Category Archives: Pondering

Socialism may just Save the World (for now) – only very slightly, and not directly, linked with The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

In light of the Covid-19 stuff that’s going on right now, there are three things worth pausing over:

Commonality. Knowing that this virus does not appear to discriminate brings the possibility for renewed connection. Maybe life’s too short to hate. It’s probably too valuable to keep doing things the way we have. Wars, weapons, greed, etc., all seem fairly crass at a time like this (yet their effects are long-lasting and far-reaching).

Community. Though there are always stupid people amongst us, the vast majority of things I’m seeing and hearing about are tales of positivity – people being kind and compassionate to one another. People willing to help others in a time of need.

Communication. Fortunate that we do not have to live within our own limited bubbles, modern technology offers the chance to connect and engage with like-minded people around the globe. Feeling that there are others who think, feel, care the way we do can bring great comfort.

And as capitalism ceases to function (though, perhaps, temporarily), brought to its knees in a matter of weeks, it’s worth reflecting on the derivation of the three words above. They are all linked. In many ways they are lynchpins of capitalist society (certainly the latter two), yet society seems reluctant to acknowledge this fact. Anyhoo… stay safe, comrades.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Roosevelt Diggin’ the Commie Vibes- The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

The central tenet of Adam Curtis’ The Century of the Self (Part One): Happiness Machines is that Freud’s theories around human ‘drives’ are used to underpin the Capitalist system throughout the 20th century – appeal to the most base elements of humankind and you can sell them all the stuff you wish (and profit financially in the process). Curtis documents facts around Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who influenced big business in the U.S. in all manner of Freudian thinking around ideas of consumerism – not mentioned is Ernest Dichter, a disciple of Freud’s, who functioned in a similar manner. Now, this is one way of going about things, using marketing, advertising, public relations, and so on, to influence consumers, but it’s condescending at best, and just plain manipulative at worst. Edward Bernays’ daughter, Ann, sums this up as the planned wedding together of democracy and Capitalism, in order that it be inconceivable for anyone to think that democracy could ever survive without a Capitalist system to protect it.

Curtis positions Roosevelt and the ‘New Deal’ in opposition to this, stating that Roosevelt understood the benefits of not treating members of the public as ‘passive consumers’ – Roosevelt preferring to engage with the masses as ‘active citizens’ capable of thinking for themselves (and of the needs of others). Now, Roosevelt was no saint (his ‘deal’ did not apply to all citizens, obviously), but what Roosevelt actioned/approved/sanctioned during this period is akin to the early years of Lenin’s Russia (though starting from a much more advanced position, technologically and ideologically), and thus I find it very hard for anyone to argue against the fact that Roosevelt used the mechanisms of Communist thought to lift the U.S. out of the doldrums it found itself in during the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ was born of Leftist thinking, a crazy bastard-child of democracy and socialism. Comrade Roosevelt’s vision underpins the logic of Communist ideals – the P.O.T.U.S. ensures that state funding provides work, and security, and prospects. That’s not how Capitalism works. That’s not how the ‘markets’ wish to operate. F.D.R. was RED. That’s for sure. Discuss.

If you have stuff to say about Adam Curtis’ works, or have ideas that spring from them, you should email: Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Theaster Gates – Amalgam

On at Tate Liverpool as a special exhibition, Theaster Gates’ Amalgam ebbs and flows in the way it conveys the horrors that U.S.A. administration policy visited upon the people of Malaga, a small island off the coast of Maine in the early 1900s.

There are, however, some joyful elements to take from Gates’Amalgam, and it will be up to each individual to find these.

The smell of the Ash pillars is one such element. Get up close. Press nostrils to the wood. Inhale the uniquely vibrant stench of death.

The other element is contained in Gates’ multi-media film that runs on loop.

