Category Archives: #writing

What is a writer and other conundrums

Many years ago a magazine article described in surprise how a famous Indian author formerly a banker had submitted his book proposal with an elaborate marketing plan. At the time, this was relatively new as writerly concepts went. Weren’t marketing plans the predilections of management graduates?

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The untaming of the women of Star Trek

Over a lifetime, the stories we love groom us to minimise the opaque ceiling that builds over our collective imagination. To reach insight we stand on the shoulders of giants. Sometimes, we need to get down from there.

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Narcissism and the idea of “the one”

Mirror mirror..

Exposed to the hubris of these five Trumpian years has been enlightening for those unskilled in dealing with every day narcissism. The over-the-topness of Mr Trump has been a mirror held up to the modern and ancient human. Our collective cultures have mutely favoured narcissistic individuals over millennia, and not necessarily over the top ones. Insidious persons embedded  in our daily lives from childhood remained undetected until recently. Before Mr Trump, too many of us lived this disconcerting reality, only subliminally aware that something was horribly wrong, riven with doubt, even guilt about the Jekyll-Hydes that walked among us.

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Has empathy become a vehicle for dopamine?

It seems easy to explain the state of the world by pinning everything on empathy, or the lack of it. If this answer to the problems of the world seems easy, it is. Especially, when some of the problems of the present began with emphasising empathy. How can this be possible?

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The tension between whataboutery and false equivalence.

Photo by Markus Winkler on

Everywhere in the world, self declaring good people who believe in fairness above all, in the rights of minorities and suppressed genders, have been tightening their intellectual belts after they were pranked by populists. In a very Shakespearean turn of events, they were hoist with their own petard. Or, hoisted by their habits of intellectual seriousness.

So serious were they they didn’t see when they fell into false equivalence to serve the needs of fair and equal reporting.

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Facts versus stories, what’s the difference?

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on

When three “dissenting” scientists gathered in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to issue a call asking for common sense in the world’s reaction to Covid19, it was strange to watch because of the world we live in, but also reassuring that experts were at last beginning to speak. They were reasonable and measured, not moralistic even though they are up against an orthodoxy of empathy, which is also a strange idea to have to express.

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How to save facts from factfulness

For years it has been drummed into us that correlation is not causation. To make this confusing, tobacco companies famously misused that one in the 1960s. A couple of days ago, the CDC director said the Covid 19 vaccine might only have 70 per cent immunogenicity. He said that to point out the necessity of wearing masks. But I wish he would have thought ahead to all the vaccine deniers out there who will no doubt pounce on this unrelated nugget of information.

As we have learned by now in the last few years of intense populism, people are capable of using whatever means necessary to “win” a point, not prove it. The need to win being greater than the need to prove. In the case of big tobacco, history tells us they already knew their point was unprovable.

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Not quite The Matrix

An ancient hyperreal passing for the postmodern

To come to terms with the magic realism of a feudal society is impossible without an understanding of the hyperreal. The family itself is a hyperreal place, and to wake up like Neo in its belly, to become aware that you are a battery in the engine of the patriarchy, is a surreal experience. For an awakening woman, the experience is compounded when a battery is given away to another family for its use. Is the life of a man or a woman in the hyperreality of the feudal realm anything other than an artifice?

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Digital distancing: Freedom from the Pavlovian grip of the ‘like’ button

All social media sites, even this one, come with buttons for liking a post and adding comments. Ever noticed what your brain feels like, that subliminal surge of neurochemicals, that happens when pressing those buttons, or when those buttons have lit up under your post. It’s quite the Pavlovian, conditioned rush that has gone not unnoticed, but nevertheless normalised over this last decade.

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