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Variant |11 Summer 2000
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Washington and the politics of drugs - Peter Dale Scott
This is something of a masterpiece in unravelling and explaining its subject matter.  Scott - the author of several books on the subject - provides persuasive evidence on the murky world of US involvement with Drug trafficking through counter-insurgency operations in Peru (coincidentally some of the key figures mentioned fled the country after the article). This is extended to include the continuities of CIA involvement in Mexico, Colombia etc., the money laundering process and protection of the major Trafficking cartels.
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Albert Ayler in a kilt: The Assassination Weapon, Edinburgh, 1966/7 - Robin Ramsay
Evocative, funny and honest, this is a short piece remembering personal aspects of the underground music scene in Edinburgh in the '60s.  The influence of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Peter Brotzman and Hann Bennick is intertwined with Ramsay's own band's history.
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Artists as Workers and Technology as Artists: Critical Artists Devolve to Political Technologies -
Dr. Future
The difficulty of making art and affording access to equipment has always presented seemingly unavoidable conflicts of interest with artists.  This and other themes which emerged are explored in the context of 'Critical Image 2', a four day programme of events at the Lux Centre, London.
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Hey, Jimmy -
Peter Naylor
An much needed critique of the work of TV dramatist, Jimmy McGovern demolishes the received wisdom to replace it with a sharp insight which finds McGovern's work and approach flawed and perversely wanting on basic issues of class and politics.  This is broadened out to ask questions of TV production's limitations and self-censorship: the 'tyranny of balance.'
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Indeterminacy & shamanism -
Tim Hodgkinson
A very stimulating and fascinating essay draws on Hodgkinson's expedition to Siberia to research the activities of Shamans.  It scientifically tackles areas of psychology and philosophy to ask fundamental questions of human experience.  His approach is to distinguish different types of order of experience and ask how these might interact with indeterminate experience (such as the Shaman's hypnotic trance).  In religion and art he sees a special phase where the indeterminate is integrated.
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Tales of The Great Unwashed -
Ian Brotherhood
The costs and benefits of celebrity adulation are contorted in another brilliant short story.
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Degraded Capability -
Phil England
This is the title of a book which collects essays on 'the media and the Kosovo Crisi's by editors Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman.  This convincingly outlines that during NATO's 78-day bombing in 99, the media overwhelmingly acted as a propaganda machine.
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'When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro' -
William Clark
An Informative examination of the history of the Labour party's disgraceful attempts to influence and control arts policy.  The article charts the nefarious influence of think tank Demos (advisors, consultants and recipients of funds), the work of Geoff Mulgan and Mark Leonard in 're-branding Britain' (and themselves), the intrigue surrounding the formation of NESTA and much more.  You need go no further for background understanding of how you have been swindled.
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The art of governance: The Artist Placement Group 1966-1989 -
Howard Slater
The APG were a seminal group which tried to blend the utopianism of '60s experimental art with a pragmatic engagement with social issues.  Slater takes the recent 'Live in your Head' retrospective at the Whitechapel, and the recent fad for watered down 'conceptualism' to chart a hidden history.
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That is all my Bum: Thoughts on Contemporary Irish Fiction -
Jim Ferguson
Prefaced by a long quote from the brilliant Flann O' Brien, Ferguson introduces a range of critical viewpoints and socio-economic factors which influence contemporary Irish writing and identity.  The essay takes Seamus Dean's 'Reading in the dark', Dermot Healy's 'Sudden Times' and Roddy Doyle's 'A Star called Henry' as his specific focus.
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