Recently perused articles

  • In Democracy Journal, a review of Jared Diamond’s (of Guns, Germs, and Steel fame) new book, The World Until Yesterday. The article explores how we can learn from traditional societies, and preserve cultural diversity and our environment.
  • On Brain Pickings, an article on the grim state of employment satisfaction, citing that “Most surveys in the West reveal that at least half the workforce are unhappy in their jobs.” It explores the idea of satisfying work. This is an interesting issue given that prior to the 20th century there wasn’t a whole lot of choice involved in what jobs people held, as one was more or less born into their line of work correlating with class. Especially since the emphasis on personal growth and leisure time since the West’s cultural revolution in the 1960s and onward, finding happy and fulfilling work is more of a concern — for myself included. Whether even the majority of people can live up to this goal is another matter altogether.

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Recently perused articles

  • A large diary farm in Indiana has been converting manure into fuel, thus “taking two million gallons of diesel off the highway each year” (NY Times). It’s sensible technologies like these, unsexy as they may be, that’ll help us become a more sustainable society.
  • The Arctic may become a great deal greener in the coming decades. With temperatures rising twice as fast near there than the rest of the world, vegetation may increase by as much as 52% by the 2050s (Reuters).   article-0-18901346000005DC-515_634x712
  • A New Yorker article looks at the direction of the environmental movement. Despite its growth in membership and funding, why hasn’t any significant legislation been passed in decades? It’s hard to believe that on

April 22, 1970, only seven months after his speech in Seattle, the teach-in, dubbed Earth Day, generated more than twelve thousand events across the country, many of them in high schools and colleges, with more than thirty-five thousand speakers. “Today” devoted ten hours of airtime to it. Congress took the day off, and two-thirds of its members spoke at Earth Day events. In all, millions of people participated. This activity was largely uncoördinated.

Such efforts lead to the passing of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, and the creation of the EPA in the early 1970s. Can we learn lessons from the movements in the ’70s, or is the cultural pressure just not present enough to quell political inertia? Continue reading

Eternal Sunshine of the Philosophical Film

Below is the edited version of an essay I wrote this year for a Philosophy of Film course at my college. The books cited are Thinking on Screen: Film As Philosophy by Thomas Wartenberg, New Philosophies of Film: Thinking Images by Robert Sinnerbrink, and the Deleuze-inspired Filmosophy by Daniel Frampton. Both offer some good perspective on the philosophy of film, albeit diverging in the fact that Wartenberg’s account takes a far more ananalytical approach, and his analysis of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind doesn’t make much sense (his chapter on The Matrix is spot on though). A few years ago, actually before I took classes on Aesthetics and Philosophy of Film from Prof. Paul Loeb, I considered movies and television to be purely within the realm of entertainment. While I’m still convinced that written texts are the best way for me to access and relay philosophical ideas, movies do offer an interesting, viscerally engaging means by which such ideas can be both probed through use of audiovisual effects, narrative plot, and objects within the film, sparking at the very least an interest, and at the most offering an argument and comprehensive exploration. Possibly the most interesting aspect of movies are their ability to capture ineffable elements of human experience language cannot describe, in a manner stripped of the phenomenological associations we generally have as the background of our direct experience, as Deleuze argues. Films are stripped down to the foreground, and in such a way provide an even purer sensory input than our real lives, though lacking integration with our senses of touch and smell.

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The Michel Gondry / Charlie Kaufman collaboration Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind provides a good example of the possibility of presenting philosophical concepts in a fictional feature film. This paper will show how Eternal Sunshine’s content supports ideas advanced by Wartenberg and Sinnerbrink that while films don’t explicitly present philosophical arguments as books do, they explore them in a unique way capturing the ineffability of human experience. Continue reading