Remember that 1996 documentary The Cruise, chronicle of New City Tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch, who compressed encyclopedias full of references into a manic spitfire style? Well, “performance philosopher” Jason Silva’s monologues are a bit like Levitch’s, with a lot less Woody Allen and a lot more of Richard Linklater’s animated headtrip Waking Life.
Silva’s got a new webseries out called “Shots of Awe,” which he describes as “freestyle philosophy videos [that] celebrate existential jazz, big questions, technology and science.” These short videos are indeed “shots," with each one coming in at under three minutes. The short above, “Awe,” defines the term as “an experience of such perpetual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it.”
While the English prof. in me winces at the use of “literally” here (“mental model” is a metaphor, after all), the video’s machine-gun editing and Silva’s “contrast between banality and wonder” have me convinced he’s onto something. Check out the series’ trailer here and see two additional episodes, “Singularity” (below) and “Mortality.” The series is hosted on Discovery’s TestTube network and follows up Silva’s Espresso video series.