment has those seeds, Benjamin said; ours does too. In this way,New York 2140 truly is a document of hope as much as dread and despair. And its a hope well dearly need in the Anthropocene, the Anthropocide, the Capitalocene, the Chthulucene, postnormality, whatever you want to call the coming bad years that, with each flood and drought and wildfire and superstorm, we have to realize have already begun our own shared moment of danger, as it now begins to wash up over our beaches, breach our levees, flash up at us in an ever-rising tide.
Gerry Canavan is an assistant professor of 20th- and 21st-century literature at Marquette University and the author of Octavia E. Butler (University of Illinois Press, 2016).
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Posted: at 8:35 pm
At one point during our trip to New Zealand, I pedaled next to Carol along the 84-mile long West Coast Cycle Trail near Kumara, New Zealand, and took in the scenery. The grade wasnt awful but since wed been climbing for the past 10 miles we were wondering if wed ever make it to the crest of the hill. Just then a man whizzed past us on the downhill and shouted Free Cake at the Top! Curious, and knowing there was a caf ahead, we redoubled our efforts.
New Zealand was like that. Always something around the corner. We knew New Zealand would be cool. Thats why we decided to go to New Zealand because it would be summer for the first leg of our 5-month overseas adventure, and it was far, far away. We were also cutting the rubber band, that invisible force that keeps small children close to their parents at playgrounds and airports, and adults from getting too far out of our comfort zone.
I expected to be wowed by the beautiful, exotic country and I was. There is no other country Ive seen that packs such sweeping vistas, exotic geology, such a kind people in so small a space. But as much as I was continually stunned by the views that greeted me each day, or warmly welcomed by the Kiwis; the two-island country is not where Id want to live.
The U.S. is my country and despite her flaws, I love everything about her. Others leave for a myriad of reasons, some political and some practical. Last year, 5,411 people voluntarily gave up U.S. citizenship, according to numbers from the U.S. Treasury. Many were already living overseas and became tired of negotiating U.S. bank and tax regulations. But, over 50,000 people in the U.S. looked at the Immigrate New Zealand website the day after the US general election in November. Hopefully, some of those who looked at New Zealand as a harbor in a storm will benefit from our experience.
Before chucking it all and moving to New Zealand, here are a few things everyone should know.
Auckland, New Zealand is 7,623 miles from the center of the U.S. It is tomorrow, today, as we crossed the international dateline just west of American Samoa and east of Tonga near 180 degrees longitude to reach New Zealand. The flight can take as little as 16 hours and as much as two days. The first thing the customs officer asks is, When are you leaving?
New Zealand is split into two islands, about the area of Colorado, and is located along the Ring of Fire upon which most of the active volcanoes lie. The geology is young since the country continues to rise from the ocean due to frequent earthquakes. The 2011 earthquake in Christchurch damaged 100,000 homes, destroying 10,000. The 2016 Christchurch earthquake damaged thousands more and raised the seabed about 18 feet around parts of the coastline. In neighborhoods and along the roads are blue signs indicating tsunami evacuation routes. Tip: If youre threatened by a tsunami climb up.
New Zealand is expensive, even factoring the 18 percent discount we get with the U.S. dollar. While we were riding in Bar Harbor, Maine, we met a man who had planned on biking about eight weeks in New Zealand but left after four.
The beer was too expensive, he said. I ran out of money.
Carol and I cooked most of our own meals while in New Zealand. We found the prices are higher than in the U.S. by a pretty good margin. A can of Old El Paso refried beans cost $5 USD. A can of Libbys pumpkin $4.50 USD. We were surprised that many staples, like peanut butter, $4 USD for 16 ounces, are processed in and imported from China. At the PaknSave (like an Aldi) streaky bacon is $5 USD per pound; ice cream $4.20 USD half-gallon; ground beef $4.20 USD per pound; and boneless chicken breast $3.40 USD per pound.
Carol and I also planned to Wild Camp on public lands to save money during our trip. Wild camping is free. Unfortunately, due to a small percentage of campers who left messes wherever they camped, most districts recently restricted tent camping on public lands and require campers to go to private holiday parks. Those parks charged tent campers $32 USD to $56 USD per night for a spot. Granted, most of those had common kitchens we used, but we found out that an AirBnB, with a soft bed and shower, instead of cold, wet, hard ground, only cost a few dollars more and sometimes less.
New Zealand also promotes bicycle touring, which we did. The infrastructure is not yet there to help the touring bicyclist. We cut our touring short because of four things: We did not agree with the guidebooks characterizations of multiple daily 1,000 foot ascents as rolling hills; there are no shoulders on the roads to protect us from large trucks, tourists in RVs not used to driving on the left side of the road, and our timeline. We simply did not have enough time to ride the distances, safely, that we needed. A bicycle tour in New Zealand should be solely on the bike trails, and there are many and the views are better without the smell of diesel. The rub is that to get from trail to trail the cyclist needs vehicle support, and that drives up the cost.
