Thursday, 23 March 2017

Protesting Racism

by Caleb Barron

Last Saturday, 33,000 people gathered in London to march from the BBC offices to Parliament Square to protest against racism. 

Racism does not seem like the institutionalised monster it once was but there are still problems to be addressed. The recent policy to not accept anymore Syrian refugee children, to me, is a racist policy fuelled by the anti-immigrant, Islamophobic rhetoric.

The day itself was very peaceful and there was a lot of love present between the many people all from various different backgrounds. I was lucky enough to attend with Floss Willcocks as well as two buses full of local people from Portsmouth. We met a young activist named Shabbir involved in the Stand Up to Trump campaign as well as the several other organisations. We carried his banner stating 'No to Trump's Muslim Ban' and were even photographed in front of Parliament holding it. 

It was a particularly energetic and connected protest and tackled a universal issue that many can get behind. 

Below are some more photos from the day:

Poem: All in the Mind

by Alex Porter

Trampled by guilt,
Like being trampled underfoot,
By gunning down the innocent,
Covering them with red paint,
Piling on top of each other like rubbish

Over the dunes we went,
Not knowing what awaited,
Except for death,
Screaming and crying,
As we shot our weapons,
Clouds of smoke,
As my friends looked at me,
I smiled and said,
‘It's alright’,
Cool and calm
But in my head,
I was frightened,
And overcome with terror,

As the ship arrived,
Full of soldiers,
Smiling and waving,
I looked to my mother,
In pure delight,
Oh dear Mummy what a wonderful sight,
She smiles at me,
As I did at her,
That’s the army,
She said with a grin,

I can’t hold still,
I'm messed up real bad,
If I could just blank it out,
Just for one day,
No one can comprehend,
What we have been through,

If someone would look at me,
In a funny way,
I would attack,
Out of rage,
Show them how I feel,
As I could've said a thousand words,
But I just punch them right in the mouth,

We go in together,
We go out alone.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Comparing the Exploration of Artifice in Borge's 'Ficciones' and Nabokov's 'Pale Fire'

by Hattie Hammans

Jorge Luis Borges
Artifice is teasingly apparent throughout the work of Jorge Luis Borges, frequently leading the narrative and twisting itself to imitate other voices or stories. Supposed borders between reality and imagination are persistently blurred, contorted, and elegantly confused. It is unsurprising that Borges, the Argentine author of ‘Ficciones’ and ‘Artificios’, was meticulous as a writer, composing draft after draft for each paragraph; his sparse yet erudite prose, even in translation, as John Stark describes, “makes his work seem eerie and unreal”[1], highlighting his playful awareness of his fiction’s absurdity and indeed, unreality. Vladimir Nabokov, a contemporary of Borges, similarly exploited the idea of ‘artifice’ in his work. However, in comparison, Nabokov’s style is elaborate, at times richly ornate, concocting an artificiality through allusion, a linguistic playfulness, typified through recurring devices such as puns. The closest parallels between the authors indeed lie in what Patricia Merivale described as their “flaunting of artifice”[2]; the broadest stylistic trait that ties their work together in their ‘irrealidad’ (as Borges would call it) is the trope of the imaginary book, or the ‘inner manuscript’. The unreal literature in the works of both Borges and Nabokov draws attention to the parallels between the ‘imagined’ and the ‘real’. This trope pulls the reader into further fictive realms; ultimately working as a metafictional device that reminds the reader of the entire works nature as an artefact itself. The writers play with these ‘meta-conventions’ of their literature through their narrators and parodies, and even by constructing the stories to function on multiples levels of interpretation. This delight in metafictional devices becomes, in both author’s work, a theme in itself.

