The guest this week is Brendan Cooney and we discuss his Law of Value youtube video series (I play the soundtrack for his second video), and discuss real abstractions as explained in Marx's bestselling book Capital. We start off discussing whether Data from the television show Star Trek the Next Generation would generate value if he time traveled to this current Capitalist economy. I am still planning on canceling the Podomatic feed for Diet Soap and moving the podcast to douglaslain.com. If you subscribe to podcast through podomatic you'll need to change over to the new feed by the end of the month, that means that the next podcast will be the last podcast on the podomatic website. In that episode I'll try to explain just how to find the Diet Soap RSS feed from Blubrry. When I make the switch I'm also going to restart the Diet Soap philosophy workshop and that workshop will continue weekly, or at least it will be a part of every episode. That means that while I'll continue on discussing Hegel once a month, I've decided to expand the workshop to a weekly format. After each Diet Soap episode subscribers to the podcast will get a chance to participate in a conversation about that episode. So, yes, there will be regular Hegel episodes, but subscribers will also get a chance to discuss all the different subjects that we cover or bring up their own ideas. Finally, I am also going to start a monthly podcast with C. Derick Varn called Pop the Left. We'll take a critical look at the politics of the Left from a Leftist perspective and, at first, that'll be hosted through the same RSS feed as Diet Soap, but if a few more people donate or subscribe I'll start a second feed for Pop the Left on its own. So, you can help me start a new podcast by donating today.
There are two guests this week: the University Student Zanda Knight and my son Benjamin Lain. We talk about Karl Marx's Capital and try to answer the question "Why can't a robot make value?" We discuss Data, Cherry 2000, and Marx's notion of abstract labor time and exchange value. After this conversation you'll hear the soundtrack for Brendan Cooney's latest video from his Law of Value series. Brendan Cooney will be the guest next week. Couple of announcements. First, I'm going to cancel the Podomatic feed for Diet Soap. Instead I'll be hosting Diet Soap at douglaslain.com and using Blubrry. If you subscribe to podcast through Podomatic you'll need to change over to the new feed by the end of the month and I'll be posting instructions and talking about how to do that in the weeks to come. Second, I'm going to restart the Diet Soap Philosophy Workshop and add a new twist. While we'll continue on discussing Hegel once a month, I've decided to open expand the workshop to a weekly format. That is, after each Diet Soap episode subscribers to the podcast will get a chance to participate in a conversation about it. So, yes, once a month there will be a Hegel episode, but subscribers will also get a chance to discuss all the different subjects that we cover or bring up their own ideas. The people at the Partially Examined Life are doing something similar for each of their podcasts and I thought it would be a good idea for Diet Soap. Finally, this month is when I'll be starting a second podcast with C. Derick Varn called Pop the Left. That'll be a monthly podcast that takes a critical look at the politics of the Left from a Leftist perspective. You've probably noticed that Diet Soap has slipped into a biweekly schedule. I will be rectifying that and returning to a regular weekly schedule this month. Diet Soap should come out on Thursday, every Thursday. I should also mention that I've started blogging for the Partially Examined Life, and that I'm continuing to blog for the Right Where You're Sitting Now site and for Tor.com. I hope to include collaged readings of those blog entries in future episodes. The music you're listening to is Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 5, but in just a moment you'll be listening to Zanda, Ben, and we discuss Marx and the Robots.
