SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Book Reviews & Essays on Literature


Mythology Meets Art in Venice – Trolls and Gods

Sometimes artists use themes or characters from Mythology, and currently, two artists have done this in Venice, Italy, in exhibitions running concurrently. In one case, Iceland-born artist Egill Sæbjörnsson has created two enormous and ugly trolls, which are a staple of Nordic Mythology, and in another, British artist Damien Hirst has created sculptures that depict many well-known Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Nautical myths. In this post I take a look at the references in the exhibitions of both artists and hazard a guess at what they may be trying to say. Opposing arguments are to be expected at important art exhibitions but these two have caused a particularly high level of puzzlement and publicity. In the case of the trolls – the hullabaloo is, well…because they are trolls. And in the case of the classical myths, it is because it is a huge exhibition by a very famous artist. Continue reading


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The Comedy of Brent Butt and the Canadian Psyche – Corner Gas

In some countries, comedy is a serious business

Brent Butt, writer and creator of “Corner Gas”.

Brent Butt, writer and creator of “Corner Gas”.

At the time that I relocated to Canada from South Africa, I thought that the situation down South was pretty depressing. The tension in the country was even showing in the work of local comedians who seemed to have turned bitter and defensive. Comedy was either viciously political or superficial and slapstick. Making fun of public figures could get you sued. My impression was that South Africans had lost the ability to laugh at themselves. It was not a good time to be politically incorrect.

Then I arrived in Canada and saw my first episode of the Canadian sitcom Corner Gas. First I thought; ’¿Qué…?!’ Then, ‘Oh, this is funny!’ It was philosophical, but also witty – in a dry, sneaky sort of way. There are poignant, reflective moments and some hard truths underlying the banter in some episodes, which gave them more depth than one would expect from a sitcom. Continue reading