Reading List – Summer 2020

  • On Ideology and Terror– Hannah Arendt
  • The Prince – Macchiavelli
  • Seeing like a State – James Scott
  • Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
  • On Styles of Radical Will – Susan Sontag

It is now summer.

  • “Fascinating Facism” – Susan Sontag on Leni Reifenstahl’s photographic documentation of the Nuba people in Sudan.
    • Article:
    • I read a recent Der Spiegel article where Steve Bannon nonchalantly claims to take inspiration from Reifenstahl’s work as film director for the Nazi regime. His statement is sweeping and empty. No critical analysis of the morality or context behind it. Simply her talent and the style of the movie as discriminating factor for the inspiration he draws from her. ”

      “We sit down at the dining room table and he picks up a book, a biography of the philosopher Martin Heidegger. “That’s my guy,” Bannon says. Heidegger, he says, had some good ideas on the subject of being, which fascinates him. This is what conversations with him are like: He jumps from the depths of politics to the heights of philosophy, from the swamp to Heidegger in five seconds. What sets us apart from animals or rocks, Bannon asks? What does it mean to be human? How far should digital progress go?

      And regarding Germany? He admires Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s documentary filmmaker. As a person, he says, she may have had her flaws, the whole Nazi thing. But, he says, she was “one of the top five directors of all time.”

      source (

    • Surely, Leni Riefenstahl was talented in being able to stirr such a large mass of people ideologically. But can we really worship or appreciate the work of such an individual (even independently outside of her Nazi propaganda) without traces of her facism?
    • In her 60’s Leni Riefenstahl became intoxicated with the Nuba people in Sudan and moved there to live amoung them and document their culture with photography.
    • On this Sontag writes, “It may seem ungrateful and rancorous to refuse to cut loose The Last of the Nuba from Riefenstahl’s past, but there are salutary lessons to be learned from the continuity of her work as well as from that curious and implacable recent event—her rehabilitation. Other artists who embraced fascism, such as Céline and Benn and Marinetti and Pound (not to mention those, like Pabst and Pirandello and Hamsun, who became fascists in the decline of their powers), are not instructive in the same way. For Riefenstahl is the only major artist who was completely identified with the Nazi era and whose work—not only during the Third Reich but thirty years after its fall—has consistently illustrated some of the themes of fascist aesthetics.”

Leni Riefenstahl


Art in Nazi Germany - Wikipedia


  • “All watched over by machines of loving grace” – Adam Curtis


  • Comparative study of  gut microbiome composition of children in a rural village in Burkina Faso compared to a city? in Europe (
    • A study from 2010 found that the gut microbiota is richer in children from the rural village Boulpon in Burkina Faso (BK) than children in the urban city of Florence in Europe (EU)
    • BK children exhibited an increased percentage of commensal (good) bacteria as well as elevated concentrations of short-chain fatty acids which are known to reduce inflammation and confer a wide range of health benefits.
    • One reason for this may be due to the Mossi diet being low in animal fat and protein and rich in plant polysaccharides (vegetables) and protein (e.g black eyed peas). Millet and sorghum are two key components of the Mossi diet and both contain high amounts of indigestible fibers for humans. While we cant digest these fibers as humans, bacteria love them, allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive.
    • The western diet on the other hand, is high in animal protein, sugar, starch and low in fiber. A true product of our industrialised, high-caloric, mass-market food industry. In this diet there is no room for fibers as they dont give us a sugar rush or direct nutrition. In some sense, we may have gradually processed out the food for our bacteria in trade for quick sugar spikes.


  • Q1: What can we learn from these communities? What are the benefits of communal rural life versus industrialised profit-driven urban societies?
  • C1: Wouldn’t this academic collaboration have been more fruitful if they had worked with researchers at a university in Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso)?



  • The Disintegration Loops – Wiliam Basinski

    • Hallmarking the spirit of the 2000’s, The Disintegration Loops were brought into the world by pure accident. While converting looped recordings from the 1980’s from tape to digital, Basinski realised that metal started coming off the tape at every spin, practically disintegrating the tape every time it spun around.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s