Category: video

Olympic Games, 388 BC style

Greek charioteerWhat would it have been like to spend five days attending the ancient Greek Olympics in 388 BC? That’s what Neil Faulkner‘s book sets out to explore. You can listen to the interview, which I recorded with Neil in the spring of 2012, shortly before the London games, by clicking on the media players above or below. And there’s more information about the book on Yale University Press’s website here.
In the interview, Neil tells me:

‘Ancient Greece is a highly divided and competitive world, and it’s a world that puts huge emphasis on sport, partly because all of Greece’s city states depend for their armed forces on a citizen militia made up of their adult male citizens. So there’s a sense in which Greek sport is war without the shooting. It’s preparation for war in a highly divided and competitive world.’

And we also produced a short video of Neil talking about the book:

Neil Faulkner on his Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics from George Miller on Vimeo.


Julian Baggini: The Philosopher in the Kitchen – 1. Practical Wisdom and hummus

Here is the first of four short films I made with Julian Baggini last summer and released last month to coincide with the paperback edition of his book, The Virtues of the Table. In this first film he asks: Do we really need to follow recipes?


Julian Baggini: The Philosopher in the Kitchen – 1. Practical Wisdom (Hummus) from George Miller on Vimeo.

Of fathers

As this series, Talking about Photographs, continues, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that fathers will feature prominently as a subject – fathers gone and fathers barely known in particular. Here, Sabrina Hazelwood reflects on a picture of her father with some navy friends taken in Cuba in the 1960s.

Eva Illouz on Why Love Hurts

“The grand ambition of this book is to do to emotions – at least to romantic love – what Marx did to commodities: to show that they are shaped by social relations; that they do not circulate in a free and unconstrained way; that their magic is social; and that they contain and condense the institutions of modernity…

“Men’s and women’s romantic unhappiness contains, stages, and enacts the conundrums of the modern freedom and capacity to exercise choice.” – Eva Illouz

Eva Illouz - Why Love Hurts cover

Few of us are spared the agonies of intimate relationships. They come in many shapes: loving a man or a woman who will not commit to us, being heartbroken when we’re abandoned by a lover, engaging in Sisyphean internet searches, coming back lonely from bars, parties, or blind dates, feeling bored in a relationship that is so much less than we had envisaged – these are only some of the ways in which the search for love is a difficult and often painful experience.

Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. For many, the Freudian idea that the family designs the pattern of an individual’s erotic career has been the main explanation for why and how we fail to find or sustain love. Psychoanalysis and popular psychology have succeeded spectacularly in convincing us that individuals bear responsibility for the misery of their romantic and erotic lives. The purpose of this book is to change our way of thinking about what is wrong in modern relationships. The problem is not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but rather the institutional forces shaping how we love.

The argument of this book is that the modern romantic experience is shaped by a fundamental transformation in the ecology and architecture of romantic choice. The samples from which men and women choose a partner, the modes of evaluating prospective partners, the very importance of choice and autonomy and what people imagine to be the spectrum of their choices: all these aspects of choice have transformed the very core of the will, how we want a partner, the sense of worth bestowed by relationships, and the organization of desire.

George Miller interviewed Eva Illouz when she visited London this spring. To listen to the complete interview, click here. And to listen to extracts, click on the links below. At the bottom of this post, you will also find a video interview with Eva with additional content.

1. As an introduction to our discussion Eva Illouz compared the courtship manuals of the late nineteenth century and the dating guides of today. What has changed, and why is there a greater element of risk in the modern context? Click here [1:51].

2. “The main effect of psychology has been to privatize problems.” Eva Illouz reflects here on how psychology’s focus on the individual’s problems has overlooked their collective dimension – a deficiency which, she contends, sociology is well placed to remedy by examining the ecology of choice in which men and women operate today. Click here [2:20].

3. “Jane Austen was crucial to me.” Click here to hear about the part literature plays in Eva Illouz’s analysis of what has changed in our emotional landscape: “Literature often codifies implicit assumptions about emotions.” [2:29]Illouz extract 3

4. I asked Eva if she could give an example of how the architecture of choice had changed from Jane Austen’s day. Click here [1:58].

5. “Pre-modern people had these two models – affection and economics – as quite separate, and if they mixed that was [a matter of] great luck.” Eva Illouz explains here how – in her memorable phrase – economics has now come to “penetrate the machine of desire” [3:25].Illouz extract 2

6. We seek validation through our intimate relationships but also prize our autonomy. Why, despite all the strides made by feminism, do the disbenefits of this situation still fall disproportionately on women? Click here [1:11]

7. The Internet offers perhaps the quintessential example of the problems caused by seemingly endless consumer choice in the search for a partner. Click here [1:02].Illouz extract 1

8. “If there is a non-academic ambition to this book, it is to ‘ease the aching’ of love through an understanding of its social underpinnings.” So writes Eva Illouz in the book’s epilogue. In conclusion I asked her to explain how the book might contribute to easing that ache. Click here [2:26].

Eva Illouz introduces Why Love Hurts from George Miller on Vimeo.