All posts filed under: Arts

Book Reviews: 9/11 Unmasked

Every year, at about this time, OffGuardian likes to cover the anniversary of 9/11, the most important “catalysing event” in modern history. And this year is no different. As part of this coverage, and in recognition of our willingness to discuss this often-controversial topic, we were invited to review 9/11 Unmasked, a new book from David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth, focusing on the discrepancies in the official account of that fateful day 17 years ago. We reached out to trusted regular contributors and friends of the site based on their honesty, integrity and potentially contrasting points of view. The results are three different reviews, illustrating an interesting cross-section of opinions and experiences. Philip Roddis Two years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, OffGuardian ran my review of Dylan Avery’s Loose Change. Except it wasn’t a review but a pouring of vitriol on the film’s central assertion that the events of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. Reception below the line was hostile. But among the cat-calls were voices I could not ignore: …

Seventeen Years on: what really happened on 9/11?

Philip Roddis Introduction On Friday, August 31, I had an email from OffGuardian editor Catte: How do you feel about reviewing a new 9/11 book for the anniversary? I know you’re a sceptic but that is why I’d value your input … Two years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, OffGuardian ran my review of Dylan Avery’s Loose Change. Except it wasn’t a review but a pouring of vitriol on the film’s central assertion that the events of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. Reception below the line was hostile. But among the cat-calls were voices I could not ignore: voices of reason from dudes who’d done their homework and whose tones were sober; friendly even. I promised to re-assess the truther case and return either to concede and apologise or reaffirm my views with better arguments. I gave no date but strongly and at the time sincerely implied it would be a few months tops. Not two years. Why the delay? I’m not afraid of saying, I was wrong. I’ve had practise …

Book Review – “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”

David William Pear How can I write a review of Andre Vltchek’s new book Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism? I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. Andre himself says that: There is nothing to add to the writing of maverick revolutionary philosophers. Hands off their work! Let them speak! Editions without prefaces and introductions, please; no footnotes! The greatest works of philosophy were written with heart, blood and passion! No interpretation is needed. If allowed to read them, even a child can understand.” He is speaking about the works of other great revolutionary writers, not himself. I think Andre is a great revolutionary writer, too. But, who am I to speak for Andre or greatness? Read his great works for yourself, and you will understand them without my introduction. You will find that Andre has the guts to put himself out there, let it all hang out, and expose his vulnerabilities as well as his wisdom… But I am damned if I don’t write a book review for Andre’s book, because I …

Westworld: Does the ‘Door’ of Perception Lead to the Valley Beyond?

by Dan Mallon Dan Mallon gives his overview and analysis of the psycho/social themes in HBO’s hit series Westworld. Who, what, when, why; where are we? In Johnathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s second instalment of the Westworld saga obviously; once again, we have found ourselves lost. This time, just like William (Ed Harris) — the formerly known Man in Black; we are now lost at the epicentre of ‘the Maze’, with no conceivable route out and with William’s ultimate wish having materialised: the stakes are real this time. The creators of the Westworld series clearly have quite a few seasons in the pipeline and have decided to give them names which seem to reflect the deep and varied themes we have seen develop so far. The first season was aptly entitled ‘The Maze’; whereas this brand new one has been dubbed ‘The Door’. Of course the Maze was never anything more than a metaphorical challenge, intended for the human-like hosts of Westworld to develop consciousness by way of intermittent voice commands to “Remember” or “Wake up”, all …

Speaking the Unspeakable: The Assassination and Martyrdom of Thomas Merton

A Quasi-Review by Edward Curtin of The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton by Hugh Turley & David Martin Killing a man who says ‘No!’ is a risky business,” the priest replied, “because even a corpse can go on whispering ‘No! No! No! with a persistence and obstinacy that only certain corpses are capable of. And how can you silence a corpse?” Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine Fifty years have elapsed since Thomas Merton died under mysterious circumstances in a cottage at a Red Cross Conference Center outside Bangkok, Thailand where he was attending an international inter-faith monastic conference. The truth behind his death has been concealed until now through the lies and deceptions of a cast of characters, religious, secular, and U.S. governmental, whose actions chill one to the bone. But he has finally found his voice through Hugh Turley and David Martin, who tell the suppressed truth of Merton’s last minutes on earth on December 10, 1968. This is an extraordinary book in so many ways. First, because the authors prove beyond a shadow of …

