Current Research

Main Areas of Research and Interest:

  • Remix Theory
  • Philosophy and Religion in Popular Culture
  • Buddhist Philosophy
  • Ironic Activism
  • Pirate Politics
  • Religious Dimensions of Alcohol Production/Consumption
  • Apocalyptic Zombie Narratives
  • Absurdist/Existential Fiction
  • Zen Practice
  • Animal and Environmental Ethics
  • Urban Foraging and Wildcrafting
  • Open Source/Access and Digital Privacy

My doctoral work revolved around the development of a model for studying how religious traditions (and by extension, cultural traditions in general) change and evolve over time: what I termed, Remix+/-. This work was predicated upon an application of remix theory and conceptual metaphor theory, and focused on the challenges it presents for concepts like authority, authenticity, and originality. Most of my examples and case studies centered on Buddhist philosophy. Recent publications, presentations, and blog posts engage with this research as it continues to develop. An edited/updated version of my dissertation is being published with Routledge as my first book (stay tuned!).

I’m in the midst of another project revolving around remix theory, anicca (impermanence), paṭiccasamuppāda (interdependence/dependent origination), and Hua-Yen Buddhism, but this is still very much in an early stage.

In the meantime, I’m working on a chapter I’ll be contributing to Skateboarding and Philosophy on Zen Buddhism, deconstruction, and falling while skating: “The Sound of One Deck Snapping.” Here’s a preliminary abstract:

The moment leading up to a quick slide of a foot and flick of a board involves concentration, focus, and precision. But there’s nothing more humbling in that moment than not landing the attempted trick. And that fall—the slip, the crash—becomes a sudden jolt and disruption that can offer more than simply an opportunity to snarl at a blameless handrail or weathered curb. Disruptive moments like this can shift our perspectives in profound ways. The world is often seen through a binary lens of oppositional concepts (good/bad, male/female, mind/body, and so on), with one of the opposites always holding more power in those relationships. But in moments of disruption, the duality can be overturned—not simply in a way that inverts the dynamic and emphasizes the other, since such an inversion still maintains duality, but in a way that might press us to question our entire perception of reality. Zen Buddhist traditions are known for their collections of kōans (seemingly paradoxical riddles) and stories of masters literally smacking their students out of intense intellectual absorption into spontaneous moments free of disillusionment. Enlightenment comes when one’s mind is freed from distraction and stubborn focus—when duality fades and opposition is unified. And when a perplexing statement, story, or wooden stick isn’t available, handrails and curbs can do just the trick. Drawing on concepts in Zen Buddhist traditions, such as kenshō (the sudden, initial realization and insight into one’s true nature) and the much deeper resultant satori, and engaging with Jacques Derrida’s notion of “deconstruction” and the way it points to an “irruptive emergence” amid disruptive inversion, this chapter focuses on that moment of the crash, how it can similarly and abruptly knock us out of disillusionment, and how that moment can extend to our broader lives as well—as an opportunity, like any other fall, to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Amid disruptive moments, this chapter demonstrates, exist possibilities for awakening wherein dual modes of thinking fade in the wake of a more mindful mode of existence. And a bruised, bleeding shin can easily offer much more in this regard than just frustrated fuel for the next attempt.