Philosophy is all around us - it binds us, shapes us, reshapes us, links us together, and sometimes drives us apart. Philosophy is the creative force of humanity, propelling us into the future and linking us to the past. Rather than give this website my name, I decided to name it after an early scene from the film The Last Jedi where Luke Skywalker (a boyhood hero of mine) irreverently tosses his lightsaber over his shoulder – not because I like the scene (I don’t) but because it serves as a reminder for me how easily we can overlook philosophy, how easy it is for us (in our post-everything world) to become disillusioned, apathetic, pessimistic, cynical, and nihilistic. The lightsaber toss scene also represents the connection between philosophy and popular culture I’ve come to recognize and embrace. For this, I must thank Bill Irwin – as an author and series editor of the Philosophy and Popular Culture Series (at Blackwell Publishing) his work (and the work he’s overseen) has inspired me for years to view the popular culture I have always been drawn to (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Lost, and many others) in more insightful ways.
My Philosophy (or, The Tao of Edwardo Pérez)
From the perspective of popular culture, the three tidbits of wisdom that seem to resonate with me the most (they’re always echoing in the back of my head) are “Everything begins with a choice” (spoken by Morpheus in The Matrix: Reloaded), “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” (spoken by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), and “Do or do not, there is no try” (spoken by Yoda in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back). These viewpoints inform my philosophy as much as anything else I’ve studied – not just the wisdom, but the characters themselves, as Morpheus, Gandalf, and Yoda represent a sort of philosophical ideal I aspire to embody. Recently, I’ve also come to admire various characters in Game of Thrones, most notably, Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow. For Tyrion, the quote is “Never forget what you are, the world will not, wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.” For Jon, it’s not so much what he says as what’s said about him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
I am currently an Associate Professor of English at Tarrant County College in Hurst, Texas (with a Ph.D. in English Rhetoric) specializing in rhetorical theory & analysis, critical theory & analysis, and popular culture & philosophy. I actively write blogs on popular culture & philosophy for www.andphilosophy.com and I have essays forthcoming in the book Doctor Strange and Philosophy, the book 1984 and Philosophy, and in the Journal of Popular Culture's special issue on adventure.
A Note About The Photographs
Photo credits: The majority of the images on Lightsabertoss are photographs of the oil paintings of Suzanne Pérez, Assistant Professor of Art at Tarrant County College (who also happens to be my wife). The rest of the images are vacation photographs (we love beaches) and still life photographs our children’s Lego toys - every image was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S5 and edited on Google Photos.
A Philosophical Note about Legos: First, Legos are fascinating. Yes, they’re just toys, but if we view them through the allegory of Plato’s cave or through Baudrillard’s conception of simulacra and simulation – as representations of the nature of our illusory and constructed reality – we begin to see a greater significance to what is otherwise a piece of plastic. Second, I’ve come to believe that children have an innate wisdom about life and, to me, Lego toys (given their small, innocent nature and generational appreciation – who hasn’t played with Legos?) symbolize that – they’re humanity writ small. Somewhere along the way we lose this wisdom, it gets buried inside us by life’s experiences, replaced by whatever society says is more important. Thus, as adults, our task is to reconnect with that wisdom. We can go to school and earn degrees, read self-help books, spend a lot of money on psychotherapy, and try to “find ourselves” in countless ways – and all of that may be worthwhile. But, we can also play and let wisdom find us again (and if you buy Lego toys, you’ll spend the same amount of money as a degree or therapist). As Johan Huizinga observed in his 1938 book Homo Ludens, play is an essential component in our lives – it’s necessary for us to play as individuals and as a culture. So is, I think, listening to our children - and when you play with Legos with your kids, you're doing both. We may be adults but our children know best what life really means because they’re still connected to their wisdom, they haven’t buried it or forgotten it and it hasn’t been taken away and replaced by the ideologies (and stubborn ignorance) that claim so many of us as adults.