"Revolution is not for the faint of heart. It is for monsters. You have to lose who you are to discover what you can become." -Hardt and Negri

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E5 Chupacabra, Daryl and the Myth of Sisyphus

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned:There are spoilers everywhere.

Sisyphus thought he was a slick dude. During his time he played one God against another, and used information to manipulate circumstances to meet his ends. Zeus, full of hurt pride, ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus in Tartarus. Sisyphus then manipulated Thanatos to let him see the magical chains which helped Thanatos regulate Death. With Thanatos chained human could not die. This irked Ares because his war games lost their entertainment value. The gods joined forces, chained Sisphus to a giant rock and compelled him to push this rock up a hill only to have the rock roll back down the hill when he neared the top.

The existentialist Albert Camus argued in his Essay The Myth of Sisphus that the value in this myth is in the moment where after the rock has crushed his progress he returns to his project pushing the rock up the hill. Always the absurdist, Camus argued that because life has no intrinsic meaning. Our greatest sense of significance comes from when we are firmly position in the abyss of meaning, and make our minds to push towards freedom. Like an artist, the meaning in our lives comes from the vibrant creation that spites oblivion. In Man's Search for Meaning Dr. Viktor Frankl stated:
I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
Frankl, Viktor E. (2006-06-01). Man's Search for Meaning (p. 105). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition. 
In Chupacabra, Daryl plays a parallel to Sisyphus in his hubris that despite all evidence to the contrary he will find Sophia. Stealing a horse from Hershel he journeys on his own through the woods. When the horse is confronted by a snake it freaks out tossing Daryl down into valley. Tumbling down an arrow pierces though his abdomen. Shaking the fall off Daryl binds the arrow in place with strips of fabric ripped from his shirt. After finding his cross bow in the pond he ventures painfully up the hill. When Daryl nearly reaches the top of the hill the ground gives way and he tumbles back down. Unconscious, Daryl is awoken by psychosis. Merle is standing over Daryl's body taunting him.
Merle: Why don't cha' pull that arrow out dummy?
What follows is Merle's plea that in order for Daryl to survive beyond the day he needs to refocus his priorities. Daryl had began to see the girls life as more important then his own, and perpetually shown to others his commitment to this priority. What Merle sees that Daryl doesn't is Daryl's is that his over estimation of his own capacities is harming his ability personal survival. In essence, Merle is challenging Daryl to refocus his hubris towards his own survival rather then finding Sophia. When Daryl pulls out the arrow its like if Sisyphus detached the chain that tied him to the rock that represented his capacity to accomplish tasks large then his capacity. Free from from the idea that misrepresents his capacities he able to see the world as it is and able to accomplish new goals for new reasons. Daryl's new found inspiration is, of course, undermined by Andrea shooting Daryl when he returned to camp, and ultimately reinforced the absurd root which meaning sprouts from. No matter how hard to you try, or how deeply you feel about the meaning attributed to someone or a deed. At base the meaning creation process is fictitious in its own origination, but necessary for the struggle that makes life work living.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chainsaw Exorcism With Debbie Moffitt and the Book That Tells Her Chilling Story: A Deadly Haunting Authored By Joie Albrecht

I recently had the opportunity to interview Debbie Moffitt. The Moffitt family experienced a set of haunting which began in 1987. A Deadly Haunting tells the terrifying haunting of the Moffitt family by Mr. Entity. 

Could you tell me about yourself and A Deadly Haunting

Everyone that experienced the haunting except my three children and myself have passed away. I am grateful my children were just babies when it occurred. I decided to have a book written about the haunting when my husband passed away in 2013. For over 20 years we had hid what had happened to our family. We never even spoke about it among ourselves. When Mr. Entity left ,we did not want him to come back so we destroyed everything that had to do with him. At least that is what I thought. For years we had taken photos of his messages and all his destruction. When I was cleaning out the closet after my husband's death I found that he had saved over 100 pictures and their negatives. Looking at all those pictures bought back a lot of memories, memories that I wanted to share. I wanted people to know what happened. I was tired of hiding it. I too had kept a few items from the haunting. Mr. Entity had apported a 200 year old spear head from the Belgian Congo for us to use in a blood ritual he demanded. I had put the spear away and saved it along with several gifts that Mr. Entity had given me. I discussed what had happened with my children and we decided to have a book written.

