FREE SPEECH

August 27, 2018

In this podcast, I take it that free speech, as an instance of freedom per se, is a very great good. However, this stance is not unproblematic in that free speech and freedom can subvert themselves as well as eroding other goods, e.g. equality. The obvious and often proposed notion that this can be overcome by policing or regulation raises the problem that any claim to the right to do the policing is impossible to legitimate and will therefore ultimately be authoritarian in nature. There is some hope in the possibility of general eduction based on ecouraging questioning rather than on inculcating dogma but this project also encounters a legitimation problem in that curricula are likely to be determined by some authority. [Free. 33 minutes.]

00:0000:00

IS SMALL BEAUTIFUL?

August 12, 2018

This meander was stimulated by a recent repudiation by Zizek of the possible role of small communities in any future human flourishing. In this context, I revisit E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful (1973). I discuss some of the core ideas from that seminal work. In particular, I focus on the treatement of raw materials as [inexhaustible]  income and the treatement of the environment as a free dump by capitalism and the economic theories that act as its ideological justification. I touch upon intermediate technology, the role of 'spirituality' in the good life, the way in which economic theories and political practice often treat people as numbers on a spreadsheet, the 1984-5 UK Miners' Strike and the persistence of alienation in nationalised industries. I do this by discerning Zizek's 'inner Schumacher' and Schumacher's 'inner Zizek' and recounting instances of their expression. In both cases these inner others are mostly repressed, but vigorous enough to surface now and then in brilliant insight. [Free. 47 minutes.]

00:0000:00

TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART TWO: FRAGMENTATION]

July 23, 2018

This wide-ranging podcast draws on the same sources as Part One and is similarly stimulated by current affairs. This time, the thesis that the current historical unfoldings of the mutually entangled economic, cultural and ecological systems are characterised by fragmentation is defended and a variety of possible material antecedents of this tendency are considered. We identify environmental degradation, technological developments, contradictions in capitalism in its current phase, cultural fragmentation, the enmeshment of state and corporate power, gross inequalities of wealth and power and movements of populations as mutually dependent factors giving rise to fragmentation, amongst others. [Free. 54 minutes.]

00:0000:00

TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART ONE: POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS]

July 23, 2018

This podcast is a wide-ranging commentary on the Trump charm offensive on Nato, the UK Prime Minister and Vladimir Putin of last week [13/7/18 ff]. It draws on the relevant press conferences, the film The Vietnam War [Ken Burns and Lynn Novick], the film An Inconvenient Sequel [Al Gore] and broadcasts of the UK Parliament. I consider the thesis that the political class are largely scoundrels. [Free. 37 minutes.]

00:0000:00

TIME TO STOP AND STARE

November 13, 2017

Misquoting W. H. Davies, I recommend taking time to stop and stare in this podcast. I draw attention to resonances between Davies' sentiment and the nature paintings of the Sung and Yuan dynasties which often feature tiny figures dwarved by vast landscapes. [Free. 21 minutes.]

00:0000:00

YOGA AND THE FUTURE

June 23, 2017

In this podcast we discuss the future of Yoga both in a broad historical context and in the local UK context in which Yoga is being 'claimed' by the corporate fitness industry. The discussion naturally elides into a discussion of the potential roles that Yoga and Yoga practitioners should play in the unfolding of events as economic, cultural and ecological instabilities play out. We conclude that the fitness industry has to be strongly resisted by authentic yogis if Yoga is to be able to do its good work to maximum effect. An extended version of this talk was given at the IYN Yoga Festival on 2nd June 2017. [Free. 54 minutes.]

00:0000:00

TALK ON PATANJALI’S YOGA SUTRA AT CHORELY

May 29, 2017

A talk I gave at Chorley on the first few aphorisms of the Yoga Sutra. [Patrons only. 2 hours 11 minutes.]

00:0000:00

LAO TZU: PART THREE

May 5, 2017

In this podcast, we reflect on Chapters 4 and 5 of The Tao Te Ching. The cornucopean yet empty and ineffable nature of the Tao is further considered. The logic of the Taoist influence on the development of science in ancient China is explored. We also ponder how Freud's distinction between oceanic and super-ego religions is illuminated by Lao Tzu's account of religious experience. And more .... [Free. 39 minutes.] 

00:0000:00

LAO TZU: PART ONE

April 10, 2017

In this podcast, we comment on the first chapter of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. Though it is very short, this chapter covers an immense amount of ground, including the paradoxical nature of talk about the ineffable, the creativity of nothingness and the character of 'the sage'. We intend to comment on the entire text over time. [Free. 41 minutes.] 

00:0000:00

THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART FOUR: POLITICS AND IDEOLOGY

February 28, 2017

In this podcast, we refer to the last scene of The Matrix in which Neo speaks directly to the hegemonic machines and explicitly draws attention to the political dimensions of the film. This scene invites us to understand the real-apparent binary as the opposition between the concrete political situation of slavery and exploitation and the ideological mystification which prevents the victims from throwing off their chains or even realising that they are in them. This leads us to a discussion of the attempts to make good the lacuna in Marxism around the details of ideological mystification by theorising a Freudian-Marxism. Dramatis Personae: Freud, Marx, Hegel, Lacan, Zizek, Fromm, Reich, Marcusse, Engels. The final scene [3 minutes 31 seconds] is here:-  https://youtu.be/aTL4qIIxg8A. See the blue pill - red pill choice in this four minute clip: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 39 minutes.]

00:0000:00