For a few brief moments two individuals stare (at one another). The look is (enough). The connection pure. This, for anyone who has ever felt it, is the moment a heart feels (like it’s to burst). As you catch another’s stare. Something fixes (the gaze). It is a back and forth. (It is). And you are lost, if only for a brief spell. Unable to look away. Almost unable (to breathe). All else fades (from view). And upon averting one’s gaze, for that has to happen at some point, that person seems to live within you. They are all (you see). The memory of features (imprinted). Recalled (at will). A vital presence. Carried (within). Felt )without(.

malaga_frame_27_1

(For my friend).


What does Art do?

Depending on where and how you view art, and then again, what type of art you’re viewing, the effect it has on a viewer might be different. I can recall many standout moments from established, world-famous galleries, such as the Tate Modern showing of Rothko’s ‘Four Seasons’paintings, or Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’, for instance.

But what about the pop-up shows, the shoestring-budget shows, the ones where selling stuff isn’t the primary objective? Well, after mulling one of these shows over for a couple of weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that the main effect I experienced is that of thinking… What am I meant to think? Am I being guided by the artists to think? Or am I thinking anew because of what I’ve seen? And even… what have I just seen – what’s its purpose?

And thinking is never a bad thing, so, the overall result on a person’s psyche must be impactful at the very least. If it stays with you, as this show has, its effect will be long-lasting and far-reaching (assuming that I’m not the only one still thinking about it (the show)).


The International Adam Curtis Society – Inaugural Post #AdamCurtis

As self-appointed President of The International Adam Curtis Society, I reach out in a gesture of goodwill to worldwide admirers of Adam Curtis’s works. Join the society, and help, as a collective, to push the next phase of human evolution by engaging with Adam Curtis’s works via the written word. Specifically, the task of all society members is to break free from the constraints of ‘hauntology’ and ‘individualisation’ – both terms that Adam Curtis uses to describe the stuck state all of Western society finds itself in.

As President I will direct the society’s agenda on a monthly basis, seeking engagement from members in the form of guest blog posts, tweets, etc., that will appear, initially, as part of the textual silence project until a dedicated website can be set up. Such writings will discuss aspects of Adam Curtis’s works, with the aim of shattering the widespread public apathy that currently exists, and which leads, inevitably, to a kind of atrophy induced by a rapacious capitalist system that seeks to nullify all existential threats to its existence.

The work you are tasked with as a member of The International Adam Curtis Society is serious and you are unlikely to reap any reward from it in your lifetime. However, remember Adam Curtis’s comments on The Civil Rights Movement of 1960s’ America, where he remarks that people the world does not know the names of are the people who did the real work of the movement. Such work is arduous. But it is important. Follow in their footsteps. Be glorious in word and deed. Seek nothing in return, other than a better world for all human and non-human animals.

In the spirit of past movements a Manifesto will be drawn up, but this will take time. Meanwhile, take the following memory of mine as the foundation from which all action shall spring:

Growing up as a child in 1970s Britain, born into a working class community, and regularly exposed to the glitz and glamour of American TV programmes, a devastating blow was dealt to me as a five or six year old. It was the realisation that I would never grow up to meet my childhood hero: Captain Buck Rogers of the 25thCentury. This may sound laughable, but the dawning comprehension that I would need to live for over 500 years (an impossible task) shattered my childhood, thrusting me into a period of seriousness that exists to this very day (and yes, I soon realised that he was a fictional character, but nevertheless, it’s the spirit of the memory that I want you to retain). And so the spirit is this – it is that we can live free from imposed boundaries, we can reach for new worlds, we can concentrate human intellect on a far larger goal than profits and trinkets, and that we can utilise the age of technological advancement to resign late stage capitalism to a footnote of human evolution. Fear and hate and discrimination and violence and profiteering have no place in this quest. Love and empathy and understanding and peacefulness and commonality, for both human and non-human animals, must be our guiding light, here.