Even with the expense and remoteness of New Zealand, a reason to move to New Zealand is the people. We were treated with kindness and curiosity about Trump everywhere we visited.
Among the many kindnesses we received was from a bike shop owner. Our last day on Waiheke Island we toured an outdoor art show and Carol got a flat tire, literally the only day we rode without a patch kit. I removed the tire and rode the 3 miles into town to eCyclesNZ. In the back door came Carol and the owner of the shop, Darleen Tana. She and her family had given Carol and her bike a ride into town. We rented the bikes from another shop on the mainland.
I saw the bike missing the wheel and wandered over, Darleen said. I thought maybe it was stolen.
As Andrew, the shop mechanic, put aside his work and fixed the flat, Darleen told us her husband is an automotive engineer by trade but is currently developing the Onya Electric bike. She said they moved to the island to have a better life.
We wanted the children to be able to go to school barefoot, she said.
We thanked them for all their help.
Just tell people to use their local bike shop. Use their local bike shop.
Our expectation of New Zealand as a utopia were unmet, but the generosity and kindness we received from everyone, made the first stage of our trip enjoyable. We biked hundreds of miles, ran a half-marathon midway through for a good cause, and camped by rivers, mountains, and lakes with absolutely stunning views.
As for the free cake at the top there was no free cake or any cake at all. There was just a small American western/cowboy themed resort where we bought sandwiches and ate them.
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Posted: March 11, 2017 at 8:36 am
In the final gallery of Adios Utopia, theres a video of a march through Havana. The marchers are dressed for carnival, but in black instead of in colorful costumes, and they are marching backward, to the music of a brass band. The performance, Irreversible Conga (2012), a work by artists called Los Carpinteros, is suggesting that Cuba is going backward.
The gesture fits the title of the exhibition which will be at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston through May 21. Some artists simply fled the island utopia. Some left after persecution for their work. Some stayed and expressed their views about life on the island through their art. Some are still being persecuted. That experience has kept the artists in this show from preserving a sense of humor.
Discredited for many as a utopia, Cuba is hot as a destination now, and as a source of art, although probably not as hot in Houston as in New York or Miami. Like it or not, youll have to travel to Houston to see the most comprehensive exhibition of Cuban contemporary art on view today.
Adios Utopia will win plenty of friends for these intrepid Cuban artists, but not many for the Cuban government. Not a single work from a Cuban state institution is here. Cuban officials are well aware that any state property can be seized to satisfy outstanding U.S. legal judgments against Cuba. (This explains why the Bronx Museum of Art was not able to host its ambitious plan for loans from the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. A substitute show of Cuban art from other sources is now on view there.)
Most of the works in Houston come from collections outside of Cuba, or from Cuban artists themselves, who can bring their work into the US. Some if it was painted over to avoid problems with Cuban Customs.
A major funder of the exhibition is the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), which is also a major lender and the publisher of the shows massive catalog.
Before you enter the galleries where the exhibition is on view, you see a mournful row of flags mounted on the wall separating the galleries from the rest of the interior. The flags, called Apolitical (2001) by Wilfredo Prieto, are in black and white, bearing witness to a community of nations of which Cuba has always wanted to be a part. The island is isolated today, and not just because of the US embargo.
Isolation is a theme in Adios Utopia, but its a condition that varies in its intensity. In the first galleries, we see abstract works that seem inspired by the paintings of Fernand Leger and Kasimir Malevich. Nothing too political here, but abstract artists went in and out of favor, depending on the politics of the time.
Cuban artists have always had some room to go their own way, as long as their government didnt perceive them to be rocking the boat. Photographs by Raul Corral Varela from 1959 show bearded commandantes sleeping in official buildings. These barbudos, as they were called, were representatives of a peoples army, and they were portrayed that way.
Another style typical of the Castro regimes early days blended Pop Art with Cuban modernism. On the wall is Raul Martinezs group portrait of revolutionary leaders, with Che Guevara in the back row. Also there is the hero from the era of Cuban independence, Jose Marti. In front of them is a self-portrait of Martinez, with his male lover, depicted as two citizens of a new Cuba. Any suggestion of a bond between the two was a risk in a society that persecuted homosexuals. Think of dont ask, dont tell, Havana style.
That honeymoon, if we can call it that, would be over soon enough, and Cuban artists would take on the obvious targets, like the countrys leadership and official rhetoric that they found empty at its core.
Theres a video, Opus, by Jose Angel Toirac, that just shows numbers quoted by Fidel Castro, whose voice declaring those numbers comes over the audio. One painting nearby is of a pot being emptied, and theres a tongue coming out of it. You can guess whose tongue it is.
For America (1986), a small installation by Juan Francisco Elso, is a statue of Jose Marti, standing, covered in dirt. Little red barbs are stuck into his body and into the ground.
Marti (1853-95) is a central figure for Cubans. Hes a martyr to Cuban independence, yet war and martial symbols were not glorified in Cuban art after 1960. Cuban official media did plenty of that. Later, war would be a more complicated subject.
