“CULTURE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND”

October 17, 2017

In this podcast, I reflect on Terence Mckenna's assertion that "culture is not your friend." I find that, indeed, culture as we know it today, frequently has ideological components, i.e. it plays a role in preserving and promoting social dominance hierarchies. However, it does have pragmatic possibilities, preserving ideas, crafts and technologies that have survival value. And, when not paralysed by conservatism, these possibilites can even develop beyond what can be achieved in a single generation, enhancing life. I argue also that culture has vital roles in entertainment and edification which can be usurped by ideology and which it is worth the effort to restitute. [Free. 25 minutes.]

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LEFT-RIGHT: PART TWO [COSMOPOLITANISM, ETHNO-NATIONALISM, HEIDEGGER, NIETZSCHE]

September 9, 2017

In this podcast I compare and contrast cosmopolitanism with ethno-nationalism. I discuss the use of Heidegarian tropes by alt-right ideologues to justify their stance which regards cosmopolitanism as the cause of all the ills of the modern world. I show how this move is easily countered and that Heidegger's view of 'the self' can actually be used to counter the notion that cosmopoitanism leads to the modern carelessness with the environment and 'rootlessness'. What is missing from the alt-right reading of the Heideggarian human 'self', I argue, is the questioning nature of this 'self' which in turn leads to the yoga questions: 'Who and what am I?'. At the very least, if we are honest with ourselves, the answer is that of Diogenes the Cynic: 'I am a citizen of the world'. At the same time, the beauty of one's particularity is revealed, even as one might rhapsodically experience oneness with everything. I trace some of this path of thought through a brief discussion of Heidegger's relationship to Nietzsche, to whom he dedicated four thick volumes of reflection and criticism. [Free. 43 minutes.]

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LEFT-RIGHT: PART ONE [CHARLOTTESVILLE & THE OLD MAN’S VICE OF BIG PICTURE THINKING]

September 1, 2017

In this podcast, I reflect on recent events that took place in Charlotteville, Virginia. The discussion inevitably ranges far and wide and covers such issues as the role of violence in politics, the nature of the left-right binary, the question of the moral equivalence that President Trump et al seem to draw between neo-fascists and their anti-fascist detractors, the natures of free speech and propoganda, the significance of history and future thinking for politics, the nature of the symbolic universe inhabited by some activists, and the phenomenon of meme wars. The question of how far we can, and should, extend our sympathies is once again brought to the fore. [Free. 47 minutes.]

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HOMO ECONOMICUS: COMMENTARY ON ROB URIE’S ‘ZEN ECONOMICS’

May 29, 2017

This podcast is almost a review of Rob Urie's Zen Economics (2016). The thesis of Urie's book is that contemporary economic theory is a pseudo science which functions as an ideological mystification of consumer capitalism and bases itself on a spurious metaphysical conceptualisation of the human being along Cartesian lines. Urie marshals Zen and the work of Heidegger to mount his criticism with interesting results. [Free. 44 minutes.]

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FEMINISM 101

April 1, 2017

In this podcast, we roughly sketch out types of feminism including liberal, socialist, marxist and essentialist varients. We try to draw out the theoretical and practical difficulties encountered by these various approaches in the hope that a view of the terrain thus exposed might be useful to anybody currently struggling with the widespread and pathological back-lash to all emancipatory aspirations. [Free. 55 minutes.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART FIVE: DISSOLUTION OF THE BINARIES

March 12, 2017

In this podcast the epilogue to our series on The Matrix, we consider attempts to dissolve the binaries which have structured much thought for millenia. These binaries are real-apparent, subject-object and inside-outside [of the human psyche.] The attempts at dissolution invoked are Wittgenstein's private language argument which is found in Philosophical Investigations, and Nietzsche's account of the fate of the 'real world' as a concept over time as elucidated in Twilgth of the Idols. We argue that this doesn't sideline the political issues raised in the previous podcast in this series, as might first seem to be the case. [Free. 41 minutes.]

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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.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART THREE: METAPHYSICS

February 22, 2017

In this podcast, we outline some of the resonances of The Matrix with metaphysics which we take to be the philosophical effort to characterise the being of beings as a whole. We particularly focus on Plato's myth of the cave and Descartes' radical doubt, regarding both of these as utilising the metaphor of human being as camera obscura and the real-apparent and subject-object distinctions. This is not as obscure as it sounds! [Free. 35 minutes.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

February 8, 2017

This is the first of a series devoted to the philosophical resonances of the film The Matrix [1999]. We take it that many of the philosophical issues brought up in The Matrix boil down to the consequences of presupposing the binary 'real-apparent'. We outline how this is so in this introduction in preparation for forthcoming podcasts on the real-apparanet binary's entanglement with existentialism, metaphysics and politics. If you can't see the film, at least watch this brilliant four minute clip in which the hero Neo is given the choice between the red pill which will open him up to the reality of his situation and the blue pill which will keep him in a state of delusion: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 22 minutes.]

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CONSIDERING CULTS

December 11, 2016

In this podast we attempt to characterise 'cults' and identify psychological processes that sustain them. This broadens out a little into considerations of dominance and power dynamics in general. [Free. 30 minutes.]

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