Articles Comments

David Porter » Archive

Signs, Omens, Superstitions and Old Wives’ Tales

They’re part of the cultural fabric of folk memory, but do good luck charms and a myriad of superstitions actually make any difference to what happens? Most people know about touching wood (UK) or knocking on wood (US), not walking under ladders, not letting two people pour from the same teapot at the same meal for fear of the second one ’having ginger twins’ . Many heed the old adage, ‘be careful what you wish for…’ In other words, what people want could be disastrous. The Romans invented ‘superstition’ as credulous belief, not based on reason. Early Christians dismissed anything outside their views as the tales of silly old pagan women. In violent times of uncertain acts of nature, disease and the constant … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

A List of List-Makers & the Columns to Which They Are Addicted

Lists of things, people, places, memories, preferences come in all shapes and sizes. That’s why list-formators may be emotionally balanced. Or not. In Hamlet, Shakespeare mentioned: ‘a list of landlesse resolutes’. In the Coots/Gillespie song, ‘Santa Claus is making a list/and checking it twice/gonna find out who’s naughty and nice’. Some psychiatrists believe the making of lists relieves stress and gives some sense of purpose. The media is obsessed with A-list and B-list celebrities. Lists on social networking sites have become commonplace. The list is here to stay. Linton Weeks, writing on NPR sets out a list of 10 reasons why people love writing lists. They range from bringing order to chaos, aid to memory, they are finite and making them can help … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Bob Dylan and The Movies: His Songs and His Acting

 Poet, singer, songwriter, musician, painter, actor: there is no limit to what Bob Dylan brings to the world through his creativity and originality. Bob Dylan is no stranger to screen, whether concert recordings or documentaries. He has helped make and participated in movies, using his music and his many-times reinvented persona. Documentaries About the Man According to Internet Movie Database (IMDb), D A Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back (1967), famous for opening with Subterranean Homesick Blues word cards, was a portrait of the artist as a young man, following Dylan round a three week British tour two years earlier. Among others, Joan Baez and British troubadour Donovan are featured. IMDb also rate Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) as a portrait of an artist as a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Post-Democracy and Post-Modernism: What Comes Next?

With widespread disillusion in the west about politics & politicians, local & national democracy, tax & spend, is the end in sight for the current system? ‘Post-democracy’ has come in the past decade to describe governance which subscribes to democratic rule, but where power and application have become progressively limited, concentrated in the hands of elite government officials, police, civil servants, bankers or media-brokers, most of whom are indifferent to public opinion, determine their own salaries and pensions and are separated from those they ‘serve’. Different Commentators, Varied Views British commentator, Peter Oborne, believes current political disenchantment is a postmodern design of agendas and programmes that deny ‘independent reality, where truth gives way to mere credibility, a narrative is created for events and claims of acting in good faith within rules that allow … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Humour In the Most Unlikely Places Can Be the Funniest of All

Intentional or not, there is comedy where people least expect it, and that can be lucrative in the arts, business or just keeping everybody’s spirits up. Man is inventive, creative and enjoys humour. Even the Bible is full of humorous devices like irony, puns, wordplays and sarcasm. From the office joker, to the stand up comedian, the circus clown to government directive that’s laughably unbelievable, people find something to laugh about in almost every circumstance. Humour in Enterprise Finding and creating a comical business enterprise can sell. Special occasion cards, wind-up and prank calls and messages, role-playing at parties – these have all been successful business ventures. Geoff Williams from Loveland, Ohio is one of a number of writers pointing out the financial benefits for companies great … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Bible as an Unexpected Source of Humour

Comedy, parody, sarcasm, wordplays, puns, irony are not the first Bible elements that spring to mind as literary devices, but they’re all there, and more. According to Practical Dreamers Drop-In Centre‘s Evan R Lewis ‘checks scriptures for jocular materials’ making connections, noting what was funny 3000 years ago, may not seem such today. He argues comic texts must be fictitious, not sober historical reporting, containing surprise or shock that make a point beyond expected ridiculous, irrational or exaggerated behaviour, which is the essence of basic comedy. Jonah is a prime candidate, he argues: it’s parody, funny because here is a prophet behaving in an un-prophet like way telling God what God should have done. Old Testament Sarcasm, Derisive Amusement Friedman’s and Stern’s 2000 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Interactive Theatre Is As Entertaining As It Ever Was

Audience-participation performance is a modern term for an old idea reborn and recycled to keep theatre fresh: people just love to join in the action! Immersive performance does not respect a separation, or 4th wall, between those presenting and those watching. It used to be called Forum Theatre, after the Roman Forum where the voice of the people was heard in debate. It means participation from audience either collectively or individually making suggestions or joining in by directing performers, which in turn influences the narrative of the performance, or may be a simple supportive role, like carrying props, making noises or holding information. It is more than a pantomime audience shouting out “he’s behind you”. Location Often Determines Performance Style Performance can … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Schools of the Future May Not Be Actual Buildings at All

As the UK schools’ rebuilding programme is slashed, now could be the right time to wonder about tomorrow’s education in custom-made structures. Britain’s schools and colleges are currently wrestling with public spending restrictions. Rapid rethinking is being done on what to spend on updating worn-out, often crumbling infrastructure. The tension between perceived quality teaching and learning in state-of-the-art schools, and what taxpayers and government are prepared to pay, is tangible. Webster’s Dictionary defines education as “the process of educating or teaching….” Anybody digging deeper into this finds it necessary to define knowledge, skills, understanding, character, development. There is, in short, no universally agreed definition of education nor how it should be accessed. Teachers’ Mind Resources opened a debate on educational definitions … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Sometimes Sickeningly Sentimental Songs the Key to Chart Success

The craze for songs about death, crashes, murders, accidents and disasters was not confined to the 50s and 60s. Such music has always been lucrative. According to folk history, “folk music entertains, tells or supports a story transmitted from generation to generation… music of the common person as well as the wealthy”. Much American folk originated in Europe, often in oral tradition. It’s a long-lasting genre, that has influenced other arts. It has embraced life’s themes: death, love’s shades, religion, accidents, tragedies, murders, relationships, breakdowns, transport, suicide and war. Train crashes have been a staple. Deaths of train-riding hobos, brave engineers saving others, trains knocking people down. Yet all deaths in infinite variety have inspired further tragic songs in western culture. Early … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Bob Dylan, His Lyrics, The Bible, Scripture and Religion

The Bible sits in the centre of much of the world’s cultural heritage. So does Dylan, echoing or thundering its imagery, often in ways people don’t realise. Folk purists who booed him when he went electric in 1965/66, serious students of the man and his canon (Dylanologists) or friends/fans who feel they know him personally (Bobheads), have to agree to disagree about the importance of the Bible/Christianity in Dylan’s writing. Others might argue that music is the medium and words don’t work on the page anyway. Are the lyrics actually poetry? Aren’t they meant to be oral performance, not literary study? Dylan, the Well-Read Jewish Writer So how does a Jewish-American boy born of a father named Abram Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, raised in Hibbing, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101