A work of four video frames shown together by Carlos Garaicoa, Four Cubans (1997), shows veterans of Cubas Angola campaigns standing silently in what look like ruins. (Bear in mind that there are a lot of places that look like ruins in Cuba.) The figures are mute because the Angola wars toll on Cubans who fought there is not a subject that Cubans discuss publicly.
Landscape and architecture are themes of choice for Garaicoa, an artist now based in Madrid who travels and exhibits widely. In Adios Utopia, landscape is also a subject for Los Carpinteros, who constructed a lighthouse laid on its side, using scale rather than subtlety to make its point. The lighthouse is not just symbol of vision. Its phallic shape is an unmistakable reference to Cuban machismo.
And theres more landscape. A painting by Alejandro Campins, Born on January 1st (2013), shows the gateway to what was supposed to be a school in a rural setting. Nothing but the gate is there, and the surface of the relatively recent painting has scratches that seem like the scars of age. The legacy of unkept promises? The toll of scarcity?
The isolation of an island nation and sheer scarcity have made recycling a medium in its own right in Cuban art, a kind of arte povera by necessity. An early work in the show is a shrine by Raul Martinez to his father, with a picture of a fisherman in a found frame, with net slung over part of it. The Spanish word for shrine is altar, like the English altar, and Martinezs father has the look of a humble saint.
In Estadistica or Statistics (1995-2000)), a later work by Tania Bruguera, an artist who has been arrested and detained recently, an enormous Cuban flag is assembled of human hair. The suggestion is that scarcity eventually forces its victims to give up parts of themselves.
Sometimes the recycling is of themes rather than materials. A series of cartoonish drawings appropriates the slogans from billboards all over the country, like DEFENSA or PRODUCTIVIDAD.
In Fight, Resist, Win (1989-90), Carlos Rodriguez Cardenas parodies three would-be inspirational words, starting with heroic figures and ending up with some very kinky sex. Thats not what the government had in mind when it asked its citizens to repeat those watchwords.
Thats not the only grotesquery on view, but theres no more than you would find in any exhibition of 100 works of contemporary art.
Adios Utopia, which travels next to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, was originally planned to be shown at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, but the Hirshhorn pulled out, citing budgetary constraints. The shows organizers, among them the collector Ella Cisneros, say they were also turned down in Miami, for political reasons, but that theyll take the show there eventually. I wish them luck. Theyll be more welcome than in Havana.
Posted: at 8:36 am
Given all the chaos and pessimism lately and in light of the fact that with the inauguration of Trump we will be walking into very dangerous times, its perhaps a good moment for a little bit of hope, though the progressive rallies over the last few days certainly make me feel hopeful.
As his inauguration speech made clear, Trumps victory signals the end of the liberal order that has defined the world since the end of the Second World War. An order based on the twin pillars of American hegemony and capitalist economics, a transformation that presents both grave dangers and opportunities to think the world anew.
David Graber managed to articulate what this opportunity meansin a recent issue ofThe Bafflerthough here he was talking about similar political upheavals in the United Kingdom post-Brexit. According to Graber, what marks the teen years of the 21st century is that were starting to finally imagine genuinely radical alternatives to the world we currently live in. He writes:
Its not just the predictable arrival of the economic luminaries to hold court with the new shadow chancelloreveryone from Joseph Stiglitz and Ann Pettifor, to Yanis Varoufakis and Thomas Piketty. Genuinely radical ideas are being debated and proposed. Should the left be pursuing accelerationism, pushing the contradictions of capitalism forward with rapid growth and development, or should it aim toward a total shift of values and radical de-growth? Or should we be moving toward what Novara, the media initiative that emerged from the 2010 student movement, began cheerfully referring to as FALCor Fully Automated Luxury Communismencouraging technologies like 3-D printing to aim for a world of Star Trekstyle replicators where everything is free? Should the central bank enact quantitative easing for the people, or a universal citizens income policy, or should we go the way of Modern Money Theory and universal jobs guarantees?
The question remains of how to give any such new progressive order(s) the light and air they need to survive given the fact that reactionary forces are now in control of all the suffocating powers of the deep state.
One idea making the rounds, and one potential source of hope, is the federal system of US politics itself, which has previously been thepurview of the right.Instead, of conservative defenders of states rightsprogressives might be able to pursue their agenda and protect their populations at the state and local level. Indeed,a movement advocating secession by greens and the lefthas beenslowly growingforat least a decade.
None of which is a bad idea in so far as such initiatives also have a national, and even global, component which succeeds in establishing alliances across civil society to oppose and thwart any component of the Trump administrations policies that threaten to unravel political, social, and economic protections. Combined with such alliances small areas could be used as staging grounds for progressive experiments (such as universal basic income) and examples of trulyjust and sustainable forms of society.
The danger here is that sovereignty continues to be located in the federal government and the Trump administration may use this power to aggressively pursue, under the concealment of nationalism, the same kinds of neo-liberal deconstruction of state protections the US has pushed on less developed countries since the end of the cold war and strangle such experiments in the crib.