FILM REVIEW: Loveless [нелюбовь] (2017)

Catherine Brown looks at the 2017 Russian film and questions the claims made in western media that it represents an indictment of Russian society. On the contrary, she suggests, the film is a celebration of the sense of collective responsibility & compassion versus narrow self-asorption & materialism Dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev (1964-), Arte France Cinéma, Why Not Productions, released 13.5.2017, 128 minutes. To start with the first thing we see on screen: Нелюбовь. Russian film director Andrei Zvyagintsev explains: The English translation of the title does not fully convey the weight and meaning of the Russian title which is literally non-love, the opposite of love, not devoid of love which is what loveless implies. It’s not hate, it’s not indifference, it’s hard to say and the reason I brought this up is because the Russian title sounds even more pessimistic. So нелюбовь is a noun not an adjective, and the film is about that thing: the non-love which mutually connects Boris and Zhenya – a contemporary, bourgeois, Muscovite divorcing couple – and which connects both to …

BOOK REVIEW: Russia against the rest: the post-cold war crisis of world order

Frank Lee reviews Russia against the rest: the post-cold war crisis of world order by Richard Sakwa Cambridge University Press Chatham House London October 2017 This publication by the British academic, Richard Sakwa, follows on from his earlier work Frontline Ukraine first published in 2015. The present book identifies a continuity and unfolding of events which started with the end of the Cold War 1989-91, but which eventually broke down completely in 2014 with the onset of the Ukrainian imbroglio; the situation then settled into a new Cold War stand-off which has lasted to the present time. Sakwa has painstakingly detailed the whole sorry episode, identifying and dissecting the submerged trends which in time vitiated the early euphoria which had been triggered by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Initially the apparent transformation and ending of the geopolitical deadlock between the two super-powers gave rise to hopes of a new world order; there was a mood of cheery optimism widespread amid talk of a new epoch of peace and prosperity. Sadly, however, this elation underwent …

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: cosy seasonal tale or passionate condemnation of unfettered capitalism?

Today we think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cosy piece of traditional seasonal fare, replete with steaming puds and roasted goose and comfortably easy lessons about not being stingy at Crimbo. But when Dickens wrote his novella in 1843 he was delivering a far more serious – and possibly freshly relevant – warning about the moral bankruptcy of a society that destroys human lives in pursuit of profit

What Was Verifiably Great About America: Fragments Of A Memoir Set To A Musical Soundtrack

by Phil Rockstroh Having been born in a coal and steel company town but destiny delivered, as an adult, to reside, during extended intervals, in the East and West Coast cities of Los Angeles and New York City, and, at present, the continent of Europe, I have come to conclude, people born into situations providing economic advantage, both liberals and conservatives alike, experience difficulty, more often than not, envisaging the lives of those born into a labouring class existence. Worse, a wilful obtuseness, in combination with a supercilious posture is, all too often, evinced, by reflex, towards those scorned as “hillbillies,” “trailer trash,” and “genetic retreads.” Among groups possessing economic advantage, a lack of curiosity prevails as to the nature of the lives of individuals who have spent their lifetime subjected to the life-defying tyrannies of full-spectrum, company town capitalism. Life circumstances, under the present, neoliberal order, that are, in all but rare cases, intractable; wherein, the meagre and fraught with economic instability livelihoods earned as a mine, mill, factory worker, and, in the service …

