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The Living Dead

June 17, 2012

Many of you will be familiar with the BBC journalist Adam Curtis (his blog is here) who has created a number of intriguing documentaries over the last two decades including All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace and The Century of the Self.  In the  mid 1990s, Curtis created a three part programme called The Living Dead which explored our relationship with memory, both individual and societal, from WW2 to the present day.

The first episode (below) explores the impact of attempts to control cultural memory in the run up to the Nuremburg trials and its later impact on the West German state, though later episodes here and here focus on how attempts were made to erase, amend or even create new memories in individuals and entire societies.

My favourite bit in the series is the slightly comedic revelation in episode two that in the 1950s the CIA spent $25 million dollars on Acoustic Kitty, essentially a cat fitted with a recording device used for eavesdropping purposes.  Things didn’t quite go to plan, however, as during its first test mission the poor moggy was run over by a taxi when it tried to cross the street.  Meow.

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