Written & produced by the British Humanist Association, and narrated by Stephen Fry. Animated by Hyebin Lee. Thank you to Alom Shaha, Craig Duncan, Andrew Copson, and Sara Passmore That's Humanism logo design by Nick Cousin
"Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty was quickly dismissed upon its release in 1974. Not only did it have to contend with the lingering success of 1972's similarly themed but significantly less abstract The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, but it was quickly followed by the dreamlike, bi–polar romantic entanglement of the director's last film, That Obscure Object of Desire. Like Discreet Charm, the plot–free Phantom of Liberty is a patchwork of comedic sketches and sight gags through which Buñuel ravages a complacent European culture and the various sexual hang–ups and historical and cultural disconnects of its inhabitants. This heady, almost off–putting masterwork isn't particularly easy to decipher (maybe we aren't meant to), which is why it's best to approach it as a literal comedy of manners.
Films structured around daisy chains of dysfunction are a dime a dozen; most, though, are as tiresomely long–winded as they are content with their own strained circularity. This isn't the case with Phantom of Liberty, which begins with a shot of Goya's 1808 masterpiece 'The Third of May.' The painting depicts Napoleon's army executing a group of faceless Spaniards, and via a reenactment of this struggle, Buñuel depicts how one of Napoleon's captains tries to defile the monument of Doña Elvira only to be smacked on the head by the moving arm of the statue of the woman's husband. (He later intends to sleep with the woman's corpse, and when he opens her coffin, he's amazed by how her beauty has been preserved.) It's the first of many sight gags in the film, each and every one as startling as they are perversely funny. All these moments are possessed by a sense of shocked wonderment and discovery, and they all more or less evoke fragile pasts and characters trying to reconcile their historical detachments."
(Ed Gonzalez, 13 September 2003, Slant Magazine)
"Melvyn Bragg continues his exploration of the idea of culture by considering its use in the discipline of anthropology. In 1871 the anthropologist Edward Tylor published Primitive Culture, an enormously influential work which for the first time placed culture at the centre of the study of humanity. His definition of culture as the 'capabilities and habits acquired by man' ensured that later generations saw culture as common to all humans, and not simply as the preserve of writers and philosophers."
(Melvyn Bragg, 2013)
"The Value of Culture: Culture and the Anthropologists", Radio broadcast, Episode 2 of 5, Duration: 42 minutes, First broadcast: Monday 01 January 2013, Presenter/Melvyn Bragg, Producer/Thomas Morris for the BBC Radio 4, UK.
"Aleks Krotoski asks not just what technology can do for us but also what is it doing to us and the world we're creating? Each week she takes us on a journey to where people are living their digital lives to explore how technology touches everything we do both on and offline.
Taking broad themes of modern living as a starting point she charts the experiences of homo digitas; both the remarkable and the mundane, to understand how we are changing just as quickly as the advances in our technology.
What does the deluge of images from digital photography mean for our memory when every second is being recorded, edited and posted online for posterity? Are the identities we create in social media no more than exercises in personal branding, to be managed and protected like any other product? And as traditional churches struggle to leverage technology to spread their faith do the behaviours we all display online have more in common with religion than rationality?
The time for wonder at the digital world is over, we live with it in every day. The question really is who are we now because of it?"
(BBC Radio 4)
Fig.1 "Mack on a summer morning", 30 March 2011 [http://www.mydogearedpages.com/2011/03/photographic–memories.html].
"Never has the world seemed so completely united–in the form of communication, commerce, and culture–and so savagely torn apart–in the form of war, financial meltdown, global warming, and even the migration of diseases. ...
The human–made environment is rapidly morphing into a global space, yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history, which are just as quickly fading away. Humanity, Rifkin argues, finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning human consciousness so that human beings can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society…
As the forces of globalization accelerate, deepen, and become ever more complex, the older faith–based and rational forms of consciousness are likely to become stressed, and even dangerous, as they attempt to navigate a world increasingly beyond their reach and control. Indeed, the emergence of this empathetic consciousness has implications for the future that will likely be as profound and far–reaching as when Enlightenment philosophers upended faith–based consciousness with the canon of reason."
[A noble effort to explain the consequences of post–traditional society framed through a biological deterministic lens.]