Semantron 20 Summer 2020
Semantron was founded in 1992 by Dr. Jan Piggott (Head of English, and then Archivist at the College) together with one of his students, Richard Scholar (now Senior Tutor at Oriel College, Oxford and Professor of French and Comparative Literature).
The photographs on the front and back covers, and those which start each section, are by Ed Brilliant.
Editor’s introduction: ex umbris
Summer 2020 Torn between the war against cliché and the rhetoric of praeteritio
In late March, purely for entertainment’s sake, I had recourse to the guilty pleasure of watching some episodes of Spooks . 1 Soon this turned into an obsessive need to watch the episodes of all ten series. Yes, that is nearly 100 hours of television – for someone who does not own a television. But what was the attraction? At first, I merely indulged a love for representations of the secret world, however inane or fantastic. Co-incidentally and (I suppose) remarkably, there were the Dulwich connections: not only of two of the starring actors, Rupert Penry-Jones and Raza Jaffrey, but also of the use of Sydenham Hill station and the nearby woods as the site of a secret assignation away from the febrile atmosphere of the ‘ grid ’ , and of Crystal Palace Sports Centre as the place where a jihadi cell met under cover of a weekly five-a-side knockabout. But moving through the series, I began to marvel at two apparently incompatible features of the show. The first was the wish, unsurprising in a series about the security services, to dive boldly into ethical dilemmas, more specifically into an examination of Utilitarianism. 2 One can only admire the direct, no-nonsense way in which centuries of philosophical reflection are cast aside, as the spies come down without fail in favour of the majoritarian position, whatever the cost to individuals and to themselves. Of the many examples of this unsubtle philosophizing, my favourite was in the episode when a dastardly plot to blow up the House of Commons with bomb-laden submersibles ordinarily used by Colombian drug cartels is foiled by MI- 5’s use of a weapon of last resort, namely, an electro -magnetic pulse that stops all electrical equipment from working. Contemplating the horror of what he has done (as always, this is from the balcony of Thames House, overlooking the flickering night-time city), the head of D-Section (Harry Pearce, played by Peter Firth) is consoled by Ruth Evershed, the analyst played by Nicola Walker. She reminds him that, while a small number of people on life-support machines and the like may have died – nine, it turns out, because St. Thomas’ emergency generator has fortun ately kicked in – , his actions have saved thousands. Pearce, battered, unhappy, resigned, fragile, asks: ‘ Is it always about the Maths, Ruth ?’ ‘ I think ’, she replies, ‘sometimes it is.’ 3 There you are: problem solved; no more thinking required. A reader may object: crude utilitarians are not necessarily bad people, and they may, after all, be right. Furthermore, TV drama has neither the time, inclination nor expertise to engage in high-level philosophical reflection. This is true. However, it is noticeable – easier, this, when 1 Spooks . BBC TV, 2002 – 2011: 10 series, 86 episodes. I note that, in the USA, the series was titled MI- 5. I don’t know the reason for this change but the word ‘spooks’ sets off Philip Roth’s representation of some of the USA’s problems with race in The Human Stain . 2 Please see Aiken Furlong’s piece in this volume (p. 87 – 114), which thoroughly analyses the ethical issues and which also, independently, refers to Spooks . 3 Series 9, episode 1. The exchange takes place near the end of the episode (53.28 – 53.58). Available on BBC IPlayer.
you watch at least an episode each day – how less and less time is given over in the series to the necessary agonizing over these sorts of difficult moral decisions. Speed of (non) thought can become a habit. Lack of attention to nuance can become a propensity not just to decisiveness but also to rude calculation, to carelessness, to sociopathic judgement. At the same time as this rather conventional philistinism, Spooks displays a gleeful, postmodern abandon in its representation of self. Set up as a drama about people who are always pretending to be other people in order to discover the truth about other people, who are also often pretending to be other people, the characters become less and less sure about their own identities, about identity itself, as well as about whom to trust. This hall-of-mirrors, multiple-personality, fractured-identity feature of the show reaches its apogee in the character of Lucas North, played by Richard Armitage. When he first appears in the show, North, arrested while on operation, has been (tortured) in a Russian prison for 8 years. He is returned to the UK as part of a swap. This is pretty generic so far. And, as we need to root for a new hero, North is a good operator: tough, resilient, and resourceful. But it begins to emerge that he is not who he says he is. He has in fact murdered another young Englishman (the real Lucas North) while working abroad in Senegal. The real Lucas North had already been selected for MI5, in which our hero seamlessly takes his place, incredible though it may seem that a security service dedicated to identifying people by ransacking and playing with identities cannot identify someone it has itself selected. But what we now have is not only an actor playing a character who plays other people, but an actor who plays a character who is playing another person playing other people. As representative realists, 4 we may be used to the idea that what we experience is not the external world, but only an image or a representation. But the spooks, the spectres, or the ghosts, seem to be mounting up in this increasingly crazed scenario. 5 The show – in its representations of the blurrings and overlappings between actors, spies and ordinary people, in its depiction of betrayal, deception and ambiguity as the common currency of social exchange – is a smorgasbord of self-referentiality, that jewel in the crown of postmodernist literary theory. Of course, committed postmodernists will relish noting that we are watching actors playing people who are acting in a drama where their job is to play a part (as well as, out of duty, their part). Further, as new actors are brought in for maternity cover, to bring fresh blood, or to allow a departing actor’s career move, those actors are very clearly try ing to prove themselves. Has their ‘performance’ been good enough to warrant a ‘run’ in the team? Has their audition for MI- 5, or ‘MI - 5’, been successful? But perhaps Spooks does display and play with these postmodern insights: the self is multiple; the common observation about some actors – that they seem not to have their own personality at all – is actually true of all of us. 6 Or, to put it another way, we delve 4 A respected colleague once asked me (rhetorically, of course): ‘Surely we are all representative realists?’ For a good introduction to John Locke and representative realism, see Dunn 2003. 5 In his book Spectres of Marx , Jacques Derrida, in his typically punning way, introduced the concept of ‘hauntology’ (which, in French, sounds very much like ontology ). Ghosts of the past, neither quite absent nor present, haunt our present. Aren’t characters on TV or film always sorts of ghost? For Derrida on spectres and screens, see 1993: 100 —1: ‘ The spectre is also, among other things, what one imagines, what one thinks one sees and which one projects — on an imaginary screen where there is nothing to see. Not even the screen sometimes, and a screen always has, at bottom, in the bottom or background that it is, a structure of disappearing apparition. ’ 6 Thomson 2015, mainly concentrating on the differences between Olivier and Brando, is an excellent investigation of this topic.
