a philosophy podcast from zero books
Zero Squared #89: Deplorables
November 17, 2016 05:51 PM PST
NYU professor Michael Rectenwald is the guest this week. Rectenwald was recently at the center of a small controversy at NYU because, after being called out on Facebook for posting a link to an article mocking the need for alternative pronouns for all the various genders, he decided to create an alt-right persona and critique SJWs on twitter. When he announced the results of this “experiment” in an interview for the Washington Square News a slightly larger controversy erupted. His colleagues signed a collective letter criticizing his illogical rhetoric, finishing with the line “the cause of Professor Rectenwald’s guilt is certainly no, in our view, his identity as a cis, white, straight male. The cause of his guilt is the content and structure of his thinking.”
His story went somewhat viral. He was interviewed for various publications and penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post with the headline: “Here’s what happened when I challenged the PC campus culture at NYU.” He wrote, “I was strongly encouraged to take a paid leave of absence [and told] that it had nothing to do with my recent media posture. That’s not exactly how I see it.”
"For us to be clear on your needs, we require you to state unequivocally and in a direct, unambiguous response whether you still need the leave you requested. I expect that answer—whichever you give—to be henceforth the same in all settings. If you cannot do that, at this point, I think I have no choice but to make a decision based on your public utterances, and the leave you requested—apparently under false pretenses—is withdrawn, and you are expected to meet your classes as assigned."
I do not know if Rectenwald is now back at NYU and teaching or if his leave was extended, but I do know that all of this went on while the possibility of his promotion was being determined and that he eventually was promoted to the level of full professor.
From the outside, and with the facts that I have so far, it looks to me like Rectenwald pulled this stunt in order to create a context wherein his being passed over for promotion would have negative political consequences for the university. That isn’t a demonstrable fact, and if Rectenwald wants to return to the podcast in order to explain his side of the story more fully I’d be glad to talk to him again.
At the time this was recorded Trump had not been elected and I was very sympathetic to his cause.
I should take a moment to talk about that last fact. The fact that Donald Trump was elected is a game changer. The notion of safe spaces, for instance, has an entirely different connotation now that Stephen Bannon has been selected to be Trump’s chief of staff in the oval office. That said, the need for overcoming racial divides, for creating alliances and struggling together as a people regardless of race is the only way to amass enough political power to effectively fight back.
Rectenwald’s claim that identity politics on the left feeds and strengthens identity politics on the alt-right is worthy of consideration outside the context of Rectenwald’s shenanigans. Standing in solidarity with all the different people who Trump is scapegoating, making sure we protect and defend each other from attack, is necessary. Combating racism is an immediate priority even as we return to the task of changing the economic foundation that generates racism and divides us.Zero Squared Special: The Election of Trump
November 09, 2016 05:15 PM PST
This week’s Zero Books podcast is a conversation between Zero Books publisher Douglas Lain, Tom O’Brien of the Alpha to Omega podcast, and Zero Books reader C Derick Varn. The discussion is about what everyone is discussing--the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton and the democratic party and the election of reality TV Star and tycoon Donald Trump.
Thanks goes out to our Zero Books Club members. Now is a good time to support Zero Books and left publishing in general and one way to do it is to sign up to be a Zero Books Club member and receive our weekly Inside Zero Books podcast. You can find a link to our membership page in this week’s show notes.
No excerpts or music this week. Just an hour and forty minutes conversation on the ramifications of the election of Trump.Zero Squared # 88: Wikileaks, Bill Ivey, and Demeaned Politics
October 26, 2016 11:13 PM PDTFormer NEA Chairman Bill Ivey is the guest this week and we discuss his March 13th, 2016 email to Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, an email that Wikileaks recently published along with thousands of other emails from the Clinton campaign. Here’s a short excerpt from that email: We've all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. Thanks again to all the members of the Zero Books club. Zero Books Club members gain access to a weekly Inside Zero Books podcast which is a second hour of the Zero Books podcast every week. This second hour usually features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. You’ll hear from Ashley Frawley, C Derick Varn, Alfie Bown and every once in awhile guests like my son Benjamin as we discuss political theory and the ups and downs of radical publishing within a clickbait culture. Inside Zero Books will also feature interviews with radical thinkers and authors from around the world. And the next Inside Zero Books podcast will feature clips from this conversation with Bill Ivey that ended up on the cutting room floor. This episode of Zero Squared includes a clip from the 1997 film Bulworth, a computerized reading of Neera Tanden’s email to John Podesta that’s dated Januray 20th, 2016, an excerpt from MIA’s song Wikileaks, and a clip from a Karaoke version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop." Zero Squared #87: Sam Harris vs Noam Chomsky
