Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Travels to Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary 2018

A selfie in front of St. Mary's Church in Kraków, advertising my department via t-shirt

Academic conferences are a great way to meet colleagues and present your research.  They also give academics a good excuse to travel!  I didn't have a lot of travel opportunities growing up, so as an adult I really appreciate the opportunities my academic career has given me to see new parts of the world.

I recently returned from a trip to Europe: Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary (with a stop at the Amsterdam airport for some Dutch cheese).  The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy Conference in Kraków, Poland, which took place June 8-11, 2018 (you can find out more about the conference in a previous post, which includes the abstract for the talk I gave).

Kraków is a beautiful city.  I recommend visiting if you can!  I think a lot of Americans overlook Poland when they visit Europe, but it has a lot going for it: great food (pierogies!), interesting history, beautiful scenery, not to mention being a bit cheaper than western Europe.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Marvelous World?: Toward an Understanding of our Superhero Age

I meant to write a review round up of three recent Marvel movies: Black PantherAvengers: Infinity War, and Deadpool 2.  I’ll have a bit to say about them in this post (with spoiler alerts as necessary), but they got me thinking of a deeper question – a meta-question if you will: why have superhero movies taken over genre films in the last decade or so?  What does this say about us as a culture?  (I'm speaking as an American here and mostly about movies, but I'd love to hear from people in other countries as well).

I set out to form a hypothesis to explain why superheroes have taken over science fiction and fantasy films in recent years.  I came up with at least four hypotheses.  If there's one thing philosophy has taught me, it's that everything is more complicated than you think it is.  So I think it's likely that the ascension of superheroes to total nerd domination is explained by more than one of these hypotheses, and just as likely, other hypotheses that didn't occur to me.  Maybe you can help.  Maybe we need an X-Men like force of cultural hypothesizers!  Anyway, here are my hypotheses for why we love superhero movies so much in this cultural moment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Genre Mash Up and Philosophy Building: Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower IV) by Stephen King

One of the things I love about the Dark Tower series (so far) is that you never quite know what's coming next.  What will Roland and company find after they disembark from the maniacal, riddle-loving supersonic train?  I don't want to spoil it, but I thought it was cool.  What if King spent 600+ pages on a flashback to Roland's youth in the fourth book in the series?   How could that possibly work?  The crazy thing is that it does work (for the most part).  Although Wizard and Glass, the fourth installment in the series, isn't perfect, it might be my favorite Dark Tower book yet.  (See my reviews of the previous books here and here.  I was perhaps one of five people that liked the Dark Tower movie that came out last year, which you can read about here.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Non-Spoilery Reactions to Solo: A Star Wars Story

It seems like it was just five months ago that I was writing up some non-spoilery thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Apparently this is because it was just five months ago.

Is it too soon for more Star Wars?  A couple years ago I remarked to a friend that I was worried Star Wars was going to reach Marvel levels of over-saturation.  His response was, "But what if they keep making good ones?"

So, is the latest entry into the Star Wars cinematic universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story, any good?

I can honestly say I really enjoyed it!  By way of elaboration, I present my non-spoilery reactions to Solo: A Star Wars Story!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review Bonanza, Part Three: The Frankenstein Chronicles, Three Virgins, Are Prisons Obsolete?, and More!

The Frankenstein Chronicles
Welcome to Part Three of my Review Bonanza!  See also Part One, which covered Annihilation, The Laplace's Demon, River of Teeth, and Moreand Part Two, which covered The Expanse, The X-Files, Infomocracy, Navigators of Dune, and More.

Here in Part Three, I've got The Frankenstein Chronicles, Three Virgins and Other Stories by Manjula Padmanabhan, Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis, The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction by David Carrasco, and What Kind of Creatures are We? by Noam Chomsky. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review Bonanza, Part Two: The Expanse, The X-Files, Infomocracy, Navigators of Dune, and More!

The Expanse

As I mentioned in "Review Bonanza, Part One" I haven't been blogging quite as regularly in the last few months, so there are a lot of things I've meant to review that have sadly gone unreviewed on this blog.  In Part One I reviewed movies (Annihilation and The Laplace's Demon), fiction (River of Teeth), and non-fiction (The Island of Knowledge and Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy).

This time I've got two TV shows (The Expanse and The X-Files), two novels (Infomocracy and Navigators of Dune), and one work of non-fiction (What the Buddha Taught).  I even have a few more for Part Three, so stay tuned!  And despite my antipathy toward the superhero genre, I've also seen a few recent Marvel movies (Black Panther, Infinity War, and Deadpool 2), which I've decided to review in a separate Marvel Round Up post coming soon.