Vladimir Nabokov

 ‘Suave’ Dr John Ray, Jr. ‘pens’[3] the foreword to Nabokov’s novel Lolita. Written by a fictional editor, the 3 page long, erudite introduction frames Humbert Humbert’s ‘remarkable memoir’[4]. This fictional scaffolding alerts the reader to the fact that Humbert Humbert himself wrote the manuscript that forms the weight of the novel. Furthermore, the prologue acknowledges that the book was written in his weeks of ‘legal captivity’ before his death from coronary thrombosis. This transforms the novel into Humbert’s ‘Confession of a White Widowed Male’, which stimulates the reader’s justified questioning of the reliability of Humbert Humbert’s self-conscious narration. The ‘found manuscript’ of Lolita is Nabokov’s opportunity to bring into focus the nature of storytelling, and the inevitable ‘unreality’ of such narratives. Attention is brought to the ‘writing’ of the tale, by Nabokov providing a frame for its narrative existence. Of course, through Humbert’s consistent return to the theme of writing itself (For example, page 40, ‘I jotted down each entry in pencil (with many erasures and corrections)’), the fiction is self aware: Nabokov never lets the borders between reality and imagination become too well defined.

Le « Brexit » et la Montée de l'Extrême-Droite - Combinaison Toxique pour l'Union Européenne ?

by Sam Kent

Aujourd’hui l’Union est morte. Ou peut-être avant le référendum, je ne sais pas. De toutes façons, l’utopie Européenne de l’après guerre n’existe plus. Des gendarmes recouvrent les frontières de l’Europe et une nouvelle époque de nationalisme, d’idéalisme naïf, et une Europe qui est un classement plutôt qu’une grande équipe. Bien sûr, à l’heure de mettre sous presse, cet avenir n’est qu’une pensée, mais une pensée qui peut se transformer en réalité. Mais premièrement, voici une histoire à propos de comment cette pensée a vu le jour.

Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders
Jeudi 23 juin. La Grande Bretagne retende son souffle. L’Europe retende son souffle. Les Britanniques se précipitent aux bureaux de vote pour décider l’avenir de leur pays. Quelques se dirigent rempli de la fierté nationale, fervent de récupérer leur pays, autres avaient hâte de faire une décision politique raisonnable pendant une année dans laquelle le nationalisme de l’extrême droite irrationnel a été donné un nouvel élan face au terrorisme et les niveaux de l’immigration sans précédent au plan international. Pour ce dernier, c’était couru d’avance : les Britanniques ne feraient pas confiance en les mots des gens comme Boris Johnson et Nigel Farage, les électeurs modérés se dégonfleraient dans l’isoloir – et, après tout, les Britanniques n’aiment pas le changement. Certainement, ceux-ci étaient mes réflexions quand en endormant ce nuit, mais après être me lever le matin suivant, je me suis retrouvé jeté à un avenir différent. Nous avons voté de sortir de l’Union Européenne. Il n’y avait que 3,8% des votes qui l’a décidé, mais ça c’est la nature d’un référendum. J’étais témoin de l’histoire, mais cette partie de l’histoire était construit avec des matières que nous allions utiliser pour construire notre futur prévu, alors notre nouveau futur existe encore, mais ne personne sais plus ce qu’il ressemblera. Ce qui était ironique, c’était que à l’origine, le référendum ne faisait que l’affaire de dissiper la menace de l’extrême droite en Grande Bretagne – David Cameron, qui était alors le Prime Ministre de Grande Bretagne, a promis le référendum de ce sujet en 2015 pendant sa campagne électorale pour les élections législatives en mai. Il l’a promis pour essayer de attirer des électeurs du parti de droite eurosceptique, The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), qui offraient le même référendum. Cette tactique a marché, selon la plupart des commentateurs politiques, et le parti centre-droit de Cameron, The Conservative Party a gagné l’élection. Après avoir gardé sa position de Prime Ministre, il a prévu le référendum pour juin 2016. Alors, on peut dire que le référendum n’était jamais censé d’être plus que insignifiant, une promesse tenue, mais le parti qui était sans importance, et poussé sur le côté, UKIP, qui a commencé tout, a fini avec leurs objectifs terminés, et le parti dominant et en fait titulaire, The Conservatives, sans un leader.

The Secrets Behind Cicret

by Kendall Field-Pellow

Fake news… We’ve all heard about this in some form or another in recent months. Although, things which have particularly piqued my interest but haven’t been talked about are ‘technological breakthroughs’ that propagate social media. What I mean by this is not things like the invention of the latest iPhone or Apple Watch or the highest speed Intel Core processor, I mean unusual things which currently are unheard of and solve a particular solution. I am talking about videos and articles posted on social media platforms by pages such as ‘Business Insider - Tech’ and ‘Wired’ which show intriguing devices or concepts. These ideas often solve a particular problem or apparently will ‘help people greatly’ in some way or another in the future.