Did you learn why Mr. Entity was haunting your family? What is the relationship between the Congo and Mr. Entity?

Mr. Entity was after my mother in-law. He wrote that she was promised to him in a past life and so now she belonged to him. I never found out what the relationship is with the Congo. I also never found out really what the triangle with the tail meant. You seem to be very into the paranormal. Have you ever come across his symbol before? I have so many questions about the haunting that have never been answered.

What about having your story told makes you feel powerful?

Although I did not write A Deadly Haunting, it is based on a time in my life when I felt almost powerless. Having the book written gives me back my power. Just talking about my experience makes a difference. It is like you have had a gag on and now it is off. I control my life, not a invisible entity.

What did you learn about yourself as you were working with the author to write A Deadly Haunting? What might your readers learn about themselves? 

What I learned about myself while helping to write this book was that what I experienced changed my life. Once you are truly touched by the supernatural you can never go back the way you once were. Until I made the notes for Joie, I didn't realize how much I had been affected. I look at things differently then I did before Mr. Entity. Things I once thought were make believe, I now know are real.

I’ve seen a lot of movies involving ghosts. The laymen’s advice seems pretty cut and dry. Run away, or call a priest! What are your suggestion for people who find themselves haunted?

We tried both. The priest ran way and Mr. Entity moved with us when we relocated. All I can tell people who are experiencing haunting s or demon attacks is to not be embarrassed or afraid people will think they are crazy. Tell people and ask for help. There are always going to be people who don't believe you, but they are always going to be people who do and who can help you cope. Don't go it alone.

Where can readers go to find out more about your story?

You can go to adeadlyhaunting.com, Facebook, or Twitter and hear about the book. You can now order it on Amazon for an ebook or printed copy. The book is now available on Amazon. It will be available for all other forms of ebook in about a week. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chainsaw Exorcism With Henry Thompson The Creative Director Behind The Zombie Flick Too Young Too Die

Could you tell me about yourself and Too Young Too Die?

My name is Henry Thompson, one third of the Thompson brothers (Three like-minded, un-related filmmakers who have become a real family through making movies), I’m an American displaced in the UK and I’m the creative director of Eze as Pi Productions. We’re a low budget film group in the North East of England. We’ve made several short films in the past and have one self-funded feature film in post-production.

In the midst of turning my dream of being a filmmaker into a reality, I’ve also had a variety of jobs including Photographer, web-designer, graphic artist, grill master, envelope packer, Apple Technical support and HP printer specialist.

Too young to die is a film about what happens to a group of children left alone in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak. All alone, how do they survive? With that question comes a hundred possibilities. No adults around for supervision, how do they move forward? They have no one to correct them, lead them, teach them, and protect them. They are fending for themselves through an impossible situation. And they inevitably for lack of a better term have to grow up or die trying.

Could you tell me a little about your role and contribution to the film?

Being the creative director just means that the guys come to me with anything they want to do, I polish it and give final say before pen goes to paper or it goes out the door. I also do a final writing pass on anything we make. When it comes to filming; I executive produce and do director of photography on all of our projects, as I did with the teasers for Too Young to Die. The three of us Co-Wrote and Co-Directed both trailers and I edited them.

With the Too Young to Die script, Wayne Thompson brought me the idea and at first I was like “no way man! No! I can’t stand zombies anymore!” Because there are so many zombie stories kicking around these days, I didn’t want to hop on any bandwagons. But then he pitched that it would be just a group of kids. That clicked with me and I could see all kinds of unique scenarios to throw them into.

James Thompson and I plotted out the core events from there and decided the order of things. We co-wrote the second draft, got notes from Wayne and then I did a final pass, adding a few scenes. Overall my main goal was to make sure the kids all felt real, fleshed out and honest and they didn’t fall into all the typical zombie story tropes. I wanted this to feel as fresh as possible.

