21 March 2021


The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.

David Graeber

Over the last two weeks, I have watched the six part documentary by British journalist and film maker Adam Curtis: Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World  "that explores how modern society has arrived to the strange place it is today. The series traverses themes of love, power, money, corruption, the ghosts of empire, . . . it deals with the rise of individualism and populism throughout history, and the failures of a wide range of resistance movements throughout time and various countries, pointing to how revolution has been subsumed in various ways by spectacle and culture, because of the way power has been forgotten or given away." (it's available here)

It is overwhelming, ambitious, clever, creative, a rush of images, fragmented shots, music, portraits of strange anti-heroes, Black Panther, psychedelic dogs, Chinese opera, and all in all very very addictive and fun to watch.  Click here for background and the review from the New Yorker.

It starts with the quote above and it ends with the quote above. And thus it ends - at least for me - on a hopeful note because it refuses to accept that we as humans are unable to act transformatively in the world but that instead, political leaders have run out of ideas for what’s next.

Along the way, we learn that the Ku Klux Klan borrowed its emblematic costumes from D.W. Griffith's classic film Birth of a Nation.

We also learn that the first James Bond director made a propaganda film for Saddam Hussein. And we learn that Bob Geldof's "Live Aid" charity for the starving in Africa was hijacked by Ethiopian rulers to eliminate civil war rivals. 

And this:


 If almost seven hours is too much, just watch part one and part six.

No easy viewing, no easy answers maybe a whole lot of rubbish, but an experience I would not want to have missed.

With the pandemic, paranoia has accelerated but I don’t think it just came from that. People were so shocked by Brexit and Trump, that they started imagining all kinds of dark theories about Vladimir Putin, rather than facing the reality of politics in power – which is that actually you’ve got a shitty society at the moment and you should do something about it.

Adam Curtis



ellen abbott said...

I admire all you people than can and do watch all sorts of documentaries. I just don't. I can't even find more than 30 minutes at a time to read which is something I like to do. I don't even watch TV (except one show Bob Hearts Abishola, a 30 min sitcom), don't watch youtube videos or listen to a podcasts.

My life so far said...

I don't know if I believe that humans can change which is a very sad statement indeed. The documentaries look interesting, I'll take a look. Thanks.

Colette said...

Sounds amazing. I will look for it.

Barbara Rogers said...

I'm interested. Hope to have a chance to see what the documentaries have to say. Thanks for the link.

Steve Reed said...

Sounds intriguing! I will check it out! I didn't know that about the Klan robes -- I thought they pre-existed the film.

am said...

Thanks for the suggestion to simply watch the first and the last. A substantial dose of reality, darkness and light, is what I experienced. No easy answers and all the light we cannot see.

Elizabeth said...

I've been watching this and can only watch bits at a time. It is mind-blowing and also very difficult to articulate what it IS exactly about.