Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Examined Life 

Wednesday, Jul 8 2009
Ideas beam out from Astra Taylor’s engaging new philoso-doc Examined Life; the viewer basks in the intelligence on-screen and, occasionally, soaks up the rays. A purveyor of intellectual vaudeville, the thirty-ish Taylor has mobilized a group of professional philosophers. Coaxed from their classrooms to hold forth in the midst of life are Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Judith Butler, and the voluble subject of Taylor’s previous doc, Slavoj Zizek, who typically steals the show by staging his rant—a critique of “ecology”—in a garbage dump. Something new under the sun? Very smart people explain how to live without religion even as they self-consciously attempt to be in the moment. Taylor’s emphasis is on moral philosophy and, although her film’s structure is not exactly dialectical, it’s been assembled so that, without ever meeting face-to-face, the philosophers appear to critique each other’s ideas. Thus, after West convenes the symposium by invoking Socrates’ defense of self-reflection (“The unexamined life is not worth living”), Ronell pops up to interrogate the nature of self-reflection, questioning the filmmaker as to the nature of her project and slyly invoking Heidegger’s “path to nowhere” as she strides purposefully through a Manhattan park as filled with layabouts as any Greek agora.
Sun., July 12, 2, 4, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Mon., July 13, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Tue., July 14, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2009

About The Author

J. Hoberman


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"