into our wardrobe of masks for each role we play; we search for something tomake (our) voice(s) heard, something to make sound(s) through (a persona ). We are not grounded, and have no depth. Spooks , two-dimensional as it necessarily is, also has no depth. It represents MI-5 not so much as a security service as a security surface. As it happens, while I binge-watched Spooks , I was reading John Farrell’s biography of Richard Nixon, and Sue Prideaux’s of Friedrich Nietzsche. Both books require as much a commitment of time as Spooks and, while apparently different both to each other as well as to the TV show, they both betray an interest in the varieties and compromises of power, in the multiplicity of self-presentation, in the distortions of history and the unreliability of narrators. 7 So, in the shadows of disease and political turbulence, I have chanced upon an ad hoc trinity of reflections on power, and on the limits and possibilities of the self. A few words about this year’s issue. I am very happy that I have been able to include the arresting and evocative photographs taken by Ed Brilliant. The writing has been organized under headings taken from Ancient Greek (translations are given below). This has allowed previously unforeseen groupings of essays: drone technology sits next to Chaucer, for instance, and quantum theory is tied up with law and morality. The use of the Greek concepts is a reminder that the divisions of human knowledge are local and historical rather than fixed. 8 Many of the essays in this volume are written by students now in their final year at the College. However, there are a number of essays which were entered for the Gareth Evans Essay Competition (open to Middle School students), with the youngest of the essay writers currently in Year 9. (Essays can be reached from the contents page by clicking on the title.)
Neil Croally Editor June 2020
Derrida, J. (1993) Specters of Marx . London Dunn, J. (2003) Locke: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford
Farrell, J. (2017) Richard Nixon: The Life . London Foucault, M. (1970) The Order of Things . New York Prideaux, S. (2018) I am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche . London Roth, P. (2000) The Human Stain. Boston Runciman, D. (2019) Where Power Stops. The Making and Unmaking of Presidents and Prime Ministers. London Thomson, D. (2015) Why Acting Matters . New Haven
7 Runciman 2019 is a more journalistic but no less entertaining treatment of some of these same themes. 8 For a lengthy discussion, see Foucault 1970.
The Greek terms
word, reason, logic
Contents poiēsis . . . technē
Female temptation and devastation through hair in epic poetry ALEX MELLIS
The point of madness: surrealist c inema’s struggle for survival ALEXANDER LEWIS
The future of solar power DENNIS ORLOV
Apocalypse Now : the dehumanization of American soldiers in the VietnamWar HAL HOWE
Magical Realism in art and literature WILL COLLEDGE
The future of drone technology LUCA FRANCHI
Tarantino’s vision of violence GABRIEL PROCTOR
Rebellious female characters in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales JACK PROBERT
Environment ALEXANDER POLI
Should we abolish the FED? JAN PTACIN
China, Africa, and globalization CHARLIE LEITHEAD
Value RYAN BHASKAR
54 Technology and battery metals: how the resurgence of electronic cars has affected the cobalt market WESLEY FONG
Containerization and globalization YUMING GUO
The Winter War TOMOGLUND
Can artificial intelligence be intelligent? WILL WOOD
Are we alive for a reason? OLIVER HIME
The ethics of artificial intelligence GABRIEL WELHAM
Does time pass? SAMUEL LAMBERT
Are criticisms of utilitarianism convincing ? AIKEN FURLONG
The influence of philosophy on science SAMEER KHALIL
Will AI replace humans? JOSHUA SOYKE-PINON
Juan Domingo Perón: democrat or dictator? NICHOLAS WILLIAMS
Material culture, marriage and gender in Renaissance Italy JOSEPH ATKINSON
135 To what extent was the presence of Egyptian Islam the main reason for Napoleon’s inability to govern Egypt from 1798-1801? LEO TIDMARSH
The decline of the Ottoman Empire ALEC KENNINGHAM
145 Predestined to profit? Reformed protestantism and economic expansion in the Dutch golden age ALEXANDER SARBINSKI
Why and how is Spain still haunted by Franco? AJAY RAJAPAKSE
Fear in global politics GABRIEL RAHMAN
To what extent has ‘El Plan Colombia’ succeeded in combating Colombian drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups in Colombia? LUKE TOWNSEND
The Catalan independence referendum HENRY COLLINS
168 To what extent does race affect the political and economic state of Malaysia? SAMUEL CHAN
UK punk and politics 1975 – 1984 WOLFGANG BOETTCHER
What is the value of a state? LEO STERZ
nomos . . . phusis
Is there life elsewhere in The Milky Way? DMITRI PITTAS
190 The effectiveness of the World Anti- Doping Agency’s analytical techniques LOUIS GOODWIN
Synthetic insulin – a matter of life and death NICHOLAS FIELD
Themoonsof JupiterandSaturn: aspaceoddity? DARIUS JOSHI
206 Overdiagnosis in psychiatry: its effect on children and ethnic minority groups JAMES KAKANYERA
Quantum entanglement of living bacteria with photons JOVAN TIJANIC
Is the law inextricably bound with morality? DANIEL JUNSANG PARK
What makes nitroglycerin so dangerous? HENRY HALL
Genetic editing and the law HAKAN DIGBY
Polymers and chemistry: where do we go from here? NICHOLAS FIELD
Where is everybody? WILLIAM BRILLIANT
poi ē sis . . . techn ē
