Once upon a writ(h)ing flesh-wrought wound, sharp in sense, touched, stripped down to drip epidermic God-blush of moon complex-ion cluster, there were timeless tantra stasis voices, and in all to awl in/to be-hold y-our breath for a nested script-ink of blood type(s)âemerging from and as a uni-verse dancing around the HBO television series, True Blood.
This book is a collection of essays from twenty-eight student interpreters (stern dents) that comprised Professor Lucio Privitelloâs Fall 2010 GAH course, âPhilosophies of Life and Death,â otherwise known as True Blood and Philosophy at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, where they met twice a week. The goal was to analyze the pleasure of watching True Blood and to see how much knowledge that pleasure could withstand. The course revolved around a hefty collection of readings from a broad cultural base, along with specific lectures on and around these interpretive tools. The six sections represent a particular area of focus on the series and emerged after the individual chapters were compiled. Each essay is a freely chosen personal investigation.
Join us and be turnedâas Platoâs Socrates once intimatedâand in the fantastic and the philosophical, transcend the common conceptions of a course, while enjoying these examples where apprenticeships in creativity take hold. Here, pedagogical reality enters an-other phase and depth. Here is where things get real. Here, everything has more chancesâŚtake one.
Part One: Imagine Beyond Belief 5
1 - The Mystical Revolution and Societyâs
Gravitation to the Undead 6
2 - Believe it or Not: The Power of Belief in True Blood 15
3 - The Magic of the Good and the Wicked 25
4 - How Fear Grips Us: Terror and True Blood 33
5 - Death is Only the Beginning: Purpose in True Blood 45
Part Two: What ARE You? 59
6 - Maryann Forrester: The Adonic Puer of Dionysus 60
7 - Maryann Forrester: the Symbol of Self-Destruction 75
8 - Panâs Lover: True Bloodâs Maryann Forrester 85
9 - The Phenomenology of Godric 113
10 - Sam Merlotte: His Own Best Friend? 121
11 - The Descension of Sookie Stackhouse 128
12 - Celibacy, Power, and Climaxing on the Human Experience:Â Jason Stackhouse 144
Part Three: What to Expect When YouÂ are Un-Expecting 159
13 - Cutting the Cord: Needing the Supernatural to
Move out of My Motherâs House 160
14 - Love, Hate, and Loyalty: A Maker and Their Progeny 169
15 - How to Raise a Vampire 179
Part Four: Drop Dead Sexy 191
16 - âYou Know I Love YouÂ More When You Are Cold and Heartlessâ 192
17 - True Blood Erotica: Sex is Fantastic 205
18 - Super Sex and the Supernatural 215
19 - Sucking and Fucking: A Vampireâs Ability to Love 227
20 - Unusual Love 232
Part Five: ImmortalKombat 241
21 - Burning to Die: Suicide of the Immortal 242
22 - The Good, the Bad, the Immortal 250
23 - The Morality of Humans and Vampires in True Blood 258
24 - Unity and Duality of Life & Death 266
Part Six: Boodbath and Beyond 274
25 - Blood in the Bayou 275
Kyle B. Bartsch
26 - The Power of Blood: Freedom vs. Restriction 285
27 - Tracking âVâ 295
28 - The True Color of True Blood 304
Contributorsâ Obituaries 311
Maker & Visual Creator 326
If you look into the dark long enough, there is always something there.
Of all that is written I love only what is written with blood.Â Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit. (Nietzsche, âOn Reading and Writing,â Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
For those who follow, enjoy and reflect on the HBO series True Blood a formal introduction to the content of the series is not necessary. You know that there is always something there in the dark (and the light) and that there are more things than we can understand when the power of the imagination and imagining oneself into existence is unleashed.
The idea of imagining-oneself-into-existence does threaten the security of the comfortable divide between observing and participating. This is where the authors of this reader come in. They move into the spaces of reflection of the reader as a challenge, as a way to test, tease, threaten and enhance pleasure and knowledge. They have actually moved into their own spaces, specters-to-themselves, in having triggered and produced what, within, always wishes to get going.
