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Zero Squared #9: Magic Tricks and the Big Other
March 03, 2015 10:41 PM PST
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Peter Rollins is the guest this week and we discuss his book The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith which came out from Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, in January of this year (2015). Rob Bell, the author of Velvet Elvis, blurbed the book this way: What Pete does in this book is take you to the edge of a cliff where you can see how high you are and how far you would fall if you lost your footing. And just when most writers would kindly pull you back from the edge, he pushes you off, and you find yourself without any solid footing, disoriented, and in a bit of a panic...until you realize that your fall is in fact, a form of flying. And it's thrilling. The two new titles from Zero Books this month are Rebel Rebel by Chris O’Leary and No More Heroes by Carl Neville. Chris O’Leary will be on the podcast in two weeks to discuss that Space Oddity who is known as David Bowie and there is also going to be a contest at davidbowienews.com. I'll let you know about that and how you might win a free copy of the book in the weeks to come. I want to mention the passing of Leonard Nimoy. As some of you might know I've been working on a book about Star Trek and Hegel's approach to the dialectic for a couple of years now, or more accurately I've not been working on it. The original title of that book was “Star Trek is the true religion.” I'm saddened by the passing of Leonard Nimoy. I feel similarly to how I felt when Johnny Carson died, only more so. In a way the death of Leonard Nimoy is like the death of Ronald McDonald. It feels like something that wasn't supposed to happen. In this episode you’ll be hearing from a youtube magician, a clip from the David Fincher movie The Game, from the Woody Allen movie The Purple Rose of Cairo, from a lecture by the death of God theologian Thomas Altizer, from Late Nite from David Letterman, and from the album Mister Spock's Music from Outer Space, but in just a moment you'll be hearing Peter Rollins and I discuss Magic Tricks and The Big Other.
Zero Squared #8: Dispirited (how spirituality makes us stupid)
February 25, 2015 01:17 PM PST
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David Webster is the guest this week and we discuss his book Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish, and Unhappy which came out from Zero Books in 2012. Dr Mikael Askander blurbed the book. He wrote: Annoyed by the phrase 'I am not religious, but I’m very spiritual', Dr. David Webster successfully maps out the problems and contradictions it leads to. This is as close to a 'must read' as it gets, for the religious as well as the spiritual reader, as well as for atheists.  

Zero Books has titles coming next month: Rebel Rebel by Chris O’Leary and No More Heroes by Carl Neville. Chris O’Leary’s book Rebel Rebel has been getting some attention. It's a big book on David Bowie, O’Leary runs a blog called Pushing Ahead of the Dame about David Bowie, and he’ll be a guest on Zero Squared soon.

The Radical Theologian Peter Rollins is also coming soon to Zero Squared. I believe my conversation with him will be online next week as we're scheduled to talk this Friday.

In this episode you’ll be hearing Shirley MacLaine , Johnny Carson, Robert Solomon, the narrator for the instructional video Spiritual Reality, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Steven Shakespeare, Peter Rollins, the Dunkin Donuts guy, Frank Sinatra, the group XTC, the theme from Waking Life, the music of Delia Derbyshire, the soundtrack for the film CQ, and some radio static.

Zero Squared #7: The Age of Nixon
February 18, 2015 12:29 AM PST
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Carl Freedman is the guest this week and we discuss his book The Age of Nixon which came out from Zero Books in 2012. The iconic Grand Master of science fiction Samuel R. Delany blurbed the book. He wrote: Nixon continues to fascinate us, and to haunt our dreams, even these many years after his death. Carl Freedman's compelling book takes the full measure of Nixon the man, Nixon the media image, Nixon the myth, and even Nixon the ideal type, the quintessential expression, and the most capacious representative of the political and economic system under which we continue to live today.

I should mention again there are two new Zero Books titles coming next month: Rebel Rebel by Chris O'Leary and No More Heroes by Carl Neville. Chris O'Leary's book Rebel Rebel is a big book on David Bowie, O'Leary runs a blog called Pushing Ahead of the Dame about David Bowie, and he'll be a guest on Zero Squared soon.

In this episode you'll be hearing the from Bill Murray, Steve Allen, David Frye, and former President Richard Nixon. You'll also hear the piano music of Richard Nixon, and a clip from Futurama. The music you're listening to right now is Jo Ann Castle on the Lawrence Welk Show playing Piano Roll Blues as heard through the dialectic but in just a moment you'll be listening to Carl Freedman and I discussing the Age of Nixon.