I especially wanted this movie to have a resonance beyond the visceral “kids in supernatural danger” elements and there is some stuff in here I hope will bring people back to watch the movie again and again – not just for the pure horror and blood and guts.

What it is like to make Too Young Too Die?

It’s tough, but exciting!

Writing the script was very difficult in the sense that knowing these are kids its hard to strike a good balance between-
a: being real and showing the kids are mortal and can die,
b: trying to appease horror fans by showing blood and guts and
c: trying to justify what isn’t shown.
In the end there is quite a bit of violence and heart break, but it should never feel exploitive. Just real. It was also hard to figure the kids’ mind frames. They won’t act like adults so their decisions are not always the most logical. (Then again, how many adults and teens run up the stairs instead of go out the front door in horror flicks?)

With the teasers we’ve shot, we did it like any other production, we set the scene and light it and its planned and we turn the cameras on – but when we filmed the last teaser and we have this 12 year old kid sitting in a pool of blood holding his dead father’s hand, and we’re asking him to cry and wipe his tears and blood is going over his face and he is scared out of his wits that his dead is moving and reaching for him… It really hit home that this movie will be full of images that on paper are interesting or shocking – but brought to life are truly haunting. This got us pretty excited and maybe I’m too old to understand now but the kids loved it! They really enjoyed going so dark and getting to mess with blood and prop knives and all this stuff.

And of course asking for crowd sourcing, which wasn’t our first choice, is difficult because you don’t want to ask people for money but when we’ve approached studios and producers and investors, they all loved the idea but they all wanted to buy it, not make it. We’ve put our feelings, love, blood, sweat and tears into this film and our company and to sell it and risk it never getting made – or even worse, seeing the movie come out and the kids are helped along by a talking dog or even a middle aged guy, it would kill what we’ve tried to do. So it’s a tough road to travel, but we feel it’s the only way.

When I saw the Too Young Too Die funding pitch, I thought, “That’s an awesome idea! Sandlot with zombies!” Where did the idea come to make a zombie flick using kids?

Haha, I love the reference. Sandlot – what a classic! We’ve been describing it as Lord of the flies meets Night of the living dead, but I might have to start saying that!

Wayne came to me with the idea, and he tells me… He was doing a short film freelance for another team, providing a makeup job and was designing a zombie model which was to be destroyed on camera. His daughter Darienne (Who is featured in our first teaser trailer) was watching him. She was only seven at the time and just offhandedly asked him: “So dad. You know when the zombie’s come and take over things? You’re going to be there to protect me and Kyle right?” And he of course said he will – but then it hit him. What if he couldn’t even though he wanted to. For all the best intentions in the world, how can you know you’ll be there. And if you weren’t, how would his kids fare? Would Darienne be able to keep herself safe? At seven there is a lot she doesn’t know about the world…

What did you learn about yourself as you were working on Too Young Too Die? What might viewers learn about themselves?

Well, for us, as a team we’ve had a lot of hardships over the last few years and anyone keen eyed will noticed a couple of years gap on our resumes because of it, but through doing this script, our recent short films and our trailers – our dreams, aspirations and feelings toward our work has been strengthened. The proudness and satisfaction with the finished script and the reviews we’ve had so far, it all just keeps us fighting as hard as we can to get this movie funded and made. We’ve had a ton of responses to people really enjoying the idea, trailers and script. We are entertainers and without the ability to entertain, we’re nothing. This helped us realize that more than ever.

With this movie, Too Young to Die, what we hope viewers will take away from it is a memorable experience. I hope they question if they could have done what these kids do when they were their ages. And even ask if they could do it now?

Beyond that I hope parents grab their kids tight and hold them close and love them and hope and pray that nothing like this happens to their children. I hope kids look at and realize you’re never too young to rely on yourself. And I hope those without kids just enjoy the ride!

Additionally, there are some elements of the film I think question how guarded children have become in today’s society. A lot of people really treat kids more childishly than they are. We were filming the second trailer and the boy in it, Nathan turned, to me between filming and started asking me questions about making movies and we got into a very in-depth discussion about writers and filmmakers and I stopped myself a moment because I remember thinking… How can you know anything about anything? You’re only twelve! Kids know and feel and understand a lot more than they get credit for.

