BOOK REVIEWS ISSUE 2 Page 3
By Bob Nalbandian
Metallica And Philosophy: A Crash Course In Brain Surgery
Edited By William Irwin
A philosophy meets heavy metal textbook? Well, sort of. William Irwin is a Philosophy Professor at King's College in Pennsylvania and he, along with several of his esteemed philosophy colleagues worldwide, have compiled a pretty interesting and sophisticated take on arguably the biggest rock band of modern time, Metallica. Irwin, who also edited a series of other philosophy and culture-oriented books including Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Simpsons and Philosophy and The Matrix and Philosophy, is an obvious target as an author simply trying to cash in using his extensive knowledge of philosophy and incorporating it with popular culture in an effort to hopefully sell a lot of books. And Irwin explicitly points that out in the Forward as he boldly states that with these series of books he aims to change people's perception about philosophy showing that philosophy is relevant to your everyday life whether you're a fan of TV shows like Seinfeld or South Park or a music fan/metal-head into Metallica. Secondly, it's obvious after reading several of the chapters written by Irwin and other authors such as Robert Fudge, Bart Engelen, Thom Brooks, Joanna Corwin, and Mark D. White, that all these various philosophy colleagues/professors are in fact true Metallica fans that have thoroughly studied the lyrics of James Hetfield. Whether their views are farfetched or seemingly accurate, each author gives a rather interesting philosophical take on Metallica's lyrics (from Kill 'Em All through St. Anger) as well as a philosophical insight on Metallica's fan base (the Metal Militia), and the band's recent documentary Some Kind Of Monster.
This book really is more about Philosophy than it is about Metallica so don't expect an insightful look into the band's history or to acquire salacious dirt about the band. Metallica and Philosphy gets deep, in fact too deep, on the philosophical aspects that may (or may not) revolve around this band. It's not a titillating read by any means as it really does read like a philosophy textbook and for the less-scholastic folks like myself who have little knowledge about the history of philosophy (the book has an overabundance of quotes and theories from Aristotle, Nietzsche, Socrates and the like) you might find this hard to absorb. But I do applaud Irwin and his colleagues for taking a very unique and educational approach on Metallica and also I truly admire the general attitude the authors of this book portray in that it validates the fact that Metallica fans, and metal fans in general, come from all walks of life - from philosophers, professors, and engineers to blue-collar workers - and don't always fit the stereotypical profile.
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