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Zero Squared #38: Dangerous Literature (pt 2)
September 30, 2015 10:22 AM PDT
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Tom Sperlinger is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine and he returns this week for the second half of a conversation about teaching Dangerous Literature. This week we talk about Kafka's unfinished novel The Trial, the failings of Doris Lessing, unfinished novels, and Judy Blume. Sperlinger recently taught a course on “Dangerous Books.” Here's an excerpt from the course description: Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance? In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Orson Welles' reading Before the Law as lifted from his film version of the Trial, an bit of JM Bernstein lecturing on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, an excerpt from Todd Machover's Opera version of Philip K. Dick's Valis, and the jazz band Kafka performing Kafka's Theme on Brownswood Bubblers Four compiled by Gilles Peterson.
Zero Squared #37: Dangerous Literature
September 23, 2015 11:13 AM PDT
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Tom Sperlinger is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine and he returns this week to discuss teaching Dangerous Literature. This is part one of a two part conversation. This week we focus on the question of polemics in fiction and modernism, and next week we'll take a close look at Kafka's unfinished novel The Trial. Sperlinger recently taught a course on “Dangerous Books.” Here's an excerpt from the course description: Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance? In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Norman Mailer again, a reading of Philip K. Dick's letter warning the FBI about the conspiracy of Stanislaw Lem, the music of John Cage, the voice of BS Johnson, the music of the X-Ray Spex, an excerpt from Negativland's 1980 album entitled Negativland, and Sad Cat Walk by Dan Lett.
Zero Squared #36: Superstructural Berlin
September 16, 2015 12:34 AM PDT
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Nicolas Hausdorf is an independent artist and writer living in Berlin. He writes for Vice Berlin and his book Superstructural Berlin is due out on September 25th from Zero Books. Superstructural Berlin is an experimental sociology of the city of Berlin. A mix of pamphlet-polemic, cultural critique, and weird colourful mapping enterprise. It tries to investigate the city as a series of infrastructures: drugs, nightclubs, arts, new economy and tourism. In this episode you’ll hear from Slavoj Zizek, They Might Be Giants, the Krautrock band Can, Norman Mailer, Marshall McLuhan, Terence McKenna, Kid606, and the BBC. Here are the links to an article of the CIA's connection to Abstract Expressionism, an essay in French entitled “Secret Warfare in France,” and a link to Cobra res.
Zero Squared #35: Nuclear Power and Climate Change
September 09, 2015 01:25 PM PDT
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Leigh Phillips is a science writer and EU affairs journalist. His writing has appeared in Nature, the Guardian, Scientific American, and the Daily Telegraph and this week we continue our conversation about his book Austerity Ecology and the Collapse Porn Addicts  which is coming from Zero Books in October. According to Phillips: modernity is not the cause of climate change and the wider biocrisis, rather it's the solution. There is no uncorrupted nature to return to and instead of shutting down and retreating into the brush we need to rethink and revise the basis for our own development. In combative and puckish style, science journalist Leigh Phillips marshals evidence from climate science, ecology, paleoanthropology, agronomy, microbiology, psychology, history, the philosophy of mathematics, and heterodox economics to argue that progressives must rediscover their historic, Promethean ambitions and counter this reactionary neo-Malthusian ideology that not only retards human flourishing, but won't save the planet anyway. In this episode you’ll hear from Tim and Eric, Charles Manson, National Lampoon, Doctor Roger Summons, the youtube star Walter Jahn, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. You'll also hear music of Dan Lett.
Zero Squared #34: Defending Modernity
September 09, 2015 01:24 PM PDT
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Leigh Phillips is a science writer and EU affairs journalist. His writing has appeared in Nature, the Guardian, Scientific American, and the Daily Telegraph. His book Austerity Ecology and the Collapse Porn Addicts is coming from Zero Books in October.

According to Phillips: modernity is not the cause of climate change and the wider biocrisis. It is indeed capitalism that is the source of our environmental woes, but capitalism as a mode of production, not the fuzzy understanding of capitalism of Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Derrick Jensen, Paul Kingsnorth and their anarcho-liberal epigones as a sort of globalist corporate malfeasance. 

In this episode you’ll hear from Derrick Jensen, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Stephen Fry reading from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. We'll also flip down and up the dial on mainstream ecological paranoia and hear a clip from Negativland and The Grateful Dead's instrumental hit Cold Rain.

A Weird Line of Flight
August 25, 2015 10:34 PM PDT
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Daniel Coffeen looks around for freedom in a world of networked conformity. He holds a PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley where he taught adjunct for many years, but now Coffeen works independently, writing about contemporary art, film, language, Deleuze, perception, Uni, capitalism, emergent shapes, pleasure, new media, and tequila. He founded the once-exquisite ArtandCulture.com and makes money by naming products, writing copy, and branding companies. In Coffeen's recent blog post entitled In Praise of the Weird he writes: Weird is surprising in that it neither goes with nor against the grain. It doesn't try to break the mold; it casts new molds. Or, perhaps, doesn't care about molds at all but rather enjoys meandering — the schizo stroll. Weird slices through discourse, categories, and common sense. It scrambles — not for the sake of scrambling but because it operates and lives in a world you cannot yet imagine. In this episode you'll hear clips from Looney Tunes cartoons, Adventure Time, Brian Eno's Music for Film, the US version of The Office, Timothy Leary describing his mind mirror, a Facebook television advertisement, an instructional video for the internet circa 1992,and Rod Stewart's 1969 hit Handbags and the Gladrags which is also the theme for the theme for the UK version of The Office.
Zero Squared #31: Dialectic of Defeat
August 12, 2015 08:28 PM PDT
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Russell Jacoby's Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism is the subject this week and C Derick Varn is the guest. Varn is a poet, teacher, theorist and a reader at Zero Books. This is the second time we've spoken about Jacoby's book. We're taking it one chapter at a time. Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. The author begins with a polemical attack on 'conformist' or orthodox Marxism, in which he includes structuralist schools. He argues that a cult of success and science drained this Marxism of its critical impulse and that the successes of the Russian and Chinese revolutions encouraged a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western alternative that neither succumbed to the spell of success nor obliterated the individual in the name of science. In the nineteenth century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its evaluation of Engels' orthodox Marxism. The author follows the evolution of this minority tradition and its opposition to authoritarian forms of political theory and practice. In this episode you'll here a list of moder political philosophers set to Life is a Rock by Reunion, Frederic Jameson set to music from the Manson Family Opera, an excerpt from an old episode of Diet Soap wherein I discuss Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with my son Benjamin, and Glenn Gould playing Bach's Partita #2.
Zero Squared #30: Participation or Revolution
August 04, 2015 11:38 PM PDT
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Margaret Kimberley has been an editor and Senior Columnist of Black Agenda Report since its inception in 2006. Her work has also appeared on sites such as Alternet and Counterpunch and in publications such as The Dallas Morning News and The Chicago Defender. She is a regular guest on radio talk shows and has appeared on Al Jazeera English, Russia Today, the Real News Network and GRITtv, and this week she's on Zero Squared to discuss two seemingly separate subjects. First we talk about the Greek economic crisis and then we cover a small incident at the Netroots conference involving leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement and US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. On this topic Bruce Dixon, the managing editor at the Black Agenda Report, wrote: All in all, the NetRootsNation confrontation wasn't the stirring of black women activists “taking their rightful place at the front of the progressive movement,” as one breathless tweet called it. It didn't tell us anything we didn't know about O'Malley or Sanders, or about hypocritical Hillary. It was about flying the #BlackLivesMatter flag to jockey for positions inside the machinery that is the Democratic party and its affiliates. In this episode you’ll hear a clip from Rick and Morty, the music of Negativland from their album Negativland, a clip from an interview with Michael Nevradakis at the Real News network, Blonde Redhead's For the Damaged Coda, Mazzy Star's Look On Down From the Bridge, Bernie Sanders as he's interrupted by Black Lives Matters, and another Negativland song called Booper Symphony.
Zero Squared #29: Shooting the Moon
July 28, 2015 11:54 PM PDT
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Brian Willems is Assistant Professor at the University of Split, Croatia, where he teaches literature at the Faculty of Philosophy and film theory at the Arts Academy and his book Shooting the Moon was published in May this year from Zero Books. Laurence A Rickels, author of Germany: A Science Fiction, blurbed the book this way Shooting the Moon shows how our most abiding object or objective on reality’s horizon was overshot and displaced by the other reality of realization of our wish fantasies. When we ask for the moon we travel a jump cut from an idealized past to a future of wish fulfillment lying deep inside the film medium and its ongoing history. In this episode you’ll hear a clip from Futurama, Slavoj Zizek explaining a bottle of tea, Chris “Isto” White singing the jazz standard “It's Only a Paper Moon,” The Evolution Control Committee's “The Fucking Moon,” a clip from the auralgraphic entertainment “Dreamies” by Bill Holt, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner performing in “The First Men in the Moon,” Doctor Who and the Monolith reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, Negativland, and in tribute to Don Joyce, one of "Crosley Bendix's" Arts Reviews.
Zero Squared #28: Imaginary Games
July 22, 2015 10:07 AM PDT
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Chris Bateman is a game designer, outsider philosopher and author. His book Imaginary Games was published by Zero Books in 2011. Bateman is also the blogger behind Only a Game and he posts regularly in between writing how to manuals on game design and lecturing at the University of Bolton. Jon Cogburn, Director of Philosophy at LSU blurbed Imaginary Games this way: Chris Bateman’s Imaginary Games may just do for videogames what Noël Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror did for scary books and movies.... not only philosophically compelling and interesting; it is also a great read. In this episode you’ll hear a rerun of a conversation about the movie Tron between me and my then thirteen year old son Ben, theme music from Super Smash Brothers Melee, Chad African explaining Zizek and his idea of ontological incompleteness, clips from a youtube documentary about smash, a short clip on Hegel from the 8-bit philosophy series, and the theme music from Super Mario Brothers.

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