The guest this week is the filmmaker Andrew Fillipone. Andrew Filippone Jr. is the filmmaker in New York City made the short film 'Charlie Rose' by Samuel Beckett. Some of Andrew's other works include: The Status Films, an all-text, 4-part, 80-minute documentary film cycle made from real-time searches of public Facebook status updates; Happy Monday, a film-sculpture hybrid that he describes as a "documentary film object;" and The Auroras of Autumn, a silent, abstract short that screened at the 8th Berlin International Director’s Lounge, but in this episode we discuss two other films the first being his mock conspiracy film No! Gabba, Gabba and the other an experimental film entitled 999. In this episode there is a point where I explain the idea of a concrete abstraction, and I thought it would be worthwhile to explain that idea here at the outset. The other day I was asked to define the idea of a concrete abstraction and I said that this was the idea that reality is inexorably both conceptual and sensual. One can’t separate out the idea of what it is to be something from the sensual qualities one encounters upon meeting that something. An apple is both an idea and an experience. Once you’ve grasped this the question isn’t “What is a concrete abstraction?” but rather “What isn’t a concrete abstraction?” Couple of announcements. First, the Philosophy Workshop has been on hiatus over the summer I will be restarting that project in September and I want to encourage people to join up. Subscribing to the workshop is really a way to support the podcast and if you enjoy Diet Soap you should consider subscribing or making a one time donation. So, in September we'll pick up with Hegel's phenomenology, and I think I'll try to use Google Plus to host the online conversations. Another announcement is that soon I'll be launching a second, monthly, podcast called Pop the Left. C Derick Varn and I have been recording conversations for this and this coming podcast will be an examination and critique of the left from the left. Along those lines I recently received an email from TJ Clark accepting an invitation to come onto Diet Soap. Clark is an art historian and former member of the Situationist International and his latest essay "For a Left with No Future," for all it's flaws, is a valiant effort and really required reading.
The guest this week is the author and environmentalist Jim Brumm. Jim Brumm was the staff writer at an environmental firm in Sebastopol, California and his new book is an in-depth study of the ills facing societies the need for long-term thinking. That book is titled Long-Term Thinking for a Short-Sighted World. As you listen to the conversation you'll probably hear a bit of a push and pull as I try to come to some understanding of how long term thinking might, on its own, be a solution for our problems. By the end of our talk I have to agree with Jim that thinking ahead and considering the ramifications of actions on the future is certainly necessary, but I still ultimately felt that something was missing from that conclusion. We have to have a reason or aim behind our thinking, whether its in the short or the long term. Changing the reasons behind our actions is, from my perspective, just as important as changing the range or complexity of our thought. If the reasons behind our actions are contradictory then no amount of complexity or thinking into the future will resolve the trouble. So, that's my critique of Jim's thesis in a nutshell, but despite this critique I think the conversation is one worth having and I fundamentally agree that long term thinking is necessary…it's just not enough. I want to thank everyone who is a regular subscriber and participant in the Philosophy Workshop. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast and Philosophy workshop the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donors of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list for a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press later this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com. I've got some big news this week. It looks like the Diet Soap podcast will start being listed on the Right Where You Are Sitting Now website. RWYASN explores the weirder side of the world. Ken Eakins and Kim Monaghan are the editors and the other podcasts listed include the Coincidence Control Network, Behind Closed Doors, and Sitting Now Radio. I'm very pleased to be included.
The guest this week is the author and mystic Jason Horsley. Jason Horsley is probably most well known for his podcast Stormy Weather a show that focused on the subjects of "paranoid awareness" the concept of a second Matrix, and a striving after enlightenment . Jason released "Stormy Weather" under the pseudonym Aeolus Kephas. Now, according to wikipedia Aeolus is a name shared by three characters from Greek mythology. An Aeolus was the son of Poseidon (the god of the sea), the son of Hellen who himself was the son of Zeus and as such the progenitor of the Hellenic or Greek people, and also the son of King Hippotes. This Aeolus was known as the keeper of the winds and he gives Odysseus a bag of wind so the King could be sure to get back to Ithaca on a gentle West Wind. In contrast, on Horsley's podcast Stormy Weather the winds were stronger and there was a sense that the listener might never get home again. Jason Horsley is the son of Northern Food's chairman Nicholas Horsley and the brother of the late Sebastian Horsley, an artist and writer whose most well known for having staged his own crucifixion in the year 2000, but unlike his brother, Horsley disinherited his family's fortune in 1991 and traveled to Morocco where he roamed the streets and scrounged. Aiming at becoming a late 20th century Buddha, Horsley followed the prescription or recipe for sainthood available to him at the time. He imbedded in psychedelic drugs, participated in shamanic rituals of various sorts, and wrote about the cinema. His first book, the Blood Poets, was published in 1999. Since then he's written, various books including a book written under the pseudonym Aeolus Kephas entitled the Lucid View. Since Horsley's first visit to the Diet Soap podcast he and I have been opposed allies. That is, whether we're discussing Osho Rajneesh, the movie Close Encounters, William Blake, or debating epistemology we managed to find common ground to squabble over. This week we discuss his dream of enlightenment and what it might take for him to get there. I want to thank everyone who is a regular subscriber and participant in the Philosophy Workshop. And I want to especially thank Mark M who emailed to let me know he's going to send me a gift. Some paperback science fiction novels including one by the great New Wave author John Sladeck. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast and Philosophy workshop the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donors of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list for a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press later this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com. I've got some big news this week. It looks like the Diet Soap podcast will start being listed on the Right Where You Are Sitting Now online magazine. RWYASN explores the weirder side of the world. Ken Eakins and Kim Monaghan are the editors and the other podcasts listed include the Coincidence Control Network, Behind Closed Doors, and Sitting Now Radio. I'm very pleased to be included on this website.
