Sacripolitical

In the 1980’s, my friends and I had a punk rock band called Sacripolitical. The name was supposed to be a reference to our attitude toward politics. Just as a person who is sacrilegious is irreverent toward the sacred, we played songs, like “Peace: Under our Supervision,” and “Napalm Baby,” that were politically irreverent. The image that the band portrayed was, on the one hand, a sort of ironic, right-wing parody; not unlike what Stephen Colbert plays around with on his talk show today (but with punk rock style). On the other hand, we also developed and explored philosophical themes in songs like “The Meaning of Life,” and “Nihilist Void.”

We were together for the better part of the decade, playing at parties, underground shows in warehouses, in barns, and on the bill with other bands like UXB, The Pukes, Fang, Frightwig, and Camper Van Beethoven. We made a lot of friends, a lot of enemies and had a lot of fun. Some shows ended in philosophical conversation; some of them ended in near riots!

I’m reminded of this period because a friend of mine just sent me a link to a podcast of a radio show on which we were interviewed sometime in the early 1980’s. Maximum Rock and Roll started out as a punk fanzine and soon also became a regular radio broadcast that featured punk rock bands from all over the world. Sacripolitical was featured on a program that is now posted online at:

http://mrnrpodcast.blogspot.com/2009/11/maximum-rock-n-roll-198.html

When our band was still together, it was not uncommon for people to hear the name “Sacripolitical” and ask “What does that mean?” I remembered this when I saw this podcast posting, as the band’s name is misspelled “Sacra Political.”

 

 

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Film, Philosophy, and Nihilism in Glaswegian Cinema

At noon on Monday, November 19th I will make a presentation to the Marin Philosophical Society titled Film, Philosophy and Nihilism in Glaswegian Cinema.

In this presentation I will explore the ways that the city of Glasgow, Scotland is depicted in such contemporary Scottish films as Gregory’s Two Girls, Red Road, NEDs, and Ratcatcher. What I will argue is that in these films, post-industrial Glasgow is utilized in order to give expression to a mood of nihilism. This expression of nihilism, however, is a productive one that allows filmmakers and audiences to engage with the ambiguities of contemporary Scottish identity and culture.

The website for the Marin Philosophical Society can be found at:

http://www.marinphilosophicalsociety.com/index.html

Information on the films I will discuss can be found at:

Gregory’s Two Girls http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0150786/

Red Road http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0471030/

NEDs http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560970/

Ratcatcher http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171685/

Rooting for the Fascists in James Cameron’s Avatar

My paper “Rooting for the Fascists in James Cameron’s Avatar” appears in the latest volume (#16) of the journal Film and Philosophy, which is available at:

http://www.lhup.edu/dshaw/journal.htm

Conservative critics have united in attacking James Cameron’s newest blockbuster Avatar for its “liberal” political message. But underneath all of the manifest liberalism of Avatar there is also a latent message. In his valorization of the organic, primal, interconnectedness of Na’vi culture and his denigration of the mechanical, modern, disconnectedness of human culture, Cameron runs very close to advocating a form of fascism.

In this paper I describe the overarching philosophical perspective of fascism, and then I draw on the work of Jay Y. Gonen, who, in his book The Roots of Nazi Psychology, has distilled Hitler’s foundational ideological values to nine basic principles. I demonstrate how greatly these principles overlap with the ideals that Cameron attributes to the culture of the Na’vi in his film Avatar.