October 14, 2016 07:03 PM PDTC Derick Varn is the guest this week. Varn is a reader at Zero Books, poet, and teacher currently living in Cairo, and my co-host on the now defunct Pop the Left podcast. In this episode of Zero Squared we discuss last year’s online debate between Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky as well as our tendency on the left to avoid difficult arguments. The Motte and Bailey doctrine is mentioned and utilitarian and deontological/Kantian ethics are discussed. Here’s a description of the Motte and Bailey doctrine from “Rational Wiki”: Motte and Bailey is a snarl word purporting to describe a particular form of equivocation wherein one protects a desirable but difficult to defend belief or proposal by swapping it with a more defensible, perhaps trivially true interpretation when the former comes under scrutiny. The trivial version is only temporarily proposed to ward off critics and not actually held. The "difficult" (bailey) version always remains the desired belief, but is never actually defended. This gives the belief an air of being counter-intuitive yet somehow true. In this episode you’ll hear clip from the online course “Law and Justice,” the song Telestar by the Tornados, a clip from the Waking Up podcast with Sam Harris, and a short clip from the film “Fight Club.” Right now you’re listening to Nmesh : Nu.wav Hallucinations, but in just a moment you’ll hear C Derick Varn and I discuss Sam Harris and Chomsky. Zero Squared #86: Zen City
September 30, 2016 07:07 AM PDTEliot Fintushel is the guest this week as we discuss his novel Zen City which was published by Zero Books in June. The book received a starred review in publisher’s weekly: Zen City succeeds brilliantly, deftly weaving a tragic romance that’s about all of us, and none at all. Thanks goes out to Tom B, Nick M, Emanuel K, and Paul C, for becoming Zero Books Club members. Zero Books Club members gain access to our new Inside Zero Books Podcast, are invited to participate in bi-monthly online workshops in critical theory or, get access to audio books from our Advancing Conversations book, and receive occasional promotional discounts on selected Zero Books. This episode includes an explanation of Zen from Alan Watts along with some instructions on how to ride a bicycle. The music you’re listening to right now is Stereolab’s “Fried Monkey Eggs” but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Fintushel describing life in Zen City. Zero Squared #85: Marxism vs Libertarianism
September 23, 2016 11:22 AM PDT
Last Wednesday bubb.la hosted a debate in Stockholm in cooperation with Marxist-Humanist Initiative and this week’s podcast is a recording of that debate between libertarian economist Per Bylund and marxist economist Andrew Kliman.
Thanks goes out to our Zero Book Club members and encourage listeners who haven’t signed up as members to do so. This Friday’s members only Inside Zero Books podcast will feature a conversation with Ashley Frawley who is the author of the Semiotics of Happiness and a member of the Zero Books editorial team.Zero Squared #84: Contradictions on the Left and Right
September 15, 2016 04:38 PM PDTEmanuel Kumlien is the guest this week as we discuss a debate in Stockholm between Andrew Kliman (the author of Reclaiming Marx’s Capital) and Per Bylund (author of The Seen, the Unseen, and the Problem of Production). Kliman is an advocate for Marx’s writings and Bylund is an advocate for Mises. Thanks to Sando N, Niall S, Luke F, Paul H, Viktor O, Nathan S, Stanley S, for signing for Zero Books Club memberships. Last week’s members only Inside Zero Books podcast featured a conversation with C Derick Varn about the history, meaning, and threat of the alt right. What does a Zero Books Club member get you? Members gain access to our new Inside Zero Books Podcast. This is a second hour of the Zero Books podcast every week that will feature conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. That is you’ll hear from Ashley Frawley, Douglas Lain, C Derick Varn, and Alfie Bown as well as they discuss political theory and/or the ups and downs of radical publishing within a clickbait culture. Zero Books Club members will be invited to participate in bi-monthly online workshops in critical theory or philosophy run by Zero Books authors. Upcoming workshops will feature Daniel Coffeen and Mike Watson on Deleuze and Conceptual Art. Members get access to audio books from our Advancing Conversations book series on a quarterly basis. Upcoming titles include conversations with longevity researcher Aubrey de Grey, satirical novelist Geoff Nicholson, and Zippy the Pinhead cartoonist Bill Griffith. And members will also receive occasional promotional discounts on selected Zero Books titles and the knowledge that they’re supporting an international Critical Theory and Left Politics publisher, on the Guardian described as “One of the most exciting radical presses of the moment.” Zero Squared #81: Decoding Chomsky
