Sunday, October 7, 2012

arte + cultura = potere


This takes your filthy internet addiction to another level! Click on the dirty desk, to learn just how grotesque you really are...

First of all, a little warning - if you come to the blog for the funding updates (which I know are helpful, because a number of you who have benefitted from them), todays sadly has no new funding news! Shocking eh, and potentially the tip of the iceberg? We’ll see. So if you come here for that, I wont waste your time - sign out now. 

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the new Ben Goldacre book, Bad Pharma, and whilst I’m not going to labour the point, it’s worth looking at some of his responses to critics which are highlighted in this week’s Observer. Positive and negative - here’s a peach to whet your appetite, but click on the photo below for more. (Polemic/Scientist?)

“So, why should I get lathered up about another author writing yet another article as well as a book, which is a misinformed screed against industry? Well, in order to sell his book, Goldacre will appear on radio and TV and spread his views. undoubtably, his message will get heard but the other side of the story wont be aired. This will cause renewed doubts about the biopharmaceutical industry and its products, despite the fact that the propper use of medicine can save lives, improve the quality of life and even save the healthcare system money. The real scandal is that an article like Goldacre’s is accepted as fact.” 
John LaMattina, former president of Pfizer 
(‘The Real Scandal is Not Acknowledging That Drugs Do Work’, 26/09/12)

mmm...selective interpretation perhaps?

Goldacre’s critique of the field, as well as mirroring some of the points I raised in A Brightly Coloured Bell-Jar, makes me revisit firebrand psychiatrist, analyst and writer R.D. Laing, not because he too featured in my paper, but there’s a 90 minute film by Luke Fowler (All Divided Selves) up for the Turner Prize, featuring Laing and his ideas - and (I’m reliably informed) questioning normality, difference and perhaps, power. Now, I admit to writing this before I’ve seen the film, but any work that gets us thinking about psychiatry and what it is to be human, warts and all - and that’s packaged as art - can only help us think through this brief experience of life. I’ll report back in detail after I’ve seen the show. (Scientist/Polemist/Poet?)

I’d like to spend a few moments focusing on our new Secretary of State for Healths’ well-considered thoughts on abortion. Inflammatory, arrogant and ill-considered. END. 
(Informed Policy/Extreme Polemic?) 

With the Obama/Romney election saga unfolding in the US, it might be worth us reminding ourselves of the Republican offer, and I’m very much looking forward to film-maker Nick Broomfield’s new DVD out later this month - Sarah Palin: You Betcha! Mindful of this underrated film-makers portfolio, here is a piece of his early work, in its entirety (17 minutes) and dating back to 1971. 

The film Who Cares, listens to the voices of people in Liverpool who were being rehoused from inner city terraces to suburban high-rise estates. As we hear them describe how the moves have affected them negatively, we see the old terraces being demolished, boarded up houses, and vans taking people's possessions to the new estates. The faceless 'Corporation' of Liverpool (the local authority) has deemed that they must move, and few get any choice where they move to.

To the people of Liverpool 8, the destruction of their housing is the destruction of the security of their social world. A man relates how, as soon as the first people moved out from his street, thieves came to steal the lead from all the roofs. Extended families are separated and housed miles apart. As the terraces are demolished, and the glass is systematically smashed from the windows, children play in the ruins and throw stones at the vacated dwellings.

Who Cares was made 'with the help of' Sir Arthur Elton, co-director (with Edgar Anstey) of Housing Problems (1935), which 35 years earlier promoted rehousing working-class communities in large new estates. Where Elton's film identified urban terraces with dirt, poverty and unhappiness, Broomfield's Liverpudlians mourn the loss of community and closeness the terraces brought, and find themselves unhappy and isolated in their brand new homes. 
(Polemic or Poem?)

Over coffee today, I read a lovely account of the Atlas Moth by Terry Tom Brown, and still with National Poetry Day in mind, I can’t help choosing to interpret it as a piece of poetic prose. Poor old moths - they get the bad deal compared to their garish cousins the butterflies, don’t they? Click on the image below to read this little article. Brown describes the life of the male atlas, whose short and impossibly hungry purpose in life is to find a mate. This essay is less a scientific thesis, but more a meditation on human love. Beautiful. (Science/Poetry?)

Short and sweet this week, but thank you for reading...C.P.