Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesdays with Bruce-ee

This entry is not the one I am planning on contributing which will dwell more on my personal reflections on cognitive studies specifically. I felt this dialogue might be a helpful and enjoyable contribution in the meantime. In the tradition of Plato, I wrote out a hypothetical conversation between two halves of myself: me and me-as-skeptic. The voice of the skeptic I have attributed to Bruce McConachie, a leading proponent of applying the ideas and methodologies of cognitive studies to theatre and performance studies. Specifically, "we" are reviewing the work I did on my thesis which was heavily informed by Foucault and some other 20th century continental philosophers. I imagine since I wrote this, there are moments when I don't do my best to invite an outside reader into the conversation, for that I apologize. There is a lot more signposting in the thesis which makes for nicer, guided reading and arguments. This is a bit more free form and in my own head. Also, in the following I allude to This was the website for the Final Destination Hell House I attended in Chandler, Arizona. That website is no longer operational. If anyone is interested in seeing a re-creation of the chart of statistics they kept, let me know. Enjoy:

The venerable Dr. Bruce McConachie.
Here's hoping he doesn't mind me equating him to an old mentor who dies of cancer but not before teaching me a few lessons about life, love, and myself.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Faultering Faith in Foucault

The week before the most recent Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself confronting an existential ennui far more bitter than the cold night of Montreal--the location of the academic conference I was attending at the time. The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is one of (if not) the preeminent national conferences of North America dedicated to furthering research in theatre and performance studies. The being and nothingness I came face to face with--in what can only be described as a dark moment of despair--lies more embedded in what I felt about my relationship to my PhD program and the world of academia at large. While I think these topics will undoubtedly prove themselves sites of excellent source material for future posts, they are not the inciting incidents I wish to tease out here. No, I am more compelled to describe a process I have experienced this last semester which has disturbed my faith. Where once I stood a valiant priest of Saussure and the plethora of his continental philosophical progeny, I am now filled with such doubt. At the close of 2011, I am left wondering if the future years will unfold in such a way that I will find myself outside of the pomo church, abandoning what I have come to recognize as irrefutable truth.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Will No One Think of the Children?!

This started as a comment on Brett's excellent previous post but it got so lenghy I'm making it a full-fledged post of my own. Ride-em, coattails! :)

Brett's thoughts reminds me of Steven Pinker's new book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, which I haven't read but have heard about and fully intend to read someday! Pinker's thesis, as I understand, is basically summed up in the title: violence-wise, things are as good as they've ever been for most people (note to self: read book and make sure I haven't endorsed something about holocaust denial).

I think there are a few things at work in the World In Decline (henceforth WID) theory: First, any religion concerned with teaching moral standards, particularly a brand of Christianity preaching the imminence of a deity returning to usher in paradise, is going to emphasize the blood and sins of its generation to try and spur its members to repent and prepare for what's to come. You'll never find a time in history when the majority of of religious people said "Gee, it sure is nice to be living in this golden age of humanity!" That is always consigned to a mythic past or prophesied future, and present standards are always declining - anything else risks fostering apathy. I suppose if history really were a linear devolution of morality, by now we'd be gouging the eyes out of anything we couldn't fornicate with, but thankfully we're not there yet. Not to say that things can't get better or worse at times, just that we're not irreversibly on rails to hell.

The Golden Age of television, of course, is a proven fact.

The Kids Aren't All Right...Right?

First of all, on a personal note, I need to point out--when it comes to blogging, I am on a friggin' roll this week.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actual topic at hand: the complete and irreversible downfall of society as we know it. Wickedness abounds; traditional values are forgotten; the wise elders are shunned; God is dead. Woe is us!

This is, of course, especially true for America. Its here that, as any good American Christian knows, traditional values are being challenged left and right. Thankfully, nobody's childish enough going to point fingers or assign blame or anything.


The thing's all a load of crock.