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The book is not a bible in how to direct a play; it is one man’s account of what has, and has not, worked for him – a passionate, dedicated, lived and lively statement of what can happen when theatre is performing powerfully; and Murray believes deeply in the importance of theatre for the world beyond the stage.
Throughout this collection of interviews, which took place of a series of months, Almodóvar exudes a well balanced streak of eccentricity, coupled with a sense of professionalism that is rooted in formality and devotion to his work. He explains in-depth the many disparate influences which inspired his earliest films, from Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe to the varied iconography of popular culture.
Democracy, tolerance and equality are ‘core values’ that are frequently cited as the cornerstones of a British way of life, but as Rattansi points out, these values are vague, simplistic and not exclusive to Britain, and - especially historically speaking - have not always acted as the uniting undercurrent of British life.
His ‘endist’ proclamations gave him the aura of a prophet. His mysterious pronouncements and penchant for irony, eclecticism and intellectual games had a Quixotic appeal. In many ways, Jean Baudrillard was a modern day Nietzsche: a difficult nihilist and sometimes obscure aphorist - a quintessential Romantic who declared the end of days.
Lyons’ intention in this book is to investigate food scares, both on their own merits and from an historical perspective, in order to understand our essential but often shaky relationship with what we eat. Today this means confronting and assessing the worth of a lot of government advice and challenging popular perceptions of modern mass-catering practices.
Hakim’s book becomes more problematic when, building on this fieldwork, she argues that the use of erotic capital by women will not only change their role but also help them get a better deal in both public and private life, so revolutionising power structures as well as big business, the sex industry, government and… well, almost everything.
Given the social designation given to the new web, it at first seems paradoxical to claim that Web 2.0 could be undermining something about our social nature, yet this is precisely what is being claimed by many critics. So is this really the case? Sherry Turkle takes up exactly this question in Alone Together.
The book is full of the discourse of winners and losers, victors and vanquished, races to be won, opponents to be outmanoeuvred, markets to be cornered. The author would no doubt consider this to be simple realism, premised upon a world with finite resources (how depressing), but one has to ask, does the world really need another book which implores nations to better impoverish one another?
Two aspects of the book stand out. One is the sheer excitement of the search, the traditional longing of mankind to know more and to discover more, although Jayawardhana has to record the failures as often as the successes. The other is the way that planet-searching has become a huge aspect of astronomic research in the last two decades. Jayawardhana names project after project, most of them using existing ground-based telescopes and facilities.
Marquand reduces democracy to being a way of adjudicating between competing claims of individuals who just won’t get along, much like a marriage guidance counsellor - or a judge. It means ‘accepting difference, rejoicing in difference, and negotiating difference’. Marquand stresses the complexity of modern life and proposes democracy as a tool to manage competing identities and differences.
Seeking to find our uniqueness within the claustrum or anterior cingulate cortex is like trying to unpick the internet by taking apart a single computer. Tallis’ conception of the human subject is one that is ‘embodied’ in a body in the material world as well as the social one, rather than caged only within the confines of the brain.
Advocates of the smoking ban don’t trust ordinary people to resolve any conflict between smokers and non-smokers, or not to chain smoke in front of their babies. In the same way, Simon Davies seems to think that readers need exaggeration and sensationalism in order to be convinced that the smoking ban is wrong.
Far from representing a challenge to Big State, the Big Society is providing a new rationale for institution-building and state-led activity in the community. And far from offering opportunities for the enterprising, it appeals to elite prejudices about people’s incapacities and about the way we live our lives.
Lloyd’s tastes, while not cutting-edge, are not cosy. Yes, there are the striking but standard offerings we might expect. But there is also work which suddenly pulls us up short.
Ethical concerns can just as easily be motivated by an evasion of responsibility, as they can by a desire to capture the displacement of people from history-making. The absence of people in documentary photography can be an accurate picture of the position of the people in contemporary society, but this absence can also amount to an attempt to evade the question Where are the people?