(sub)Text: Mastery and Repetition in “Groundhog Day”

When egotistical weatherman Phil Connors gets trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he gets drunk, steals money, manipulates women, binges on breakfast food, plays God… and finally grows up. The story charts Phil’s development over the course of thousands of repeated February 2nds. Along the way, it raises questions about our own capacity for growth. How do we  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text: Marital Economics in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”

An advantageous marriage is Elizabeth Bennet’s only potential escape from a foolish mother, a disinterested father, three very silly sisters, and a house that’s entailed away to her idiotic cousin Mr. Collins. But she turns down fabulously wealthy Mr. Darcy because he’s prideful—and maybe a little prejudiced. But then, so is she. How do we know if two people are well-suited to  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text: A Discussion of Todd Phillips’ Film ‘Joker’

Todd Phillips’ Joker has broken several box office records, received an eight-minute standing ovation at Cannes, and is inspiring tourists to dance down the steps of a lengthy stairway in Queens. The question is, “why?” Joker is not a typical comic book film. There are no explosions or any other sort of spectacle; no superpowers; and nothing of the forces of good triumphing  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text Prototype #1: Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: Poesis as Revenge Forsaken (Full Release)

In light of our Calderón discussion, and the fact that Wes Alwan has not yet committed to spin off his solo podcast, we thought it was high time to unveil in its entirety to the general public the full discussion between Wes and the excellent and renowned Broadway actor Bill Youmans covering Shakespeare's 1611 play about revenge, forgiveness, and authorship. Or maybe it's about  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-(sub)Text#6: Melanie Klein’s “Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms”

Wes Alwan is joined by Dr. Glenn Mobray of the New Center of Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles to discuss this classic 1946 psychoanalytic text. This is a preview of a 63-minute discussion. You can listen to the whole thing by becoming a PEL Citizen or $5 Patreon supporter. Visit partiallyexaminedlife.com/support to learn how. Klein worked with small children and hypothesized  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-(sub)Text#5: Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”

Wes Alwan is joined by actress, podcaster, and educator Monica McCarthy to discuss Anton Chekhov's 1898 play about family dysfunction and potentially wasting your life. Monica draws on her theater experience to talk about method acting and what makes for a good Chekhov performance. This is a preview of a 54-minute discussion. You can listen to the whole thing by becoming a  Continue Reading …

Bonus: (sub)Text #3: Spielberg’s “AI: Artificial Intelligence”: What Is It to Be Human? (Part One)

For Episode 3 of (sub)Text, Wes discusses Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence with David Kyle Johnson, philosophy professor at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Note: Part two will NOT be appearing on this feed. Become a PEL Citizen to get the full discussion. Visit partiallyexaminedlife.com/support to learn how. You’ll find David's Great Courses  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text #3: Spielberg’s “AI: Artificial Intelligence”: What Is It to Be Human? (Citizens Only)

For Episode 3 of (sub)Text, Wes discusses Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence with David Kyle Johnson, philosophy professor at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. You’ll find his Great Courses lectures here, including a course on Science Fiction as Philosophy. Philosophers are wont to talk about artificial intelligence in terms of thinking and  Continue Reading …

Bonus: (sub)Text #2: Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”: Is There Such a Thing as a War Story? (Part One)

For Episode 2 of (sub)Text, Wes discusses Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five with Phi Fic podcaster and PEL Blog Managing Editor Mary Ricci. Slaughterhouse Five is a story about war, yet one that seems to advance the thesis that there can be no war stories that don’t entirely falsify the experience and significance of war. That falsification is effected by the way in  Continue Reading …

Bonus: (sub)Text #1: Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: Poesis as Revenge Forsaken (Part One)

Wes Alwan is joined by Broadway veteran and previous PEL guest Bill Youmans to discuss Shakespeare's 1611 play about revenge, forgiveness, and authorship. Or maybe it's about exploitation, or how we react to changes in status, or perhaps how a liberal education can give you magical powers! Note: This is only the first half; the second half will NOT be appearing on this feed.  Continue Reading …

On Being a Monster: “Frankenstein” and Creative Ambition, Part V—Artist

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter This essay is the fifth in a five-part series, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Part four can be found here. Part V: Artist Consider Mary Shelley’s task. In a competition with great poets, one of whom was her future husband, she was asked  Continue Reading …

On Being a Monster: “Frankenstein” and Creative Ambition, Part IV—Monster

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter This essay is the fourth in a five-part series, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Part three can be found here, part five can be found here. Part IV: Monster What of the creature himself? Thus far we have treated him primarily as if he  Continue Reading …

On Being a Monster: “Frankenstein” and Creative Ambition, Part III—Frankenstein

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter This essay is the third in a five-part series, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Part two can be found here, part four can be found here. Part III: Frankenstein And so we expect the project of overweening self-creation to be a botched  Continue Reading …

On Being a Monster: “Frankenstein” and Creative Ambition, Part II—Creator

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter This essay is the second in a five-part series, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Part one can be found here, part three can be found here. Part II: Creator Frankenstein’s ambitions are large, but they are also impatient. He might, he  Continue Reading …

On Being a Monster: “Frankenstein” and Creative Ambition, Part I—Creature

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter This essay is the first in a five-part series, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Part two can be found here. Part I: Creature Growing up is the metamorphosis we all know. Classical literature will tell you of the shape-shifting of  Continue Reading …

Top 13 One-Line Anti-Theodicies to Explain ‘mother!’ (h/t John Milton)

Mother Earth is not happy with Father Time's career. Creator is compromised by creation by way of reciprocation. The paternal brooder turned out not to be such a good fit for the maternal abyss. God neglects the world because its obsession with him has gone to his head. The apocalypse is just God’s creative narcissism reaping what it has sown. Patriarchal Being  Continue Reading …

On Integrative Encounters of the Cinematic Variety: Reflections on ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ on Its 40th Anniversary

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter "Your father was a computer engineer; your mother was a concert pianist, and when the spaceship lands, they make music together on the computer." That’s James Lipton’s tongue-in-cheek analysis of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, given to director Stephen Spielberg during his interview on  Continue Reading …

Whose Country Is It? Whomever It Inhabits

Subscribe to more of my writing at https://www.wesalwan.com Follow me on Twitter King Laius died at the Cleft Way, where he got in the way of an emigrant to Thebes who happened also to be his son. The prophecy was that Oedipus would be the death of Laius, and it was in the name of avoiding this fate that father and son worked together to seal it. Yet what truly made  Continue Reading …

Letter to the Editor: Identity Politics and Effective Action

This letter from listener Brian Bethel comes as a response to our recent episodes on politics and Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country, particularly to my criticisms of identity politics and the left (which Mark, Seth, and Dylan as far as I know generally do not share). I don't have a response to this right now—I'm working on a systematic exposition on my views on all of this  Continue Reading …