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On the evening of 9/10, we talked with actress Lucy Lawless about fame. She’s been a great supporter of the Partially Examined Life, and if she is to be believed (and her piercing stare will make you believe it), our little discussion group product inspired her to go back to school and study philosophy, in between flying back from New Zealand to the states to film things, saving the arctic, and tweeting. She was a great sport, and regular listeners will be pleased that the recording came off much more like a regular PEL episode than a fawning celebrity interview. Much as when we have had a comedian or artist on in the past, Lucy was there to provide a reality check on our wild speculations about that divide between the numinous and the civilians.

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On Fame: What the Classics Tell Us About Our Cult of Celebrity by Tom Payne (2010).

What’s the deal with our f’ed up relationship with celebrities? Payne says that celebrities serve a social need that’s equal parts religion and and aggression. TV’s Lucy Lawless (Xena, Spartacus, Battlestar Galactica) joins us to discuss the accuracy of this thesis, along with her obsession with philosophy (and our podcast), the relation between fandom and mental illness, the drive for fame, sacrificial heroes, celebrity encounters, fame for fame’s sake, infamy, celebrity philosophers, mentally ill philosophers, and what Nietzsche’s will to power has to do with all of this.

Read more about the topic and get the book.