Exclusive Interview: Dr. William Irwin, co-editor of True Blood and Philosophy

June 1, 2010

True Blood fever is hitting hard as fans revel in DVDs, books, soundtracks, and trailers all leading up to the June 13th Season 3 premiere.

Amid the recent book releases you will find True Blood and Philosophy: We Wanna Think Bad Things with You, by William Irwin, George Dunn, and Rebecca Housel. The book is a collection of essays exploring philosophical theories through the characters and plot of the HBO series. (You can find a review of this book by TrueBloodNet.com‘s own Isis Nocturne here.)

Dr. Irwin is a philosophy professor at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the very same school from which I am an alum. Dr. Irwin was nice enough to answer a few questions about his latest book.

>What drew you to make True Blood the next book in your series?

Vampires are all the rage these days, and True Blood is the most philosophically sophisticated vampire fiction out there.

>What do you believe to be the appeal of True Blood?

The idea of living among vampires and peacefully co-existing is certainly intriguing. With its basis in the novels, the show has great characters and story lines to draw on.

>What is the book about and what are some of the areas that the book covers?

The book introduces the reader to some major questions and issues in philosophy by using the show and the novels for examples. Topics covered include: the politics of human-vampire relations, the out-of-the-coffin/out-of-the-closet analogy, the ethics of mindreading, and the metaphysics of the undead.

>Is there something unique about True Blood in comparison to the other books you have written regarding various shows and Philosophy?

Like other topics for books in my series on philosophy and pop culture, True Blood inspires fans to keep talking about the issues it raises long after they turn off the TV. We look for shows and movies that are literate, witty, and insightful. True Blood certainly qualifies.

>Is there a common theme you noticed from writing these particular books?

Many of the topics we choose raise issues of good and evil, and True Blood certainly does that. True Blood, however, more readily raises concerns and issues of social and political philosophy and even metaphysics.

>Do the essays focus primarily on the television show or did anyone look at the books as well? If so how?

The essays consider both the show and the novels. The essays are written in a way that can be followed easily by someone who is only familiar with the show, but they account for the novels as well.

>When looking at the various characters in the show which one strikes a cord with you and why?

Sam resonates with me for some reason. I’ve never wanted to be a vampire, but being a shifter would be cool. And there’s definitely something cool about Sam.

>Will you do a second book on True Blood that will examine other aspects that you didn’t touch on in this book?

If this book is a success, we’ll certainly consider doing another one or a revised edition to keep up with the developments on the show and in the novels.

With the teasers from Season 3, perhaps we can look forward to another edition or two.

True Blood and Philosophy is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.

Special thanks to Dr. William Irwin for taking the time to answer these questions.

(Photo Credit: wiley.com)

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True Blood and Philosophy: A Book Review

May 29, 2010

I just had the pleasure of reading True Blood and Philosophy: We Wanna Think Bad Things with You, published by John Wiley & Sons. It’s a great book, and one that I think is something all True Blood fans should add to their bookshelves. True Blood and Philosophy takes many aspects of True Blood and breaks them down into several sections, then takes those sections and breaks them down further into singular arguments that are left open for you to think about.

The first section of True Blood and Philosophy regarding Vampire/Human Ethics, and is further broken down into the ethics of a vampire turning a human, vampires assimilating into human culture, and the life forms in the True Blood world and their interactions. In this section, I had one major problem with the first chapter. Though it made many good points, it harped on Bill turning Jessica without explaining the reasons behind that incident. For me, that kept me from giving my full attention to the chapter, even though it made several good points both for and against vampires turning humans. Other than that, I found myself completely enjoying this section of the book.

The next section of True Blood and Philosophy discusses Vampire Politics. This section breaks down into Social Contracts between humans and vampires, whether or not vampires can be good citizens, and about the “artificiality” of vampires and them becoming involved in human politics. Once again, this was a great selection to read, and everything written had me questioning both True Blood and my own beliefs in real life.

Following Vampire Politics in True Blood and Philosophy is a section about the Eros, Sexuality, and Gender in True Blood, and more specifically discusses the Coming out of the Coffin/Coming out of the Closet perspective of the show, Sookie and Feminism, and Sookie and Freud. For me, the section discussing Freud and the Edible complex was the hardest thing for me to get through, but I really loved the first part of this section, since it also discussed one of the characters in the Sookie books (that we have not met on True Blood) and how when it comes to his sexuality, he’s a double-entendre. That section also discusses the use of “God Hates Fangs” as it’s used in the opening credits of True Blood. Once again, it made me think about what I was reading and the meaning behind it all.

The fourth section of True Blood and Philosophy is about the Natural, Supernatural, and Divine, and is broken down further into a section about sacrifice, scapegoats, and good times, another section questions whether vampires are natural or not, and a third section is devoted entirely to whether or not God hates fangs. My favorite part of this section was the piece discussing the “naturalness” of because it brought up the excellent point about how we as humans define the term natural.

The final section of True Blood and Philosophy covers the metaphysics of supernatural beings, and breaks it down further into a vampire’s ability to love, keeping secrets from Sookie, and also about how personal identity works for supernatural creatures. In this section, I really enjoyed the final part of this section, as it talked about how we’re still the same, even if we are change some of our views. After all, whether a vampire, shifter, were, or human (or anything else), we all have a special kind of magic within us.

True Blood and Philosophy is a pretty short book (it’s only about 235 pages), but it’s filled with tons of information. My best suggestion when reading True Blood and Philosophy is to take your time and read it section by section. Then, take a break and let what you just read, and your own opinions on the topic simmer in your mind before going on to read the next part. This way, you won’t become overwhelmed by the whole book. No matter what, True Blood and Philosophy is a great book, so get a copy and enjoy! And once you read it, let us know what are your thoughts of True Blood and Philosophy.

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All About True Blood, Philosophically Speaking

February 27, 2010

Mystical hierarchies, gods and goddesses, the blurred line between good and evil … philosophers can have a field day with the happenings in “True Blood.” And apparently, they did. They had so much to talk about, they’re publishing a book about it: True Blood and Philosophy.

Dr. William Irwin has a new addition to his “… and Philosophy” series, a series where he and various authors and editors put together essays extracting philosophical theories from pop culture hits. Past books have included Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Office and Philosophy, and The Matrix and Philosophy. His most recent publication, True Blood and Philosophy, will analyze our favorite folks in Bon Temps. And it’s about so much more than vampires:

“Now True Blood and Philosophy calls on the minds of some of history’s great thinkers to perform some philosophical bloodletting on such topics as Sookie and the metaphysics of mindreading; Maryann and sacrificial religion; werewolves, shapeshifters and personal identity; vampire politics, evil, desire and much more.”

These books tend to be very intellectual and give readers a chance to examine their favorite shows and characters from a whole new perspective. Irwin has a knack for appealing to both sides of the spectrum – “True Blood” fans could brush up on their philosophy and maybe some philosophers will find themselves glamored by “True Blood.”

This book will be released on June 1, 2010, coinciding nicely with the second season DVD release and of course the start of the third season. June can’t come fast enough.

True Blood and Philosophy: We Want to Think Bad Things with You (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series)

SOURCE:  wiley.com

(Photo credit: wiley.com)

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