The guest this week is the author and activist Jon Gold. Jon Gold is the man who coined the term 9/11 Truther and he is a self-proclaimed Truther, but I would venture to say that he is a bit different from the image that we've come to associate with that term. Specifically, Jon Gold doesn't talk about or promote theories about controlled demolition. He is not interested in tales of living hijackers seen with Elvis on beaches in Tahiti. He does not make claims about fake cell phone calls. Gold tries not to speculate at all and isn't interested in making a career for himself in what he calls the conspiracy theory industry. Instead he focuses on the verifiable lies that have been told about that day and the hardest facts he can muster. He has written a memoir about his experiences in the 911 Truth movement called 9/11 Truther: The Fight for Peace Just and accountability. I want to thank everyone who is a regular subscriber and participant in the Philosophy Workshop. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast and Philosophy workshop the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donors of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list for a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press later this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com. For several years now I've held the opinion that there was US government complicity in the attacks of September 11th, but while in previous years I was fairly vocal about that opinion, I no longer feel compelled to speak out on that subject. One reason I don't talk about it much is self serving. Talking about holes in the official story of 9/11 doesn't win you many friends or at least almost none worth having. The so called Truth movement is a circus or a side show for the most part. Today's guest Jon Gold is one of the rare exceptions on that front, but there is a stigma associated with pursuing 9/11 Truth, and to some extent the stigma is deserved. The people whose family members were killed on that day 10 years ago, widows who are still demanding a new investigation and who want answers do not claim to know the Truth about 9/11, and are not Truthers. The other reason I've stepped away from 9/11 Truth is because I think the politics embedded in a movement that focuses on a singular crime is tepid at best and reactionary at worst. As I told Gold during our interview the unstated assumption behind efforts to expose the truth about 9/11 is that the society we're in could be made to work better if the corruption and crimes were to come to the surface, but this position accepts the objective violence of everyday normal life. To focus on the conspiracies and corruption is fundamentally apolitical. There is no systemic critique in the 9/11 Truth movement. Having said all that, I admire Jon Gold and will support anyone like him who has made his stand on this issue in this way. It may not be fundamentally political, but Gold demonstrates that it can be honorable.
The guest this week is the freelance journalist Margaret Kimberley. Ms. Kimberley writes a regular column for the Black Agenda Report and is a regular guest on Diet Soap as well. This time we discuss the death of Occupy, the failure of Wisconsin, and the problem of status quo politics. I want to thank everyone who is a regular subscriber to Diet Soap and to thank Robert M for donating. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast and Philosophy Workshop the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donors of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list for a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com. Again, this week is another conversation with the journalist Margaret Kimberley, and in future weeks you'll hear from the Pop philosopher Daniel Coffeen, the bizarro writer Bradley Sands, and many others. The music this week includes the Theme to the 1980 film Friday the 13th and an excerpt from Storm Large's hit My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide.