Where can readers go to find out more?

Too Young to Die
Website: http://www.WeareTooYoungtoDie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeareTooYoungtoDie
Twitter: @Nodyingyoung
Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/too-young-to-die-feature-horror-film

Website: http://www.ezeaspi.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EzeAsPiProductions
Youtube: http://www.Youtube.com/ezeaspi

Check out our first feature Walk Away: http://www.mistakeshauntyou.com

Henry Thompson: @ezeaspi

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Interrogating: Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s: Why Don't They Do It Like They Used To?

The internet has been whining for several decades that remakes are not as good or as scary as the originals. In Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970's and 2000's: Why They Don't Do It Like they Used To by David Roche the original vs. remake argument is thoroughly fleshed out. Roche targets his argument on four pairs of films: Halloween (1978/2007), Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004), The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2007), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974/2003). Unlike the internet, David Roche is a competent philosopher with a ruthless argued set of points that digs into themes at topics such as race, ethnicity, class, the american family, gender, sex, remaking films, monsters, and mask. All the fun topics that horror movies are good at playing with.
This book is ultimately a study of adaptation. Roche, 2014, Loc. 335
Roche demonstrates a deep knowledge of the horror genre and the philosophical apparatuses that he deploys in revealing the depths of all above mentioned film. This text assumes that the reader has at least viewed the four films he uses as examples and a general overview of film studies and philosophy. Unlike the pseudo philosophically texts like the philosophy of the Simpsons, Roche does not seek to insult your intelligence but to expand it. Roche has two main goals in this book; the first is to dig into and argue his thesis that the remakes are less disturbing then the original version and to unearth the cultural contradictions and criticisms that the films present. Making and Remaking Horror's formula is to introduce a topic in each chapter and methodologically dig thought each film one by one. Some many find this process repetitive. Although scenes and characters are returned to several times between chapters they are looked at from interesting new angles.

I thought this book was a great read and left me more then a little jealous. There were several times during the chapters where I thought to myself, "Hey I totally thought that thought when I was watching this film!" What stood out to me was Roche's analysis of the political commentary and conformity of the films. For instance the discussion about political context's of the american wars taking place during the creation of the two version of the Hills Have Eyes. What I took out of it was that the originals were more willing to be commentary and the remakes were more willing to conform to social commentary (excluding Halloween. Roche argued that Halloween was an interesting critique of the slasher, and was more politically intelligent then the other remakes discussed). I recommend this book for horror fans that are philosophers!
To what extent can the politics of these films be described as "disturbing' insomuch as they promote subversive subtexts that undermine essentialist perspectives? Do the politics of the film lie on the surface or are they wedded into the film's aesthetics? Roche, 2014 Loc. 334

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E4 Cherokee Rose and Zombie Dating

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned:There are spoilers everywhere.
One rose is an expression of sentiment. A dozen roses is symbolic oppression. - Simone De Beauvior
For how common the concept and practice of dating is in the world, you would think that it had been around for ever. But the practice of dating has only been around for about a hundred years in the United States. In Cherokee Rose Glenn and Maggie skip dating go right to hanky-panky. What kind of trend do you think this is signaling? It's the end of the world and the symbolic network that kept past romantic discourses alive is disintegrating. Is Maggies Sexual forwardness a comment on neo-feminist, or is Maggie just trying to piss off her father like a good southern farm girl should?

The earliest origins of main stream dated are rooted in community festivals. Two hundred years ago people lived in cities and rural areas. In these communities, church and secular festivals were periodically arranged where courting age youth could mingle with each other in a supervised manner. The kind of dancing communities took part in required a set of people to dance the same dance at the same time in sequence. What this created is a situation where men and woman pair up and dance in a unified manner in which constituted and regulated a specific patter of physical and social interaction. For example, line dancing and the marching drills that a unit in boot camp conduct require the same kind of physical discipline. If someone isn't keeping in step their mistake can be observed and redirect by community elders.