The genesis of the idea of this course on True Blood was also a product of pushing the pedagogical boundaries between observing and participating. Here too I crossed boundaries and pushed edges and borders to create an embrasure of learning. I intended to create a formidable challenge. Pedagogically speaking, the students who make up this course entered already having mastered a particular knowledge-base: the True Blood series. What awaited them was a three hundred and nineteen page reader geared to expose them to the philosophy of mythology, literary theory, aesthetics, semiotics, and methodology, philosophy of religion, psychology, philosophy, ethics, and cultural criticism. Along with the reader, a collection of texts were placed on âReserve,â and as part of all this, they were required to use scholarly articles, and texts that were recommended based on their themes and outlines.1 The challenge became the quest-ion: how much knowledge can your pleasure take, or, perhaps how much pleasure can you bring to knowledge? They bit. Many also shifted. Others where âturned.â It is a pleasure to see how so many went in search of their c-ode.
All of this happened rather quickly. What lies before you is a semesterâs product, begun and rounded off in less than fourteen weeks. This easily grants each of them a slice of textual immortality, and that is what you see before you: a survival of human personality and a step into the âworld of appreciationâ as Josiah Royce envisioned.
An explicit personality is one which shows itself through deeds that embody a coherent idealâan ideal âan ideal which need not be abstractly formulated, but which must be practically active, recognizably significant, consciously in need of further temporal expression. Such an explicit personality may be that of a hero, of a saint, or of a rascal [or the students of the fall 2010 course âPhilosophies of Life and Death: True Blood and Philosophyâ].
This is also how âpurposeâ plays itself out-into-the-world of things, a deliberate technique that enhances details, reveals and finds its way within and through what Royce called âthe very wilderness of finitude.â3 Consider these essays as mappings of infinitude, as ways that saw and worked their way out of the finitude that many, all-too-many, would see as yet âjust a show,â another course, more readings, another semester in the life of becoming culturally emergent personalities. Within this volume you will get to meet these personalities; and personalities they are, which lent a level of energy and intensity to what each of us will remember as our fall 2010 âTrue Blood and Philosophyâ class.
The ways in which we grasped this Roycean âchance for a deedâ was through the tripartite experience of what I implemented and called: âfacing your-self.â The first experience, or âinner experienceâ (as Bataille would have it) of the âfacing-of-selfâ was the desire present within each student to be part of this type of course, present themselves as knowledgeable (and they certainly were when it came to True Blood) and pass a âpermission of Instructorâ quiz. The second aspect of the âfaced selfâ and facing your life was contained in their first short assignment: write your own obituary. This first day of class assignment makes up our âContributorsâ page. The third aspect of the âface of selfâ was when each author, after having worked and reworked an outline for their chapter, taking notes from class lectures, and developing their theoretical apparatus, set out to write. These three aspects of the experience of âfacing yourselfâ is the forging and function of the pedagogical transformation of a naâ˘ve reader into a âModel Reader âŚ a semiotic or critical reader.â4 We wish to thank Alan Ball, the various writers and directors, and the entire cast and crew of True Blood for their creativity and craft in what, within this imaginative series, is the playground of imagining oneself into the spaces of a âfaced self.â The love shown in what they do allowed us to love what we have done. Such is the experience of creative love as W. E. Hocking believed.
The miracle of love is that it so spontaneously forgets its own limitations: it assumes its right to act in loco Deiâand with the right assumes also its capacity! The pathetic folly of human affection? Or is it the reverse, a point at which human finitude rises to the point of participating in deity? I propose that here, in willing toconfer immortality on another mortal, the self is in that moment reaching a deeper self-consciousness, an intimation of its own destiny.
It doesnât get much better than this. This is ââthe Good;â a type of ordering, and rising into unity through the recognition and enjoyment of patterns. This is what allows the emergence of permanence, glimpses of beauty, and the crafting of forms. What happened in and because of these chapters and their authors was a practical application of the good, and a formation of a community of interpreters.
This volume is divided into six parts. Imagine it as a Pythagorean hexad. As such it is properly referred to as a âreconciling,â âkosmos,â and the âform of all Forms,â and the form is personified by Thaleia, one of the nine Muses, and goddess of song, music, and dance, and later the Muse of Comedy (Thalia). Within and between these six parts we do have a type of music of the cosmic comedy, a ratio and proportion of what keeps us ticking and talking. What is also contained in this volume is the proof of how a course can be transformed into a work of art, collectively discussed, diligently worked on, and enjoyed.
Prof. Lucio Angelo Privitello, Ph.D.âMaker
Fall Semester 2010
If metaphysics is steak, this volume is ontological duck âŚ what a feast; almost like taking a bite out of the lamb shank of god.
