Visiting Speaker at UWE-Philosophy: Nietzsche and The Dark Knight 11/10/2023

In a week or so I’ll be travelling to Bristol to give a paper for the philosophy people at the University of the West of England. The venue will the world famous and totally wonderful Arnolfini, Bristol’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts on the city harbour-side.

I am going to be talking about Batman and Nietzsche! Or rather, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) as a ‘version’ of and ‘lens’ on Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872). So, that is the film with the brilliant performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker.

My starting point will be that the Joker is an incarnation of Nietzsche’s idea of Dionysius, a dissonant and chaotic force in art, revealing tragedy as the idea of aesthetics as neither an image of the beautiful nor as a representation of morality.

Rather The Dark Knight is cinema as a philosophical critique, the analysis of a problem, something difficult to think about, creating an atmosphere for thought. The Dark Knight thus explores chaos and order, anarchy and tyranny, freedom and control – how each engenders the other, how each limits the other, how each can destabilise the other. And how they seem to encircle one another. As the Joker says to the Batman – ‘I think you and I are destined to do this forever’, as the camera turns in a circle.

Is there a way out of this viscious circle? That’s what I’ll be exploring through The Dark Knight and The Birth of Tragedy…

The event is open to the public and will be at the Arnolfini on Wednesday 11 October 2023, from 4pm to 6pm. Thanks to Niall Keane and Katrina Mitcheson for the invitation to the Philosophy Department of the University of the West of England Visiting Speaker Seminar.

You can check out my abstract and more details on the event here:

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