Later in bourgeoisie homes a practice called "calling" began to take shape. In this romantic ritual, men would arrive at a ladies home and call on her. The couple would court each other in one of rooms in the home while the parents were home. The couple got to know each other under the snooping ears of the woman's parents. In some Jewish communities, a couple would go out on a date with a friend of one of the couples parents who would chaperone the date. How this would work is the chaperone would follow behind the car the couple is in, and sit a couple tables away while they ate at a restaurant.

The kind of dating we know to day is rooted in the collision of two forces; the forms of dancing that accompanied jazz and women entering the workforce. Before jazz women weren't normally found in bars, nor were bars the mingling place they are today. Bars were a place where men socialized, and the only women that found themselves in bars were strippers or prostitutes. After women entered the workforce they had funding to spend on leisure activities, and at this time the first sit down restaurants. Between then and know cultural norms have changed but the practice of dating has not fundamentally changed. People meet, they talk and they partway or continue connecting.

Today music plays a different role. Music doesn't play the regulatory role in the same way as it had. Music isn't something you preform a ritual to under the social gazes of others in order to conform to a larger romantic discourse. Music is still a regulating force but it takes the form of conforming to consumer life styles. Music then becomes something which we give though mix tapes or cds, or ingest while driving. Talking about music becomes evaluating a potential significant others ability to integrate into ones consumer life style. Music translates to a topography of hair styles, piercing styles, tattoo patterns and leisure activities.

Then comes the internet, and internet dating. Internet dating can be broken into two romantic discourses; the first is before cellphones and the second is after. Before cellphones, individuals would plaster their smiling face into a dating profile, create a brief bio and list their favorite consumer products. After cellphones people would do the same, but the activity was transformed from one in which we would sit in a chair in front of a computer, to one where we were constantly had access to a website via an App. The patters of discourse transformed from the style of writing an email to writing a text.

So at the end of the world, when the romantic discourses have been corroded, and the pizza delivery boy and the farm girl meet dating comes back to where it started, before dating existed. Primal evolutionary drive, and the seeking mates with genetic benefits. The first moment where Maggie shows her affection for Glenn is not when she jumps his bones in the grocery store, it is when Glenn wrangles the obese and soggie zombie in the well. When Glenn's behavior connected to is Maggies evolutionary predisposition to reproduce healthy mates. Glenn showed Maggie's genetics that he is capacity to survive in fight-or-flight situations that he has the capacity not only to survive but conduct complected tasks under pressure. Or, Maggie could just be trying to piss off her father by picking a mate that is furthermost from the ethnicity and socioeconomic class of her family of origin. What do you think?

Resource: Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism by Eva Illouz

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the Reluctant/Hysterical/Oblivious Revolutionary

The deepest irony, and tragedy of the Hunger Games franchise is that it's critique of the state of modern pop culture and oppressive state power is lost on viewer. Yes, the world that Katniss inhabits is cruel and unfair but it is only a movie. One is reminded of the advertising slogan used for Last House on the Left "To keep from fainting keep telling yourself it is only a movie." There is a sense in which the ideology of "it's only a movie," is the key to the cognitive dissidence that compartmentalizes the critique of power in The Hunger Games from be generalized into our lives in the real world. It is as if, because the Hunger Game is fictional narrative the truth located in the subtext becomes fictionalized as well. Below, I will argue that the shift between the first and second film is between Farce and Tragedy, and that Katniss is an ineffective revolutionary because of her relationship with reluctance, hysteria, and obliviousness.

First as Farce, then as Tragedy 
The first Hunger Games film has a whimsical nature that the second film is seeking to undermined through repetition. The narrative in the first film centers around Katniss and her ability to conform to the oppressive and dominate narrative. Each key scene a character is defining her reality for her and telling her who she needs to be in order to comply with the dominate narrative. Haymitch the first character she meets, suggest that Katniss accept her fate and succumb to drunken nihilism. Always the contrarian, Katniss immediately rejects Haymitches perspective and challenges him to fulfill his role as mentor in the regime of power. The most authentic and clear headed of the cast of characters she meets is Cinna, who while expressing sympathy with Katniss's plight only emotionally prepares her for her death sentence. At this point in the film the the beginning of the subtext of Katiness's struggle is reviled. Not only is there a fight to the death awaiting her at the end of her journey, she must fight to develop a political persona which conforms to the masses desire to have their cognitive dissidence reinforced. The pageantry and ritual of game show aspect of the Hunger Games is a constitutive force where viewers distance themselves from the Real by over identification with the players in the game. Katniss in her performance fulfilling her role as a tribute supports the viewers connection to the fiction that supports their imagined community. The dangerous in the community of viewers is that each distinct is socially separated from each other and the only interaction district members have with each other is when they art pitted against each other once a year in the Hunger Games. One is reminded of the disconnect between the Olympic Games and the racist, classist, imperialistic global foreign policy that transpires the rest of the year. Lets make no mistake, the system is invested and profits from our distance from reality.

