The Cannibalism Taboo And Becoming A Ghost

The use of cannibalism in Lon Fuller‘s “The Case of the Speluncean Explorers“–which I assigned as a reading this semester to kick off my philosophy of law class’ take on the nature of law and legal interpretation–is, of course, a deliberate choice to render the circumstances of that fictional case especially dramatic, to place theContinue reading “The Cannibalism Taboo And Becoming A Ghost”

Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Post-Apocalyptic Literature

There comes a moment, as the reader moves through Part Two of Ian McEwan‘s Atonement, of sensing something familiar and  recognizable, a deja-vu of sorts, in the sparse yet rich, brutal, unsparing descriptions of physical and moral catastrophe on the long, hot, bloodstained road of retreat to Dunkirk. They are all here: the dead–animal andContinue reading “Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ and Post-Apocalyptic Literature”

Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion: Portrait of the Apocalypse

If you find speculation about post-apocalyptic situations interesting, then you should find speculation about the progression of an apocalypse interesting too. Steve Soderbergh‘s Contagion is a fine cinematic take on this eventuality. The movie’s plot is simple: a deadly new virus jumps the animal-human barrier, and is transmitted quickly by contact. The virus’ first appearance occursContinue reading “Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion: Portrait of the Apocalypse”

The Post-Apocalyptic Famine

A couple of days ago, I viewed Tim Fehlbaum’s directorial debut Hell, which “tells the story of a group of survivors in post-apocalyptic Germany in the year 2016, when solar flares have destroyed the earth’s atmosphere and temperatures have risen by 10°C.” As my posts here on The Walking Dead and The Road would indicate,Continue reading “The Post-Apocalyptic Famine”

‘The Road’ and the Centrality of Love for Existence

How can a difficult read be an easy one? It can be easy because the difficulty is compelling and seductive, because ‘difficult’ does not mean ‘obscure’, because difficult can be worthy of admiration. A few days ago, when I saw John Hillcoat‘s The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy‘s novel of the same name, I had not yetContinue reading “‘The Road’ and the Centrality of Love for Existence”

The Post-Apocalyptic Zone of Moral Instruction

During a Facebook discussion in response to my post yesterday on The Road, my friend Maureen Eckert wrote: I am never sure what to make of “post-apocalyptic porn.” On the one hand they seem to be thought experiments about the “State of Nature.” On the other, they seem to tend to express exaggerated exasperation withContinue reading “The Post-Apocalyptic Zone of Moral Instruction”

John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’: Bleak and Unsparing

John Hillcoat’s The Road is a faithful cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic world. It is almost unrelentingly grim because it is unsparing about the bitter truths of a world in which food and morality are both in short supply: existence is a mere step up from the eventual slow deathContinue reading “John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’: Bleak and Unsparing”

Why The Talking Dead is a Bad Idea

Last night, I declined to watch the Oscars and chose The Walking Dead instead. If you’re going to watch zombies, why not watch a more interesting group of them? Snark aside, I had not seen most of last year’s crop of nominees, other than the mildly diverting Argo, and more to the point, I’ve burned outContinue reading “Why The Talking Dead is a Bad Idea”

‘If It’s Dead, Kill It’: The Second Compendium of the Walking Dead

Last year, I discovered The Walking Dead (the television series and the comic book). Like most fans of the television series, I’m all caught up now with the second half of the third season. Given the disappointing nature of the first two episodes of the second half, I’m glad that I have something else toContinue reading “‘If It’s Dead, Kill It’: The Second Compendium of the Walking Dead”

American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and the ‘American Gothic’ Style

The opening credits/titles for season 1 of American Horror Story are very creepy; in their visual ‘style’ they resemble those of season 3 of The Walking Dead. Let’s call this style ‘American Gothic’; what makes it work? The central motif in ‘American Gothic’–at least in the two sequences cited above–is the decay of the familiar: inevitable,Continue reading “American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and the ‘American Gothic’ Style”