Love, Death, and Annihilation in Contemporary Fiction and Cinema

School of Consciousness and Transformation PARP 6137 3.00

Instructors: Carolyn Cooke and Brian Swimme

Out of thirty million species of life on Earth, Homo sapiens is singular in its need for imaginative works in order to complete the movement from infancy to maturity. When we reflect on the devastation taking place throughout the Earth Community at this time, we need to ask the obvious question: Why have our symbolic works failed so spectacularly? Part of the answer can be seen in the shift in our universities from communities focused on awakening the deep qualities of humanity to training camps for attaining the particular cognitive skills required by our corporations. Departments of Philosophy throughout America are emblematic of this devolution. Instead of fostering the quest for truth, our academic philosophers convinced themselves they should make their field “scientific” by avoiding such, for them, embarrassing topics as “wisdom” or “the meaning of life”.

The human impulse to reflect upon the deep questions of our existence does not cease because of thehyper specialization and fragmentation of the modern university. If philosophers are going to abandon this quest, the novelists, filmmakers, and other artists will take up the challenge to pro-vide the works of the imagination necessary for human development. In this course, our search for wisdom will draw from such titles as Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, D. H. Lawrence’s LadyChatterly’s Lover, Suzan-Lori Parks’s Venus, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior, Georges Bataille’s The Story of the Eye, Abha Dawesar’s Babyji, Don DeLillo’s The Names, Alice Munro’s The Lives of Girls and Women, Denzel Washington/August Wilson’s “Fences”, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, Jean Rhys’ After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Eileen Myles’s Cool For You, Allan Hollinghurst’s The Folding Star, Peter Jackson/Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9”.

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