The second Hunger Games makes explicit the bureaucracy and injustice that keeps the networks of oppression operational. Leading up to a commemorative 75th Hunger Games Katniss and Peeta travel the carnival circuit through the twelve districts of apartheid giving speeches in order to reinforce the importance of the districts distracting them selves from the oppressive reality of their lives struggling to re-produce the social and economic comfort of the 1st district.  One is reminded of the runners carrying the Olympic torch in preparation for the games. One never sees photos of the the runners passing through the slums, shanty towns, ghettos that make up more of the space that humanity lives though then the gated communities and the advertising centers of cultural production like Times Square. It is important to note how the capital frame the scene of the lecture tour. Katniss and Peeta, stand on a platform while the crowd stands in ranks wearing clean uniform. The scene portrays the likable yet fictitious post-class vision to each community about every other community. The likability comes from human desire for adherence to the rules. Say for instance, when district 3 views the Hunger Games news coverage of District 5 four they see their own conformity reflected back at them. The imagined community reinforced itself by becoming full circle.

The tragedy in the second film is made more explicit when Katniss is pulled from her achieved middle class status and and re-inscribed as common proletariat. Yet, there is a certain patronizing element that include in the second film which was not in the first. In the first Hungry Game, Katniss by volunteering to take her sisters place in the Hunger Games was ejected from poverty and inserted into the part-of-no-part. A class of people who are given a temporary place among society and the living, who are not property included or exclude from any specific district.
The Reluctant/Hysterical/Oblivious Revolutionary
In order to show Katniss's decolonization the second film repeats the trials and tribulations of the first film from a more cynicalized perspective. In other words,  Katniss know better, yet, none the less repeats her role the ritual. This is where Katniss oscillates between reluctance, hysteria and obliviousness, all the while her friends and acquaintances are plotting a revolution. The key scene that demonstrates Katiness's reluctance to perceive reality is when in an argument with Gale:
Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? Just one year. What if everyone just stopped watching?
Katniss Everdeen: They won't, Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? What if we did.
Katniss Everdeen: Won't happen.
Gale Hawthorne: Root for your favorite, cry when they get killed. It's sick.
Katniss Everdeen: Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: No one watches and they don't have a game. It's as simple as that... what?
Katniss Everdeen: Nothing.
Gale Hawthorne: Fine. Laugh at me.
Katniss Everdeen: I'm not laughing at you!
[starts smiling]
The scene is an argument takes place immediately after Katniss seeks to convince Gale that they should run away together in order to avoid President Snows threat to kill her family and district 13. Katniss's case is build on a selfish conservative position that seeks to avoid conflict, and values me and mines over and beyond the selfish good. Gale on the other hand is a proper revolutionary who values views the material reality of the Hunger Games in the context of the collective suffering impost on the whole. Countering Katniss's political escapism, Gale proposes a general strike on single most powerful medium of control. Katniss is of course radically oblivious to Gales perspective and unable to empathize with him. The tragedy here form me is that Gale seems like a pretty good dude, how could he fall for such a political naive woman? Why can't he see through her and see her beauty to conservative and reactionary heart?