If you know the type I mean, you may be familiar with titles such as:

     Super-hydrophobic coatings” – which demonstrates materials coated in the newly developed substance are almost impossible to soil since all moisture containing messy substances are repelled, the action of this in the video is quite mesmerising. See video:

     Futuristic Floating 'UFO' Home” – which explains a new type of floating yacht-house hybrid with a UFO design is completely ‘off-grid’ and 100% sustainable -  I think this is an interesting concept which may prove vital in the future due to the rising sea levels…

      “Scientists have created the darkest material ever seen” – although by definition Vantablack reflects so little light (0.035%) that you simply cannot actually ‘see’ any colour.

These articles and videos which circulate Facebook and YouTube intrigue people like me because they allow us to keep up to date with the level of technology being currently developed and they provide expectations of what our lives may involve in the future. What is most enticing about such posts are that the feature of the post is often currently in the stages of being tested or is just a hypothesised idea for the future - and it is clear to determine which products are on the horizon and which are perhaps just a nice concept.

This is why it was very surprising to me that when I decided to research about a new type of watch, I found out rather quickly that something fishy was at play…

Now I introduce to you ‘The Cicret Bracelet’ *round of applause*

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Buster Keaton 100 Years On

by James Burkinshaw

A hundred years ago today (March 21, 1917), Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton made his first, brief film appearance in the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle production, The Butcher Boy. 

As America's most popular comic film actor at that time, Arbuckle was doing the little-known vaudeville actor Keaton a big favour by offering him the modest role of a shop customer who gets involved in a flour fight. However, as film historian Tom Dardis notes, "from the very first second of Buster's appearance in the film it is quite apparent that his way of doing things, the very tempo of his movements, is absolutely different from all the other characters'. In contrast to their frenzy, Buster displays a commanding, austere dignity."

This is one thing that sets him apart from his great contemporary and rival, Charlie Chaplin, who was far readier to appeal to sentiment by shamelessly mugging for the camera. In contrast, Keaton’s soulful eyes and impassive expression suggested an almost primordial sadness - a tragic sensibility amidst the farcical chaos of slapstick. He prided himself on doing all of his own stunts - and sustained a spectacular range of injuries over his career, including a broken neck that went undiagnosed for several years.

Keaton was not just an innovator on screen but behind the camera. While working with Arbuckle, "One of the first things I did was tear a motion picture camera practically to pieces and found out the lenses and the splicing of film and how to get it on the projector . .  then get in the cutting room . . . and find out how I get trick photography and things I could do with a camera that I couldn't do on the stage." 

The first Keaton film I ever saw was Sherlock Jr, about a film projectionist who, in one celebrated dream sequence, dives into the screen and becomes comically caught up in the action of the film he is showing (see 17-minute mark, below). The impact is as magical today as it must have been when audiences first saw the movie in 1924 - a celebration of cinema's capacity to absorb us in a world of illusion.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Please Don’t Read This Blog