Female temptation and devastation through hair in epic poetry
Bishop Joseph Hall personified the sin of mankind as a woman with a ‘loose lock erring wantonly over her shoulders’. Spoken between 1641 -56, this image continues in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost , first published in 1667, and highly resembles the character of Eve, the first female and vehicle of the Fall of Man owing to her ultimate transgression. Alexander Pope’s satirical mock -epic poem The Rape of the Lock, first published in 1712, clings closer to this image with the story of the theft of a lock of hair from the alluring woman Belinda. Throughout this genre of poetry, the trope of an enticing yet destructive woman is prevalent, as established by the Fall of Troy fought over the queen Helen, said to be the most beautiful woman at the time. The hair appears to represent a certain femininity both pursued and feared by men at the time, and loose hair is a rich and frequent, if problematic, symbol of womanly lure and vice.
There are several descriptions of Eve’s hair in Paradise Lost, all appearing to reinforce or foreshadow the disobedience to come while metaphorically or literally veiling her mind and spirit with her beauty.
So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreprov’d,
And meek surrender, half embracing leaned
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid.
Here, the ‘loose tresses’ are highly significant, with the same description as the ‘loose lock’ of Hall’s image. The adjective ‘loose’, here, suggests a certain carelessness, or more likely unbridled disobedience and even chaos central to the character of Eve, who defies the command of God to perform ‘man’s first disobedience’ (i. 1), the ultim ate transgression of eating the apple in the garden of Eden. Furthermore, the adjective also carries a meaning of sexual promiscuity or indiscretion, reinforced by the explicit nature of her ‘swelling breast \ naked’, as well as the pair’s lustful and oste nsibly sinful intercourse after they eat from the tree. Their nakedness, and both sinful and sexual acts, would be somewhat shocking to the seventeenth-century reader and appears to fuel the common characteristic of a sexually excessive woman active in literature previously and thereafter, a character which often leads to a decline or degeneration as seen with the Fall of Man. The hair concealing this act is also important as this loving yet seemingly immoral act is ‘hid’. This appears to continue this idea of feminine destructive and seductive trickery and almost personifies the hair as it appears a part of Eve’s sly presentation. This act of concealment is also very similar to the description from lines 499-500, as ‘Jupiter \ on Juno smiles, when he impreg ns the clouds’, both objects obscuring a nude sexual act and appearing to be agents in the apparent deceit at hand. This idea again appears earlier in the book:
Female temptation and devastation through hair in epic poetry
She as a veil down to the slender waist
Her unadornèd golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils,
The hair is once again used as a façade, a ‘veil’, cementing the common trope of female beauty being deceptive and dangerous. Bishop Hall’s description emphasizes this, also featuring ‘a painted hide shadowed with a fan not more painted’ and ‘painted cloth and skin’, displaying the anxiety around female presentation and cosmetics, and the attributed dishonesty. Additionally, Eve’s hair being ‘dishevelled’ and ‘unadornèd’ not only rei nforces her characterization as somewhat unruly and rebellious before the Fall; it also suggests a certain uncontrolled madness seen in classical mythology, often in dreadful mourning or Dionysian cult celebration. Lastly, as the ‘vine curled her tendrils’ , Eve more closely resembles the leafy garden the pair are in, but the image connotes an ominous creeping or even strangulation. Alexander Pope’smock -heroic poem The Rape of the Lock was published 45 years after Milton’s own epic and focuses on the theft of a lock of a beautiful girl’s hair by the noble Baron. However, unlike preceding epic writers such as Milton, Virgil or Homer, Pope satirizes the genre by presenting this trivial theft in the grand scale of other epic poems. This begins with the title, a s although ‘rape’ here means to snatch or carry off, the violent sexual connotations of the word heighten the gravity of the poem as well as criticize eighteenth-centurymaterialismand self-obsession. The object of the verb is almost juxtaposed and emphasizes this criticism, as, rather than the kidnapping of a woman or queen such as Helen of Troy, it is referring to a lock of hair. The stakes are thereby comically lowered to a personal andmaterial level. With descriptions of the hair itself, the trope of allure and deception is again present. The ‘curls’ are ‘well conspir’d to de ck . . . the smooth ivory neck’ (ii. 21 -22). Once again, the female character is described metonymically reduced to her hair, which itself appears to have more agency and cunning than the person attached. Nor are any of these descriptions in any way positive or endearing, with ‘conspir’d’ inciting suspicion into the reader by suggesting the ‘curls’ are working together as an antagonist in the poem. This idea is taken further, even presenting the hair as a beautiful, tempting trap designed to ensnare the unaware man:
Love in these Labyrinths his Slaves detains,
And mighty Hearts are held in slender Chains.
