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Summary: Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation Part 4 – Man, the Measure of All Things

  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • In the Pazzi Chapel, Clark says, the beginnings of the Renaissance are visible. Though often considered small, Clark claims that this is actually because of a new perspective, so to speak, in culture in which “everything is adjusted to the scale of reasonable human necessity.” This whole change in outlook he catches in one phrase, coined by Protagoras:”Man, the measure of all things.”
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    Alexis de Tocqueville on modern democracy’s gentle suffocation of the human spirit and the importance of local government

  • By: Ralf S. Willems
  • “It does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
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    Summary: Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation Part 3 – Romance and Reality

  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • This leads into a discussion of the ideal of Courtly Love. This, Clark says, is an invention of the Middle Ages – unknown to Antiquity. He offers three possible theories for its invention: Firstly, that Courtly Love as an idea was derived from Persian literature that Crusaders encountered in the Middle East. Secondly, Clark puts forward that it might have been the social position of noble women that inspired a sort of admiration that had to remain distant. Thirdly, he mentions the link between Courtly Love and the veneration of the Virgin Mary.
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    Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus – Embracing life’s absurdity in a universe that couldn’t care less

  • By: Lars Benthin
  • “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories, comes afterwards.”
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    Gipsy giant Django Reinhardt – A short look at perhaps the coolest guitarist in jazz history

  • By: Adrien De Boer
  • Influenced by both jazz and European gipsy and folk music, they gave birth to a new genre: Gipsy Jazz. With their music, Django and his gang established that true, romantic and classic “Paris jazz” kind of feel, that upon hearing will make one long for drinking wine in small, smokey French cafés, and a nightly stroll along the Seine.
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    Summary: Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation Part 2 – “The Great Thaw”, on the “great acceleration of development” around 1100

  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • In part II of this 1969 thirteen part series, art historian Kenneth Clark (1903 – 1983) discusses what he calls the “great acceleration of development” around 1100, which took place worldwide, but was “strongest and most needed in Western Europe.” He describes the profound changes in Europe at the time as an outpouring of energy in all branches of life, but will, for the most part, be concentrating on art, particularly architecture. He uses the monumental buildings of the age as his evidence for the “heroic energy, this confidence, this strength of will and intellect” with which they were built.
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    Summary: Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation Part 1 – “The Skin of Our Teeth”

  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • In part one of this thirteen part series, art historian Kenneth Clark (1903 – 1983) discusses a great range of topics. The disappearance of the Mediterranean centred Graeco-Roman Civilisation through exhaustion. The Celtic Church and it’s unique development, focused on the pictoral element, on the edge of the world, culminating in the Book of Kells. The Carolingian Renaissance and its rediscovery of the Mediterranean world and the written word.
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    Watch. Historian Niall Ferguson compares social media revolution to the printing press and Luther’s Reformation

  • By: Timon Dias
  • In the video Ferguson strong arms his emphasis on the divisive element of social media a little too much, to hammer home his analogy to the conflicts following the Reformation, but he does have a point. Keeping it real though, he’s not in favor of censorship policies, and says he’d rather be offended or potentially misled than having Silicon Valley control our news flows.
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    Summary – Jordan Peterson’s Biblical lecture I: “Introduction to the idea of God”

  • By: Adrien De Boer
  • In the text below, we’ll summarise the first hour of the lecture “Introduction to the idea of God”, in which Peterson aims to formulate a psychological framework for the emergence and interpretation of the concept of god. Why? Well, because sometimes a fifteen-minute read to absorb and recap beats sitting through a two-hour lecture.
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    Essay – Globalism may bear the Seeds of its own Demise, because it counters the Human Experience

  • By: Lars Benthin
  • “When the world becomes too large to be controlled, social actors aim to shrink it back to their size and reach. When networks dissolve time and space, people anchor themselves in places, and recall their history. When the patriarchal sustainment of personality breaks down, people affirm the transcendent value of family and community, as God’s will.”
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