12/22/03

Lord of the Rings and Killing Non-humans


Watching the last of the Tolkien triology yesterday, I was struck by the how easy it was to watch some fairly
graphic battle scenes.It's probably occurred to everyone except me, but Hollywood has found a solution to the problem of satisfying the
audience's need to see graphic violence with their desire not to show other cultures or even human beings killed or maimed.



So, what we have now is humans killing cyborgs, killing orcs, killing specters, and so forth. This has long been part of the film
culture, but it seems to have accelerated.



What does it do to show so much violence and to remove the guilt or anxiety that comes from seeing or knowing that the violence was done to
another human being? Perhaps this development in movies is the complement to the remote-controlled, carefully framed television wars that
are now being done in our name in the mideast.



Lots of fist-pumping but without that nagging sense of responsibility.

12/5/03

My first book, Beyond Realism and Antirealism: John Dewey and the Neopragmatists


has been out from Vanderbilt University Press
for about eight months now, and I'm still not sure what's supposed to follow. I'm not getting a lot
of feedback from the press about book sales, nor have I seen many reviews. Perhaps it's just assumed
that academic books just help row that individual's little career boat forward and that's that. I don't
believe I'm arrogant in wanting a bit more than that.

It's pretty widely available as far as I can tell, though online is likely the best way to get it: href="http://www.vanderbilt.edu/vupress/sales.html">Vanderbilt U. Press, href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0826514278/002-2363138-1144820">Amazon,
Barnes
and Noble
, and href="http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=62-0826514278-3">Powell's have
it.

Still, why should the academic world be any different from the overall information
environment--cluttered beyond all conception with competing theories, stories, revisions, corrections,
detractions, spin, propaganda, and outright bloviation. I suppose there's no more time to separate the
wheat from the chaff within philosophy than in any other area, and so philosophers wait for the word
of mouth, or the blitz advertising campaign to help them decide how to spend their limited time.

But
what does this say to generations of scholars sweating to produce these books? The essence of
scholarship, it would seem, is that what one is writing is not an empty gesture--there will be a
readership to reward earnest toil. But when one's book is quickly relegated first to the small print
back pages of the Press Catalog and then to the remainders table, what else can one conclude?

One idea
worth considering is that scholars should do their best to forget the idea of selling books and get their
books onto the web--distributed freely and in cross platform forms--as soon as legally and practically
possible. After all, it's the idea that makes you beloved, not book sales. And the latter is sure as sugar
not going to happen, so aim for the former.