With hairy sprindges we the Birds betray,
Slight lines of Hair surprise the Finny Prey,
Fair Tresses Man’s Imperial Race insnare,
And Beauty draws us with a single Hair.
Pope presents Belinda’s hair here as an obvious trap into which countless men will gladly and naively fall. The two sexes are here distinctly distanced and separate, as womankind is objectified and reduced to the single superficial quality of ‘Beauty’, and is contrasted with ‘Man’s Imperial Race’, the curiously powerless victim in this exchange. Appealing womanly qualities are applied to the traps and snares in
Female temptation and devastation through hair in epic poetry
this extended, almost Homeric metaphor, as the prey is ensnared by ‘fair tresses’, an adjective n ormally applied to a beautiful maiden rather than a snare, and the masculine yet vulnerable ‘mighty hearts’ are ‘held in slender chains’, with ‘slender’ suggesting a fragility and perhaps femininity and once again flipping the gendered power dynamic. Here, scepticism and suspicion of womanly beauty and desire is once again evoked, with the dichotomized imagery of brilliant, personified ‘Beauty’ incarnate, and the terrible theme of the perilous and devious snares and traps presenting the female figure as bipolar and dishonest, purely through the relation to the woman’s hair and the metaphor of entrapment . However, the granting of female agency through the active, restraining actions of the metonymical hair is arguably positive as despite being ‘slender’ and ‘slight’, ‘Man’s Imperial Race’ is tricked and triumphed over, lending more credibility to the text as a more pro-feminist mutation. In Pope’s poem, Belinda’s lock, with its virginal, pure, and here, even celestial qualities, is the undeniable and sought-after subject of the story. The theft of such a lock is presented ironically on a truly epic scale, being compared to the fall of the ‘Imperial tow’rs of Troy ’ (iii. 174). This is an allusion to Homer’s Iliad, both the foundation of the genre Pope satirizes and arguably of western literature, and the comparison to a benign theft of a single curl of hair heavily criticizes eighteenth-century vanity and elitist self-importance. The conclusion of the poem appears to elevate Belinda and her hair to a godlike st atus, as the ‘Muse shall consecrate’ her ‘Lock’ to ‘fame’ (v. 149). The ancient link is reinforced with the appearance of a ‘Muse’, often appearing as an inspiration or audience to ancient Greek and Latin poetry and literature, and here both divining Belin da’s hair and perhaps Pope’s poem as an Epic. The godlike appearance of the tresses continues from earlier, with the illustration of a ‘radiant trail of hair’ (v. 128) continuing the celestial theme as well as alluding to the classical god Apollo, perhaps even acting as a comparison. The hair holds beautiful, divine qualities almost justifying its theft by the Baron, as ‘not all tresses . . . shall draw such envy as the lock you lost’ (v. 144 -5). In both Milton’s and Pope’s epic poems Paradise Lost and The Rape of the Lock, the trope of a sly, rebellious and often characteristically beautiful woman is reinforced. They are often metonymically reduced to their hair, which in itself can be personified and granted qualities seen in the women, as well as being quintessentially feminine and fertile. However, the often active nature of the hair is both troublesome and empowering, being seen both to conceal potential sins or ensnare a naïve admirer. Nevertheless, the presentation in both poems is overall endearing, as the divine attractiveness of the figures are emphasized and accentuated to often be the subject of destructive desire on the part of male pursuers.
Fish, S.E. (1998 2 ) Surprised by Sin. Cambridge, Ma. Hall, J. The Works of Joseph Hall. 5 th edition. London Milton, J. (1667) Paradise Lost. 2000 edition. London Pope, A. (1712) The Rape of the Lock. 2007 edition. London
The point of madness: surrealist cinema’s struggle for survival
‘I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.’
