A few months back, I wrote a post for Culture on the Edge, this time prompted by a Diet Coke advert. I’m not sure I got the title ‘right’ at the time, but the point of the post was to challenge notions of individual autonomy, free will and agency, and to point to the important function that certain discourses serve in helping us maintain a sense of self as we make our way in the world. Along the way, I discuss Mad Men, invoke Handel’s Messiah, and even get in a cheeky reference to Love Island…
Below you’ll find the first paragraph of the post, and if it stimulates your interest I hope you will read more.
I recently walked past a bus shelter displaying an advert for new flavours of Diet Coke — Feisty Cherry and Exotic Mango — bearing the exhortation “because you’re an early adopter.”
This tickled my inner Marxist. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men of late, but I couldn’t help thinking what brilliant advertising this was. Setting aside the fact that Cherry Coke was introduced in 1985 – and what exactly it is that makes this variant “feisty” – who cares what the product is? YOU should purchase it, because YOU are a trend-setter! YOUR patterns of consumption are so much more on point than others, who admire YOU so much they’ll want to emulate YOU. We, YOUR friends at Coca Cola, want YOU to be a key element in the dissemination of this product. Because YOU are special. Because YOU have a valuable ability to recognize what will be popular before it’s popular. Because YOU are an early adopter.
I was recently asked to submit a short, interdisciplinary research brief for an event that I am attending on Urban Super-Diversity next month. In the interests of updating you all on what I am up to – particularly given that this blog has not been updated in a horrendously long time – I have posted this information below as an image. You can also download it as a PDF.
I hope to get back to blogging more regularly at some point in the future…
Taking a leaf out of my pal David’s blogging book, I guess I should update you all on what’s been happening.
Academically, among other things…
- I’ve recently had a book chapter published, in Atheist Identities: Spaces and Social Contexts
- I’ve recently been appointed a director at the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network.
- The Religious Studies Project continues to go from strength to strength. Now into our fourth year, I’ve been doing a bit more interviewing recently, including interviews on Bricolage, the Post-Secular, African Christianity in the West, The Emerging Church, Religion and Memory, and Geographies of Religion and the Secular in Ireland.
In my ‘real life’…
- The wonderful Lindsey and I got married in November!! Here are some photos…
- I continue to sing regularly in Edinburgh with the St Andrew Camerata, who are going from strength-to-strength lately. Check here for details of our next concert (21 March). And please follow us on Twitter!
- And probably much more…
Ciao for now.
More random tidbits from my research today…
The following extract appears in Mayfield and Fountainhall: A Short History (1962), which gives a history of the now defunct Mayfield and Fountainhall Church in Edinburgh. The quotation comes from a 1900 report of the Psalmody Committee to the Deacon’s Court, and suggests that there might have been a problem with some Gilbert & Sullivan creeping in on the organ…
One of the things I do for research purposes (and sometimes for personal enjoyment) is listen to a few skeptical or irreligious podcasts so that I can keep abreast of what is happening in the field. One that I do not listen to for pleasure is the Humanist Hour produced by the American Humanist Association. I think it just grates on me because it might as well be called the “Atheist Hour” or even the “Anti-Theist Hour” and there is only so much of that I can take in a day… but at least it is only published once a month, and it sometimes has some interesting material.
This month’s podcast was about music… basically music for atheists… however, it did inspire me to look up one of their guests – a young singer-songwriter from Melbourne named Shelley Segal. She has an album coming out shortly entitled “An Atheist Album” and the tracks I have heard are really good… funny, intelligent, inspiring and with a cool kinda reggae feel in places. So… check her out on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and her own website… and hey, why not even listen to the latest edition of the Humanist Hour. It’s just not really my cup of tea, but still worth a listen.
Here’s one of Shelley’s songs, “Saved”, from YouTube:
In preparation for going to see Bad Religion tonight in Glasgow, one decade after seeing them for the first time in Dublin when I was 15 (my first ever gig), I thought I would share my top 5 favourite Bad Religion songs with you. This is fairly mood-dependent, as these guys have so many amazing songs… but I shall just go with it.
It’s so rare to find a band with attitude that is so intelligent. If you have never heard them before, I hope this whets your appetite!
Firstly, “Modern Man”… I just love the lyrics to this one:
Secondly, “The Answer”… the message of this is pretty clear:
Third, “Generator”! I am sure this song has a message… but I don’t know what it is. I just love the attitude and the words
Fourth, “Sorrow”… a quieter, more contemplative number. And with a proper video… unusual for these guys!
And finally, “You”… magical memories of playing Tony Hawk’s II for hours on end as a teenager:
I have been pretty quiet on the blogging front for a while now… this is because I was at a reasonably useful conference on Young People and Religion at King’s College, London. This did mean, however, that I was able to catch with a number of good friends in London, and in Newcastle on the way back up to Edinburgh.
Upon returning to Edinburgh things pretty much immediately launched into the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, a wonderful group with whom I spent many a happy year and performed in, directed or produced sixteen productions of musicals, operas and operettas between 2004 and 2010.
On the Saturday night, we had a fantastic Ball at the George Hotel, Edinburgh… with over 140 people dining, and many dozens more joining us later for a good sing and a Ceilidh. Below is a clip of us singing Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Hail Poetry!”, a regular party piece from The Pirates of Penzance. Some of us may have had slightly too much to drink… but what we lack in tunefulness we make up for in enthusiasm. And I don’t think the hotel will ever have heard such a glorious noise!
The following day we gathered a group of 60+ singers at the Reid Concert Hall, with one of the best hand-picked orchestras in Edinburgh and performed a semi-staged version of The Mikado, under the able direction of my good friend Vincent Wallace. Here, Vince and I rehearse the song “Our great Mikado, virtuous man…” the afternoon before I reprised the role of Pish Tush, which I performed in 2008.
It was quite an emotional weekend, both with seeing many faces from years gone by, and with realising that that part of my life is now gone… but it was very happy, and great to get a group of lifelong friends together and have the dynamic be identical to ‘back in the day’. Thanks so much to everyone who was involved in the organisation of this epic weekend!
Things are looking similarly busy over the coming weeks, with two weddings, paid employment, and the small matter of writing my thesis… but I shall endeavour to keep posting on the more serious stuff. There are interesting plans brewing for this blog in the post thesis world… watch this space.
And also…. do look out for me at the European Association for the Study of Religion’s Conference in Budapest this coming September, where I am thrilled to be presenting a paper! The nerves have already started!
On a lighter note…
Here’s some great music that I have just discovered that makes a perfect start to the day: