Examined Life

I showed Examined Life to my Intro class (as a sort of “See what’s happening in the world of philosophy today”) – I have to say that I have never seen anyone more annoying than Avital Ronell. Who is she? I knew everyone in that documentary, but her. I thought framing it all with Cornell West was brilliant. Martha Nussbaum was very interesting as well, but I’m pretty sure if this Ronell woman were to be cut out of the film, it would not change a bit. I think if I ever show it again I’ll just skip her because it’s painful to sit through her ramblings and all.

I think you can buy a DVD from amazon in February of 2010. I highly recommend it if you’re teaching anything Intro to Philosophy.


13 thoughts on “Examined Life

    • You applying to the EGS, or to NYU comp lit, Bryan?

      She introduced JL Nancy a few years ago, and it was the most pompous, performance-art inspired thing I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing. I can’t even describe it. The Horror, the horror…..

      • NYU German. If it were comp lit I would shoot myself, since I think that department is mostly lorded over by deconstructionists.

      • LOL. I didn’t realize she was listed in the German Dept. Although, really, NYU comp lit is a powerful program, especially if Anselm Haverkamp is still there (home dept. English, I think, maybe German)–cool guy, writes intelligent stuff on Blumenberg.

  1. The important thing is that we get to see Zizek in a dump wearing a worker’s vest and finding used porn. That only makes this film worthwhile. Agreed on Avital Ronell although I’d add Judith Butler to the saying nothing with words list.

      • Agreed, Mikhail. She seemed really friendly and cool, not at all pretentious (which is usually the kind of annoying/uninformed criticism of her work).

  2. I thought Judith Butler came off as actually pretty down-to-earth and comprehensible. Plus I like her work. But yeah, I think I would’ve cut the Avital Ronell interview. I recall cringing while watching it.

  3. I’d love to show this to my class…but how did you get a copy of it to show, if it’s not available until February?

    Avital Ronell is actually very kind to individual students, and while she comes off terribly in that clip, she’s also kind to other people working in her field (say what you want about it). I don’t think there’s a dismissive word in any of her work about anyone else.

    • I have a copy which I think was something like a review copy. I will definitely buy a DVD when it comes out as I hope it’ll be better quality and maybe have extras? I don’t know anything about Avital Ronell so I didn’t mean to suggest that she’s annoying as a person, it’s just that in the film she comes off as a strange kind of person. Maybe it’s the editing issue? Maybe others were annoying as well?

    • Agnes, that’s actually a relief to hear. I had heard some negative rumors about her from some people who I believe were also part of the Yale French Studies clique, accusations of being a “Derrida groupie” and authoritarian kind of deconstructionism, and I was concerned that my work might come into conflict with hers if we were in the same department, and then of course I realized that they were talking about Avital Ronell from *Examined Life*, and grew even more concerned, but if the movie and those things I had heard aren’t true, then I feel a bit less nervous.

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