- André Breton
André Breton’s revolutionary vision for Surrealism was never real ized in his lifetime. Surrealists believed that through automatism and liberating the unconscious mind, they could form a more empathetic society. By viewing surrealist art, literature or cinema with its dream-like and hallucinatory qualities, one could gain a window into the artist’s unconscious mind, and looking at life from another person’s unfiltered perspectives in this way, one could acquire a new advanced form of empathy, and fresh perspectives on major issues. Surrealism in Breton’s lifetime realized only one half of his hope, and in that achieved very little. Since the birth of Surrealism, it has transcended various mediums and disciplines, from comedy and music to the more famous surrealist cinema, art, and literature. In the origins of Surrealism, the key med iums were art and literature, with works such as Max Ernst’s The Elephant Celebes and Breton’s automatist book Les Champs magnétiques . These media had a number of advantages for early surrealists, primarily in their accessibility to creators in only needing a pen and paper, and their suitability to the automatism practised by many surrealists. However, they also had some disadvantages. Literature and Art were to many consumers inaccessible genres, particularly the working class who would be key in the Marxist revolution that Surrealism supported, if it was to ever succeed. As well as their perceived inaccessibility, they also had a far smaller potential audience, as the distribution of art and literature was far more limited. These disadvantages were where Surrealist cinema could thrive. Through film cameras, surrealists could capture a surreal image in a more authoritative and ‘real’ way, through camera techniques such as superimpositions, overexposures, accelerating or decelerating footage: they could create novel images whichmaintained a photographic quality making it difficult to decipher the real from the surreal. Early surrealist filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel and Jean Epstein realized that the camera could capture the dream-like quality of their vision while maintaining the façade of an unquestionable reality. Themost important landmark for surrealist cinema was the release of Un Chien Andalou in 1929. The film’s creators, Buñuel and Dalí , used shocking imagery such as the slicing of a woman’s iris with a razor and the film’s non -existent narrative in an effort to provoke and agitate the avant- garde bourgeoisie of the Parisian art elite. The film’s creation process was essentially the strin ging together of Buñuel’s and Dalí’s dreams and only had one rule: ‘no idea or image which might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.’ The filmwas a huge success, eliciting great praise from the very people it sought to ins ult, and earning its creators entry to Breton’s close-knit group of s urrealists. However, despite the film’s spreading the surrealist style and
The point of madness: surrealist c inema’s struggle for survival
movement, it did not achieve Breton’s goal. The film only presented a dream world, and was consequently absent o f almost all meaning, doing little to promote the Surrealist’s aims. From the beginning, Surrealism was defined by others, and there was nothing to prove or disprove anyone’s interpretation. As Surrealism developed, it suffered from its lack of a cohesive identity, perhaps inevitably due to its nonconformist and unlimited subject area. None of this is clearer than in Salvador Dalí, the most famous s urrealist; as André Breton began to reaffirm Surrealism’s Marxist ambitions, he began to alienate artists such as Dalí who were far more focused on the expressive and even commercial aspects of Surrealism. Relatively soon after joining the Surrealists, Dalí left for America and found huge success on his own. This was the issue that Surrealism faced; Dalí had stolen the Surrealist name and moulded its identity to suit his own purpose. As its most famous artist, he defined what Surrealism meant and effectively neutered any political impact that Breton hoped it could achieve. Dalí’s commerciali zation of Surrealism can easily be seen in his collaboration with two major capitalist companies, Disney and De Beers. De Beers used Dalí’s work alongside the slogan ‘Diamonds are works of art’ to establish one of the most exploitative and immoral industries in the world today. And while Destino, the short produced by Disney and Dalí is a masterpiece, the ruthless business practices of the Walt Disney Company and Disney’s own problematic views undoubtedly undermined the liberal ideals of Surrealism. The dichotomy between Surreali sm’s roots and what it came to be associated with can be seen in the resurgence of surrealism in films in the 1970s. Works from directors such as Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, maintain surreal visuals and style, but differ significantly from the films produced by filmmakers early in the surrealist movement. One major area is in their length. Early Surrealist films were almost entirely short films while those of the 1970s were feature-length. In these films, directors often tried to reconcile dreams and reality in their own way. This quickly became a pitfall of surrealist cinema While attempting such a task, many began to rationalize the surrealist elements of their films. Surrealist scenes began to be reserved for Hollywood dream sequences, nightmares, drug trips and psychotic episodes, the fine balance that Breton dreamed of, although attempted, remained unrealized, as reality seemed to ceaselessly dominate that of the dream. In films such as Gilliam’s Brazil , although being more expansive in its use of Surrealism than merely for hallucinatory scenes, it still drew a line between dream and reality, rather than intertwining them into a true surreal film. Such films, owing to their rationalization of the surreal, could face accusations of betraying their surrealist roots. Hailing from films such as Un Chien Andalou , with its confused sense of time and space, and its absent narrative, the surreal films of the 1970s seem to resemble far more the traditional films of their time. However, it would be wrong to fling accusations of betrayal at such films without appreciating their development of surrealist cinema. Although perhaps not fully succeeding, far more than their predecessors, such directors had begun to refine Surrealist cinema where it could aspire to be what Breton had hoped for. Films from such directors as Lynch and Gilliam incorporated meaning and interpretations into their films, attempting to tell a story through surrealismwhile still maintaining the enigmatic beauty of the surreal. There was nothing for such directors to betray, as the surrealist cinema of the 1920s and 30s was far more focused on disrupting the cultural expectations and restrictions of the medium to allow for future developments. Un Chien Andalou was a film that didn’t tell a story or take a stance, but instead forged a path ahead for future films. Without Un Chien Andalou , surrealist
The point of madness: surrealist c inema’s struggle for survival
cinema couldn’t havematured into what it is now, but without the refinement that directors like Lynch, Gilliam and Jodorowsky provided it would merely be a form of eccentric entertainment.
