Adam Curtis Discussion

About the work / perspective of thinker Adam Curtis.

I’ve found it very influential, but I’ve also had trouble finding criticism. So if anybody has a critical take (or an insightful one!) feel encouraged to share.

This article hooked my interest in his perspective (, and he’s made a number of docs over the years, starting with this one:

Here’s a recommendation in the order to watch them – contained in this playlist on YouTube

0.1. The Living Dead (not essential to watch)

0.2. Pandora’s Box (not essential to watch)

  1. The Century of the Self

  2. The Power Of Nightmares

  3. The Trap - What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom

  4. It Felt Like A Kiss (not essential to watch)

  5. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

  6. Bitter Lake

  7. HyperNormalisation

It’s pretty much in the order of appearance, so very easy to follow.

Whomever takes the time to watch 1 to 6 will find that each documentary builds and expands upon the previous one (especially in 1 to 3 it is apparent)

P.S. This shouldn’t be in the Hack-along category – we probably need one along the lines of “content.” And then potential subcategories according to the medium (so if I feel like reading, I can search for reading category – if I’m in a documentary mood, I can look for the video category)


Also, if anybody makes it through the “Machines of Loving Grave” series, it includes an episode that will challenge a lot of the perspectives held by people here (including myself)

Would love to have an in-depth discussion of that one

History repeats doesn’t it :joy:

Your lucky, then I’ve watched the first four previously so skipped straight to it! The “subconscious consensus” pluralistic pong game is pretty cool. The non-regulation stuff of the techno utopianists I can dig to degrees with provided the caveat that we very effectively self regulate - partly a reason I enjoy the maxim “quality of attention, and attention to quality”. Pretty unsure of the Ayn Rand lady; her “objective individualism” sounds a bit unbalanced down the subjectivist rabbit hole IMO - intersubjectivity is more interesting. The Greenspan cybernetic thing is also interesting to note, absorbing the fall with computer abstraction / derivatives… The later thoughts about commodifying ourselves/attention are good, the pavlovian conditioning devices we carry around in out pockets arnt fun but I guess when were all caught in the progress trap they are somewhat warranted.

I need to rewatch with these thoughts in mind!

Did you get to episode 2 of machines loving grace? (there’s 3 episodes to it, kind of a mini docu-series)

Episode 2 is the more challenging one I meant to reference above

I’m watching All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace episode 2 now. We dive into the use and abuse of nature analogies in software. Ok, harsh schooling inbound :joy:

Actually not too bad a knockdown, the assumption that nature was static was a bit of an oversight but otherwise the material somewhat still applies… just a recognition that its transformative is required. Good doco again :slight_smile:

Wonderful images by Adam Curtis, enjoy the storytelling and had gotten to the second episode of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

However, although the main message was very important, I don’t know if I can forgive him for his broad brush strokes on systems theory, ecology and then jump to cybernetics… (see attached pic to grasp a little bit how far a part they are, not to mention that he skipped chaos theory, but mentioned the “data problem” (another deep rabit hole))

See I think he is smarter than that to just have been ignorant and not careful of what he left out & what he used as examples. It was quite a deliberate Western fairytale style narration of heroes and vilians. How ironically reductionist is that?

But the message of nature concept abuse and the emergent abuse in “flat” human systems still should be promoted and shouted out loud. I could forgive him.

1 Like