If you wish to join The International Adam Curtis Society, comment on this post in the first instance, or send an email to Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk. And remember… we are about to create something new in the world, where power struggles, the language of war and hierarchies, the practices of profiteering have no place.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Spare a Thought #LivLitFest 2019

Is there a room where the famous writers can retire following the public event? I hope so. They’re all in attendance, supporting each other—it’s a veritable feast of literary dining for the paying public—but most wear a wearied look, forced to perform. You have to look closely to see it. They’re smiling, sure, but a commercial mask, a veneer separating them from the gathered crowd—the quiet, reserved members of the public, and the annoying, needy ones alike. A relatively new form of low for the literary geniuses must be the ‘posing for a selfie’ craze. There’s the mandatory line for book signings. Fair enough, you expect that. But now it’s not just a signature and polite chat with each person in the queue. Now, they come round to your side of the table. Most without even asking. They just assume it’s fine. They don’t see it as an invasion of your personal space, where you get to smell them, whether you want to or not, as phone swipes into camera mode. Wine on breath. Lipstick on lips. Perfume squirted goodness knows where. Lingering odour of tea (dinner). Faint waft of gum disease. They want to put their arms around you. You have to smile, look pleased to be a part of this. It seems to take an eternity. It’s rather unpleasant. I’m next in line. I can see the author’s utter distaste for this, but they’ve bought a book, so what are you gonna do? I offer to take the picture, so it’s not really a selfie. This, for two reasons. One: it makes a nicer picture for the couple in front of me. They both get to be in the frame with their literary idol. Two: it speeds the process, saving the literary genius from sitting through more of this torture. You see it in the eyes of the literary genius. Like a cow, drained of milk. Teets sore, struggling to lactate. That’s what the smile looks like. It’s a smile, but not a smiling smile. Aiming to please, you can see that, but the reality of the situation seeps through. You have to ask yourself… Is any amount of money worth this? My name, yes, it’s…


Definitely a Survivor, Not a Victim #MeToo #RapeCulture

In the coming weeks, having recently revealed her identity for the first time, Chanel Miller, the survivor of an horrific sexual assault, of which she has no actual memory because she was unconscious at the time, will speak publicly about life following Brock Turner’s decision to sexually assault her instead of helping her (which you’d imagine would be an automatic response at seeing a person unconscious on the ground, but as we know, Brock Turner’s first thoughts were not that he should help but that he should try to remove her clothes and rape her – only stopped by two passers-by who were actually willing to help Chanel Miller in her unconscious state (personally, I don’t think that I’m overdoing it stressing that point)).

There are a number of issues to be raised here, but first and foremost our thoughts must turn to the fact that Chanel Miller had no choice in what happened that night, and that she has had to live with the consequences of Brock Turner’s decision to sexually assault her, and she has lived that form of private hell ever since, and now she is about to relive it all in public, with everyone who wishes to know about such things having access to the most personal details of her life, which will be incredibly stressful at the very least.

And this is where #MeToo (and its earlier incarnation) and awareness of #RapeCulture are key to educating current and future generations in order that people stop doing such terrible things to other people. The ramifications of such acts are long lasting, and forcing ourselves, and others, to think about how a person can dehumanise another person in order to satisfy whatever urge they feel at that moment in time is a step towards ending inhumane behaviour. Chanel Miller should have been helped, not sexually assaulted, and it is to her credit that she is willing to speak up to help others.

As this is the time of year where youngsters start college/university life, many living away from home for the first time, it is important to spread the message that no matter how intoxicated a person may be, and no matter the clothes they wear, and no matter the areas through which they walk, whether alone or accompanied, no one has the right to sexually assault or rape another person. That seems like an obvious statement, and many readers will agree without even flinching, but there are those like the Brock Turner of 2015 (who failed to show remorse for his crime) who will continue to do so unless such behaviour is called out and challenged – shout as loud as possible until it becomes second nature for a person to help rather than harm. Chantel Miller’s voice will be heard, and it will make a difference.

And I haven’t even had time to mention the judge, Aaron Persky (who was eventually recalled).


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