More on that another time. Whats important for my purposes now is how the very loss of national control by the progressive movement, for what may prove a very extended period, offers up an opportunity for experimentation on the level of cities and regions that hasnt existed since the New Deal.
One place I think we might look for model of how we could approach this period should be early 19th century utopianism. Like most of us, though for much different reasons, theseutopianswanted nothing to do with the violence required by revolution. The reason in their case being that they had just come through the bloodletting of the French Revolution and had no stomach for a repeat of the Terror, which ultimately ended up in the victory of the right (Napoleon) anyway.
Our own squeamishness to violence might have to do with theprofound change in norms that has occurred since the 19th century, but its just as likely a consequence of the fact that to engage in violence, by which I dont mean punchingneo-Nazis in the facebut going toe-to-toe with the power apparatus of the security state, is to oppose the state where it is at its strongest, and therefore merely ends up bolstering what Nietzsche so brilliantly called that coldest of all cold monsters along with elites dependent on the power of the state who use revolutionary violence, or even the mere hint of it, as a justification for further oppression.
Violencemay have lost its effectiveness as a means of propelling political change because, having lost all of itsauthority, the state rests on little but the threat of even greater levels of violence,a form of power which has now beenlargely mechanized.The key towards the future is thus not revolution but lies in establishing new sources of real authority assuming, that is, one has given up onsaving the Republic itself.
Also like the 19th century utopians we find ourselves at the very beginning of a technological and social transformation which potentially could make real the dream of utopians from time immemorial, that is, the dream of a world free of scarcity, poverty and the necessity that most of adult life be consumed by work.
The fact that automation and resource constraints present both utopian and dystopian possibilities which are matters of political choice and therefore our capacity to ultimately decide the type of society in which we want to live is the subject of another popular bookFour Futures: Life After CapitalismbyJacobineditor Peter Frase.
Even whenacknowledging the degree of hype around todays artificial intelligenceand its threat to employmentalong with its often overly optimistic or pessimistic timeline (depending on ones perspective) its clear that the need for human labor to achieve current levels of production and services is either declining or on is the verge of a sharp decline.
While looking to the future is surely among the best thing we can do in our circumstance it is always helpful to explore the space ofpossibilities open to us by reflecting on the past, for we have been in quite a similar situation before. As early as 1802, as seen in James Reynolds utopian novelEquality, it was recognized that the application of machine power when combined with new ways to organize labor were going to usher in an unprecedented period of abundance with the question being how the proceeds of such a leap in productivity were to be distributed.
Reynolds was only among the first in what would be a golden age of utopianism much of which tried to establish a balance between the tradition needs and aspirations found in society and the new age of the machine. Because of its status as a frontier and the birthplace of the democratic age in the early 19th centurythe US became the staging ground for a number of these utopian experimentsmany of which had originated in Europe. No book is perhaps better at giving us a tour of this utopian landscape than the recentParadise Now: the story of American Utopianismby Chris Jennings.
In part the upsurge in utopian experiments in the early 19th century was driven by renewed millenarian expectations as seen in groups such as the Mormons and especially the Shakers whose austere aesthetic makes them appear almost modern. Yet experiments in religious utopianism had been tried before. What made the 19th century truly different was that it was the first time utopias based on solely secular ideas were attempted and thus anticipated the way in which the 20th century would be defined in terms of rival secular ideologies rather than a religious tensions and conflict.
The most widely known of these early 19th century utopians was of course the British industrialist and reformer, Robert Owen. The son of a saddler, Owen moved to Manchester when he was seventeen- in 1788- which was the equivalent of moving to Silicon Valley in 1970, for Manchester was among the first places on earth to feel the effects of the industrial revolution:
The new textile machines churned out unprecedented profits and material abundance but they did so by eroding traditional economies, squeezing out the artisan class, and forcing everyone into the factories. (89)
Owen respond very differently to the social effects of industrial technologies than than his contemporaries the Luddites who chose to smash the machines as a tool of immiseration. Instead Owen saw in technology the beginnings of a new type of abundance if only human beings could get the political and social questions right.
By 1799, by then a budding industrialist, Owen bought a massive textile mill in New Lanark Scotland. It became his vehicle for social experiments and transformation, a first step in creating what Owen calledThe New Moral World.
At New Lanark Owen halted the employment of orphans, sold coal and fuel to the workers at cost rather than for profit. He established a workers savings bank along with a free medical clinic. He planted community gardens and provided created an insurance fund. He also paid wages even during crises when the factory was idle.
The price for all this, for the workers, was a loss of privacy and self-direction. Owen policed worker behavior and was especially keen on preventing drunkenness and adultery by his employees with a degree of paternalism only utopians are capable of. In spite of these obligations still left Owens operation extremely profitable.
This divergence from other factory owners who treated their workers as disposabletalking animalsemploying children, paying subsistence wages and failing to provide any insurance, or other form of social support was just the beginning.
