It is never reassuring to hear that a man who calls himself Count Grishnackh is to be released from prison. And yet that is what is happening to the Norwegian black-metal icon Varg Vikernes, who murdered Mayhem's guitarist and set three churches on fire. It was just 16 years ago that Vikernes was sitting in an Oslo court, smiling as he received a maximum sentence. Best known as the leader of Burzum – whose first album begins with a song called Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown – Vikernes was also a far-right political activist and, er, grim dude. Though he was refused four times for parole – most recently in September 2008 – Vikernes is now set to walk free, he told Daglabet magazine. "I'm ready for society — and I have been for many years," Vikernes emphasised in an interview last July. "I have learned from my mistakes and become older. Now I just want to be together with my family ... I have barely seen my son since he came into the world. Even though … [Read more...] about Norway’s most notorious musician to be released from prison
Feeble minded in the bible
What is mental illness? There are dozens of different kinds of mental illness, from common disorders that affect tens of millions of people such as depression and anxiety, to rarer afflictions like paraphilia (sexual compulsion) and trichotillomania (a compulsion to remove hair). The “bible” of mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (its fifth iteration, DSM-5, was published in 2013), groups them under about 20 subheadings* (see below). Mental illness is not sadness, insanity or rage (though it can involve these in some of its forms); it is not binary or exclusive, but complex and universal. Another way to think of it is as a spectrum, a continuum that we all sit on. At one end is mental health, where we are thriving, fulfilled and at ease. In the middle reaches, people can be described as coping, surviving or struggling. At the far end sit the range of mental illnesses. Most us move back and forth along this line our entire lives. How … [Read more...] about Mental illness: is there really a global epidemic?
Christopher Hill, who has died aged 91, was the commanding interpreter of 17th-century England, and of much else besides. As a public figure, he achieved his greatest fame as master of Balliol College, Oxford, a post he held from 1965 until 1978. Yet it was as the defining Marxist historian of the century of revolution, the title of one of the most widely studied of his many books, that he became known to generations of students around the world. For all these, too, he will always be the master. It would be a pardonable exaggeration to say that Hill created the way in which the people of late 20th-century Britain - and the left in particular - looked at the history of 17th-century England. As he never tired of pointing out, some of the themes he illuminated so richly had already been explored by left-wing scholars in the 1930s. But from 1940, when he published his tercentenary essay, The English Revolution 1640, his own voluminously expanding and unfailingly literate work became the … [Read more...] about Christopher Hill