This week’s episode is a review/analysis of Melancholia, a 2011 film written and directed by the controversial Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. My guest for this discussion is my Danish friend and fellow Von Trier enthusiast Niels Böge Nothdurft.
We discuss Melancholia as an apocalyptic end-of-the-world movie in both a physical and a psychological sense. The movie follows the lives of two sisters, Justine and Claire, living in the final days and hours of planet Earth as it faces imminent collision with a giant rogue planet, dubbed “Melancholia,” that has emerged from behind the sun. Melancholia is also the name given in the psychological literature of a form of severe and debilitating depression, a condition suffered by the character of Justine (played by Kirsten Dunst), who unlike her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) experiences a sense of newfound liberation and peace from her depression as the end of the world approaches. Claire, on the other hand, is suddenly and for the first time in her luxurious and controlled life confronted by the extreme discomfort of existential angst. We discuss the movie’s use of symbolism, both medieval and modern, and as an allegory for depression, ennui, and existential angst. We also ask the question the movie invites all viewers to ask: How would we react to the knowledge that all life on earth, along with the planet itself, was going to end abruptly? Do we see ourselves in the reactions of the characters, and if so, why?
Niels Nothdurft’s blog on the Trolling with Logic website: http://www.trollingwithlogic.com/euro-skeptic/
Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” official website: http://www.melancholiathemovie.com/
“Melancholia” on IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1527186/
Tim Matts and Aidan Tynan, “The Melancholy of Extinction: Lars von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’ as an Environmental Film,” M/C Journal 15, no. 2 (2012), http://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/491.
Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917): http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/medical/clerkships/psych/misc/articles/freud.pdf
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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.
The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.
In this episode, there is plenty for us to doubt, because we’re talking about philosophy of mind with some moral and ethical philosophy thrown in like sprinkles on top. In what may well become a recurring theme on this podcast, we’re doing another philosophical deep-dive into a television series. This week, we’re analyzing HBO’s Westworld, a cerebral, high-concept series which explores the emergence of artificial consciousness in a theme park modeled after the American Old West and populated by highly sophisticated robots that look and act just like humans from that era.
In this episode, we are applying our doubts and critical thinking toward the myth of “alternative facts” and other lies and fictions of our day that has infected our democracy, ushered in a post-fact era and the digital misinformation age, and helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. My guest for this episode, Nathan Bomey, the author of a new book titled After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump. Nathan Bomey is an award-winning business reporter for USA Today, and previously a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.
In this episode I welcome David Madison as my special guest. He is a former Christian minister who is now an outspoken atheist, author of the 2016 book Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief. He earned a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University School of Theology in 1975 and for nearly a decade served as pastor for two liberal congregations in Massachusetts. His lifelong interest in the Bible was eventually overshadowed by the kind of skepticism that an impartial consideration of serious historical and textual scholarship tends to foster. David joins me to discuss his transition from devout Christian minister to the vocal atheist and formidable critic of Christianity he is today, as well as to discuss a handful of the most devastating problems Christianity has tried and failed to answer.
This week I am very excited to bring you an interview with Karen L. Garst, PhD. She writes for the Faithless Feminist blog and website and is the editor of the book Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion(published in 2016). She has also edited a new book which has just been published, titled Women v. Religion: The Case against Faith – and for Freedom. She joins me on this episode to talk about the intersection of atheism and women’s rights and to make the case that religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.
My guest on this episode is Dr. Abby Hafer. She holds a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College. She is the author of the 2015 book The Not-So-Intelligent Designer—Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.