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Highlights Column




Featured Book Releases:

Radical Atheism and New Spirituality (2011)


Burning Banks
and
Roasting Marshmallows:
The Education of Daniel Marleau
(2009)


Featured Essays:

Choosing a Rhetoric 
of the Enemy: 
Kenneth Burke's Comic Frame, Warrantable Outrage, and the Problem of Scapegoating

Rhetoric Society Quarterly publication (2011)

Demonizing Derrida and Deconstruction 

(Skeptic Magazine publication 2006)




Additional featured reading:


W. B. Macomber's
Love and Culture

A Philosophical commentary inspired by Plato's Symposium

For Table of Contents, further information,
and chapter links click
here




Recommended art:

The Salvador Dali Gallery
Browse a complete collection of Dali's work along with a wealth of information about each work and his life

The Zeugma Mosaics
Beautiful GrecoRoman art saved from a flooded section of the Euphrates River. See the video fly-through at this link for the 14 room Roman villa that housed these amazing mosaics.




 
 
 

Desilet photo Homepage
 (scroll down for complete listings)









Photo credit: Dominik Walker, Boulder, Colorado

                               Books (Most Recent First)

Screens of BloodScreens of Blood: A Critical Approach to Film and Television Violence (2013)

Civilization seems to move ever more toward the power of words over weapons. But many are still seduced by the belief that wrongs in life can be righted with a fist or a gun or a bomb. Cultural mythology lags reality and continues to send the message of regeneration through violence. But the transition to a healthier mythology is underway and may be seen in the strength of an alternative trend in depictions of violence in storytelling.

This book examines this trend by comparing examples drawn from film and television with the traditional popular dramatic approach--an approach reflecting and promoting a culture of violence. This comparison suggests attitudes toward conflict implicit in drama are key indicators as well as instigators of attitudes toward conflict and violence in society. The book concludes with an account of increasing challenges confronting the individual in today’s world and the necessity for individual producers and consumers to take greater responsibility for their choices because these choices ultimately shape culture through omnipresent and profoundly influential screen technology.

Table of Contents: here
Sample chapters available here and here.

ISBN: 0786477911    $40.00

Click here to learn why everyone should read this book!

Click here for ordering links.


Radical Atheism and New SpiritualityRadical Atheism and New Spirituality (2011)

God is a delusion. Religion is poison. Faith without evidence must come to an end if we are to avoid being driven to the abyss. Such claims of the new atheists—Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris—have given new stridency to atheism. They have also brought controversial attention to religion and its effects on society. The greatest challenge to the new atheists comes not from the religious right but rather from new spiritualists such as Karen Armstrong and Ken Wilber. These spiritualists understand religion as a practice and God as an experience. The benefits and the validity of this practice and experience stand well beyond, claim the spiritualists, the scientific challenges of the new atheists. Seen as grounded in practice and experience, religious insight does not rest solely on belief or faith and thereby attains status similar to scientific claims based on controlled observation. This approach, however, faces opposition from postmodern developments which set limits for the roles of observation and operationalized proofs in scientific method and in every other aspect of life, including language and communication. The postmodern contribution calls for a rethinking of the nature of being and a corresponding reassessment of the meaning of transcendence. Such changes in the understanding of being and transcendence suggest an alternative approach to spirituality prompting a view some believe may be best phrased as radical atheism. After providing a tour through this spiritual debate, the author concludes with a summary of its implications as well as an epilogue featuring a surprising re-engagement with the question of God.

Table of Contents: here
Amazon.com eBook (Kindle) ordering here
ASIN: B005ZJJLDI   (2.99)


Burning Banks and Roasting Marshmallows Burning Banks and Roasting Marshmallows:
The Education of Daniel Marleau (2009)

This chronicle of student unrest, set during 1970 on the unlikely sun and palm graced Santa Barbara campus of the University of California, follows young Dan Marleau and friends through personal and political upheavals that begin with the firing of a popular professor and spread off campus to the infamous burning of the Bank of America in Isla Vista.

Book description and excerpt here
Author interview and
Press release here
For best discount ($15.00 including shipping, excluding tax) click below and buy through Pay Pal



Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceOur Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment Violence (2006)

. . . a provocative re-analysis of the stalemated debate over the possible harmful or beneficial effects of fictional violence, with emphasis on film. Proposes a resolution based on differences between melodramatic and tragic models of conflict and corresponding dramatizations of evil. Part II presents analyses of many popular films.

Book description, chapter outline, reviews, and excerpts here
Author interview here
 Press release here
Amazon.com "Search Inside the Book" and free shipping here
Barnes & 
Noble member discount and free shipping here
Order from the publisher
here


Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceCult of the Kill: Traditional Metaphysics of Rhetoric, Truth, and Violence in a Postmodern World (2002, Revised 2006)

As a thorough introduction to the complex landscape of postmodern language theory, Cult of the Kill examines the latent violence inherent in language as a tool for community formation and deformation. Each chapter examines different ways in which key postmodern thinkers contribute to exposing the metaphysical underpinnings of radical conflict, exclusionary divisions, and scapegoating practices.

