Monday, October 30, 2017

Newsletter: "B. K. Matilal: The Past and Future of the Study of Indian Philosophy”

Although this blog is mainly an excuse for me to geek out about science fiction (philosophically, of course), occasionally I like to post about my professional academic philosophy endeavors (although I would like to think the study of Indian philosophy will continue far into the future!).  Here's something I've been working on over the past several months that I'm excited to announce!
I have co-edited, along with Prasanta Bandyopadhyay, the Fall 2017 edition of the APA Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies.  The theme of the issue is “B. K. Matilal: The Past and Future of the Study of Indian Philosophy.”  I am happy to announce that the issue is now available!

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Contingencies of Histories: Ultima by Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter is one of my favorite practitioners of so-called "hard science fiction" (a sub-genre generally longer on scientific speculation and Big Ideas than things like characterization and plot).  Hard SF is not everyone's cup of tea, but Baxter brews some of the best hard SF tea there is.  With Ultima, I particularly enjoyed thinking about the contingency of history in addition to Baxter's usual Arthur C. Clarke-style cosmic scale business.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I Believe You

Last weekend the hashtag #metoo was shared by millions of people on social media.  This hashtag was mostly – but not exclusively – posted by women, often accompanied by stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault.  You can read more about the origin of the idea here

I have yet to comment on #metoo.  I don’t think at the speed of the internet, and besides, the last thing I want to do is make this about me.

I do want to say this: to everyone who posted #metoo and to those who could not, I believe you. Of course, there’s a hashtag for that, too - #ibelieveyou.  But I want to dig a bit beneath the hashtag, something that can be helped by a stubborn tendency to think more slowly than the internet.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Non-Spoilery Thoughts on Blade Runner 2049

After 35 years the iconic science fiction classic Blade Runner has a sequel in Blade Runner 2049. Should you see it?  Is it any good?  What's it about (without spoilers)?  Check out my non-spoilery thoughts for answers!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Polyphonic Games: The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The two-volume version of The Book of the New Sun

Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is not for the faint of heart or shallow of mind.  It is equal parts challenging, beautiful, incomprehensible, maddening, and intriguing, a multi-tiered, polyphonic literary game the reader plays with the author.  The reader is playing in Wolfe's house -- and the house always wins.

The Book of the New Sun was originally released as a series of four novels: The Shadow of the Torturer (1980), The Claw of the Conciliator (1981), The Sword of the Lictor (1982), and The Citadel of the Autarch (1983).  There is some truth to the idea that this is a series, but, as with all appearances within the novels, there's a greater truth: it's really one long novel in four parts.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Death of Subtlety?

One of Tolkien's subtler bits...

The problem with our civilization is the death of subtlety.  Or – scratch that.  One of many problems with a lot of the culture of the United States in 2017 is that there is less subtlety than there maybe should be.

I continue to have – albeit with somewhat diminished enthusiasm as of late – hope that subtle questioning is on the whole a better method than bludgeoning people with the truth.