For Your Coffee-table

There are only a few articles on the web that had a lasting impact on me. Some of them I like to list here, perhaps they are of interest to you.


Paul Berman, “The Passion of Joschka Fischer”, The New Republic, August 27, 2001.

A long-winding portrayal of the student revolt or “New Left” in Continental Europe, Great Britain, the U.S., and Germany in particular — from the early 1960s with its ramifications to the period of 1998 – 2005, when Joschka Fischer served as Germany’s Foreign Minister in the coalition government of Greens and Social Democrats under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Paul Berman depicts the various ways the revolutionary students and radicalized workers entered the urban guerillas as well as traditional politics. Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Joschka Fischer are treated extensively, many people are mentioned, which is convenient for further research.

Astonishingly, those developments are described with only bare mention of the European Counterculture of the 1960s to 1990s which ran parallel to the European student revolt and had huge cultural impacts (far more, one could argue, than any of the student revolt’s political achievements): Pacifism, No Nukes, alternative medicine, spirituality, humanistic psychology (Esalen), organic farming, music, festivals, the commune- and Back to the Land-movements, drugs, to name a few. But perhaps this omission is precisely a strength of this article.


Venkatesh Rao, “A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100”, ribbonfarm, June 8, 2011.

One of the most fascinating pieces in a long time. Venkatesh Rao tells the history of “the” corporation, how this concept came into being, how it profoundly shaped geo-political reality, and how its demise might be at hand. Interesting how in Venkatesh Rao’s view the concept of corporation first centered around the scarcity of space, then around that of time, and today around that that of “attention”. The latter part is a matter of taste, but the two former parts are all the worth reading.


Tom Junod, “The Sore Winners: Will America’s Super Minority Sink Us All?”, Esquire, October 27, 2010.

Why is it that affluent people often feel unprivileged? Why is it that they feel marginalized and ridiculed so that they react by embracing a right-wing ideology like “taking back the country”? Tom Junod asked such questions in his short essay on the occasion of the rise of the Tea Party in the U.S. and it sheds beaming light on the “sore winners” in all affluent societies.


Dougald Hine, “What good is information?”, Aeon, March 06, 2014.

This is a story that needed to be told for many years, and Dougald Hine gave it a first try. His thesis is simple: In the early 1960s to the late 1970s, LSD was seen by many in the Counterculture to not only free the mind but to bring about a radical change in human attitude towards the planet, ushering in a co-viable and sustainable way of living. When in the late 1960s, early 1970s members of the Counterculture began to drive the development of the PC (“personal computer”), they effectively started “freeing” computer technology from the confines of big corporations (then primarily IBM and Hewlett Packard), from governments and the military, for the use of everybody, to enlighten and free the mind. “Information wants to be free”, Steward Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, once said, and Dougald Hine ads that since the rise of the PC information itself has begun to take the cultural place LSD once occupied. Like in former times LSD was supposed to set people free, today it’s (still) believed information is able to achieve that goal. Thus the central place the concept of information has acquired in our lives. (Dougald Hine doesn’t distinguish between information and data, but that could be another strand to follow.)


David Arora, “The Way of the Wild Mushroom”, California Wild, Fall 1999, Vol. 52:4.

I didn’t encounter this essay on the web but first in print. But as I’m still fascinated by it, I wanted to include it here. I remember reading it in Whole Earth Review around 2000, perhaps as reprint from California Wild (or it was the other way around). Anyway, this marvelous essay describes the nomadic life of mushroom pickers in the U.S. as it seems to still have been practiced in the early 2000s. It is as much a reading about mushrooms as of a nomadic life that has been possible thereof until very recently.


Those are some articles that I found. Which one did you? Would you like to tell me?


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