On 28th May 2015, Martti Koskenniemi was given a honorary doctorate (LL.D. distinction) by McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Here, after receiving his degree, he offers some reflective guidance to the graduating class. Click for more info about his award. (His speech begins at 4 minutes 35 seconds)
His reflections reminded me of some things another international lawyer observed elsewhere.
On 23 May 2014, Professor Allott addressed the Spring Conference of the International Law Association British Branch at the Inner Temple, London. Professor Allott’s speech was entitled ‘The Idealist’s Dilemma: Re-imagining International Society’.
Maps in the 21st Century, such as this screen capture of Google maps, are readily available for anyone with an internet connection. It uses a variety of different data sets to bring together a functional map. It uses satellite data, shows seabed formations, gives traffic information whilst giving directions, has peer-sourced images and street-view. Simply astounding how all this information has been democratized.
I had the rare fortune of conversing extensively about the politics of international economics and environmental ethics on the weekend. It is worth noting a platitude. All ideas are full of politics, and, there are many different ways in which one thinks of politics. Just in terms of international economics, there are so many ways. The politics of economic power, politics of private interests, politics of expert reason, politics of public goods, politics of the ideology of disciplines…just to name a few, all came into play in my weekend conversations. Environmental ethics, also decidedly full of politics.
An interesting piece from Michael Byers. Byers considers actual and hypothetical Russian state practice, which he argues might impact Canada’s territorial claims and cause further grief to the US/Canadian dispute over the Northwest passage.
I first came across this animation about 2 months ago. Created by Alphonse Swinehart, the animation depicts the journey of a photon of light. The 45 minute clip shows a photon beginning its journey from the surface of the Sun, till it passes Jupiter. It is pretty tough, to try to make sense of some of the distances involved. Needless to say, these encounters with astronomy raise a number of provocations regarding human senses of time and cosmology. (Note on numbers: The figures I have chosen are taken from other websites. The figures may be slightly inaccurate, and I am aware that I may not fully understand all of them. Let alone, be able to verify them independently. Though, I suspect it would not matter too much.)
Of all the things I nearly done,
I nearly met the Aga Khan,
I nearly buzzed the Southern Piers
With Avis in his death machine
I nearly traversed across the desert
On a camel with a Bedouin
I nearly painted golden towers
I nearly practised the guitar for hours
I nearly saw the meaning of a suffering soul
I nearly stormed the pitch and scored a goal
I nearly entered my account on time
I nearly was an honest man
Of all the things I nearly done
When all that’s nearly done is though
What’s done, what isn’t, when the bell has rung and there is nothing left to nearly do.
If I can’t grasp a late degree
I’ll ever say,
It was for the lack of loving thee
So let my heart be open and my way be true and let me put aside the things I nearly done and bring me daily closer to the things that I do do.
Now that is lovely. There is also an interview with Garnet Frost and Ed Perkins (director) on eyeforfilm.co.uk.
I am a fan of Richard Linklater’s direction. That said, I’ve not seen all his films. Looking at the 20 or so films he has directed (as listed on IMDB), I have seen 10. There is a recurring motif in his films that I am fond of. One I call the ‘Wise Kid’ motif. In crude terms, a character desiring something more, and becoming aware of circumstance and the pitfalls of aspiring to be cool.
I do not mean cool in the obvious sense. Like John Travolta in Grease or Harry Winkler in Happy Days. This more obvious sense of cool means that the characters are represented by films and perceived by the audience in such a way, where the character’s traits transfers into the public imagination and becomes some one to emulate, to dress like, to talk like and so forth. I don’t think there have been characters from Linklater’s films where this has occurred. Rather, the more subtle cool that Linklater is able to create, is one that allows the viewer to identify and empathise with, an on-screen character’s aspiration to fit in. In many of his films, it does not appear to me that Linklater’s primary aim is to create or represent an obvious kind of ‘cool’. Rather, he tries to curate stories about trying to fit in. The ideal fit people search for, is altogether a more subtle kind of cool. The ‘wise kid’ motif provides a prism through which one could sympathise with the character’s aspirations to be cool, and yet, become aware of its problems.
I’ve recently been thinking about the manner in which people and institutions resort to violence. Of particular interest, is the view held by some people who argue that resorting to violence is beneficial or necessary. ‘Beneficial’ and ‘necessary’ violence is difficult to define and categorise, rather provocative, and, often sensationalized. To my mind, Gandhi’s writings on non-violence offers some degree of insight.
Gandhi’s thoughts on non-violence is deeply rhetorical. However, categorising his writings as rhetorical is not sufficient reason to abandon referring to them. It is helpful, sometimes, to admit that we can get all too strategic in our thinking. Placing importance on special kinds of rhetoric (i.e non-violence amongst human beings), could be a means by which one could create alternative self-understanding. Self-understanding that could value and appraise social relations beyond strategic paradigms. (Not to say the strategic paradigms are not important!)