One recent film which marked another milestone in Surrealist cinema was Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse released in 2019. The film is set on an island lighthouse, and studies what happens on the island as the two characters are left alone over an undisclosed time. Eggers employs a new strategy in this film, first creating a situation grounded in reality, and using period-perfect sets, costumes and dialogue, to reinforce the realism. Eggers then intertwines the film with surreal stylized visuals, dialogue and moments. Through this he creates a film where dream and reality are inextricably linked and the audience is forced to form their own interpretation ranging from those viewing the island as a sort of Purgatory to those who believe that there is only one character and that the other is an insane projection. Eggers used black and white film and an almost square aspect ratio to further imprint a surreal feeling onto every scene. While also lending an aged feel to the film encouraging immersion in its period setting, the conscious decision to film in black and white forces an almost otherworldly and less precise feeling on the film, making viewing the film a dream-like experience, while the square aspect ratio encourages feelings of constriction and enhances the hallucinatory and uncanny nature of the film. The film, despite the importance it grants the story’s various interpretations, has a number o f similarities with Un ChienAndalou and other surrealist films. For example, the filmhas a deeply visceral scene where Pattinson dashes a seagull against a rock, while other scenes feature Dafoe’s repeated flatulence. Like Dalí and Buñuel, Eggers uses juxtaposition frequently, but perhaps more importantly, a viewer seeing either The Lighthouse or Un Chien Andalou will take away something entirely different as another person who saw the same film. The Lighthouse was a major evolution in surrealist cinema, dramatically improving upon the blending of dream and reality, but at this point one has to ask: will Breton’s vision ever be real ized? Perhaps it is the fate of Surrealism to never find the perfect balance, after all reality and dreams are by their very n ature subjective, one man’s dream is another man’s reality . It is likely that for many such a balance had already been struck years before The Lighthouse and perhaps even before the resurgence of surrealism in the 70s. And equally likely, many people will never see their resolution of dream and reality. Or perhaps they may one day and then lose it the next. Reality is always shifting just as our dreams and aspirations are also evolving. Breton’s fabled resolution may have come and gone. At the point where dream and reality would cease to fluctuate and there would be an exact point of resolution, Surrealism, its core purpose as a force for change, would lose all importance.
André Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto (originally published in 1924) Luis Buñuel (1982) My Last Sigh . Minneapolis The Dalí Museum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp2PRA0qaD4 Roger Ebert: https://www.rogerebert.com
Facets: http://facets.org/blog/exclusive/surrealist-cinema-and-the-avant-garde/ Film Inquiry: https://www.filminquiry.com/surrealist-cinema-100-years-psychedelia/ Metropolitan Museum: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/surr/hd_surr.htm Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/
The future of solar power
Humans are truly an energy-hungry species. We have this strange obsession with extracting all the energy we can from everything around us. And even if it isn’t fromDIRECTLY around us, we will search underground or investigate the far reaches of the cosmos to power our various commodities, tools, and cities that define the modern-day Earth. The expense of maintaining and advancing a modern-day Earth, however, lies in how we harness the energy to power it. Fossil fuels, (namely coal, crude oil, and natural gas) have been the main source of this energy, accounting for around 80% of the world’s primary energy use. As the name suggests, fossil fuels are derivatives of plant and animal fossils that have been put under pressure for millions of years, with crude oil and natural gas coming mainly from water-borne lifeforms such as plankton as well as plant material, and coal from decayed trees, as well as mostly land-based plant material (this is, however, a generalization – fossil fuels can be composed of all deposits of decayed organic materials). The aforementioned fuels all have one thing in common: they are hydrocarbons, and therefore burnwell. And through this shared quality, their use as an energy source has evolved over the years, from lighting up oil lamps for simple heat and light, to natural gas power stations (which accounts for the largest source of energy in the UK) for powering capital cities. Over the past few decades, the costs inflicted on third-parties through the usage of fossil fuels as an energy source have become more apparent through research, through which they have been linked to global warming (owing to emission of carbon dioxide, and leading to climate change), destruction of the environment due to extraction (most commonly mining and drilling), and the release of various chemicals that cause damage to both the environment and people’s general health ( such as sulfur dioxide, which kills two birds with one stone by causing both acid rain AND pulmonary inflammation). This, combined with the limited availability of fossil fuels as well as rising energy needs, is the recipe for both an energy crisis as well as an environmental crisis. The solution is a switch to a different energy source. While various different energy sources have been experimented with in relation to the realization of said crises – namely, nuclear power (using heat generated from chain reactions caused by nuclear fission to heat water into steam, where a turbine can convert this kinetic energy into mechanical energy, after which an electrical generator converts this into electrical energy), as well as various forms of renewable energy – , the vast majority of them aren’t capable of meeting the ever -rising energy demands of civilization. Currently, the world demand for power sits at around 16 terawatts, which is expected to rise with every year (about 30 TW expected by 2050). Wind turbines can feasibly produce around 2-4 TW, biomass 5-7 TW, tidal energy at around 2 TW, and geothermal can produce 9-7 TW (however, only a small fraction of this is feasible due to significant drilling and exploitation costs). By harvesting energy from the largest fusion reactor in the Solar System – the Sun- the Earth’s energy needs can be met. Hypothetically speaking, if the earth was covered entirely in solar cells with 100% efficiency, we could generate 1.2x10^5 TWof energy, and around 3.6x10^4 TW if all land on earth was
The future of solar power
covered in solar cells. While this is a hypothetical scenario, the difference in energy that can potentially be harvested is still substantial.