Zero Squared #6: Cultural Marxism?
February 11, 2015 12:14 AM PST
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C Derick Varn is the guest this week. Varn is a reader at Zero Books, a University lecturer and teacher currently living in Mexico, and my co-host on the Pop the Left podcast. In this episode of Zero Squared we briefly discuss his new podcast Symptomatic Redness and then discuss the notion of Cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism is, as Varn puts it, a concept and misunderstanding held by paleo-conservatives and fascists, it's the term the far right deploys to describe a mishmash of often contradictory thinkers and concepts, including thinkers from the Frankfurt School, Gramsci, Lukas, and late 20th century feminist thinkers and “stand point” epistemologists.

There are several titles in production now for April. Eugene Thacker has two more Horror and Philosophy books coming after his success with “In the Dust of this Planet,” and Justin Barton's book “Hidden Valleys: Haunted by the Future” is due out as well. Barton's book suggests that the future is always alongside us, sometimes closer, sometimes further away, which I guess means that all six titles due out in April are, in a sense, already here.

You'll here the voices of Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Rick Roderick, Suey Park, Laurie Penny, Nikita Kruschev, and Che Guevara. You'll also hear the music of Theodore Adorno, reedited sounds from Mungo Jerry's hit “In the Summertime,”some Calliope Music, as well as the theme from Rick and Morty as run backwards through the dialectic.

At the start of the podcast you'll hear a few minutes from a youtube video about the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism, but it doesn't last too long.
Zero Squared #5: Darwin and the Death of God
February 03, 2015 11:12 PM PST
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James Morrow is the guest this week. Morrow is a novelist and literary science fiction writer whose most well known work is probably the novel Towing Jehovah and this week we discuss his newest book, out from St. Martin's Press, Galapagos Regained. Publisher's Weekly described this new novel as "a comic blend of Victorian science colliding with Christian faith as greedy folks enter the Percy Shelley Society’s “Great God Contest” to win a hefty cash prize." And in this episode we discuss atheism, humanism, Darwin as well as the death of God, Peter Rollins, Slavoj Zizek (of course), and the difference between symbolism and allegory.

In podcast news Jasun Horsley has set sail and taken his liminal corner into its own space and own feed. His new podcast is called the Liminal Criminal.

News from Zero Books includes the recent publication of three new titles: Horsley's "Seen and Not Seen," David Winter's "Infinite Fiction," and Phil Knight's "Strangled." Strangled is about the punk band The Stranglers. These three titles arrived on January 30th.

The music in this episode includes musical doodles from Dan Lett, a work in progress from Nik Walton, and the music from a 1970s Doctor Pepper advertisement. You'll hear Pete Rollins, a man from a question and answer segment at a Zizek lecture, the death of God theologian Thomas Altizer, Mikey from the Life Cereal advertisementand Negativland's first album Negativlandcirca 1980.

Zero Squared #4: The Semiotics of Happiness
January 28, 2015 07:20 AM PST
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Ashley Frawley is the guest this week. Frawley is a lecturer at Swansea University, her book "The Semiotics of Happiness" is coming out from Bloomsbury in February, and we discuss how happiness was made into a political problem in the UK and how the aim of increasing "happiness" has become a substitute for real progressive politics. In podcast news, I'm hoping to double my workload. I've got a couple Pop the Left conversations in my archive as well as a few other archived interviews meant for Diet Soap, and if I can convince Jim Farris to do it after that long unannounced hiatus I'd like to carry on with the Double Feature Review. So here's the thing: Zero Squared has a feed over at the Zero Books blog and on iTunes, but if you search for Zero Squared on iTunes you'll find two feeds, one is the podomatic Diet Soap feed and has a picture of Philip K. Dick with his, cat and the other shows a painting of Jasun Horsley and a guy who looks like Seth Rogen. The guy is me and that feed is the Zero Books blog feed. So, here's what's going to happen…I'm going to phase out the old Diet Soap feed, the one with the picture of Philip K Dick. By April that feed will be gone. Most of you are probably subscribed to that feed. That's the podomatic feed and for a variety of reasons I think it's time to leave podomatic behind. However, while I am going to phase out the podomatic feed I'll be bringing back Diet Soap, Pop the Left and The Double Feature Review over at douglaslain.com. So, if you want to listen to all of it, to Zero Squared and everything else you can subscribe to douglaslain.com through iTunes or some other podcatcher. If you just want to listen to Zero Squared you can subscribe to Seth Rogen picture feed on iTunes or in another podcatcher. Again, my own blog douglaslain.com is where you'll find every podcast I'll do. This feed is slowly going away. Now, while I'm at it I should mention that there is one other podcast you might look for while you're on iTunes or wherever…actually there are two more. One is the Former People podcast. That used to be hosted on this feed and it features conversations about movies and literature. The other is Symptomatic Redness. That podcast is new and it features my co-host from Pop the Left interviewing theorists and writers from the left. The music in this episode includes pieces from Nik Walton, you just heard his piece Martha on the Move in the new intro, Dan Lett, and the youtube star Christian Grasslin performing a trumpet loop version of Pharrell Williams' hit Happy. You'll also hear a longish excerpt from a American Enterprise Institute talk by Arthur Brooks called "The Secret of Happiness," David Harvey talking about the Zero Growth economy, and Sam Binkley at the Department of Psychosocial Studies talking on "Happiness as Enterprise," and finally Jasun Horsley from his liminal corner will be heard, and the music you're listening to right now is Mark Hosler from Negativland mixing life at the Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.
Zero Squared #3: Sweetening the Pill
January 21, 2015 11:15 PM PST
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The guest this week is Holly Grigg-Spall. Grigg-Spall is a women's health activist and the publication of her book "Sweetening the Pill" has made many, many, many people angry. Going against the common wisdom she argues that the pill is overprescribed and even dangerous to women's mental health.

