Anxiety, Uncertainty, And Death

Kierkegaard offers us a brief, pithy, definition of anxiety:  What is anxiety? It is the next day. This pair of sentences is truly remarkable in capturing a central dimension of anxiety: it is our reaction to the ineluctable uncertainty present in our lives. As human beings, with our lack of divine omniscience, we do notContinue reading “Anxiety, Uncertainty, And Death”

Francine Prose On The Consolations Of Post-Apocalyptic Literature

In reviewing Margaret Atwood‘s Stone Mattress: Nine Tales Francine Prose makes a pair of perceptive remarks in her conclusion. First, [T]book offers none of the peculiar comforts and reassurances of such post-apocalyptic novels as Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. It denies us the glorious fantasy of flaming out en masse instead of, so much less dramatically, in aContinue reading “Francine Prose On The Consolations Of Post-Apocalyptic Literature”

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”

The Post-Apocalyptic World Of The War Refugee

A year or so ago, in writing about classroom discussions centering on Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, I had noted that the homeless–whom the Man and the Boy most resemble–live in a post-apocalyptic world of their own: The central characters in The Road are homeless folk….the homeless among us live in such a post-apocalyptic world now:Continue reading “The Post-Apocalyptic World Of The War Refugee”

Mad Max: Furiosa Road

It’s entirely appropriate that Mad Max: Fury Road end with Max bidding a quiet farewell to Imperator Furiosa and slinking away into the crowd that has gathered for what appears to be her coronation. For as you sit through the extended closing credits, listening to a pounding reprise of the movie’s epic score at fullContinue reading “Mad Max: Furiosa Road”

The Dog Stars: The Apocalypse As Outdoorsman Fantasy

Peter Heller‘s The Dog Stars is one of those post-apocalyptic novels in which authorial fantasies are overwhelmingly transparent. The world is coming to an end; flu has stalked the land; millions have died. Violence is the currency of most human interaction; food is scarce; government is invisible. And so on. You’ve seen most of thisContinue reading “The Dog Stars: The Apocalypse As Outdoorsman Fantasy”

The Road And The Apocalyptic World of the Homeless

Last week, the students in my Philosophical Issues in Literature class and I, as part of our ongoing discussion about Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, watched John Hillcoat‘s cinematic adaptation of it. On Monday, we watched roughly half the movie in class, and then on Wednesday, we concentrated on three scenes: the encounter with Ely theContinue reading “The Road And The Apocalyptic World of the Homeless”

Snowpiercer: The Train As Capitalist Society And The Universe

Post-apocalyptic art–whether literature or movies–is provided, sometimes all too easily, ample opportunity for flirting with the grand, for making sweeping statements about human nature and the meaning and purpose of life. After all, it’s the (often violent) end of the world. Time to speculate about the new, phoenix-like world that may rise from the ashesContinue reading “Snowpiercer: The Train As Capitalist Society And The Universe”

Re-Reading Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’

I’m re-reading Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road in preparation for discussing it with my students next week. It has been an interesting experience. First, I am struck by how new the book seems on this second reading. I read it first a year ago, and yet, its prose seems just as pristine. There is some familiarityContinue reading “Re-Reading Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’”

Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler’s Parable

Octavia Butler‘s Parable of the Sower, the richly symbolic and subversive.story of Lauren Olamina, a prophet in the making, one finding her voice and her people in the midst of an America whose social order is collapsing around her, grows on you.  The story line is sparse: the US’ accumulated social, political and environmental dysfunctionsContinue reading “Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler’s Parable”