Katniss's obliviousness is most detrimental in two areas; her own emotional intelligence, and her inability to understand the motivations of those closest to her. Katniss demonstrate a crippling level of emotional intelligence in her romantic flip flopping between Peeta and Gayle. In both films, there are moments in which Katniss's emotional state and desire align in order to demonstrate to everyone but herself that she is emotional hysteric. Katniss clings intensely to both Peeta or Gale when ever they trigger her lost relationship with her father. Peeta and Gale have both developed strategies that play off this trauma and trigger Katniss's hysteria. Gale plays the emotionally stable advice giving father figure who taps into Katniss's unconscious desire for someone to gently tell her how to define her reality, and Peeta plays the over protective father who considers her too fragile to protect herself. Between Gale and Peeta there is a complete father for Katniss. No wonder she flip flops between the two.

Katniss's flip flopping between emotional states signals towards her reliance on others (mostly men) to interpret her situation for her, and her inability to cognitively and emotionally commit to her actions until she is presented with a false choice; someone is in a life threatening situation, or another character metaphorically puts a gun to her head to influence her actions. It is only at the end of the second film, when situations beyond her control remove her ability to cognitively and emotionally flip flop between revolutionary/tribute and Peeta/Gale that Katniss develops the clarity she needs to choose between the two. Only when a others make her choices for her that she find it in her self to commit to a path of action.

My deepest concern and what I see as the fundamental flaw in the Hunger Games franchise is that because Katniss is unable to articulate a political persona beyond her own individualized selfish concerns, the film itself reinforces the republican bootstrap ideology that is the dominate narrative in the United States. For instance, if Katniss was political aware and less dependent upon others to develop her emotional state she would likely side with Gale and have joined him and others in revolutionary struggle. Secondly, the viewer would be saved from the superficial drama of the hysterical romance codified by the Twilight series. Maybe, then the viewer could be gifted with a character that present in her own headspace and able to accurately assess the world she lives in. But on the other hand, the average American may not be able to relate to a girl that is emotionally in-tune with her self, able to articulate the chains of her oppression and cast them off.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E3 Save Last One and Does It Matter If God Exists?

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kinda. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it cant teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned: There are spoilers everywhere.

For the amount of tragedy and death involved in The Walking Dead there are surprisingly few religious references. Most of the God references that come from characters who have have explicitly stated an ambiguous relationship towards God. In Blood Letting Rick belts out a prayer in an empty church while Shane and Carl wait outside. In the prayer he seeks a sign in order to silence the dialog in his own head around his self-esteem. He can't make up his mind if he has the kind of  fidelity a leader needs towards his own actions. In Save Last One, Maggie comes upon Glenn while he is bent over a rocking chair. Here is their conversation:   
Maggie: Are you prayin'?
Glenn: Why do you sneak up on people so much?
Maggie: You are easy to sneak up on.
Glenn: I was Praying. I was trying to.
Maggie: You religious? You Pray a lot?
Glenn: Actually... ah... this is my first try
Maggie: Ever?
Glenn: [Nods Head]
Maggie: Wow. Sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your first time.
Glenn: God probably got the gist.
Maggie: Praying for what?
Glenn: Friends. Looks like they could all use a little help right now... Do you think God Exists?
Maggie: I always took it on faith. Lately I've wondered. Everything that's happened there must have been a lot of prayin' going on. Seems quiet a few went unanswered.
Glenn: Thanks. This is really helping.
Maggie: Sorry. Go ahead really.
Glenn: are you going to watch?
Maggie: I'll get you a refill instead [walks over and picks up Glenn's drink]... I know it's not my business and feel free to believe in God but the thing is you have to make it ok some how. No matter what happens
What does it mean to take the existence of God on faith? This is a complicated question. Existence is a property a thing has in the world such that a relationship is formed with it through language which gives it meaning as a being. Something has being when it can be thrown into language, and is something which is in the world. If a thing is in the world, and can have words attached to it such that it can be communicated then we are talking about a being which exists. God, in so far as we are talking about the general purpose christian God which the Walking Dead implies can be put into language but does not have existence proper. God is not in space and time with other beings. In order for God to exist in a state that is more then the words used to communicate an idea, God would need to have presence in space and time where it could be in direct, measurable and perceptual relationship with a set of individuals who could throw the entity in to language, and be in a spacial and temporal relationship with it. In order for God to exist it would need a minimal level of presence in space and time. In other words, it would need to exist simultaneously and in the same spacial realm along other entities who have verified their existence to each other.