Music this week includes the work of Nik Walton. Nik is a contemporary composer from Portland, Oregon, a student of Tomas Svoboda, and a friend of mine. Nik is working composing theme music for this podcast and will be a regular contributor musically along with Dan Lett. You'll also hear a harmonica version of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines from the you tuber MisterFinkMusic, clips from the 1979 sex education film Am I Normal, as well as clips from an interview with the 20th century birth control activist Margaret Sanger.

The music you're listening to right now is Dan Lett's musical doodle Green Sharpie, but in just a moment you'll be listening to Holly Grigg-Spall and I discuss Sweetening the Pill.

Diet Soap Podcast #220: Karl Marx's Reluctant Idealism
September 01, 2014 06:42 PM PDT
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Karl Marx and Hegel are the subjects this week as I talk to my friend Andy Marshall about Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy in general. This conversation comes on the heels of a Facebook row with C Derick Varn wherein Varn took the widely accepted position that Marx was a materialist and Hegel was an idealist, while I argued that Marx was too enamored with Hegel's dialectical logic and the unity of subject and object to really escape the Platonic Realm entirely.

I'd like to thank Andy Marshall, Penny R, Reagan S, and Shane S, for their generous one time donations to the Diet Soap podcast, and to thank Andy Marshall, Ted F, John Spillane, Jacob L, and John L for their recurring donations. I urge regular listeners to the podcast to find the paypal buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com. Also, the podcast is available via iTunes and I urge people who enjoy this show to consider leaving a review at iTunes in lieu of a donation.

In the words of the Marxist Humanist Raya Dunayevskaya Marx's humanism was neither a rejection of idealism nor an acceptance of materialism, but the truth of both, and therefore a new unity.

Diet Soap Podcast #214: The Religion of Identity
July 05, 2014 02:33 PM PDT
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Amber A'Lee Frost is the guest this week and we discuss her essay "Bro Bash" which was recently published in Jacobin magazine. The essay created quite a stir in twitter social justice circles as a criticism of Sarah Kendzior was mischaracterized and this led to false accusations. Here's a link to an infographic explaining the debacle. This week I'd like to thank Daniel A and David for their one time donations, and also thank Ted F, Jacob L, Andy Marshall, John Spillane, and John L for their regular monthly donations. And I'd like to urge regular listeners to the Diet Soap podcast to find the paypal buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com. Also, the podcast is also available via iTunes and I urge people who enjoy this show to consider leaving a review at iTunes in lieu of a donation.
Diet Soap Podcast #204: Breaking Bad All the Way
January 30, 2014 01:24 AM PST
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The guest this week is Mark Fisher. Fisher is the author of the book Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life (writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures). Fisher is also the author of an essay on the hit television show Breaking Bad for the New Humanist magazine and it's this essay which will be the subject of this week's podcast. I want to thank my subscribers Jacob L and Andy M for their recurring donations and remind you that if you'd like to support the podcast you can find the paypal buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com. To set up this interview I thought I'd paste in an excerpt from Mark Fisher's essay: Who needs religion when you have television? On soap operas, unlike in life, villainous characters almost always face their comeuppance. TV cops may now be required to have “complicated” private lives and dubious personal ethics, but we’re seldom in any serious doubt about the difference between good and evil, and on which side of the line the maverick cop ultimately falls. The persistence of the fantasy that justice is guaranteed – a religious fantasy – wouldn’t have surprised the great thinkers of modernity. Theorists such as Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche and Marx argued that atheism was extremely difficult to practise. It’s all very well professing a lack of belief in God, but it’s much harder to give up the habits of thought which assume providence, divine justice and a secure distinction between good and evil.

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