Buddhism, Nietzsche, Jung, Christianity, and Plato: Religious and Philosophical Themes in Westworld

Lost Among the Walking Dead

HBO recently aired the finale of the first season of Westworld, answering many of its most important questions and mysteries (Who is the Man in Black?  What is the Maze? Who is Wyatt? Were there multiple timelines? Are there other parks?). There are many blogs, sites, and podcasts devoted to the show in which you will find theories and discussions about the multiple mysteries of the show (see some recommendations at the end of the article, although I particularly recommend Joanna Robinson’s coverage of the show in Vanity Fair). This post though will only outline some of the many religious and philosophical ideas behind the show, something that you don’t see covered so much in most articles and sites dedicated to Westworld. The point of the article is not to conclude that the creators have purposefully used these religious and philosophical ideas to construct the unique worldview of the…

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Eyes Wide Shut and the Paranoid Style in American Pop Culture

Tropics of Meta

eyes wide shut masks

What is it about Stanley Kubrick that makes people crazy?

I was truly excited about the release of last year’s film Room 237—as a historian and Kubrick fan, the idea of an hour or two of deep interpretation of the themes and symbolism of his 1980 horror classic The Shining sounded delightful.  It would be like taking a cultural history or film studies class where all the insights of a semester’s discussions were distilled into one megacut.

As it turned out, though, the film was more like a documentary about a cult or conspiracy theory, or simply the adherents of a weird fetish or hobby (say, a King of Kong for ersatz anthropologists).  Fairly ludicrous and elaborate inferences about the genocide of Native Americans or the faking of the Moon landing were narrated by the film’s motley, disembodied lot of amateur analysts, who even admitted that they may be…

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