A New Code of Practice

by W Stephen Gilbert The Hays Code transformed the face of Hollywood in the 1930s, introducing rampant, some may say absurd, censorship and restricting the creativity of writers and directors. Here we take a closer look at what it meant, and what it can teach us about our own time From 1930 for almost forty years, film production and distribution in the United States was entirely governed by the Motion Picture Production Code. A set of dogmatic guidelines as to depicted behaviour, the explicitness of imagery and the tenor of the moral lessons to be deduced from a story’s outcome, this semi-literate document was known to all as the Hays Code, after its overseer Will Hays. Where a man like Hays would be coming from can be spotted a mile off. He was a Republican cabinet minister and a deacon in the Presbyterian church; to write his code, he commissioned a Catholic priest. The restrictions placed on screenwriters and movie directors inevitably look both piffling and dispiriting today. Thus: “…the use of liquor in American …

On Propaganda and Bias: An open-letter to the Royal Academy

Mr Christopher LeBrun, President Mr Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive Mr Tim Marlow, Director of Artistic Programmes Royal Academy of Arts, London 28 March 2017 Dear Sirs, I am writing to you to express my disappointment at the curatorial handling of the exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 currently on display at the RA. Whilst I am not an art historian or an expert in Russian art of the period, it is well known (and apparent just looking at the pieces on display at the RA) that the years covered by the exhibition represent a decisive and hugely fruitful moment in the development of Russian and European Modernism in which artists who came from a figurative tradition coexisted with avant-garde currents like the Russian Futurists or, later, the Constructivists, along with visionary figures like Kasimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitzky and others (whom you reference in the exhibition), besides, of course, developments in photography, theatre, dance, music and cinema. For this reason, I was incredibly excited to visit the RA exhibition, anticipating a serious, …

Being There (1979): a discussion of film, literature & the NWO

from the Corbett Report Julian Charles of TheMindRenewed.com joins James Corbett to discuss Being There, the 1979 film by director Hal Ashby that follows the story of Chance the Gardener, a simple man with no experience of the outside world who is suddenly thrust onto the national political stage. Despite his complete lack of knowledge and experience (or precisely because of it) the powers behind the scenes float him as a potential candidate for next president of the United States. So is this a reflection of political reality, or broad satire? What does the movie tell us about the way modern media shapes the political landscape?

Ukraine’s SBU, neonazis accused of trading stolen Dutch paintings

A detail from Jacob Waben’s “Women’s World” (1622), one of the paintings stolen from the Westfries Museum. Holland’s Times reports: Members of the Ukrainian secret service SBU played a role in trying to trade the paintings stolen from the Westfries Museum in 2005, stolen art expert Arthur Brand revealed in the press conference about the stolen paintings in the museum on Monday, NOS reports. On Monday morning the museum announced that the 24 stolen paintings were traced to a Ukrainian militia, which is trying to sell them for a large amount of money. The museum called in Brand to help negotiate for the return of the paintings after attempts through the international police organization Interpol failed. Brand traveled to Ukraine and spoke with representatives of the militia. According to the museum, the militia has “completely unrealistic ideas” about what the paintings are worth. They want 50 million euros, while the paintings are actually worth between 250 thousand and 1.3 million euros, if they are in a good condition. As this does not seem to be …

Has 2015 become a Brave New World?

Theatre director James Dacre has just opened a new adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, and the Guardian gave him space in the Theatre section to explain why he believes this book has so much to say to us today. We think his article is good, and thought-provoking, so for once we are republishing a Guardian piece as endorsement not critique… Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931 in the shadow of the first world war, the Wall Street Crash and a devastating flu virus that had claimed millions of lives. The Treaty of Versailles had carved out a new Europe, while electricity, the automobile, production lines, new mass media and aeroplanes were changing the world. England was in the grip of a depression, but science and technology promised a better future: a world where disease, drudgery and poverty might no longer exist. Very few writers were bold enough to challenge this naive optimism but in Brave New World, Huxley certainly did; now his work, adapted by Dawn King for the …