The Culture

Paradise Children: The Photography Of Alain Laboile

The children of Eden grow up in a pre-fall Paradise, wild like many tribal children. There is a science behind this - developmental psychology. Many modern Western children grow up with tightly controlled, highly managed lifestyles. There is a growing body of evidence to show that the lack of 'wild' play increases the chance of the child developing neuroses and insecurities. The French photographer Alain Laboile is noted for the photographs of his children engaged in wild play on their rural property. They capture a sense of joyful freedom and do a good job of capturing how the children of [...]

Super Intelligent Humans Are Coming

This is an excellent overview - super intelligent humans are coming -  of the issue of genetically enhanced intelligence. Sci-fi suffers from a deep prejudice about intelligence. The super intelligent are either mad scientists or emotionless Spocks. Whilst it is true that some with high intelligence in one area can be lacking in other areas (the socially awkward nerd) the reality is that people with a high intelligence are usually gifted in most areas.

Women Of The Nyingma Tradition

The Nyingma school of Vajrayana Buddhism believes that women can become fully realised masters. This image was posted on International Women's Day to celebrate some of the female Nyingma teachers, often called dakini or khandroma.

Jantar Mantar Astrological Park, Jaipur

In an early chapter of 'Paradise' we find Akash touring the famous astrological park in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar. The Hindus made important early discoveries in mathematics, which he recounts in this chapter. This is the park.

The Hindu Influence In Asia (part 2)

Conservative Hindus, Muslims and Christians have always been embarrassed by nudity and they have attempted to rewrite history. This is especially true in modern India where the conservative Hindu is more prudish than a Victorian gentleman. Modern Indian historical dramas dress the actors in a modern, conservative reimagining of ancient costume - despite the abundant evidence to contrary. Here are some examples of pre-Islamic Hindu art.

Traditional Cultures (part 2)

What is the point of clothes? The anthropological evidence is clear. It is primarily for decoration. Various cultures adopt costume as a way to distinguish themselves. Modesty is a secondary issue. It is not universal. Yes, clothing may be used to protect the naked body from harsh environments, but that seems only to apply to cold climates. Prior to Western colonisation, the overwhelming majority of warm climate cultures dressed in very little, using a wide variety of ornamental techniques to express their identity.

The Hindu Influence In Asia (part 1)

In 'Paradise' I mention early on that the new colony adopts the dress of the pre-Islamic empires of India and SE Asia, principally the sarong for both males and females. Most people do not know that during this era it was normal for women to go topless. The evidence is clear from the carvings on the temples throughout the region, from India proper to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to Bali, Indonesia. This historical reality has been suppressed by conservative Hindus, Muslims and Christians. However, we do have some photographic evidence. In the case of Bali, until quite recently (the Balinese [...]

Traditional Cultures (part 1)

One of the key themes of 'Paradise' is the notion of civilisation. Under the Christian myth of the Fall, indigenous nudity is equated with being primitive and 'savage'. The planet Eden is tropical and the colonisers decide to ignore this taboo, arguing that nudity is rational in a warm climate. Some of the colonisers come from tribal traditions and over time they adopt a wide variety of tribal adornment. These images are a reminder of that variety.

Bhutanese Monasteries

Since the decimation of Tibet, Bhutan remains one of the last places where Vajrayana Buddhism is practiced in its original form. The small kingdom is determined to preserve its heritage. Part of the story of 'Paradise' takes place in Bhutan, where the main protagonist converts a monastery to a hotel/command centre.

Aldous Huxley And Brave New World

Okay, a confession (perhaps a spoiler), Paradise owes a lot to the Huxley's - Julian and Aldous. There are elements of Brave New World and Island in Paradise. There have been attempts made at filming Brave New World, but they usually falter at an accurate depiction, usually stumbling over the radical and frank approach to sexuality. We'll have to wait and see about this attempt by Ida Kar,photograph,1959 .