Book Review: Confident Pluralism

Confident Pluralism by John Inazu

Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference by John D. Inazu (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016. 176 pp) John D. Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned a B.S.E. in civil engineering from Duke University, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina. We’re All Talking Politics, Even If We Aren’t on the Same Page 2016. What a year. There’s a meme making circles on the internet highlighting how people felt at the beginning of the year compared to now. Often connected to a series of images, the early 2016… Read More →

Film Review: Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (Affleck/Middleton Project, B Story, Big Indie Pictures, R, 137 min) Starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, and Lucas Hedges. Armchair Psychology Putting on my armchair psychologist bow tie, I’ll make an unfounded proclamation: we link emotional resonance to physical location. For example, we develop deep, nostalgic feelings for locations around the campus of our alma mater. Personally, my wedding location conjures feelings of love and joy. The sights, sounds, and smells of an area lodge deep in our souls. While watching the acclaimed Manchester by the Sea, I kept thinking about this phenomenon. New England Meets the Atlantic Set in New England, Manchester by the Sea depicts… Read More →

Television Show Review: Westworld: Season 1

westworld-season-1

Westworld: Season 1 created by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (Home Box Office, Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Kilter Films) Starring Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Hemsworth, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, and Rodrigo Santoro. The Nature of Consciousness Philosophers like to have fun too. Even if most people believe the philosopher ponders obscure, high level concepts like epistemology or ontology, there’s never been a thought experiment a philosopher hasn’t loved. Typically, these illustrations emerge in the entry-level courses. What better way to capture the mind of a student than introductory mind puzzles? Can we prove our mind isn’t functioning in a basement-level vat of fluids? (Depends on your… Read More →

Film Review: Arrival

Arrival

Arrival written by Eric Heisserer, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Lava Bear Films, PG-13, 116 min) Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Stuhlbarg. On Love and Loss Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. We speak this platitude in times of grief as a way of consolation for the saddest of these. In times long past (or auld lang syne given the holiday season), we may find some truth in these words. In retrospect, difficult times can help form us into the strong and bold individuals with a rich inner life. But surely, we never choose suffering. Nevertheless, it’s a product of our experience, the equal and… Read More →

Book Review: Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (New York: Knopf, 2016. 320 pp) Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Berkley, California. Ancestry There’s a scene from the year’s best new television series that sticks with me. Atlanta is amazing. Take my word for it. Anyway, Earn (Donald Glover), the protagonist—if we can accurately label such a character in this series—visits a party in a well-to-do neighborhood. The husband and wife operate in the elite stratosphere of Atlanta culture. The white husband considers himself a connoisseur of African culture,… Read More →

Book Review: Here I Am

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Here I Am: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016. 592 pp) Born in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Safran Foer attended Princeton University earning a degree in philosophy. While at Princeton, Foer developed a senior thesis around the life of his Holocaust surviving grandfather. Eventually, this thesis became Foer’s first published book titled, Everything Is Illuminated. The book received critical acclaim winning the National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award. Eventually, the novel was adapted into a film starring Elijah Wood. Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel garnered both praise and derision for its use of 9/11 as a narrative tool and its use of visual writing. Foer… Read More →

Television Show Review: Atlanta: Season 1

Atlanta Season 1

Atlanta: Season 1 created by Donald Glover (FX Productions) Starring Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz. #OscarsSoWhite Last year’s Oscar nominees commenced a necessary conversation around representation. Despite many worthy submissions from minority candidates, the prestige categories saw no nominees. For people in the old guard, the line of reasoning stays consistent: the best quality programming is nominated, regardless of color. If quality is quality, the cream rises to the top and representation will happen, providing the content merits consideration. And yet, the counter argument holds weight. I first encountered the idea from Vox critic Todd VanDerWerff. In essence, diversity is required to allow for the most interesting stories to be told. The old guard will… Read More →