There is no guest this week as Benjamin and I discuss Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit focussing on Hegel's ideas about reason and organic life while pointing to the movies Bedazzled (a comedy starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) and Frankenstein to help us understand. I want to thank everyone who is a regular donor to Diet Soap and to thank everyone who regularly participates in the Philosophy workshop. I didn't receive any individual donations last week, but I did receive help from my regular subscribers. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donations of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list for a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com. Again, this week is another Hegel podcast with my son Benjamin. Next week we'll hear from the journalist Margaret Kimberley, and I have conversations with Daniel Coffeen, Jason Horsley, Bradley Sands, and many others in the hopper. The music you're listening to is the Vitamin String Quartet's cover of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, but in just a moment you'll be listening to my son Benjamin and I discuss Hegel's Reason. --- Unrelated Essay: Star Trek, Pong, and Class Struggle One question that came out of John Scalzi’s apt blog post “Straight, White, Male: The Easiest Difficulty Level There Is” is this one: “How might we understand the idea of class through video games?” That is, if using the analogy of an RPG video game can help white male nerds understand institutionalized racism and white privilege, it’s also possible that video games might help nerds of every gender and race understand the concept of class structure and class struggle. In Adam Curtis’s documentary “All Watched Over by Machine’s of Loving Grace” the filmmaker interviewed Loren Carpenter about his 1991 experiment using the game Pong to inspire mass collaboration. In the interview Carpenter explains how a group of 5000 people spontaneously figured out how to collaborate to play pong on a giant screen. The collaborating crowd spontaneously figured out how to cooperate with a minimum amount of communication and no hierarchal structures of power; there were no overt directions nor any chain of command, but the crowd was able to figure out how to collectively move the paddles on the big screen and keep the ball bouncing back and forth. They learned how to run a flight simulator game collectively, and how to solve the variety of other puzzles put to them. They worked together each time in a completely egalitarian way and as a mass. Read More at Tor.com
The guest this week is Paul Shetler. Shetler has a degree in Art History and in this episode we discuss Surrealism and the Abstraction of Modernity. It's Thursday June 28th, 2012 and I'm Douglas Lain, the host of the Diet Soap podcast. I want to thank everyone who is a regular donor to Diet Soap and especially my gang who regularly participate in the Philosophy workshop. Last week I announced that I was to make myself available to talk philosophy and writing on Skype for workshop folks and then promptly forgot about it. This weekend I'll try again. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com. Donations of $6 or more in the US or $15 internationally will receive a copy of my book "Pick Your Battle." However, as an extra bonus, I'll send an bound manuscript copy of my novel "Billy Moon: 1968" to the first person to donate this week. Also, if you'd rather not receive a copy of "Pick Your Battle" you can get on the list of a copy of "The Doom that Came to LOLcats" which is a novella due out from Eraserhead press this year. I should tell you all to follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. Also you can send me email through my webpage. That's douglaslain.com (L A I N). This week I received an email from Tracy V and I thought I'd share it with you. --- Tracy wrote: Hi Doug, I enjoyed listening to your latest podcast. I'm Episcopalian too and my associate minister is a woman. I like my church and I'm trying to understand the magic behind the Christian religion such as the masculine and feminine in the Holy Communion and the fact that I am eating the god when I participate. I think there is more magic than people realize in it. However I agree with you it is very patriarchial and I don't really know how to get around that fact. When our woman priest does Communion some people won't participate, they don't want to accept it from a woman. And that is just the beginning. But I'm coming to the realization I'm never going to get away from the patriarchy in society, no matter how much feminist theory I like and try to put into practice. There are a lot of people, men and women, who just like the patriarchy. What I'm trying to do is to find the feminine in the patriarchal structures and participate that way. We've come a long way but we have a very long way to go. --- Thanks for writing me Tracy, and thanks for donating. I guess my comments about how the Episcopal church could be taken as a criticism, but I didn't mean them that way. At least, I wasn't only criticizing the church. Of course, there was no way anyone could know my thinking on the Nicene creed or what I was really thinking or intending since I didn't elaborate at all. Maybe I'll just take a moment to do that now. My thought was just that