Tuesday March 24 | Laurie Berkner / “No Exit”

March 23, 2009 at 11:25 am | Posted in Coming Up | 3 Comments

In the first part of the show, we’ll talk to Laurie Berkner, a rock star in the world of children’s music. She started out in traditional rock bands, but has been writing toe-tapping tunes for kids for over a decade. Then we’ll discuss Existentialism and the writings of Jean Paul Sartre. A Charlotte theater group is producing his most famous play, No Exit.
Laurie Berkner – Musician, The Laurie Berkner Band
Dr. Norris Frederick – Chair Philosophy & Religion, Queens University
Paige Johnston Thomas – Director of No Exit, CAST
Dave Blamy – “Garcin” in No Exit

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  1. There is an episode of Futurama called “Hell Is Other Robots”…a take-off on the famous Sartre line “Hell is other people.”

  2. There are other Sartre plays maybe more relevant to the current dilemmas of our political economy, but this is the “hit”, equivalent to Neil Young torturing himself with “Cinnamon Girl, or Van Morrison with “Brown-eyed Girl.” A simplistic analysis calls the venue Hell. For me the “Institution” is the crux of relevance. A commentator stated this morning,”This is a large complex of indefinite size with many rooms and hallways.” There is no reason a traditional moral philosopher would need more than the one room depicted to examine the plight of the individual. There is no reason a playwright would need to depict the irresistible power of apprehension and enforced confinement when examining an unresolvable relationship among three characters. In an extra-theological context there is not even a reason for a Job-like testing of faith. If these actions are a condensation of late 1940s life in the triumphal civilized West we see that it is repressive, determinate and narrow. Creativity requires extraordinary effort on the part of the “artist” (actually every cognizant individual or combination) to escape the pervasive mindset and to say something understandable as new, transcendent, resolving or revelatory. I think structural repression remains the greatest barrier to reform in the present times United States.

    Witness how no cultural solution can contradict the model of capitalist profit motive in the credit collapse (Depression) or with the skyrocketing inflation of medical and educational costs. Creativity (*artisanship/philosophizing) would certainly offer some clues to solutions, but such work seems absent, not recognized, maybe not produced. Maybe Sartre was right: The modern corporatism is powerful enough to preempt its own needed critique, and therefore perpetuates contradictions resulting in its ultimate demise. I expect Sartre would agree with Michael Hudson that the Obama crew is scrambling to reinflate the tattered bubble economy, to relaunch an ethical travesty. Alan Turing was speculating about a living computer as Sartre wrote: Some contemporary Sartre should be describing computing as the runaway mind of a golem, the corporate run state, a living-dead thing with needs contrary to human and natural need. Already we carry a node of the corporate mind on our belts and in our pockets that tells us where to eat and what to consume. Doesn’t your PDA confine you in a solitary condition where only the needs of business matter, where organic cultural production ceases? Are spontaneity and the spark of life (as described by Sartre contemporary H. Ahrendt as a prerequisite of ethical choice) now extinguished? A good test would be to examine what people bring to the theater in making this current offering (“NO EXIT”) meaningful, relevant and useful.

  3. As a big fan of punk, metal, and other rock genres, I was quite surprised at how pleasing and soothing Ms Berkner’s voice was.

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