Solar cells, also known as PV (Photo Voltaic) cells, were first introduced in the 1950s. Photons (light) are converted into electricity via the use of semiconducting materials which exhibit the photovoltaic (similar to photoelectric) effect. A solar panel is composed of much smaller solar cells, which are made out of silicon (being the second most abundant element on earth) in a crystalline structure. The cells are made out of two types of silicon, a p- type silicon, which contains an excess of ‘holes’, and an n -type silicon, which contains an excess of electrons in its outer shell. They are known as ‘p’ and ‘n’ type silicon because they hold a negative and positive charge, respectively. This is done by ‘seeding’ or ‘doping’ each silicon with another element, namely phosphorus into the top layer of silicon (adding extra electrons) and boron into the bottom layer of silicon (resulting in fewer electrons, ergo a positive charge). Because one of the types of silicon has an excess of negatively charged electrons, and the other has a deficit, they have opposite charges, creating an electrical field. The border between these two different types of silicon is known as the p-n junction. By understanding this, it is possible to see how through the photoelectric effect the solar cells can create a circuit and generate electricity.
When a photon (a particle of light) strikes a material that exhibits the photoelectric effect, it gives an electron enough energy to free itself from the material (which, thereafter, is commonly known as a photoelectron), as shown in figure 1. This can also be shown where:
Energy (of the photon) – Energy taken to release the electron = Kinetic Energy of the electron
The above equation can be changed into something that is more standard by employing Planck’s constant, a number that links the amount of energy a photon carries to its respective electromagnetic wavelength. This const ant is denoted by the letter ‘ h ’ and is equal to 6.62607015×10 − 34 Js (Joule- seconds). To calculate the photon energy, one must multiply the frequency of the light in hertz by Planck’s constant. Because the frequency ( f ) of light (or other repeated, continuous actions) is equal to its velocity (speed) divided by its wavelength (distance of one ‘repetition’), the equation for photon energy results in h • c/λ , where c is the speed of light, and λ is the wavelength. The energy taken to release the electron is known as the ‘work function’, or theminimumenergy (from the photon) required to release an electron from a specific surface (different elements have different work functions) and is denoted by the Greek symbol ‘ ф ’. Therefore, the Kinetic Energy ( Ek max ) of the photoelectron is equal to h • c/λ – ф , or hf – ф . When an electron is freed from the outer shell in the silicon, it is drawn to the n-side of the silicon, pushed by the electric field created by opposite charges. This electron is collected in the top layer of the solar cell, (which is made out of a conductive material) and flows through an external circuit, where it can power appliances or be stored as electrical energy in batteries. The electron (now without charge)
The future of solar power
flows through the circuit back into the solar cell, now entering one of the holes in the Silicon p-side, so nothing is used up or worn out. As such, electrons act as the only moving part of a solar cell.
As it stands right now, solar panels have an approximate efficiency of 15-20% in converting sunlight into energy that can be used in homes. Whilst this may not seem like much, it is far more than the approximate 0.3% efficiency of the sunlight used to grow plants and burn them (i.e. biomass). The theoretical limit for a single-junction cell would be around 33%, as going higher than this would require the layering of solar cells. By layering solar cells, different elements with varying work functions can capture the low, medium, and high-energy photons, resulting in efficiency that is in the 40-50% range. However, in order for the panel to work, the crystallographic lattice (which is also present in silicon cells) has to run through the entirety of the cell, and for that to happen the materials must be grown very slowly so that the lattices align – this being a very expensive process (costing around $40,000 per square metre). Through higher levels of research and development, more and more different compounds have been tested in solar cells, with two of these standing out in particular.When using a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based materials, it allows for high efficiency combined with low cost. These are both known as perovskite-structured compounds, which are named after a type of mineral found in the Ural Mountains. Because perovskites have a layer-based structure, they have a broad absorption range, are cheaper to produce, and absorb more light than silicon, allowing for thin and even flexible solar cells/panels. Furthermore, perovskite-based solar panels have a high absorption coefficient, which means that the rate of decrease of intensity as it passes through the material is high, resulting in better absorption of sunlight. All of this means that you end up with a cheap, flexible, and more efficient solar panel than normal silicon PV cells. This has proved to work very well, with the highest ever recorded single-junction efficiency currently standing at 27.3% (using a 1cm^2 solar cell), accomplished by a tandem silicon-perovskite cell.
