Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Are we awake?

My drive to and from work is this week more illuminating than usual. As I navigate the traffic on the M6 and M62 I've been listening to a series of lectures on Existentialism (as you do). I'm now on lecture 4 of a series of 20 lectures by Professor Robert Solomon that are entitled "No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life". Solomon was, until his sudden death of a heart attack last year, professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and was by all accounts a very highly regarded scholar and speaker on this topic. And I can see (or rather hear) why. His delivery is rather downbeat and fairly matter-of-fact, but he makes the subject matter very accessible and relates the ideas he discusses to everyday life.

To give you an idea of his style, below is a short clip from YouTube that's taken from Richard Linklater's film Waking Life. It's actually a kind of animated version of Solomon as the film uses something called digital rotoscoping to create its unusual effect. I'd really like to see all of this film but it seems to be only available in NTSC format (still, there's plenty of excerpts from the film on YouTube). Anyway, the clip gives you an idea of Solomon's approach.

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