Support Aeon

‘Becoming an Aeon supporter means joining the conversation of humanity – and ensuring it stays alive.’

Andrés P, Guatemala, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Support Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Support Aeon

A Serious Man: Can life be understood?

8 minutes

‘What’s going on?’ How seeking meaning is futile in the Coen Brothers’ universe

The Coen Brothers’ 2009 film A Serious Man tells the story of a mild-mannered physics professor, Larry Gopnik, whose comfortable existence in the US suburbs of the 1960s implodes in a manner recalling the fate of the prophet Job. Like many other Coen Brothers films, it was both lauded and criticised for its unflinching bleakness and various enigmatic narrative contours, including an opening scene that’s seemingly unrelated to the rest of the plot; one character’s fixation on an incomprehensible equation; and an inscrutable parable relayed by a rabbi. In this video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) contextualises A Serious Man’s moving parts, revealing how the Coen Brothers’ underlying philosophy – undercutting Hollywood convention – is one in which suffering and even existence lack meaning. For Larry Gopnik, that’s not good news because it means there’s no easy answer to his desperate refrain: ‘What’s going on?’

Video by The Nerdwriter

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Facebook
Like
Essay/
Stories & Literature
Sweet artifice

Dandies in the age of decadence favoured synthetics over nature, nowhere more so than in perfumery’s fabulous counterfeits

Catherine Maxwell

Essay/
Cultures & Languages
The deep roots of writing

Was writing invented for accounting and administration or did it evolve from religious movements, sorcery and dreams?

Michael Erard