Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Examined Life

"D" and I saw "Examined life" the other day. It was so so.

Appiah, Nussbaum and Singer, I thought, came off rather well for philosophers. But they were the only ones. Judith Butler and Sunura Taylor were not making any points except that some people should be more entitled than others because they are worse off, Avital Ronell was fairly incomprehensible (she actually use the word "alterity" as if people were supposed to understand it). Cornell West came off as a bit manic but pointless. And Slavoj Zizek was amusing to watch, though I was unclear about what he was saying about ecology. Michael Hardt was saying something about "the revolution" as if we lived in the 60s and cared.

All this was part of a quest to get at the meaning of life or something. All we actually got was a few people, some of them quite bright, trying to express their core beliefs to a lay audience and pretty much not succeeding.

As a documentary it was pretty uninteresting. People were filmed moving around and talking.

I would generously give the film a C-. Then again, I am a philosopher and perhaps I just don't know how philosophy appears to non-philosophers on film. "D" seemed to get something out of the philosophy, though she was pretty unimpressed with the film as a documentary (and she knows about those things).

Update: Tony Alterman expressed this much better than I, and I think he is, on the whole, absolutely correct.