there was a tendency to pretend as if Christianity as it was could be made to be non patriarchal simply by changing the words in your head, or pretending the words don't mean what they mean, but I think that if you're a Christian and want to change Christianity towards a feminism you'll still have to start with an understanding of God as a father and see why he's a father. Then you might be able to conceive of what it will take to call him something else and have it stick. To give you another example, after editing this conversation with Paul Shetler I was thinking about mathematics and whether something like numbers could be said to be contingent things or if they were essential. I asked myself why we divide numbers into multiples of ten. Why do we start over and add a zero when we get to 9? That seemed to be an arbitrary choice. Why not count like this, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, chocolate, orange juice, toad, and then, not to go back to roman numerals, we could start over at that point with a base of toad (or a base of thirteen I guess)? Why not? Anyhow, if I really (continued)
The guest this week is C. Derick Varn. This is part two of a conversation wherein Varn, who is a poet and university lecturer working in South Korea, and I discuss the French Philosopher Louis Althusser's essay Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. I want to thank everyone who is a regular donor to Diet Soap and especially my gang who regularly participate in the Philosophy workshop. The new announcement is that I'm going to start having what I'll call office hours on Skype. This weekend I'll be available for participants in the workshop so we can talk about Hegel or anything else that seems relevant. Eventually I hope to get all of the workshop participants writing and critiquing each others work as well. If you'd like to donate or subscribe to the podcast the buttons are at dietsoap.podomatic.com and at douglaslain.com I should tell you all to follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook. Music in this episode includes Money by the Flying Lizards and Artificial by the X-ray Spex. Also clips from Zizek and Ron Strickland. ---- Unrelated essay: Life as a Video Game Called “Class”? Douglas Lain John Scalzi recently posted a blog entry entitled “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is,” and in it he aimed at describing how racism and sexism is played by referring to video games, specifically to RPGs. In most video games, players have the option of playing a harder or easier version of the same thing. In a video game like Guitar Hero, for instance, the difficulty level determines how many notes you have to hit and the complexity of the song you have to play. Scalzi uses this idea of a difficulty level to explain the concept of privilege to his mostly white, mostly male, and definitely nerdy audience. “I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word ’privilege,’ to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon.” Scalzi’s essay works. He drives home how being a Straight White Male is easier than being a Gay Black Woman, and the inequity seems real by the end of Scalzi’s post. However, as is often the case online, the conversation around the essay was just as interesting as the essay itself, and one repeated question that came out of Scalzi’s blog post might be articulated in this way: How should class should be understood through video games? “Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane.” —John Scalzi, “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is,” May, 2012 As a PKD fan and as a Matrix paranoid, I want to believe. That is, I don’t have to imagine that life here in the U.S. is a massive video game like World of Warcraft. Scalzi suggests this possibility and I believe him right away. We really are in a video game, and this game is rigged. Read more at Tor.com
The guest this week is C. Derick Varn. Varn is a poet and university lecturer working in South Korea and this we got together via Skype to discuss Late Capitalism and the French Philosopher Louis Althusser's essay Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. I want to thank Billy L, Matthew G, and Jason F for their generous donations to the podcast, and to thank everyone who subscribes to the Podcast and workshop and gives monthly. The last three signed copies of my novella Wave of Mutilation have now been spoken for, however you can still get ahold of my memoir Pick Your Battle and I'm working on a couple of other books right now. I'm writing a novella for Eraserhead Press entitled the Doom That Came to LOLcats, working on a book entitled All I Ever Needed to Know About Capitalism I Learned from Watching Star Trek (and you can read excerpts from that at Tor.com) and my first full fledged novel is due out from Tor.com in August of 2013. So there will be plenty of opportunities to get signed copies of my various books in the near term future. Music in this episode includes Yaron Herman Trio covering Britney Spears Toxic. --- Somewhat related Essay: Five Steps For Understanding Althusser’s Concept of Ideology Without Going Insane 1. Skim over Althusser’s book On Ideology after rereading Kapital for Beginners (the comic book). Assuage your guilt about not being truly versed on either philosopher by reminding yourself that Althusser confessed that he’d barely read Marx. In his autobiography The Future Lasts a Long Time he claimed that it was only his knack for catching on quickly, his skill at faking his way along, that made him famous in French intellectual circles. Recall that the point of Althusser’s last book was to explain to the public how and why he’d strangled his wife to death in 1980. The philosopher was apparently in a fugue state brought on by depression when he massaged his wife’s neck until she was dead. Althusser skipped jail and went directly to a mental hospital. He was unfit to stand trial apparently. 