Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Post American World - LSE events

The United States began to dominate the world since the nineteenth century and by the end of the twentieth century this domination seemed complete: economically, militarily, culturally and whatever other dimension you could mention. This domination is fading however, nobody seems to deny that. Fareed Zakaria wrote a book about the Post American World - the world in which America no longer is the only center of power.

The London School of Economics invited Zakaria to lecture about the subject. The lecture was podcast by LSE and my also be so by UChannel Podcast, as happens with several of the LSE podcasts. He is not proposing the US are necessarily losing its power, or being replaced by others, but rather that others, most notably China and India, are rising and settling in besides the US as power centers. The simplest way he finds to justify this rise is by the size of those two countries and the rule of thumb:" Any number multiplied by two and a half billion results in a huge amount."

All of this happened because India and China, and not just them, accepted the US dominance and adapted to globalized capitalism. The paradoxical thing is that the US had always demanded this of the world, but lost its ground when the world applied. As Zakaria puts it: The US forgot to live by the rules it wanted others to obey. It promoted globalization but lost because it didn't globalize itself. In Fareed Zakaria's mind the change is already happening and inevitably going to continue, yet, by no means, the Americans are lost. It has still a great dynamic and has already begun to truly open up.

More LSE:
Reparing Failed States,
Europe and the Middle East,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review,
Beyond the genome.

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Poetry with In Our Time

The latest broadcast of In Our Time takes on the metaphysical poets. Why they are called metaphysical is explained in the program, but since it involves a use of the word that is no longer common and implies more of a critique on the group rather than something easily identifiable or a name they had chosen themselves, that label sort of fades - at least that is what it does for me.

Moreover, one can hardly speak of a group. Certainly Melvyn Bragg and his guests hardly address a group. Mainly they speak of John Donne. The other poets that are discussed, are said to either not fit at all, or not fit with all of their work within the metaphysical poets. And so, in many ways, this is a program about Donne and how he fits, both with contemporaries and overall in English literature. With critics such as Samuel Johnson and contemporaries such as Shakespeare, one would almost pity Donne. And not expect too much of his work.

I was pleasantly surprised however, with the readings of Donne's poems on the program and found this work to be witty, accessible, gentle and sounding very modern. I would not have guessed for a moment, Donne was a contemporary of Shakespeare. It makes the poets very sympathetic and the discussion very engaging. Thus, In Our Time, was once again a top top shelve show.

More In Our Time:
The Arab Conquests,
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
General review of In Our Time,
Library of Nineveh,
The Brain: A History.

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