Thomas Hibbs
Thomas Hibbs
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William Peter Blatty, Between Time and Eternity

January 14, 2017  •  National Review Online

"Every Halloween I'm dragged out of my burrow like some demonic Punxsatawney Phil. And if I don't see my shadow, the horror box office is going to be great." That's how William Peter Blatty, who died Thursday at the age of 89 from complications from a form of blood cancer, often described his odd, late-in-life celebrity as the author of the novel The Exorcist and the screenplay of its 1973 film version. Alongside wistful tweets from his longtime friend (and collaborator on the film), the director William Friedkin, Stephen King tweeted, "RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time. So long, old Bill."

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Late Bergman: The Lived Experience of the Absence of God in Faithless and Saraband

December 15, 2016  •  MDPI Religions

Of the mid-century work of the Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut stated in 1973, "there is no body of work of the caliber and integrity of Bergman's since the war" ([1], p. 34). Acclaimed as one of the great filmmakers of the 20th century, Ingmar Bergman is for many an arch-modernist, whose work is characterized by a high degree of self-conscious artistry and by dark, even nihilistic themes. Bergman seems increasingly to be identified as a kind of philosopher of the human condition, especially of the dislocations and misery of the modern human condition [2,3,4,5].1 In this, his work reflects the philosophical dilemmas of nihilism. As with many European filmmakers of the last century, he is quite self-conscious about his own artistry; indeed, such self-consciousness seems obligatory in those who aspire to artistic greatness. However, Bergman's films are not embodiments of philosophical theories, nor do they include explicit discussions of theory. Instead, he attends to the concrete lived experience of those who, on the one hand, suffer from doubt, dislocation, and self-hatred and, on the other, long for confession and communion. In the middle of his career, especially in his famous faith trilogy of the early 1960s, Bergman investigated the lived experience of the absence of God. It is commonly thought that after this period, the question of God disappeared. However, in his last two films, Faithless [6] and Saraband [7], Bergman explores the lived experience of the absence of God. Indeed, he moves beyond a simple negation to explore the complex interplay of absence. He even illustrates the possibility of a kind of communion for which so many of his characters—early, middle and late—long. After a brief examination of Bergman and nihilism, we will turn to these two, final films in Bergman's corpus.

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review of Son of Saul

April 23, 2016  •  National Review Online

Son of Saul, the first film (to be released next week on DVD) of László Nemes — he both directed and co-wrote it, and it won both the grand prize at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Film — is the latest in a seemingly endless string of Holocaust films. However, both in its peculiar plot — which focuses exclusively on the story of one man, Saul, brilliantly performed by Géza Röhrig — and in its cinematography — a hand-held, mobile camera that remains persistently and tightly focused on Saul — it marks out its own territory. The film is simultaneously an immersive, physically taxing experience of life in a camp and a self-conscious reflection on the conditions of, and motives for, Holocaust movies.

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Pope Francis's 'Integral Ecology'

September 17, 2015  •  National Review Online

We live in a deranged age — more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.

— Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos

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The End of the Tour, Irrational Man, and the Question of Nihilism

August 20, 2015  •  National Review Online

A scene in James Ponsoldt's new film The End of the Tour shows the novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) teaching a college writing class. When a student says, "I just want my narrator to be smart and witty," Wallace responds dryly but gently, "Try having him say some smart and witty things," and proceeds to warn the class to avoid the clichéd plot of a campus romance. Wallace's unpretentious, self-effacing rapport with the students stands in stark contrast to the model of the teacher in Woody Allen's annual foray into filmmaking with Irrational Man, which uses the cliché of campus romance, in this case between celebrated and jaded philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) and his adoring student-protégée Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), as a vehicle for exploring the liberating power of nihilism.

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Books by Thomas Hibbs

Cover of Rouault-Fujimura: Soliloquies Cover of Arts of Darkness Cover of Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion Cover of Virtue's Splendor Cover of Shows About Nothing Cover of Dialectic Narrative In Aquinas

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