copy what we want

If all people want to do is go and look at other people so that they can compare themselves to them and copy what they want – if that is the final, deepest truth about humanity and its motivations – then Facebook doesn’t really have to take too much trouble over humanity’s welfare, since all the bad things that happen to us are things we are doing to ourselves.

– John Lanchester,



efva lilja

I first encountered the remarkable Swedish choreographer Efva Lilja through her books Dance, For Better For Worse (2004) and Words on Dance (2003). But I’d never met her in person until late last year on a bloody freezing day in Leeds at Error and Creativity: An Interdisciplinary Symposium. She gave a keynote that day and I made a few very rough notes which I’ve included below. The notes give a sense of the breadth of her thinking and ideas, but not any sense of her drive, presence and beautiful playfulness.

Image from
  • “I am what I do not know, I am what I lack”
  • “technologies of listening”
  • “knowledge generation” in Europe
  • what’s at stake?
  • the values: what we value
  • can’t force the outcome
  • hypothetical questions
  • “question of cliches is an urgent one”
  • “and question of contention is as well”
  • “how to create new demands on institutions and the academy”
  • training: reduces the dancer to a body
  • “ability to recognise difference has to be trained”

Efva’s website:
Efva on wikipedia:


educational persuasion

As a strategy for racial progress, educational persuasion has failed, because it has been predicated on the false construction of the race problem: the idea that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, which lead to racist policies. In fact, self-interest leads to racist policies, which lead to racist ideas, leading to all the ignorance and hate.

– Ibram X Kendi

resistance to blogging to save the new precariat

Last week I posted about the absurdity of blogging to save the new (academic) precariat. The next day Agnes Bosanquet (the slow academic) quoted some writing/thinking by sociologist Barbara Grant:

Collective political resistance to [research audit regimes] has not been a feature of the academic landscape … In [our] interviews, there was largely an absence of the emotions of anger, fear and frustration usually associated with collective resistance … Unlike fear, anxiety seems a weak basis for political action …

Yet other forms of resistance were present … individually and collectively. Individuals were deliberately maintaining their research interests in defiance of perceived [audit]-rewarded tends; departments were actively pursuing collegial rather than competitive practices …

I find Bosanquet’s thinking (and in this case her admiration and citation of Barbara Grant) inspiring and far more positive than just admitting defeat to the accelerated academy.

humans and collaborating

Elizabeth Kolbert’s article in the New Yorker is a striking piece of writing about how it might be that winning arguments has more value than reason.

So well do we collaborate … that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins.

I particularly like this quote because it is a clear reminder of how absurd ownership is in any creative activity.