Must-watch: what happens when you mix a TED talk, a young boy, and Dostoyevski’s darkest novel? 

Take the 9 minutes this video requires. Lock yourself in the quiet of your headphones, and give it your full attention. Forget your preconceptions upon hitting play. 

Video artist Liz Magic Laser, who created this great piece (watch it behind the link on her website), mixed the hyper-standardised format of a TED talk with the innocence of a young boy reciting passages of the Russian author’s Notes from the Underground. 

This text was intended as a dim critique of the founding idea of inidividualism in both the liberal and socialist theories, i.e. the Invisible Hand: individuals pursuing each their own self-interest contribute to the common good. Dostoyevski masterfully tackles arduous questions with a caustic choice of words and grim simplicity, which sounds in turn out of place and in turn oddly convincing in the mouth of the boy, alone on the stage, living symbol of hope and a certain techno-chic ideal. 

Liz explains her choice simply:

I see TED’s underlying ideology of enlightened self-interest as the capitalist incarnation of the socialist ideal of individualism

I chose to use Dostoyevsky’s caustic language as the basis for my version of a TED Talk because it provided an uncomfortable and revealing counterpoint to the current form of techno-idealism promoted by TED. Since children are commonly used as symbols of hope and change, I felt a young boy would be a perverse and thus well-suited spokesman for my anti-idealistic TED Talk.


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