So, what does it mean that Maggie takes the existence of a God on faith? Faith is a relationship towards a statement rooted in conviction, trust, confidence or a enmeshed interplay of these concepts. So for example, trust is an individuals relationship towards a statement rooted in a fidelity in the integrity of the claim. Maggie takes God's existence on faith by trusting in the integrity of a claim that God exists. I'd also argue that Maggie, who woman in a white male patriarchal family is also responding to the roll allocated to her years of being her father's God fearing child. Trust, in this case would be the interplay of Maggie's sociopolitical positioning in her in her family, the religious culture of her family, the southern religious community which she she grew up in, her education, and the level of subjectivization these environments play in foreclosing and promoting a routine of belief. In other words, Maggie's immediate family, and social environment has role in training her capacity to develop faith, and distinguish between claims that require faith and those that do not.

One may argue that set of social relationships that Maggie was born into and grew up enduring do not totalize all that goes into what faith is for her. Maggie has autonomy to make clear decisions about what she is feels deserves faith and what does not. How is this freedom structured for her? Did she choose the choices that she is choosing among? What was encouraged by her family first; The drive towards the freedom to be autonomous and developing the power to critically engage with choice of faith, or was she obligated into a relationship with a church attendance every Sunday? And even if she made a free choice as a toddler, and again as a teenage, and again as a adult, was she given the cognitive tools in order to interrogate statements for integrity, and worthiness of faith? Can faith even describe existence? If I am sharing space and time with a chair I can interrogate its properties. A chair usually has four legs and is sturdy enough to sit on. It can hold a person's weight, and it is designed in such a way where sitting is a reasonable expectation. I can also inspect the chair to see if it is wobbly, and what properties each of its parts are constructed from. Based upon my understanding of each of a chairs properties I can say that I have faith that if I sit on this chair it will not collapse. Now there are also variables here, I could be a man weighing over 300 pounds, and the chair is kids chair made from plastic. If I had level of faith in this plastic to hold my existence on top of it with out collapsing, I would be wrong. And if you interrogated my reasoning for the assumed properties of a chair then you would find a slew of fallacious core beliefs about reality that support faith with out integrity; AKA bad-faith.

What if the chair was not located in the same space and time that I was? Could I look out into the room and say, there is a chair it has X, Y, and Z properties and I could probably sit on it. Sure I could say that, but if I had faith in the chairs existence I would be in bad faith in relation to my to temporal and spacial reality. The same applies for God. Maggie, who has been ruthlessly acculturated, to be in bad faith in relationship to the existence of God is making the claim that she trust the integrity of the statement that 'God Exists' even though the entities internal to the statement do not specially and temporary coincide with her being. So there are one of two potentialities that I see here, either Maggie is using a separate definition of being for her personal experience of being, or she is experiencing psychosis and her perception of the world is not in accord with her existence in it.

Does it Matter if God exists? As far as Maggie is concerned whether God exists is irrelevant. Her argument is rooted in the idea that events intervene into our social and personal narratives that are difficult, and it's not God's role to support our understanding of them, but for us to create our own narrative. So, while Maggie claims she is a theist, she behaves as if she is an Nietzsche-ian. There is no truth in the world, God does not directly intervene in the world, terrible experiences happen and they are senseless, and we suffer them. We can either encode a traumatic experience with a meaning that fits in to our current narrative, or we can create a new narrative to recreate who we are in respect to the trauma that impacts us. God doesn't dirty it's hands in our existential struggles, or how we create meaning out of the meaning resistant experiences we have in our lives. So, if God exists or if God does not exist it doesn't matter, because at the end of the world were all is suffering or survival it is only though our personal and social struggle towards meanings that our lives become relevant. Q.E.D. I'll leave you with a quote.
we are never in a position to choose directly between theism and atheism, since the choice as such is located within the field of belief. “Atheism” (in the sense of deciding not to believe in God) is a miserable pathetic stance of those who long for God but cannot find him (or who “rebel against God”…). A true atheist does not choose atheism: for him, the question itself is irrelevant. (Slavoj Zizek)