Chomsky and Foucault: justice versus power

14 minutes

Carlotta’s face

5 minutes

Reviving the Roost

6 minutes

Throat singing in Kangirsuk

3 minutes

Mary Beard: women and power

5 minutes

When Chomsky met Foucault: how the thinkers debated the ‘ideal society’

In 1971, Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault met at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands for their first and only debate. Produced by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation as a part of their International Philosophers Project, the programme featured discussions with eminent thinkers on the topic of ‘human nature and ideal society’. In recent years, their debate – the fourth and final of the series – has been somewhat overshadowed by events surrounding it. Namely, it’s rumoured that the programme’s host, the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders, paid Foucault for his appearance in hashish, and repeatedly encouraged him to put on a bright red wig to spice up the proceedings.

However, the debate itself – seen here excerpted and translated by the YouTube channel Philosophy Overdose – has appeal beyond the pleasures of watching the provocative Foucault spar with the professorial Chomsky. With the Vietnam War near its height, Chomsky and Foucault agree that contemporary power structures need to be attacked and dismantled. However, while Chomsky advocates for a system of ‘anarcho-syndicalism’ rooted in justice, sympathy and human creativity, Foucault argues that these concepts are products of the same bourgeois system that needs replacing. Probing age-old philosophical questions as well as the politics of the moment, the interview offers a revealing glimpse of the divergent styles, attitudes and outlooks of two enduringly influential thinkers.

‘A face is a hilly landscape.’ How a face-blind artist paints what she can’t recognise

Our evolution as social animals has equipped most of us with an acute ability to read and recognise human faces. However, people with prosopagnosia, commonly called ‘face blindness’, have difficulty distinguishing one face from another. Because the disorder isn’t widely known, people who have it are often not diagnosed and can contend with the added challenge of being considered stupid or rude. This animated short recounts the experiences of Carlotta, a woman whose face blindness is so severe that she can’t distinguish between human and chimpanzee faces, or even remember her own. While this caused her much suffering and confusion as a child, she has since leveraged the condition to inform her unique approach to self-portraiture and, by extension, to gain a sense of connection with her own face.

Directors: Valentin Riedl, Frédéric Schuld

Producer: Fabian Driehorst

Website: Fabian&Fred

Dancefloor politics – who’s in and who’s out at one of Edmonton’s oldest gay bars?

A year after reaching the legal drinking age, and before transitioning to female later on, the Canadian writer and filmmaker Vivek Shraya summoned the courage to enter the Roost, the most popular gay bar in her hometown of Edmonton. But while she found excitement within the Roost’s walls, the sense of community that she’d hoped awaited her was missing – or, at least, it was all much more complicated than she had anticipated. Even in this gay sanctuary, divisions of queerness and race, and in-groups and out-groups, created hierarchies of oppression that left her riddled with self-doubt. But then she went to Toronto, where each group had its own bar, and realised she had overlooked something important about the Roost. Set to pulsing music and neon-inspired animation, Shraya’s short film Reviving the Roost is a paean to a now-shuttered Edmonton institution, in all its sweaty, imperfect glory.

Director: Vivek Shraya

Producer: Justine Pimlott

Animator: Tim Singleton

Inuit throat singing is half performance, half game, and wholly mesmerising

In traditional katajjaq, also known as Inuit throat singing, two women stand face to face and perform a duet that doubles as something of a musical battle. Chanting in rhythm, they attempt to outlast one another, each waiting for any crack in the pace of her opponent – whether in the form of loss of breath, fatigue or laughter. In this short from the Canada-based First Nations film initiative Wapikoni Mobile, Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, two throat singers from the remote Inuit village of Kangirsuk in northern Québec, face off in a friendly katajjaq duel. With sweeping imagery of the duo’s Arctic home, the short, which screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a transfixing melding of music and landscape.

Directors: Eva Kaukai, Manon Chamberland

Producer: Manon Barbeau

Website: Wapikoni Mobile

Why Medusa lives on – Mary Beard on the persistent legacy of Ancient Greek misogyny

‘To be men, they have to learn to silence women. I don’t think we’ve entirely got over that.’

From philosophy and politics to literature and art, the Western world has inherited much from Ancient Greece. But one disturbing cultural legacy is the enduring view of women as lesser beings who should shut up and stay out of the public intellectual sphere. Our social media is rife with examples of this persistent misogyny, which casts vocal women as stupid, shrill or some combination of the two. As the classicist Mary Beard of the University of Cambridge argues, nearly every leading female politician has been at some point depicted as Medusa – that beautiful woman of Ancient Greek myth who was transformed into a hideous beast as punishment for her own rape. In this video, commissioned by the Getty Museum on the occasion of Beard receiving their 2019 Getty Medal for contributions to the arts, she elaborates on the telling similarities between Ancient Greek depictions of women and those in our own times.

Director: Matthew Miller

Producers: Ways & Means, Christopher Broyles

When Chomsky met Foucault: how the thinkers debated the ‘ideal society’

In 1971, Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault met at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands for their first and only debate. Produced by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation as a part of their International Philosophers Project, the programme featured discussions with eminent thinkers on the topic of ‘human nature and ideal society’. In recent years, their debate – the fourth and final of the series – has been somewhat overshadowed by events surrounding it. Namely, it’s rumoured that the programme’s host, the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders, paid Foucault for his appearance in hashish, and repeatedly encouraged him to put on a bright red wig to spice up the proceedings.

However, the debate itself – seen here excerpted and translated by the YouTube channel Philosophy Overdose – has appeal beyond the pleasures of watching the provocative Foucault spar with the professorial Chomsky. With the Vietnam War near its height, Chomsky and Foucault agree that contemporary power structures need to be attacked and dismantled. However, while Chomsky advocates for a system of ‘anarcho-syndicalism’ rooted in justice, sympathy and human creativity, Foucault argues that these concepts are products of the same bourgeois system that needs replacing. Probing age-old philosophical questions as well as the politics of the moment, the interview offers a revealing glimpse of the divergent styles, attitudes and outlooks of two enduringly influential thinkers.

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