2. Buy a Venti Nonfat Latte. Use your iPhone to look up quotes about Althusser while taking gulps of lukewarm latte from your paper cup. “Ideology is a ‘representation of the Imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.’” -Althusser, On Ideology Notice the doubling here. Althusser says that ideology is not the way people use their imaginations to represent the world, but rather is the representation of the way people use their imaginations. This means that ideology is not some false picture of the world but our false picture about our false picture. One ideology might tell us that we have a false picture of the world, that we believe in God for example, because we’ve been manipulated by bad guys. The caste of ancient priests, kings, and queens foisted false stories about the world on us in order to control us. Another ideology might blame the world itself for our false picture. Living under such poor conditions people needed a God in heaven. After all, who wouldn’t fantasize when faced with the plague? It was the reality of living in and off our own filth and debris that pushed us into delusion. But, Althusser isn’t buying these explanations. He says that ideology is simply necessary. Ideologies are fantasies that support our relationships with each other and these false pictures give us our very identities. In fact, we don’t really fantasize about the world, but rather we are the fantasy. Our relationships and thus our very identities are not backed up by anything. There is no true reality being blacked out or denied. Read more at Thought Catalog.
The guests this week are KMO and Olga Kuchukov. KMO is most well known for creating the C-Realm podcast, while Olga is a massage therapist and yoga expert turned co-host of the Z-Realm podcast. While the C in C-realm stands for consciousness, the Z in the Z-realm stands for Zombie. It's Thursday June 7th, 2012 an Douglas Lain is the host of this podcast. I want to thank David B for his generous donation to the podcast and let everyone know that there are currently 3 copies left of my novella Wave of Mutilation. So the next three people who donate or subscribe to the Diet Soap philosophy workshop will be the last people to get signed copies of that book. The music at the outset of this podcast is The Gonk from the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead. --- Unrelated Essay from Tor.com Dreaming Captain America and Falcon Last week I checked out two very different books from the Woodstock public library with the hope that I could use one in order to understand the other. One of the books was Jack Kirby’s Captain America Bicentennial Omnibus and the other was Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. You’d think that my growing up in the 70s would’ve put to rest any inclination to pursue Freudian theories about childhood trauma and put to lie the notion that repressed wishes from waking life were the stuff of our dreams. After all, everyday waking life in the 70s was a life already populated by dream characters. From the Village People to HR Puffnstuf, the 70s were a dreamtime, so Freud couldn’t have been right with his dream theory about day residues and repression. Growing up in the seventies meant you didn’t need a talking cure; instead the way to understand your dreams was to check the TV Guide or thumb through your comic book collection. On the other hand, some say that Freud didn’t mean that dreams were brought on by substantial real traumas in the world, or that our dreams emerge from our psychic depths in response to the bad stuff or bad desires we encounter in our waking life, but rather something a bit more twisted than that. For example, in his new book Less Than Nothing, for example, the psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek interprets Freud’s description of dream-work from Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. “[For Freud] the paradox is that this dream-work [or the mental process that hides the true wish that the dream is fulfilling from consciousness] is not merely a process of masking the dream’s ’true message’: the dream’s true core, its unconscious wish, inscribes itself only through and in this very process of masking…in short, it is the process of masking itself which inscribes into the dream its true secret.” Read more at Tor.com
