(24.05.17) – Review: Butterflies, the Debut Album from ZAIA
with Rowan Gavin
“We break the rules”
So says lead singer Amy MacKown on Simple Tune, the penultimate track of the debut album from Oxford’s current premiere Reggae outfit, ZAIA. We wouldn’t say they break the rules so much as blend and bend them, juggling genres and playing with preconceptions throughout this fascinating and infectious summertime record.
“You interviewed well but unfortunately we just didn’t feel that you were right for this particular position.”
These are the words that no one seeking employment wants to hear. Looking for a job, especially during times of uncertainty and instability, can be a terrifying prospect. My own recent experience of this has got me wondering about the connection between job seeking, rejection and our mental health.
Uncertainty and rejection in job seeking is perhaps a massively overlooked and serious contributor to depression, anxiety and many other mental health problems. Although unemployment in our country is at an 11-year low, it is still important to discuss the detrimental effects job seeking can have on our state of mind as there are still large amounts of people suffering in silence. The job seeking lifestyle and its unavoidable experiences of rejection can both cause and exacerbate unhealthy behaviours and reactions.
(25.10.16) – Truth Or Fiction? The World Of HyperNormalisation
Surreal. Beautiful. Terrifying. Adam Curtis’ newest documentary can be described in many ways. It bombards us with messages and narratives which seem to have emancipatory power by simply exposing the chains we all appear to wear. This mesmerising piece of film-making taps into the psyche of human consciousness, getting to the root of how we feel and why we feel it. Once again Curtis has created a terrifying exposé of the confusing and uncertain world we live in.
(15.10.16) – Culturising Nature – How we’ve Lost Our Connection
For many who choose to ascribe to it, environmentalism is a clear moral question. We have a moral responsibility to care for and not abuse our planet. This is possibly one of the most common and important aspects to any environmentalism as it provides a motivation for action. Not just sitting comfortably saying we should do things, but actually getting out there into the world and doing them. This active engagement with nature and the environments around us goes much of the way to ground environmentalism in the practical, not theoretical. This is why our own individual understandings of what and where nature is can be the key to unlocking the inner tree hugger in us all.
Religion gets a pretty bad rep in the media, and some of the time it is justified. The following reflections are not intended to directly deal with the oppressive histories (and some present-days) of particular religious doctrines. Instead I want to reflect on the structure and nature of faith and spirituality, to investigate the effect it can have on our everyday lives. These reflections are in part inspired by my experiences of the faith of others, looking from the outside. This semi-voyeuristic experience of faith and spirituality led me to question the structure and direction of my own beliefs and how they could be grounded in a kind of blind faith.
(15.04.16) – The Culture Industry and the Death of Culture
As a 20-year-old young man today, I find myself surrounded by a society and culture which seem to lack substance in a lot of ways. I have had a lot of enlightening conversations with friends about this, and one of the conclusions we reached is that we are the generation of nostalgia, imitation, and regurgitation. We think back to the golden filters of 60s or 70s music as the paradigm our experiences now should imitate. We idolise the past because of the lack of originality in the present.
I feel part of a reflective generation which instead of projecting creativity into the future, we simply project it into the past to achieve a nostalgic warmness to keep us comfortable. This doesn’t surprise me when I look at the advent of pop culture and what is considered ‘talent’, or the celebrities of today. This is all a downward slope from the crossing the threshold of the millennium and feeling more culturally empty than ever before.
(23.02.16) – The Translatable Nature of Anxiety
There’s something about the nature of anxiety which makes it a distinctly personal, solitary thing. Anxiety in its many forms is an insidious creature which so easily permeates even the most confident of personalities. We can see in the press about the terrible nature of mental health care in the UK at the moment, and the pledges towards the improvement of the system. When we see that 75% of people receive no help with their disorders, or on average people wait for up to 10 years before treating their anxiety. Is it not time to think a little more deeply about our own experiences and whether they are translatable?
(12.01.16) – How Can We Learn to Identify with Our Planet?
I haven’t read a lot of science fiction. I have only heard of a handful of authors, and probably couldn’t name many of their books. But as soon as I turned the first page of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, I was hooked. His beautiful philosophical musings – in Bill Johnston’s English translation – about the nature of consciousness, perception, and the environment struck a chord with me. Which started me thinking about how we interact with our own environment here on Earth, and how perhaps we could benefit from a revaluation of our ideals.