Category Critical Theory

Demolish the fairground spectacles

‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ tells the inscription on the all-but-extinguished remains of the statue in Percy Shelley’s now-mythical poem, ‘Ozymandias’. Time itself has waged war on the statue and its very meaning: the source of despair is no longer its grandeur, but the forcefulness of its wearing away at the hands […]

Zombies in Hamburg, or The Mythologies of Crisis

Protests are marked by the waves of sound they produce- the ebb and flow of chants and the percussive energy of the crowd’s movement. Amid all the noise, it is quite often not the upsurge in volume, but the rare silences, that inflect the tone of the protest. These moments appear to present an enigma. […]

An occupation in the heart of Berlin

  Red banners on the windows, hammocks in the hallway, and each day a flurry of workshops, strategy meetings and movie screenings announced on a noticeboard in the foyer. The Institute of Social Sciences at Humboldt University appears busier than ever and yet no lectures are taking place here. As of now, the political situation […]

Walter Benjamin’s Arcades

And nothing at all of what we are saying here actually existed. None of it has ever lived-as surely as a skeleton has never lived, but only a man. As surely, however, <broken off> <Do,3 > The impression of the old-fashioned can arise only where, in a certain way, reference is made to the most […]

Virtual Reality and The Empathy Machine

Each epoch dreams the one to follow. -Jules Michelet, “Avenir! Avenir!” Every age has utopian dreams. These virtual worlds provide escapist allure, and they create a space in which to sort the residue left over from unrealised hopes. Travel literature is one such example, born out of colonial journeys into the frontier. At the same […]

A surplus of dreams: studying law in the age of scarcity

This article was originally published in Overland Literary Journal. Why are record numbers of undergraduates pursuing a career in law when getting a foot in the door is harder than ever? In 2014, 14 600 Australian law graduates entered a field with a capacity to take 66 000 professionals. Assuming no growth in jobs, and […]

Pokémon Go and the enigma of the city

This article originally appeared on the Hong Kong Review of Books. Academics are usually late to the party, left to thrash out all the detail from the brittle corpse of an event through dry biopsy. When I saw Pokémon Go explode onto social media, I immediately recognized that the game was creating ways of enjoying the urban landscape […]

The language of objects

Orhan Pamuk’s novel Museum of Innocence is written from the perspective of Kemal, a man who is so obsessively in love with a woman called Füsun that he starts creating a museum for her belongings. The idea of an actual museum was in Pamuk’s mind right from the outset of writing his novel. In fact, he started […]

Myth and extinction

How do we unite around an invisible challenge that is everywhere and nowhere at once? If modern warmongering teaches us anything, it’s that civilisation’s forward march still relies heavily on its myths. While the ways we wage war have become ever more subtle and technological, its ideological cover continues to be heavily steeped in symbolism […]

Anohni’s divisive greatness

Not all great art is divisive, not all divisive art is great, but sometimes art’s divisiveness uniquely points to its greatness. The transition of the artist Anohni, formerly known as Anthony Hegarty, into a woman appears to have had little success in marketing itself to the world. A unique artist whose fearless mixing of emotive […]