In 1816 Owen established at The Institute for the Formation of Character in New Lanark which educated children of the community as young as 2, and offered enrichment courses to adults during the evenings. In the school Owen banned religious instruction, rote learning, and corporal punishment and aimed to foster what theRousseau inspiredOwen believed were the natural virtues of the individual- virtues which had been crushed by the form of civilization his experiments aimed at finding an alternative to. (91- 92)
In 1825 Owen began an even more ambitious project to test his ideas this time in New Harmony Indiana. His settlement attracted intellectuals and reformers who hoped to realize Owens dream of a society founded on equality and shared prosperity. The communist reformer who publicly denounced organized religion visited sitting and ex-presidents and spoke before a Congress that was at least politely open-minded in the face of his radical views. Jennings reflects that:
The fact that Owens ideas were given a civil hearing suggest that in 1825, American capitalism had not yet secured itself as a sacrosanct national ideology. (110)
In terms of openness to different socio-economic models weve only gone backwards since the founding. Though in terms of racial inclusion (New Harmony excluded non-whites), we are light years ahead of the 19th century.
Yet, despite Owens renown New Harmony proved extremely short lived, the experiment having ended by 1827 largely due to its failure to attract and retain the kinds of skilled laborers that might have made the community viable.
Fourierism is yet another early 19th century utopian movement Jennings helps uncover. Based on the ideas of Charles Fourier, the French thinker who was both a genius and very much a loon who imagined a lemonade sea. Despite, perhaps because of his weirdness, Fourier managed to get much about the future strangely right such as his idea that individuals should pursue employment in those tasks they believed emotionally resonated with their character, that human sexuality was nothing to be ashamed of, that destructive instincts, rather than be suppressed, should be harnessed for the good of society, and that human happiness and the full expression of human capabilities is the very purpose of society, all these things strike us as modern.
Eventually, Fouriest ideas for individual utopian communities which he call a phalanx would spread into prominent groups of American utopians including the artistic and intellectual commune of Brook Farm, which became a sort of temporary home and mecca for Transcendentalists like Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote a satire on its pleasures and folly.
In addition to these Jennings informs us about the Icarian movement founder by another French philosopher tienne Cabet which Jennings thinks did indeed have many of the pro-totalitarian flaws liberals normally associate with the word Utopia. Icarian communities based on Cabets novelVoyage et aventures de lord William Carisdall en Icariewere not only among the first stirrings of communism, Cabet even gave the movement its name and Lewis Mumford would find more similarities between Icarians and Soviet communists than anything he found in Marx. (259)
It is how Jennings understands the decline of the utopian movement in America during the latter half of the 19th century that I think has the most relevance for us today. Utopianism declined not so much because the hope for a more just social order declined (indeed, the Civil War even in light of its carnage became a war for a more just order), but because the locus of reform shifted from the local level to that of the national state. Rising middle class prosperity (created through both rapid growth and the labor movement) likewise diminished the desire for utopian experiments because American society had succeeded in achieving many of its dreams. One should include here the fact that the kinds of sexual equality imagined by many of the utopians was also achieved through the movement for suffrage combined with social change.
For Jennings no utopian moment in America has come close to that of the early 19th century, and he sees thecommunalism of the 1960sas an attempt at escape from technological society rather than create a different, better, and more human future.
The alternative to not seeing the human world as something constructed by our choices is to either succumb to fatalism or to misconceive our moral project as the construction of a never existent past. Without any possible knowledge of Trump and his voters Jennings foresaw our year of Make America Great Again:
Instead of articulating extravagant dreams about the future, let alone experimenting with those dreams, we have made our past into a sort of utopia: a high white wall onto which we project our collective longings and anxieties. (382)
Weve been drawing the wrong lessons from the past all along.
Rick Searle, an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, is a writer and educator living the very non-technological Amish country of central Pennsylvania along with his two young daughters. He is an adjunct professor of political science and history for Delaware Valley College and works for the PA Distance Learning Project.
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A modern utopia: Inside the UK’s first women-only housing community – International Business Times UK
Posted: March 8, 2017 at 1:44 pm
At the end of the Northern line in London is a block of new-build flats but it's not your average, overpriced new build, it is a spacious and affordable haven for older women.
It's not a commune, nor is it sheltered housing, but a new phenomenon dreamed up by women in the Netherlands: co-housing for women.
The building, around a ten-minute walk from High Barnet station, is called New Ground and it is run by Older Women's Co-Housing (OWCH), a group of women over 50 who created their own community as an alternative to living alone.
It all started when Maria Brenton, a former university lecturer, realised the needs of older women living on their own when she was researching old age.
Women live longer than men and many have fewer resources because of a variety of factors, from the cost of childcare responsibilities to lower-paid work.
Taking inspiration from the Netherlands, where the idea for co-housing originated, Brenton found a group of women in London were interested in the project and it took off from there.
Co-housing is about keeping women active and engaged, while tackling the loneliness and social isolation felt by so many older women who live alone. "What we basically believe is that this way of living, where people have this sense of agency, where they feel in charge of their own lives, keeps people more motivated, happier and healthier.
"Someone will bump into someone at the front door and say 'I'm off for a fish and chip supper at the pub down the street' and they'll say, I'll come I'll get my coat!"