Book description, chapter outline, reviews, and excerpts here
Search Inside the book and ordering options at Amazon.com here
Order from the publisher here


                                                              Book Chapters


Harry Potter: Something Wicked This Way ComesDeconstructing Harry Potter:
Hidden Cultural Costs of the Most Popular Children's Fantasy (2008)

Through several levels of analysis and extensive reference to the books and films, this commentary argues that the structuring of the primary conflicts in the Harry Potter books and films encourages readers and viewers to adopt narrowly reductive attitudes toward conflict and thereby counterproductive ways of assessing and managing real world conflict.

Published as Chapter Eight in Transformative Communication Studies:
Culture, Hierarchy, and the Human Condition  Edited by Omar Swartz (2008)
See Chapter
here
Amazon.com book ordering here
Order from the publisher here


John Macksoud's Other IllusionsJohn Macksoud's Other Illusions (2009)
Edited with an Introduction by Craig R. Smith
and an Afterword by Gregory Desilet

This posthumous work, completed in 1973, reinforces a strain of contextualist theory that retrieves the Sophists and extends through Jacques Derrida to discuss present deconstructivist trends in rhetorical theory. Macksoud also offers a warning about pseudo-scientific research, a Philipic against the quantitative approach to communication theory. He not only attempted to reveal the rhetorical nature of this use of the scientific method, he tried to show that science itself was at base rhetorical. In form, this short book threatened the established order of the academic community through its use of anecdotes, sayings, stories and even jokes to mark off sections and to initiate new lines of thought.

John Macksoud eulogy here
Amazon.com book ordering here



Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceDerrida and Wilber at the Crossroads of Metaphysics

[This text was to be published in a collection of essays titled Dancing with Sophia: Integral Philosophy on the Verge edited by Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Michael Schwartz. Publication was postponed and no new publication date has been set. I present the entire chapter here for interested readers. This text has also been published on the Integral World web site here.]

An examination of the views of Ken Wilber concerning deconstructive postmodernism and the themes of "nonduality" and "enlightenment" as broadly expressed in his recent book Integral Spirituality. The question of the metaphysics of traditional spirituality and its relationship to issues of conflict and violence is also addressed.

See Chapter here


                                Discussions of Violence in Film and Television
                                            Featured in Screens of Blood


The Book of EliA Closer Reading of The Book of Eli

Set in the aftermath of a catastrophic war of humanity against humanity, this film directed by the Hughes brothers garners scorn from most critics for a mind-numbing plot and gratuitous portrayals of violence. But a closer look at its seemingly reductionistic characters and conflicts reveals a greater complexity of narrative along with haunting questions about "the book." Even the soundtrack leaves memorable echoes long after the end titles scroll past.


See commentary here



Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceNo Country for Old Men: A Violent Look at Violence

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director(s), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor, this film makes judicious, non-sensationalistic use of violence to raise troubling questions about how to respond to and make sense of deadly violence. It explores many masks of violence as these emerge through contexts ranging from the social to the military to the existential.


See commentary here



Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceMemoirs of a Geisha: Melodrama or Tragic Drama?

Can a modern American male write a credible “memoir” of geisha life? Probably not. But those who criticize the book or the film for failings with regard to accuracy in depiction of the geisha life and in other historical and cultural details of Japanese life of the period may have misunderstood the nature of the art they are evaluating. What may look like an historical or period drama may not be a story about the geisha life, the sex trade, or a gender specific story relevant primarily to the lives of women.

See commentary here


Merry Christmas Mr. LawrenceMerry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

This World War II POW drama presents an extraordinary clash of cultural differences and individual wills. Optimum's 2005 DVD release of this classic film contains an interview with the author of the book--Laurens Van Der Post--on which Oshima's screenplay is based as well as interviews with David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto. This film is a fine dramatic example of extreme conflict and capably illustrates the importance of a well-developed ability for framing with respect to confict management.

See commentary here


Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolenceThe Sopranos: Gratuitious Violence or High Drama?

Why all the praise for a show featuring so much violence, especially in a culture where criticism of media violence has been such a mantra in the last several decades? In the words placed on the back cover of The Sopranos and Philosophy, “Is there something ethically or psychologically damaging in the fact that millions of TV viewers regularly identify with a murderer?” Perhaps those who enjoyed The Sopranos have some answering to do. If so, this commentary may help.

See commentary 
here


                                                    Video Game Commentary

Our Faith in Evil: Melodrama and the Effects of Entertainment ViolencePotential Effects of Violent Video Games
The Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2006, pp. 9-10

Video games teach players to overcome challenges through analysis, strategy, problem solving, code breaking, and innovation.
But are these the only things they might be teaching? In addition, games that involve players in “virtual worlds” raise their own set of questions: What kind of world is being constructed? Do the primary virtues and skills inculcated in that world correspond to virtues and skills needed in this one?

See commentary here




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