You should… sample widely. More on this in a second, but if I have to foreground a single recommendation it’s this: the new Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009). In some of the tightest, most compelling storytelling I’ve ever seen on film, this series asks profound questions about belief, belonging, sentience, servitude, family, survival, politics, power, responsibility, and war. It explores an epochal confrontation between humankind and the increasingly sentient AI creatures of its own making. It’s The Odyssey of our time crossed with Paradise Lost. It asks what is civilization, why does it matter, and what are its costs.
The “Humanities Lived” project is testament to the virtues of sampling, but to me this is an ethic. In this spirit here is a list: The Tales of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo (a so-called “children’s” book); The Epic of Gilgamesh, an early story about how knowledge and narrative are connected; Claude Lelouch’s La Bonne Année, a romp of a heist film, but among the more thoughtful feminist movies to have been made in the 1970s; Hugh Anderson, Drone: Remote Control Warfare (this book covers the practicalities and ethics of a subject we should all understand better); Martin Grey’s For Those I Loved, an astonishing autobiography about endurance, love, and the Holocaust; Roberto Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, a haunting reconsideration of Greek Mythology; and given the times in which we live, the United States Constitution.