Saturday, April 27, 2019

It’s Us, But Who Are We? – A Polysemic Reading of Jordan Peele’s Us (2019)

After writing up my non-spoilery thoughts on Jordan Peele's Us here after a first viewing, I finally got around to rewatching Us the other day (just in time to avoid the crowds for Avengers: Endgame).  So, now I'm finally ready to write a proper review.

Or am I?  Is this the kind of movie that one could simply review and then get on with other things?  I doubt it.  I can't say a second viewing answered all my questions.  If anything, it left me with more.  But what if that's precisely what makes this such a great film?  After all, one of my all-time favorite films is 2001: A Space Odyssey, and that's a film that leaves me more puzzled every time I see it (also more astounded and amazed and transformed...).

A lamentable trend in recent years has been a proliferation of "[blank] explained" websites.  Maybe you're even reading this because you googled "Us explained"...  There's nothing wrong per se with seeking out some food for thought on a movie, but I balk at this idea that there's some "secret code" or a single fundamental explanation for great works of art.  Part of what makes Us such a great movie is precisely that is can't be reduced to a single explanation.

To illustrate this point, let me give four separate (but importantly: not mutually exclusive) explanations for Us.  At one point in the movie, Jason says of the doppelgängers (i.e., the "tethered"), "It's us."  But who is this "us"?  That's what I'm going to try to explain.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Book Symposium at the Pacific APA in Vancouver (April 17)

This week I'm heading to Vancouver to attend the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association.

I'm excited (and a bit apprehensive) about taking part in a symposium on my book that will take place on Wed. April 17.  I've received a lot of really great comments from the "critics" of this "author meets critics" panel, and I suspect we'll have a great discussion.  Thanks to Anand Vaidya for organizing the symposium and to Laura Guerrero, Rachana Kamtekar, and Jennifer Nagel for their excellent comments!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Liam Bright on Eurocentrism

A recent post "On Eurocentrism" from Liam Bright on his blog The Sooty Empiric raises some interesting questions about the role of Eurocentrism in the study of non-Western philosophy.  While Bright is not writing specifically about the study of Indian/South Asian philosophy (my area of academic specialization), I thought it might be worthwhile to start a conversation about these issues here on my blog.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Is Dead Still Better?: Pet Sematary (2019)

Church the cat is not amused (Pet Sematary, 2019)

I've been excited about the remake of Pet Sematary for months, so I took a rare chance to see it on Thursday of opening weekend.  How did it fare?

It depends what you compare it to.  If you compare it to Stephen King's fantastic novel, it's not nearly as deep a probing of death and grief or of the characters' inner lives.  If you compare it to the previous 1989 film, it lacks that distinctive 80's silliness and strikes a more serious tone befitting the direction of horror films in the 2010's (although I have a soft spot for one of the 1989 film's silliest moments: King's cameo as a priest).

None of this is to say that I didn't like the new Pet Sematary.  I liked it.  A lot.  It's not perfect, but it's a solid contemporary adaptation of a horror classic.

Suicide and Suffering

Recently a friend took his own life. We weren’t especially close. I hadn’t seen him in years, although we occasionally interacted online. I’m not going to give his name here, out of respect for his family at this difficult time and because I don’t want to make his life or death about me.

Before going on, I want to make it clear that I am not a mental health professional. If you are experiencing serious depression and/or suicidal thoughts, please stop reading this immediately and talk to someone, anyone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline ( at 1-800-273-8255. Visit a school counseling center. Talk to somebody.