Vivek Santayana | March 30, 2018
A few weeks ago, the philosopher and literary critic Timothy Morton took a dig at his late colleague Mark Fisher, who committed suicide last year after a lifelong struggle with depression. Morton claimed the one big difference between himself and Fisher was that he took antidepressants, and so is still alive to write his new book. He was commenting on Fisher’s critique of neoliberal ideologies that shape discourses around mental health and pharmacological treatment. Morton’s tweet read like an insensitive gloat at his outliving his colleague whose opinion he disagrees with. At best, it was an ad hominem attack dismissing Fisher through a crude, mischaracterised version of his argument.
Vivek Santayana | March 30, 2018
June L. Laurenson | February 24, 2018
There is a phrase in the English language that is often used to express confusion and bafflement: ‘Understanding you is like smelling the colour nine’. You can’t smell a colour, let alone a number; and nine isn’t a colour. For most people, this chaotic multisensory phrase effectively conveys a deep incomprehension about a thing or a person. But to me the number nine does have a colour (although not a smell), and I am not alone in experiencing this; I am in very good company.
Ana Isabel Martinez | February 12, 2018
When I first arrived in Edinburgh, I had to stay for ten days at an Airbnb that was about a half an hour walk from the university. Every day, I had to walk up a hill and make my way through the new city. By about the third day, I started to notice some strange habits as I walked. The first was that for the first five minutes of the walk I would fuss about my clothing. I would think to myself “shirt? Ok, Hair? Fine, Pants? Maybe too tight, etc…”. The next part of the journey consisted of two things. The first was walking, staring, moving my arms and head, in a performative way. In a way that I felt looked right, attractive, or interesting.
Anna Kemball | November 20, 2017
Microphone in hand, her bejewelled boots dangling, Lady Gaga rises into the heights of the NGR Stadium to rehearse an aerial performance in her Super Bowl halftime show. Rising higher, out of the camera’s focus, the singer disappears from view as a choir is heard singing Kaval Sviri (better known as the fight theme of Xena: Warrior Princess). So begins Gaga: Five Foot Two, a feature-length Netflix documentary. Although the documentary covers the release of Joanne, Gaga’s latest album, and her Super Bowl performance, reviews have focused on the coverage of her fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a long term condition characterised by widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms. The name alone – referring to the singer’s height – suggests our focus should be on Gaga’s physicality as we watch Gaga: Five Foot Two. On the face of it, documentary coverage of FMS is a much-needed representation of an “invisible disability” that affects around 1 in 20. Making the condition “visible” must surely be a good thing, right?
Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 10th July 2017.
Twenty-three years after the publication of American author Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir entitled Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (1994), public opinion about antidepressants is still as rife with misconceptions, fear, and judgement, as it was when Wurtzel was first prescribed medication to manage her persistent and devastating depression. Writing in what is now a significant traditional of women’s narratives of mental illness— including Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted (1999), and Marya Hornbacher’s Madness (2008)— Wurtzel details the brutal development of her depression from early adolescence into adulthood, and notes the rise in illnesses such as hers across the country.
12 December 2016 | Maygan Eugenie Forbes
Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: the models advertised as “Sexy Little Things”, the underwear advertised for “The Perfect Body”, and their yearly revenue estimated to gross up to $7.6 billion. Introduced to mainstream media in 1995, the Show is a mass-marketing extraordinaire. From the beautiful models wearing wings and diamonds to the pop star heavyweights who perform, there’s no denying that this blockbuster extravaganza (the “Super Bowl of fashion,” according to CBS) has an astronomical amount of pulling power — so much so that influential publications all over the Internet are lambasting the Show’s “largely unattainable image of perfection.” However, is the question of attainability really the problem here? Or, is it rather a problem that, whether attainable for some or not, the Show directly reflects and reinforces a wider pool of homogenized, and ultimately oppressive, standards of beauty that are elevated so far as to become an “ideal”?
28th Novermber 2016 ¦ Charlotte Kessler.
Postcolonial theory has helped to shine a light on the inherent cruelty of imperialism. The Western world has been highly criticised for its colonial past, treatment of other cultures and lack of respect for difference. Today, cosmopolitan thought promotes the ‘global citizen’ who embraces these cultural differences. Yet an examination of tourism and travel writing exposes how this cosmopolitanism is really received and performed by society. The growth in popularity of travel blogs raises important questions about contemporary colonialism.
July 10, 2016 | Bridget Moynihan
What does a spoon have to do with mental or physical well-being? How can a metaphor or other form of figurative language help someone communicate an experience that might otherwise be very difficult to explain? How do the existing resonances that surround our everyday objects, like spoons, inform and empower our chosen metaphors?
March 21, 2016 | Adam Clay .
You might think that poetry is for schools and universities, for students and teachers, not for you and your busy job. But what if you found out that poetry also belongs where life-or-death situations happen every day, in a place with white coats, stethoscopes, and beepers? If you learnt that poetry is also for the contemporary hospital, for nurses, patients, and doctors, would you be willing to consider that poetry might be for everyone – including you?
February 15, 2016 | Sarah Stewart.
Gardens are a cultural staple the world over. You would be hard put to find a major world religion in which gardens do not feature; the sheer multitude of garden-related metaphors you hear everyday are testament to our language’s continuing reliance on concepts born in gardens, not to mention the prevalence of the garden in literary and artistic traditions. For millennia, gardens have been reflections of divine order on earth; spaces to display status, but, fundamentally, they are places where people negotiate with the land, and other people, in order to thrive. Given their global relevance, what potential do gardens and gardening have to bridge barriers between cultures and people of vast differences in background and experience? Between, say, established British citizens and asylum seekers and refugees?
[tw: discussions of torture]