I am in the business of making philosophy sexy. Ok, maybe not sexy, but at least relevant, accessible, and something that engages even the (insert patronizing descriptor here) layperson. My first go-‘round—a novel about a young boy living in a dreamlike state all the while living out some of the most prominent philosophical ideals—achieved this to some extent. Next came a textbook with all of the usual academic readings, but in this class, you’re directed to listen to the various rock-and-roll songs (or even rap, in a few cases) listed with philosophical themes, or watch movies chronicled in the book and discuss how they relate to the respective week’s reading. With colleges using the book throughout the country, I can only hope that we’ve decreased the number of grunts in response to, “How was your philosophy course this semester?”
Promoting any new book poses a unique challenge to an author, regardless of the niche. With my third book coming out this March with Random House, I have employed another spoonful of sugar to ease the perceived bitterness of philosophical exploration: bumper stickers. “If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers” looks at the hidden wisdom—or in many cases, lack thereof—behind over 150 of today’s most popular bumper stickers.
Aside from the obvious approaches of building a website, going on a national college and bookstore tour, printing up actual bumper stickers based on the book (that’s obvious, right?), I am repeating something I did with my first book and loved: a theme song. Everything else has a theme song, shouldn’t a book? And, with a theme song comes a music video which I show at the events and will soon post on YouTube, because we must have a presence on YouTube. So much for the secluded author, sitting and spreading the written word on pages in a book…and if Amazon is right about their success of the Kindle, then so much for actual pages.
I wrote the song, “If You Can Hear This,” from the perspective of being both about a relationship and bumper stickers, though neither in explicitly obvious tones: “You called out to me today, and I didn’t know what to say/You’re always so succinct and you always make me think…about you.” And in the end: “You want me to see that you’re right/At least you have put up a small fight/To change my mind—well, I might…”
So now, along with reading “If You Can Read This,” readers get their own copy of “If You Can Hear This” to hear. And I’m near completion on a cocktail to offer at local bars following the college bookstore events: You Can Drink This. It will be good. As for the other senses, I’ve left them out…for now. “If You Can Touch This” just doesn’t seem to me a good fit…just a bit too much sugar.
Causes Jack Bowen Supports