Norstein.1975.Hedgehog in the Fog

Perhaps my favorite animated short of all time, and actually voted the “best animated film of all time” in Japan in 2003, Hedgehog in the Fog is a haunting, evocative and poetic film that deserves to be seen by everyone.

The contrast between the Soviet animation emanating from Russia in the 70’s and 80’s and the saccharine schlock being peddled by Disney et al is striking and well known.  In Russia and Europe, animation was not reduced to the role of children’s entertainment, and retained respect as a serious artistic endeavor. Norstein’s work, at Soyuzmultfilm and after (they fired him for being too slow in 1985), often achieved in collaberation  with his wife Franchesca, is considered among the most artistic.  I will post more from him here at another time.

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Giorgio Agamben. Forms of Power. EGS, 2009

Here is a link to Giorgio Agamben conducting a seminar on his project Homo Sacer at the European Graduate School in 2009. He discussed Michel Foucault, Homo Sacer, the idea of a seminar as performance, philology, definitions of form-of-life, method, operations of power, naked life, biopolitics, bios, Martin Heidegger, dasein, dichotomic as opposed to bi-polar opposition, Aristotles Ethics, dualisms, and Heideggers abysmal indifference. Public open lecture for the students and faculty of the European Graduate School (EGS).

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Power & Plumes in Soeterbeeck

I had the pleasure of attending the very stimulating and enjoyable event in The Netherlands last week.  This was the interim meeting of the IPSA research group on power, which was held in the 17th century convent of Soeterbeeck, near Ravenstein.  Soeterbeeck is an ideal setting for a conference of this nature, full of atmosphere and history.  The participants get to sleep in the original nun’s cells, which offers an extra touch of authenticity and depth to the experience.  Our discussions were greatly aided by these “environmental factors”, as well as the excellent food and service provided by the staff who worked there.  I cannot recommend Soeterbeeck as a venue highly enough.  Special thanks are due to Henri Goverde in particular for his tireless efforts at organization and for making our stay as pleasant as it was.

The workshop itself was fascinating.  The topics covered were as diverse as the scholars presenting but all converged on the concept of power in one form or another.  Papers included were:

My own paper: Emotions & Power: Towards a Theoretical Analysis is very much a work in progress.  I am grateful to those who offered insightful critical comments and hope to improve the paper as a result.

Toward the end of the conference we began to realize the power of mother earth, as Eyjafjallajokull spat its noxious plume in to the air and grounded air travel over Europe.  A number of participants were unable to make the meeting at all, including Jonathan Hearn and Mark Rigstad.   The epic story of how we, the five Irish participants, managed to get home from Ravenstein will have to wait until another occasion.     Suffice to say it was both enjoyable and eventful, and I am grateful for the comradeship and generosity shown to me, a lowly grad student, by my supervisors, Mark and Kevin, and also by Kieran and Pat.  All in all  it was an ideal traveling situation.

Soeterbeeck Power Rangers