With such advances in this technology occurring, it is easy to see how this technology could be seen as what will power the future. And in fact, this technology has already evolved to the point where it is seeing a huge increase in use around the world. The increase in installation of solar cells has exceeded even Greenpeace’s expectations, as shown in figure 2. Furthermore, in areas with a high concentration of solar radiation, such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, the technology can allow for electricity to be cheaper than when using other sources. In the UAE, the Mohammed bin RashidAl Maktoum Solar Park covers 77 square kilometres, situated around 50 kilometres south of the city of Dubai. Whilst the global average
for producing electricity fromcoal stands at around £0.037 per kilowatt- hour (this is equal to one kilowatt of power sustained for one hour), the cost per kilowatt-hour that the owners of the solar park are pledging to sell for stands at around £0.02 – this being around 46% cheaper than the price of coal. Figure 2
However, despite all of its advantages, there are still drawbacks to using solar energy. The first being that. owing to perovskites and similar innovative technologies only being recent, solar cells are still
The future of solar power
generally quite expensive, especially when aiming to optimize efficiency. Furthermore, as the vast majority of cells that are currently in use are made from silicon, it takes a huge amount of time and resources to change panels in large solar farms/parks. Another key issue is that solar radiation is not evenly distributed around the earth. The amount of power that can be generated from solar radiation can be shown with the following formula (and therefore be used to compare how much each country can generate):
Energy = Total Solar Panel area • Solar panel efficiency • Annual average solar radiation • performance ratio
(The performance ratio is defined as an evaluation of the quality of a photovoltaic installation.)
If taking the same exact solar panel, with A, r, and PR remaining constant, the only variable quantity is the annual average solar radiation, measured in Kilowatt-Hours per metre squared or kWh/m^2. In Saudi Arabia, the quantity is around 2600 kWh/m^2, whereas in Norway, this stands at around 200 kWh/m^2. This means that certain countries have a considerably larger potential for solar power production, unless there is a way to store and transfer said energy, which leads to another problem: solar energy storage is expensive. Solar farms and parks which have access to an excessive amount of solar radiation (such as the one near Dubai) must invest huge sums of money into Lithium-Ion batteries, and even more into finding methods to transfer this energy. Finally, solar panels themselves aren’t entirely environmentally friendly. The production of solar panels involves the handling of hazardous and toxic compounds, and their shipment indirectly leads to greenhouse gas emissions from transportation vehicles. To sum up, photovoltaic energy has been, and still is, an ever-increasing and revolutionary form of energy. With every year, solar panels become more efficient, cheaper, and induce a wider range of applications than before, even seeing some use in systems such as drones. While there is an environmental debt to pay with production of solar panels, it is still miniscule compared to the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that result from the combustion and processing of fossil fuels. And, as storage of energy and transportation of energy are beingmore researched, the world could one day redistribute the energy resulting from solar hotspots, and power the world as we know it.
The future of solar power
Dechert S. (2015) ‘ Greenpeace Aces Renewable Energy Forecasts. Surprised?’ Clean Technica. Available at: https://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/30/greenpeace-aces-installed-renewable-forecasts- surprised/. [Accessed 5 August 2019] Dhar M. (2017) ‘How Do Solar Panels Work?’ Live Science. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/41995-how-do-solar-panels-work.html. [Accessed 2 August 2019] Husseini T. (2018) ‘New world record set for perovskite solar cell efficiency’ , Power Technology. Available at: https://www.power-technology.com/news/new-record-perovskite-solar-cell-efficiency/ [Accessed 5 August 2019] Moore A. (2017) ‘ Collecting Electrons from Photovoltaic Cells’ , Advanced Science News. Available at: https://www.advancedsciencenews.com/collecting-electrons-photovoltaic-cells/. [Accessed 2 August 2019] Photovoltaic-software.com. ‘ How to calculate the annual solar energy output of a photovoltaic system? ’ Available at: https://photovoltaic-software.com/principle-ressources/how- calculate-solar-energy-power-pv-systems. [Accessed 16 August 2019] Snaith H. (2017) ‘ Photovoltaic solar energy: from the photoelectric effect to global power generation and beyond ’ , Royal Society. Available at: https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and- lectures/2017/04/kavli-lecture/. [Accessed 1 August 2019]
Apocalypse Now : the dehumanization of American soldiers in the VietnamWar
Apocalypse Now (1979), directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is without a doubt one of the most influential movies in my life, not only because of the way it was shot and put together but also in its poetic symbolism. Although many viewers and critics alike choose to disregard in-depth analysis of the film’s meaning, I find it hard to ignore the genius behind this tale of man’s descent into insanity. Apocalypse Now is a modern retelling of the novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, which follows a man’s journey down a ri ver in an attempt to find a man named Kurtz who penetrated to the farthest reaches of the Congo and established himself as a god. Marlon Brando was Coppola’s Kurtz, the villain of the film, whil e Martin Sheen played Captain Willard - an officer eager for a mission who is sent to assassinate Kurtz. However, what the film is really about is the psychedelic confusion, violence, fear, and nightmarish madness of the VietnamWar, and how the journey towards evil (The Heart of Darkness) corrupts a man ’ s soul. In my own interpretation of the film, the Vietnam war is the ultimate dehumanizing ordeal, in which each step closer to the front line (the heart of darkness) brings a new level of insanity. Colonel Kurtz is a man so inhuman by the time the film starts that he represents the heart of darkness, the root of all evil. In this essay I will discuss the importance of Willard and his crew’s journey towards this.
The film opens with Willard’s face superimposed on images of warfare, presenting from the
outset the turmoil within his mind. The imagery of the jungle, fire and helicopters flying across screen, along with the sounds of helicopters show the interchangeability of his life in and out of warfare, almost as if his brain were hardwired to summon this appalling imagery. The song ‘The End’ by The Doors is playing behind the images, adding a commentary:
This is the end Beautiful friend this is the end Can you picture what will be so limitless and free desperately in need of some stranger’s hand in a desperate land
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