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Which clippings match 'Complex Problems' keyword pg.1 of 1
30 JANUARY 2015

Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis: how the West fooled itself

"My aim is to try to get people to look at those fragments of recorded moments from Afghanistan in a new and fresh way. I do feel that the way many factual programmes on TV are edited and constructed has become so rigid and formulaic – that the audiences don't really look at them any more. The template is so familiar.

I am using these techniques to both amplify and express the wider argument of Bitter Lake. It is that those in power in our society have so simplified the stories they tell themselves, and us, about the world that they have in effect lost touch with reality. That they have reduced the world to an almost childlike vision of a battle between good and evil.

This was the story that those who invaded Afghanistan carried with them and tried to impose there – and as a result they really could not see what was staring them in the face: a complex society where different groups had been involved in a bloody civil war for over 30 years. A world where no one was simply good or bad. But those in charge ignored all that – and out of it came a military and political disaster.

But the film also tries to show why Western politicians have so simplified the world. Because Afghanistan's recent past is also a key that unlocks an epic hidden history of the postwar world."

(Adam Curtis, 24 January 2015, The Telegraph)





1945 • 1970s America • 1973Adam CurtisAfghanistanArab • BBC iPlayer-only • Bedouin • Bitter Lake (2015) • bitter rivalries • caliphate • Come Down To Us (Burial 2013) • complex problems • deal • destabilised politics • documentarydocumentary film • dreamlike documentary style • drone • epic moment • footageFranklin D. Roosevelt • generations to come • global capitalismglobal politicsgood versus evil • grand hypothesis • grand political dream • Helmand • ideology • imagined past • Islamic fundamentalism • Islamism • Kabul • King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia • Malcolm Tucker • Margaret ThatcherMiddle Eastmilitary intervention • Pashtun • Perry Mason • Phil Goodwin • Pushtun • recorded moments • Ronald ReaganSaudi Arabia • simplified stories • Solaris (1972) • Suez Canal • Wahhabi Islam • Wahhabism


Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2012

The importance of metaphor and narrative to our habits of mind

"Fiction – with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions – offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people's thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real–life social encounters."

(Annie Murphy Paul, 17 March 2012,



affirming experience • booksbrainbrain networksbrain science • cause and effect • cognitive mapcomplex problemscomputer simulationdepictiondescription • emotional life • empathetic individuals • empathyexperiencefictional charactersfrustration • great literature • habits of mind • hidden motives • imaginative metaphors • intentions • interacting instances • languageliterature • longings • mental image • mental state • metaphornarrativenarrative fiction • navigate interactions • neurosciencenovelsoff the page • people and their actions • psychologyreaders • reading novels • real thingreal-life • redolent details • rich replica • simulating reality • simulationsmell • social encounters • social interactionsocial interactionssocial lifesocial worldtexture • the complexities of social life • theory of mindthoughts and feelingswatching television • your brain


Simon Perkins

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