When I was at Tamatea High School in Napier, years ago, one of the gangs of bullies who prowled the place always greeted me the same way. “Here comes Wright. He must die!” Usually it was posed as a public question: “Hello Wright, do you want to die?” It was a daily event. I wasn’t … More Are humans bullies by nature?
I have been fascinated of late with the way our understanding of human evolution has forged ahead in leaps and bounds. This year alone we’ve discovered that Homo naledi, the previously unknown ‘archaic’ species that was discovered in a South African cave, was still going just 250,000 years ago and – very likely – had … More Re-thinking human evolution… again
I read a while back that a proportion of the photos being taken these days don’t even get looked at afterwards. The advent of the cellphone camera hasn’t just killed the ‘pocket snappy’ camera, it’s thrown us into the age of disposable imagery where photographs are taken and then forgotten. It’s kind of ironic, as … More Why ‘free’ stuff destroys our sense of worth – a lesson from photography
A significant hallmark of an authoritarian government is the way it uses the power of the state to bully people. The spectre was raised a century ago by Franz Kafka, whose unfinished novel The Trial summed up the whole problem. In the story, Kafka’s narrator was arrested and put on trial – all without even … More What Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ tells us about authoritarian bullying
One of the flaws of twentieth century thinking was that a lot of it was geared towards systematising the human universe around us. Everything had to be reduced to mechanisms, often simplistic, often single-cause. This was certainly true academically, particularly in the humanities which were styling themselves as ‘scientific’ on the basis of that systematisation. … More The flaws of twentieth century thinking
There is an old adage about letting things go; if you deserve them, they’ll come back. It’s been duly satirised. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it’. To me that’s insightful about the human condition as the original. And the message is simple – … More The most powerful emotion humans have is…
The idea that humans are, in truth, psychotic apes who would brutally smash each other were it not for the thin trappings of culture has long been a sci-fi staple, and with reason. What would happen if, say, culture was suddenly stripped from a group of kids? To William Golding the answer was simple; the … More Are we just psychotic apes, or are we human?