The building, complete with landscaped gardens and an orchard, was finished towards the end of 2016. It offers 17 flats for sale, the largest of which have three bedrooms and cost around 400,000, alongside eight for social rent. The landlord for the rented flats is a small housing association called Housing for Women.
For the social housing, none of the money comes from public money it is from the Tudor Trust, which supports voluntary and community groups in the UK. It also receives financial support from the Hanover Housing Association.
"This is a mixed tenure group there are leaseholders and social renters," Brenton says. "The group was adamant from the beginning that it shouldn't just be for women who had housing wealth, but for women who couldn't afford to buy their own homes."
"Often people say, isn't it the same as sheltered housing for older people? It really isn't. The difference is that it's the group that's in charge here. We run it, we manage it. All the decisions are taken by the group together."
When Clare Martin moved into New Ground Co-housing at the beginning of January, she reaped the benefits of living in a close-knit community immediately.
"It was fairly hellish for the first few days because my heating wasn't working but immediately my neighbours lent me their electric heaters. One of my neighbours cooked a meal for me. You feel so supported it's fantastic. I love it."
Like others in the group, Martin joined OWCH because she found things hard on her own. "Things like, who will take you for a hospital appointment and who's going to look after the cat," she says. "And I really liked all the women when I met them I just thought they were wonderful and I wanted to be there with them."
Having lived in her house for 27 years, it was understandably difficult to leave but Martin isn't the only one to have benefited. "I left my house, which was a four bed house, and it was freed up and there is now a family with three kids there. So I think it's an idea that's time has come now that there is a housing shortage."
To be considered for a place at New Ground, membership is mandatory. It costs 60 a year and newcomers are approved by existing members.
The ages of residents ranges from 50 to a sprightly 87-year-old woman called Hadie. Some people are still working including Hadie, who tucks away confidential papers when we arrive at her spacious flat. Those renting flats tend to be younger and two of them are refugees from Iran.
There is a mix of women living at New Ground Co-housing. "Two are a married couple, the rest of single, widowed, divorced, never married, some lesbian, a right old mix really," Brenton says.
There are some rules that can't be broken namely, that only women can live there. If a resident was dating a man, he could come a stay but couldn't move in. "If they wanted to set up together permanently, she would have to move out," Brenton says. This decision was made by the group.
Each flat is large and has a kitchen and bathroom, but the building has a common room and a dining room, as well as a communal kitchen. There are several policies to keep everything running smoothly, such as a mutual support document and a conflict resolution policy. Everyone pitches in when it comes to looking after these communal areas and there is a task force for the garden.
Most importantly, each woman is independent. "They look out for each other not after each other," Brenton says. "If somebody needs personal or professional care, they need to get it from the right place. But day to day, someone needs to take the dog out for a walk, someone to bring you lunch, or do shopping they do all that for each other."
"It's about keeping their autonomy. And they're a group of women who don't like being done unto."
Vivien Sheehan, who used to work as a PA, moved into New Grounds in mid-December. She heard of OWCH three years ago when visiting a friend in the area.
"I'd had a period of illness and I realised at that time that I didn't have close friends living near me," she says. "I was lucky that friends came to help me out, but no close neighbours. This seemed an ideal community and I liked the idea of we all look after each other and we can do things for each other."
The best thing about women's co-housing? "I think being with like-minded people when you want to be, you can join in with what's going on, but you can close your door and be on your own. I think also some of the tasks we do last week we had an open day for the neighbours it was really fun, like preparing for a party.
"And just sharing things, I used to get fed up with gardening but when you're doing it with other people, it's just more fun. I think we'll all just keep going a bit longer than we would have done otherwise."
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Just how pathetic is the contemporary Republican Party?
So pathetic that it voted dozens of times to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having any coherent idea of, or consensus about, what it wanted to pass as an alternative (despite repeated claims to the contrary).
So pathetic that it committed itself to passing a replacement bill on an arbitrary deadline that ensured the end result would be filled with flaws that experts on its own side could identify within a few hours.
So pathetic that it appears not to have realized that an army of conservative activists and right-wing health-care wonks, along with a bevy of Republican politicians, would respond to the American Health Care Act with open disdain.
So pathetic that some liberal commentators have speculated (in a half-serious way) that House Speaker Paul Ryan must have intended for the AHCA to go down in flames, since he couldn't possibly be inept enough to oversee such a debacle of a rollout. (For the record, I don't think Ryan is anywhere close to being clever enough to pull off something of that scope.)
On health care, Republicans know one thing: They despise the ACA with a blinding fury. But beyond that, they have no idea what to do.
How do we know that? Because the AHCA is a sloppy, muddled mess of a bill that's seemingly designed to please no one, except for rich people who want their taxes lowered. (In which case it's hard to understand why the House didn't simply pass a deficit-financed tax cut for upper income families and leave the ACA alone.)
