Film Review: A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story written and directed by David Lowery (A24, Sailor Bear, Zero Trans Fats Productions, Ideaman Studios, R, 92 min) Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. I Will Follow You into the Dark Reflections on the afterlife can leave unsettling inferences unsaid. If heaven is more than just a place on earth, then what will we do? With whom will we spend time? How does a consciousness known only in the linear encounter and operate in the infinite? In my younger years, I always feared the afterlife my faith tradition composed. The notion of sitting in God’s glory and worshipping forever seems utterly dull. But, compared to eternal damnation, I guess a boring existence is an upgrade? The ghost… Read More →

Book Review: The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special: A Novel by Chris Bachelder (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. 213 pp) Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark, U.S.!, and Abbot Awaits. His fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Believer, and the Paris Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cincinnati, where he teaches at the University of Cincinnati. Rhythms and Rituals We are a species addicted to rhythm and ritual. In college, we sit in the same seat day-by-day and class-by-class. At work, we grab the same coffee order and check our emails around the same time. As parents, we do our best to create rhythms and rituals for our children. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner… 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 →

Television Show Review: Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table created by David Gelb (Boardwalk Pictures, City Room Creative) Starring Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Niki Nkayama, Magnus Nilsson, and Ben Shewry. Getting Philosophical Upon entry to my preferred academic institution, my parents provided ample pressure to study business. I understand the position. What is college if not a place to earn a degree to set yourself up for consistent success? Unfortunately, my passions—at the time—orbited separate academic pursuits. Even though I have a passion for business, my reasoning for avoiding its study remains consistent. The study of business, at its core, is a normative practice. It tells you what to do and what not to do; if you can master the complicated functions, you have the… Read More →

Book Review: The Fabric of this World

The Fabric of this World by Lee Hardy

The Fabric of this World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice, and the Design of Human Work by Lee Hardy (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 1990. 214 pp) Lee Hardy is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written articles in the areas of philosophy and the theology of vocation. Disengaged The latest Gallup poll on employee engagement, now a couple of years old, tells a dark story. 70% of the workforce is disengaged. Even worse, 30% of the workforce actively inhibits the productive means of industry. In other words, we hate work. The majority of people find work barely tolerable at best. But not something upon which you can build purpose and meaning. For some,… Read More →

Book Review: Ghosts

Ghosts by Cesar Aira

Ghosts by César Aira; translated by Chris Andrews (New York: New Directions, 2009; originally published in 1990. 144 pp) Born in 1949 in Coronel Pringles, a town on the southern edge of the Argentine Pampas, César Aira is a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He settled in Buenos Aires in 1967 and has earned a living through teaching and translating from French and English. He has published more than eighty novels. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his New Directions translations of Roberto Bolaño. A poet who lives and teaches in Australia, he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions. Going Latin There’s… Read More →

Book Review: What We See When We Read

What We See When We Read

What We See When We Read: A Phenomenology with Illustrations by Peter Mendelsund (New York: Vintage Books, 2014. 448 pp) Peter Mendelsund is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf, the art director of Pantheon Books, and a recovering classical pianist. His designs have been described by The Wall Street Journal as being “the most instantly recognizable and iconic book covers in contemporary fiction.” He lives in New York. Why Read? Why read? In an age of mass media, doesn’t it seem a touch quaint? Our iPhones can keep us entertained indefinitely with the amount of apps available, not mention the Internet sitting in your pocket. We live in the Golden Age of television; high quality shows illuminate the… Read More →

Television Show Review: True Detective: Season 1

True Detective

True Detective: Season 1 created by Nic Pizzolatto (Home Box Office, Anonymous Content, Lee Caplin / Picture Entertainment) Starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, and Tory Kittles. Capturing the Mystery-Sized Hole in My Heart Mystery can be an addicting genre. Nothing else on television can arrest the mind like a well-crafted narrative where the parts left unsaid take a life of its own. In its heyday, I would spend hours scouring the Internet after every episode of Lost, trying to discover every ounce of meaning in each scene. For many devoted fans, the rabbit hole that was Lost left a hollow feeling when it became evident that the creators had no intention of bringing everything together into… Read More →

Book Review: This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 224 pp) Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Junot Díaz is a graduate of Rutgers College and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award, Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Philosophy of Art The philosophy of art is a fascinating subject. Perhaps the most popular philosophy of art surrounds the idea of relationship. Tolstoy—I believe; I’m too lazy to look… Read More →

Book Review: Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009. 256 pp) Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and served as a postdoctoral fellow on its Committee on Social Thought. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia. An Apple Nowhere Near the Tree They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Whether it’s culinary taste, similar joys in sports, or comparable career paths, parents and children often resemble each… Read More →