Chomsky and Foucault: justice versus power

14 minutes

Nellie Bly makes the news

23 minutes

Take the Five

3 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Sundays with Riki

19 minutes

Random events

31 minutes

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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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Nellie Bly transformed investigative journalism by bending facts in pursuit of truth

I didn’t like the story I was given. So I wrote a new one.

A feminist, a social-justice advocate and a media sensation in her own right, the US journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (1864-1922) – aka, Nellie Bly – would have been right at home in the 21st-century media environment. Yet she started her writing career more than three decades before women in the US got the right to vote. First hired by The Pittsburgh Dispatch after writing a spirited rebuke to a sexist column entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Bly then moved on to the New York World, where she exposed the squalid conditions inside mental institutions by getting herself committed to an asylum. The resulting piece, published in 1887, catapulted her career, making her one of the most well-known and widely read reporters in the country.

In Nellie Bly Makes the News, the US director Penny Lane melds fiction and documentary to chart Bly’s improbable rise from domestic worker to famous journalist. Using a combination of scripted recreations of scenes from her life, expert interviews and faux ‘interviews’ with Bly herself, this inventive and frequently funny animation probes the good, the bad and the everything-in-between of her legacy, cleverly exploring the ever-blurry border between journalism and storytelling.

Director: Penny Lane

Writers: Thom Stylinski, Penny Lane

Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick

Director of animation: Julie Gratz

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Chase rolling hills and windmills on a jazzy ride through the California countryside

Interstate 5, the primary highway on the West Coast of the United States, runs for more than 1,000 miles between Mexico and Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington. In this experimental short film, the US filmmaker Conner Griffith takes the Californian stretches of the highway, and flips, spins, intercuts and speeds them up to exhilarating effect, set to a vigorous rendition of Take the ‘A’ Train, performed by the US jazz pianist Richard Tee. The video cleverly juxtaposes quintessentially East Coast urban music with West Coast rural imagery but, more than anything, it’s a wildly fun ride.

Video by Conner Griffith

Score: Richard Tee – Take the A Train

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‘You wanna get rid of me?’ When the time comes to move mom into assisted living

During their weekly Sunday breakfast together, Ivy discovers that her octogenarian mother Riki is losing her memory. Soon after, Ivy decides that Riki would be better off moving out of the cozy Brooklyn apartment where she lives alone, and into an assisted living community in the Bronx, closer to Ivy’s own home. But, of course, when it comes to big family decisions, nothing is ever quite that easy. Ivy is making the request out of love, but Riki – resistant every step of the way – thinks her daughter is being controlling. When the time for a trial run at the community arrives, Ivy’s siblings start to question whether the move is premature, while Riki’s neighbours suggest that she’ll never be back. These delicate interpersonal dynamics are skilfully explored in this short documentary by New York-based filmmaker Brandon Barr. A tender and intimate portrait of ageing and the complexities of familial love, Sundays with Riki is likely to resonate with anyone who has helped to care for – or just cares about – an elderly relative.

Director: Brandon Barr

Producer: Max Mooney

Colourist: Anthony Riso

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A classic film finds order in randomness with the aid of some improbably elaborate sets

The Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) was formed in 1956 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the mission to create science-education materials for US high-school classrooms. In this PSSC film from 1961, the physics professors J N Patterson Hume and Donald Ivey of the University of Toronto deploy their expertise – as well as some seriously elaborate sets – to demonstrate how, with enough data, highly predictable patterns can emerge from unpredictable events. This version of Random Events has been visually and aurally enhanced by the Aeon Video team. For more elaborate educational wizardry from the PSSC, watch Frames of Reference.

Director: John Friedman

Visual restoration: Tamur Qutab

Audio restoration: Adam D’Arpino

Aeon for Friends

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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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Essay/
Ethics
Tainted by association

Would you carve a roast with a knife that had been used in a murder? Why not? And what does this tell us about ethics?

Paul Sagar

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Marxism and Buddhism

Life is suffering, whether you sit under a Bodhi Tree or stand with the workers. But do the two schools agree on the remedy?

Adrian Kreutz