Unbelievable really; is it possible to conceive such a labor of love in our current pedagogical morass and cultural emptiness? Yes; if spearheaded by a stern and immortal-like guide âŚ a âMakerâ -- for then even culture can be resurrected âŚ looking ahead to their next volume: âThe Devil.â -Innsbruck Insolencia
Never has so much hope been expended in a product that must nevertheless drip-drop in the world bucket of doom, superficiality, ignorance, and the dumb Sundays of life âŚ and yet, reflections and perspectives give hope to the abject and hopeless. A must read.
-The Denver Drepanoid
If this isnât godâs bus schedule, it must be Proustâs time-table to all train travel âŚ makes you wish you were starting out again as a child, discovering the world with fresh eyes, a stainless steel heart, and a love that borders on animality. Herein find raw potential, storytelling, lovers, budding theorists, and the lost and found of ruby-dappled futures.
- Il Giornale dâOggi, domani
Reading this volume makes you wish you could hang out with this class, and community of interpreters. Hear the voices of the undead, and the undying power of creation.
- Jouissance Today
Coming soon after word gets out!
Prof. Lucio A. Privitello, Editor (see full bio below)
Sarah A. Messina, Designer
Kyle B. Bartsch
Lucio Angelo Privitello is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Coordinator of the Philosophy and Religion program at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He is also President of the Classical Humanities Society of South Jersey (CHSSJ), and Fellow of the ICHS and The Examined Life. Prof. Privitello holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Villanova University (2003), an M.A. in Philosophy from Villanova (2001), an M.A. in Philosophy from Temple University (1986), and a B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design (1981). In Italy he earned a Diploma Superiore in Ceramics and Design from the Art Institute of Grammichele, Sicily (1977), and was an apprentice in painting and sculpture for five years with Maestro Giuseppe Benassi in Parma, Italy.
It has always been a dream to share my cultural background to its fullest. In 1972, while living and studying in Sicily, I was introduced to my first text in the history of philosophy. The text was Platoâs Republic, Book VII; and I was sitting with my uncle, Professor Gino Coppoletta on the slopes of the volcano Etna. Through him my introduction to Plato, Empedocles, and the native Sophist Gorgias came alive amidst the backdrop of a mountain of lava where against so many odds plush vegetation breaks through and lives are lived against the shoulders of destructive and creative power. What an ideal classroom those slopes proved to be. It is the apprenticeship to such forces that I seek to create and share with my classes. Â I am convinced, as George Santayana put it, that âhalf of our standards come from our first masters, and the other half from our first loves.â I have been extremely lucky in both these departments, and work my standards because of their lasting lessons in an artistic-philosophical form of life.
At Stockton College I have lectured and facilitated mini-seminars for The Examined Life series, entitled âEducation and the Art of Teaching: The Apprenticeship in Ideals in Platoâs Socrates,â along with a presentation on Platoâs use of fables.Â I have also presented a lecture for the Classical Humanities Society of South Jersey, and lectured on Hesiodâs Theogony, entitled âIn Union with Love: A Mytho-genealogy of Eros in Hesiodâs Theogony,â and most recently lectured on âThe Classics in Marcel Proustâs In Search of Lost Time.â
My publications range from articles in classical American philosophy (Chauncey Wright, and Josiah Royce), French philosophy and literature (Georges Bataille), Italian Cinema, Sicilian Literature, and French philosophy (Visconti, Lampedusa, Deleuze), along with International and National Conference presentations from Ancient Greek Philosophy, Pedagogy, Aesthetics, and Humor Studies. Within the Philosophy and Religion Program I teach Ancient Greek Philosophy, History of Modern Western Philosophy, Introduction to Philosophy, a Senior Seminar entitled âVolumes and Edges in Contemporary Philosophy,â and have run many Independent Studies (Hegel, Hobbes, Sade/Masoch, Creativity and Creations), and an upper level course on Nietzsche.Â My General Arts and Humanities courses (GAH) are âThe Ways of Love,â âHumorâs Logic and Laughterâs Wisdom,â âIn the Animalâs Image,â and âPhilosophies of Life and Death,â otherwise known as the âTrue Blood and Philosophyâ course.
From this latest course I am thrilled to see the publication of the volume Blood Type: Writ(h)ing In & On True Blood. This book is product of the work of the fall 2010 class, and has twenty-eight chapters written by my wonderful students, along with the amazing creative graphic design, layout, and production of a Stockton alumni, and friend, Sarah A. Messina. This book, and the course that set the stage for its creation, is an example of dedicated work and creative enjoyment. This is pedagogy at its best, and an example of how Stockton College supports innovative and exciting creative outlets in the educational experience. I plan on this being the first of many such experiences.