Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Nature of Existence

I'm going to be in another movie. Sort of.
I first became acquainted with Roger Nygard from his films Trekkies and Trekkies 2. Trekkies was superb--funny, informative, moving, yet with a real love of his subject. Trek fans only come off looking as silly as they actually are, and it's all humor in good fun (with an underlying message of humanism that's actually very Trekkie itself). Watching the first one inspired Jen and I to rent Trekkies 2, and we actually loved that one even more. It takes the same theme worldwide, looking at Star Trek fans in other countries. Which was actually the more amazing and moving. When you watch Bosnian Trek fans explaining why they love Star Trek's vision of a future golden age of peace and prosperity among all mankind, as a philosophy and vision for their own troubled times, it kind of means a lot more than when you hear it from some American suburbanite. I just can't recommend both films more. If you haven't seen them, you should.

Anyway, Nygard has turned his brilliant and funny eye from the life of Star Trek trivia to the biggest of big topics: the meaning of life. With his new film--many years in the making, spanning the globe--he brings you The Nature of Existence. Roger actually interviewed me for this (last year I think), and shot a lot of footage, but alas I'm told I get only one line in the film (though Roger assures me it's a good one, I don't really know). It's possible more of my interview will appear in something like web or DVD extras, but no guarantees, and anyway it's a long way from those formats yet. It's still a film in the can, and it premiers at the Cinequest Festival in San Jose, California in a couple of weeks (Sunday, March 8, 2009), "at the palatial California Theatre," where there will be a screening and closing night gala starting at 7:30 p.m.

Roger didn't want me to tell anyone he was making this movie until it was done, which is why I haven't said anything until now (besides a hint not too long ago). Since I haven't seen it, I don't know how good it is, but I think the probability is very high that it will not only be good, but almost certainly better than Religulous (which I had some issues with). Unfortunately I'll be in Southern California that day, so I can't make the premiere. I hope some fans will, and report back on it in comments here.

Follow the links above for more details, trailers, and so on.


Ben said...

Thanks for the recommendations.


freethoughtguy said...

We'd love to read about your issues with "Religulous." Perhaps one issue was the sole focus on only 3 religions?

AIGBusted said...

Hi Richard,

Have you seen James Randi's latest video on Rene Salm's book, "The Nazareth Myth"? It may be viewed here:

Apparently Randi supports Salm's claims.

Unknown said...

Following AIGBusted:

Indeed, it looks like Randi has taken to Salm's thesis, and in fact Salm has done the one thing that a scholar needs to do: get published in peer-reviewed journals. Rene Salm has an article concerning the Nazareth Village Farm in the "Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society", which includes rebuttals to Salm as well as a book review by a Cambridge-trained archaeologist (see vol 28, 2008).

As you can guess, much was written against Salm's thesis, but if those arguments hold water I need to better investigate. In particular, archaeologist K. Dark says that Salm should have used more up to date scholarship on pottery, but Dark chides Salm for questioning other archaeologists performing the NVF report for using the same book Salm used and to which Dark approves of (and Salm does not seem to deride the use of the book). Odd, no?

Perhaps Salm's book does require another look. I figured he had to at least get published in relevant literature to be taken seriously, but apparently he has, at least a bit.

Is Salm actually right? Heck if I can know.

Richard Carrier said...

freethoughtguy said... We'd love to read about your issues with "Religulous." Perhaps one issue was the sole focus on only 3 religions?

I didn't care much about that (can't imagine what there would be of Buddhists and Hindus--for all I know he may have spoken to them and got no funny footage worth putting in). My main beef was with his use of the Zeitgeist Jesus-myth material as if it were fact (when in reality it's 99% bullsh*t), which so badly stains the whole movie I won't even bother owning or recommending it. I had a variety of other complaints about organization (the concluding rant was too long, etc.), and other things I forget now (it's been a while).

Richard Carrier said...

Gilgamesh said... Is Salm actually right? Heck if I can know.

I'm skeptical. But I'm glad to see he's doing what he should have done: seeking peer review. I'll get that issue and take a look and see what I think. By contrast, I'm sympathetic to the anti-Qumran thesis (recently proposed--this time in peer review from the start--that there was no monastery at Qumran, only a refugee stash ditched there during the Jewish War), since the case against Qumran is strong, and the rebuttals have been overwhelmingly feeble so far. But I'm still waiting for that debate to play out into some sort of consensus. The Nazareth thing must go the same route. Until then, it remains fringe.