Madness, Nietzsche wrote, is rare in individuals, but in groups it is the norm. Britain today is like a child that has been not only abandoned but literally dropped by its parents. It has broken into two different social groups, two politics, two worldviews but also, beneath the surface, two divergent ways of reorganising what psychoanalysts call an object world.

21 March 2019

The Chimanimanis before Idai

Diana Stone

Before the cyclone, there was a drought in Zimbabwe. People prayed for rain; and then the rain came, and it was not at all what was wished for. It seems brutally unfair: to have lost so much, in so brief a time, at the ordinance of the sky.

20 March 2019

The Noise of Life

Adam Shatz

In December, Okwui Enwezor wrote to me from Munich. He had leukemia. ‘What I miss most,’ he said, ‘is the noise of life humming out there. It’s much too quiet here.’ He died last Friday, aged 55. Since then it’s felt very quiet, both for those who knew him personally, and for the many people who admired his work as a curator and writer. Okwui had a deep, booming voice, and a purposeful one. When he spoke, you listened. It’s hard to imagine not hearing it.

19 March 2019

Day of the Locusts

Oliver Miles

Last month the Food and Agriculture Organisation issued a warning of a possible threat of locust swarms to crops and food security in the region from west of the Red Sea – Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea – across Arabia and into southern Iran.

15 March 2019

How an act of mass murder is turned into a global spectacle

Daniel Trilling

Far-right terrorist ‘manifestos’, like the one apparently published by one of the Christchurch shooters, are a kind of Rorschach test, inviting the reader to finish the job by finding meaning in the incoherent and contradictory ideas it contains. An act of mass murder is turned into a global spectacle by the use of real-time social media networks. Traditional media organisations and individuals online are drawn into repeating, arguing over and sharing the claims and images made by the perpetrator.

13 March 2019

The canvas went blue

Eleanor Birne

‘Black Windows’ (2006) © The Estate of Sargy Mann

In the early 1970s, Sargy Mann was diagnosed with cataracts. He continued to paint, but he had to look much harder than most people. Eventually he went completely blind, but kept on painting.

11 March 2019

‘Algeria is a Republic’

Hugh Roberts

The Algerian state is in crisis. The popular refusal to accept a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has immense constitutional implications and confronts the army commanders with a massive dilemma. Public opinion is not repudiating Bouteflika personally; it is indignantly rejecting the suggestion that, in his permanently crippled, wholly incapacitated condition, he should be considered eligible for another five years in office. The Algerian people are defending the constitution, not violating it. Article 102 clearly defines the procedure to be followed ‘whenever the President of the Republic, because of serious and enduring illness, finds himself unable to exercise his functions’. This should have been set in motion long ago.

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