September 12, 2016 03:46 PM PDTChris Knight is currently senior research fellow in the department of anthropology at University College, London, focusing his research on the evolutionary emergence of human language and symbolic culture. He lives in London. His book Decoding Chomsky is coming out from Yale University Press in September. Here’s a description from the back jacket: Occupying a pivotal position in postwar thought, Noam Chomsky is both the founder of modern linguistics and the world’s most prominent political dissident. Chris Knight adopts an anthropologist’s perspective on the twin output of this intellectual giant, acclaimed as much for his denunciations of US foreign policy as for his theories about language and mind. Knight explores the social and institutional context of Chomsky’s thinking, showing how the tension between military funding and his role as linchpin of the political left pressured him to establish a disconnect between science on the one hand and politics on the other, deepening a split between mind and body characteristic of Western philosophy since the Enlightenment. Provocative, fearless, and engaging, this remarkable study explains the enigma of one of the greatest intellectuals of our time. If you like this podcast you might leave a review at iTunes and if you don’t like this episode leave a comment on the blog. The membership site is still on course for a September release and, when it is up online, you’ll be hearing lots of calls for you to join. In the meantime you should get your hands on Daniel Coffeen’s Reading the Way of Things, Mike Watson’s Towards a Conceptual Militancy, or Grafton Tanner’s book about Vaporwave entitled Babbling Corpse. In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Noam Chomsky, an instrumental version of Pokemon, and the theme for Roboboogie.codeclub.org.uk. Zero Squared #83: Taste the Vapor
September 08, 2016 04:44 PM PDTGrafton Tanner is a writer and musician from Georgia. His writing has appeared in Paste magazine, Film Matters, and The Blue Indian, and his debut book, Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts, was published by Zero Books on June 24, 2016 Thanks go out to Mir B, Seamus M, Paul H, Mathieu D, Brad P, Dave W, and Nigel W as they are the first members of the Zero Books Club which officially started on September 2nd. Zero Books members gain access to our new Inside Zero Books Podcast. This is a second hour of the Zero Books podcast every week that will feature conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. That is they’ll hear from Ashley Frawley, Douglas Lain, C Derick Varn, and Alfie Bown as well as they dicuss political theory and/or the ups and downs of radical publishing within a clickbait culture. Inside Zero Books will also fearute interviews with radical thinkers and authors from around the world. Zero Books Club members will also be invited to participate in bi-monthly online workshops in critical theory or philosophy run by Zero Books authors. Upcoming workshops will feature Daniel Coffeen and Mike Watson who will lead discussions on Deleuze and Conceptual and Radical Art respectively. Members get access to audio books from our Advancing Conversations book series on a quarterly basis. Upcoming titles include conversations with longevity researcher Aubrey de Grey, satirical novelist Geoff Nicholson, and Zippy the Pinhead cartoonist Bill Griffith. Members will also receive promotional discounts on selected Zero Books titles and the knowledge that they’re supporting an international Critical Theory and Left Politics publisher, one that the Guardian described as “One of the most exciting radical presses of the moment.” Please do join. This episode includes an advertisement for the Macintosh Plus, a clip from the Internet Club’s hit Pacific, a clip from Chuck Person’s Eccojams volume 1, a Cabin in the Woods Collage, and the newly invented Vaporwave Nike Revolution with George Carlin, and Grafton Tanner’s Rising from the Past. Zero Squared #82: Reading the Way of Things
September 01, 2016 02:23 PM PDTDaniel Coffeen is a rhetor and a philosopher — if by philosopher you mean somebody who plays with concepts and ideas. He formally taught at UC Berkeley and the SF Art Institute but now spends his time writing and consulting. Coffeen is a frequent guest to the Zero Squared podcast and his book Reading the Way of Things is out now from Zero Books. A review of his book on Amazon sums his book up nicely: Coffeen throws the act of reading into such a dizzying light that I can't rightly say when I even began reading the book. Was it when it slid from the envelope, announcing itself in its bold, lime-green cover? In one sense yes, as that marked the beginning of the physical reading-event. But in another sense, a different reading started when I first heard Coffeen on the Partially Examined Life podcast, six months prior. And a different sense of reading began when I picked up Anti-Oedipus on a lark in Morningside Heights, New York, 17 months ago. Reading is an event, an interplay between text and reader, where both are always already in motion, hooking up to one another and creating new relations. Starting next week we’ll be launching the Zero Books membership site which will include a member’s only weekly podcast tentatively titled Inside Zero Books, monthly workshops on critical theory and politics often set up around Zero Books titles, quarterly audiobooks, and, for a slightly higher monthly rate, an invitation only writing workshop. In this episode you'll hear the voice of Rick Roderick, the theme from the 70s television show Taxi, a clip from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, and an excerpt from a speech from Maneul DeLanda.
Zero Squaredis a philosophy podcast from Zero Books. Zero publishes radical philosophy, aesthetics, film theory, experimental fiction, and anything else that smells faintly of the avant-garde. Our books aim not only to demonstrate how philosophical ideas are relevant to every day life, but also to change the terms of it. Douglas Lain is the host of this podcast and the publisher of Zero Books. He hosted the Diet Soap podcast out of this feed for five years. Zero Squared will continue the tradition of Diet Soap while giving Zero Books authors a chance to talk about their work.
Douglas Lain is the publisher of zero books. He is also a novelist and podcaster. His novel “Billy Moon” tells the story of Christopher Robin Milne’s fictional involvement with the French general strike in May of 1968, and was published by Tor Books in 2013.
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