Aside from the perfunctory tax cut, there's really nothing in the bill to satisfy the desires of the hardcore libertarian faction of the GOP that very clearly does know what it wants namely, a "free market" system of health care for everything except bare-minimum catastrophic coverage. That's been the notional goal of Republican reformers at least since the ACA passed in 2010.
The only problem is that the transition to a more market-based system would inflict enormous pain on many millions of Americans who carry forms of insurance that are made available and affordable by the heavily regulated and subsidized system we currently have. Now, some of the Ayn Rand-quoting libertarian true believers who make up the House Freedom Caucus would undoubtedly vote for a such a bill, no matter how much suffering it imposed. Ideologues are like that. But most politicians are far too self-interested to willingly die for a cause.
And so we have the bill unveiled Monday, which, as several commentators on the right have pointed out, keeps the general architecture and assumptions underlying ObamaCare intact while merely fiddling with a lot of the details. Don't get me wrong: Those adjustments will likely hurt plenty of people, though probably a lot fewer than a switch to a genuine market-based approach would have done. But it's hard to estimate precisely what the AHCA's real-world costs or fiscal effects might be because Ryan has decided to move ahead with marking up the bill without first getting it scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
So this is where the Republicans find themselves: trying to pass a bill that's unpopular with the right for compromising too much with ObamaCare and unpopular with moderates for inflicting too much pain on voters. And they're doing all of this while groping around in the dark because Ryan wants to keep the CBO out of the loop (no doubt partly out of fear of provoking even more opposition from the party's deficit hawks, for example).
It's a mess and a completely self-inflicted one.
And that's without even mentioning the extra-large serving of Republican mess that is Donald Trump.
The president described the bill as "wonderful" in a tweet, but he can't possibly be happy with how the rollout has unfolded so far. That's not just because he craves praise and bridles at bad press. It's also because, in the scheme of the contemporary Republican Party, Trump is a radical leftist when it comes to health-care policy.
One reason many rank-and-file Republicans and conservative-movement intellectuals originally denounced Trump as a closet liberal is that he once supported a single-payer system an option so far out in the direction of outright socialism that even Barack Obama and his Democratic majorities didn't dare seriously consider it back in 2009. Trump doesn't explicitly advocate such a radical reform today, but he alone among leading Republicans still talks in terms of providing "insurance for everybody." Trump and the Freedom Caucus may agree, for utterly mysterious reasons, that ObamaCare is an unmitigated "disaster," but they agree about very little else. Bridging that gap may well prove impossible.
The really interesting question is what Trump will do if the AHCA collapses (as it already appears likely to do). Will he encourage the writing of and play a bigger role in drafting a new "replacement" bill that cuts coverage for millions of Americans? Or will he turn on Ryan and much of the rest of his party, demanding that they scrap ObamaCare, not for a free-market utopia but for a single-payer system that provides open access to health care for all Americans?
Such a move would likely tear the GOP apart, while gaining Trump many surprising new allies in the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.
Will it happen? When a party becomes as incoherent as the Republican Party is today, anything is possible.
Posted: March 7, 2017 at 10:46 pm
TIME AFTER TIME Pilot Using the 1979 novel and movie as a launching point, Time After Time chronicles the adventures of a young H.G. Wells, as he travels through centuries, decades and days in the time machine he created. In the pursuit of the charismatic (yet secretly psychopathic) Dr. John Stevenson, better known as Jack the Ripper, Wells arrives in modern day New York City, searching for Stevenson after the doctor escapes authorities in Wells London home. But instead of the Utopia he imagined, Wells finds a world more aligned with Stevensons temperament in a series charged with danger and adventure, and centered in thrills, satire, humor and most of all, an epic love story, SUNDAY, MARCH 5 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Sarah Shatz) FREDDIE STROMA, JOSH BOWMAN
What: Premiere of series based on 1979 film about the novelist H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper into the future to stop him from killing, starring Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman.
When: 9 p.m. Sunday. Two episodes air back to back.
After Once Upon a Time, ABC is airing back-to-back episodes of its new series Time After Time.
Its the sixth time travel series this season, although to be fair the new show is a reboot of the 1979 movie from Nicholas Meyer, which starred Malcolm McDowell as the novelist H.G. Wells, who wrote The Time Machine. The premise is that the writer had really invented a time machine, but that his friend Dr. John Stevens (David Warner) steals it to go to the future when it is discovered he is the real Jack the Ripper. The movie worked as a charming escapist romantic thriller as Wells meets a bank teller (Mary Steenburgen) looking for an old-fashioned guy.
The reboot from Kevin Williams (Scream) isnt quite so charming. It begins very much the same with Wells (Freddie Stroma) in pursuit of Stevens (Josh Bowman) in present-day New York City.
The Ripper takes off into the city, where he finds after watching the news, including President Trumps dark vision of America hes in a world where he belongs, even calling himself an amateur when it comes violence.
Wells, however, meets Jane Walker (Genesis Rodriguez), an assistant museum curator, who eventually helps him after he is hit by a car. The first episode is much like the movie, but by the second episode the new show stakes out new territory.