by Tom Fairman

I recently read an interesting article in which the writer was drawing the parallels between Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. Among other things, one similarity was that they both appeared to be most comfortable and therefore most charismatic in front of large, supportive crowds, whether they are large rallies or small town hall style meetings. Trump has taken the unorthodox decision to keep holding campaign style rallies long after having won the election and Corbyn regularly talks of the mandate he gained from his own election win. Both men seem keen to reconnect with the adulation and worship they received rather than face the challenges that their respective positions pose.
St Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises describes this process in three stages; riches to honours to pride. Success, however gained, can be an addictive event. We naturally begin to feel good about ourselves when something goes well and like to hear people praise us. When people say good things about us, we feel good about ourselves and our self worth increases along with our ego. We begin to believe the titles people give us and long to hear the applause of an adoring crowd. We begin to believe that we have earned this, deserve it and therefore seek more of it. We become proud.
Pride can be a positive feeling. We should be proud of an accomplishment which has taken a lot of effort and dedication to achieve. We should be proud when a loved one achieves recognition for their work. However we have to be aware that there is a fine line between accepting praise and seeking praise to fulfil our ego. If our ego drives us to seek success at all costs so we can be proud of who we are, then we are in danger of destroying ourselves in pursuit of success. When are self worth is attached to the riches and honour that others bestow on us then St Ignatius warns we can be pushed onto all the other vices.
Jesus faced a similar scenario in his final temptation. The devil takes him to the top of a very high mountain and shows Him the magnificence of all the kingdoms of the world; the awareness that there is good in all of us which needs to be celebrated. However the devil offers Jesus all of this as riches if Jesus worships him. In today’s society, worshipping the devil is a statement which can be hard to relate to. However it is more to do with who or what holds power over you rather than than prostrating yourself before a statue. Jesus is challenged to give up on who he is and let his ego dictate his decisions to achieve power rather than rely on listening to God and letting Him have control.


by Michaela Clancy

I will begin this article with saying that I do not know if I am a feminist…. I find myself searching for a simple answer and only find myself becoming more and more conflicted. As with any campaign there are always going to be factors that you favour more than others, but with feminism and certain feminist ideas I find myself becoming very opposed.

After years of listening to debates about women’s rights and deliberating with others as well as myself, I have still not concluded whether I support feminism. The typical definition is that feminism is the support of equality between genders, which I agree with. I very much support the right for women to vote and to have equal pay. I also support the fact the women can obtain the same level within the work place as men.  This in itself could class me as a feminist. I revel in the fact that education is open to all genders and that I myself am part of receiving an excellent education. I have also taken up opportunities such as the CCF and have had the privilege of considering a military career. All of these things were not as easily obtainable a hundred years ago or in some cases, a few decades ago.

However, I find myself reading articles and watching videos where I begin to question whether feminism has gone too far. I find myself wanting to scream when statistic start popping out at me, as often they are biased and have not taken into account the full picture. Recently,  I watched a video saying that in books there are next to no females who take charge of their destiny without the aid of a male or animal (in cases such as Disney). I understand what the producers were trying to portray but I found it unrealistic. Historically, women were suppressed and many modern stories are based on historical background. Also, they did not mention which books that the study was based upon, for all I know they could have purposely picked certain genres or selected specific books to support their study. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Should Men Be Entitled to Paternity Leave?

by Sienna Bentley

Forty years ago, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce paid paternity leave, giving both the mother and father time off to care and bond with their child. In the UK, new fathers will receive £139.58 a week for two weeks (the average earning per week was £538 in 2015), but can take longer, unpaid leave. However, while it is common for men to take a couple of days paternity leave right after birth, only the most committed and bravest use their right to longer parental leave in places that allow it: In the UK, 40% of dads choose not to take the parental leave offered.

I’ve read some pretty scathing arguments against the idea of paid paternity leave, some of which make my jaw drop and, controversial as it may be, I do find it a tad shocking that some people could be as ignorant as some of the things I have read. Of course, I think it is only the minority that are against paternal leave: says 82% yes and 18% no. So I’m trying to reach out to that 18%.

Yes, I agree with the fact that of course, women are the ones who have to push an entire human being out of their bodies after carrying it around for 9 months, but the notion that the father’s only role, other than helping to conceive the child in the first place, is to make money in order to provide for the family is, in my opinion, somewhat flawed.

Every argument I see usually stems from the same thing: Men don’t have to recover from giving birth. Obviously this is true, but it is also true that they still face a lot of the same issues that women do after having a newborn child. Yes, the woman is going to probably be twice as tired as her partner and naturally therefore should be given a longer amount of time off than the father, but realistically, both parents are usually living under the same roof, which in turn means that both parents are looking after the baby. Due to this, it is not just the mother, but both parents who will be kept awake at night by a crying, hungry baby. Just because the partner didn’t push the child out, doesn’t mean the baby doesn’t affect them. Both parents will see the effects of fatigue and as a result, the father’s work will suffer should he still have to go into work every day.