Wells, we find, travels to other points in history. We meet his descendant Vanessa Anders. Shes an heiress who owns the museum housing the time machine and has a number of security men to aid Wells. The plan of the series is to explore other of Wells creations, including The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau.
The original movie worked because Wells was played as a man out of time and Steenburgens character longed for a gentleman while still wanting to be a modern woman.
The new series doesnt let that relationship ripen enough; so it ends up diving too quickly into violence and sci-fi fantasy to get its grounding. There is little chemistry between the principals, though that is not really their fault. They need a little more time together in less frantic moments for that. There is a hint at the end of episode two all that was available to review that would happen. Otherwise, Time After Time is too much repeat and rinse.
Posted: March 6, 2017 at 3:39 pm
Freddie Stroma as H.G. Wells, makes this face for approximately 60% of the two-hour premiere. Image: ABC.
Guys, I like bad things. I grew up on bad movies and Mystery Science Theater 3000, and now, in this new Golden Age of TV, somehow I still find time to get obsessed with certain terrible TV shows. After last night, Im happy to report a new favorite: Time After Time.
My interest in Time After Time exists because Im a fan of its source material, the 1979 movie starring Malcolm MacDowell as H.G. Wells and David Warner as Jack the Ripper. The TV show has almost exactly the same premise: Jack flees to the future to escape the law in Wells time machine, Wells follows. In the movie Wells hooks up with a bank teller played by Mary Steenburgen and chases Jack through 1970s San Francisco, while in the show Wells meets an assistant museum curator named Jane Walker and chases Jack through 2017 New York City.
The movie isnt bad as much as it is deeply goofy, while Time After Time the TV show manages to be both. As Wells, actor Freddie Stroma is both guileless and clueless, looking at every aspect of the modern age with childlike delight or childlike dismay. Josh Bowmans Jack the Ripper has nothing that ties his character to 19th century England, which is actually supported by the storyhe figures out not only how to use a burner phone, but why a serial killer would want to use one, within 24 hours of his arrival 120 years in the future. Wells, meanwhile, is hit by a taxi.
Honestly, between Wells as a scientifically-minded simpleton and Jacks preternatural ability to adapt to the future, Time After Time could almost be an action-comedy, except, you know, for Jack graphically murdering people. Given that Jane Walker is literally the first person he meets upon arriving in the future, Wells immediate infatuation with her is more embarrassing that adorable. Janes decision to let a confused stranger sleep over at her house is a spectacularly bizarre, terrible decision. Jack seems to kidnap Jane and hold her hostage several dozen times over the two-hour premiere, although Wells great grand-daughter shows up to help himas ordered by an older Wells himself, who visited her back in collegebut is still as baffled as everyone else at whats happening.
You have to be a peculiar person to find characters making a series of bad and inexplicable decisions entertaining, but between my affinity for entertainingly bad things and the original movie, Im going to keep watching. It helps that the show has promised a great deal more insanitytime travel through various timelines; the possibility that Jane may be able to convince Jack the Ripper that maybe he doesnt want to murder all those women; some kind of shadowy organization that Wells feels is more evil than Jack the Ripper, perhaps necessitating that they team upthat I am genuinely eager to see what nonsense lies in store.
I suppose time will tell! Yes, its a bad joke, but its one I expect Time After Time to use repeatedly. And this is something Im absolutely fine with.
One thing the show also kept from the movie was Wells belief that the future would be some kind of socialist utopia. Both were very disappointed to discover the reality, but only Time After Time the TV series had a scene with Wells sitting at a bar, watching the news on four TV screens at onceeach discussing a terrorist attack, a school shooting, the threat of nuclear apocalypse, and then general murderwith a single tear rolling down his cheek. It was hilarious.
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Posted: March 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm
Father John Misty debuted his latest track off the upcomingPure ComedyonSaturday Night Live,where he performed Total Entertainment Forever, a song that opens with the line, Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift.
He follows in the footsteps of another musician who has referenced the pop star in that way: Kanye West, who rapped, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous onThe Life of Pablos Famous. That lyric made headlines as soon as West premiered the track at a Madison Square Garden event in February 2016, something Misty n Josh Tillman is likely alluding to here.
Tillman spoke withExclaim!about the track Sunday, and though he didnt mention Famous, he did elaborate on the meaning behind his own Swift-centric lyric: Human civilizations have been entertaining themselves in disgusting ways all through human history I mean, whether its lighting Christians on fire, or whatever, he said. We have to consider that maybe there are ways in which we entertain ourselves now that are equally as disturbing.
The fact of the matter is, I dont want that to happen to Taylor Swift, he continued. That is the worst thing I can think of; that is so horrible. But again, this plays into progress, where like, the internet was supposed to be this new democracy, a utopia of information where everyone had a voice and we were all interconnected, and we would experience true democracy and it turned into pornography, followed only by outrage. The tools represent some kind of technological advancement, but if we cant act like more than angry ecstasy freaks with the most advanced technology in the world, then how much have we really progressed?
Hear Total Entertainment Forever above.Pure Comedyarrives April 7.
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