There is no guest this week and instead I return to the subject of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. In fact I discuss the Hegel's Master and Slave dialectic, the Unhappy Consciousness, and the Charlie Kaufman film The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with my lovely wife Miriam and our son Ben. Some of you may remember Miriam and I'm sure you all remember Ben. I want to thank the people who subscribe to the Philosophy Workshop, and here goes. Your regular donations keep this podcast going and keep me reading Hegel. I should also remind you all that you can find me on Facebook still, even though that company's stock has taken a nose dive. I am a twit on twitter also. And my webpage is douglaslain.com. And if you'd like to donate or subscribe you can find the paypal button on the dietsoap.podomatic.com or at douglaslain.com. A donation of $6 or more or a regular subscription entitles you to a copy of my novella Wave of Mutilation and as of today there are five copies left. The starting music is the theme entitled Sentimental Walk from Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 film Diva. You'll also hear Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime by the Korgis at the end of this episode. ---- Unrelated essay from Tor.com The Phenomenology of Star Trek The problem any cultural critic faces when attempting to say something definitive about a television show like Star Trek or a pop song like “I’ll Melt With You” is precisely the problem pop songs and science fiction television programs usually aim to solve. That is, how are we to know the world, to stop it and take a good look, once we realize that all we can ever have is “an imaginary grace”? How can we be sure of anything if the certainties that define the human race are “long gone by,” as the song says? The meanings and definitions we find in this televised and now digitized world are just a variety of fictions. All we find are accumulations of problems and a variety of pitches, hooks, slogans, and lyrics that only promise to make us feel good about them. So maybe we should start with that. We should start by looking at the problems and how we usually enjoy them. We all know that Star Trek was just a television show, a fiction. And fictions are really all about setting up problems so that viewers or readers will enjoy them. The writer constructs a hook so the reader will keep on reading, and we know this, but what’s confusing is just how this is done. In a world like ours, a world that thrashes around our face without us ever really knowing it, a world where the norms and rules are in flux, a universe full of strange new world, how does one know what problems to pose? Just what kind of questions will be serviceable as hooks? [Boldly Go On to Tor.com]
The guest this week is the cultural critic Mark Dery whose newest book of essays is entitled I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts and is out from the University of Minnesota Press. This is the second half of our conversation and this week we discuss Facebook, the 70s, and the psychedelic guru Terence McKenna. I want to thank Tracy V and Ted F for joining up for the Diet Soap Philosophy Workshop. When you subscribe to donate to the podcast once a month you also get to join in on a weekly conversation about Hegel's Phenomenology and subscribers and donors both receive copies of either my novella "Wave of Mutilation" or my radical memoir "Pick Your Battle." You can find the subscribe and donate buttons on my website, that's douglaslain.com or at dietsoap.podomatic.com. I should also ask you to follow me on twitter, find me on Facebook, stumble upon me on stumble upon, tumbler for me, take a pinterest in me, link to me in linked in, plus me, and finally invade my space (remember my space?) The music in the podcast includes Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 2, the Bee Gee's Stayin Alive, and Uncle Bonsai's Penis Envy. --- Definition of the term "phallic mother" from answers.com The so-called phallic mother is a mother who is fantasmatically endowed with a phallus. Among the male child's earliest sexual theories, he believes that all people have the male genital. By substituting the phallus for the organ that the child thinks the female is lacking, he tries to protect himself from the castration anxiety that arises from the primal fantasies of the mother. The fear of the phallic mother imago tacitly affirms the threat of castration, while at the same time defensively negating it along with all its oral and anal pregenital foundations. A theory of the phallic mother existed in Sigmund Freud's work from his earliest formulations on the sexual theories of children (1905d, 1908c), and it played a constant role throughout later developments regarding the questions of feminine castration and the maternal penis (1909b, 1910c, 1923b). From 1905 to 1927, these questions were structured by the continuing Freudian exploration of fetishism. The fetishist fears castration excessively, and finds protection from it in a chosen object that serves as an equivalent for the maternal phallus. Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/phallic-mother#ixzz1vnwjvsKD
The guest this week is the cultural critic Mark Dery whose book I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts is currently out from the University of Minnesota Press and according to publisher's weekly the book demonstrates that Dery has a keen eye for absurdity, tragedy, and everything in between. This was a hour and half conversation about Late Capitalist Cultural Criticism and so this week we'll just hear Dery explain what it means to be a cultural critic and what it means specifically to be such a critic in the internet age. I want to than Jonathan Y for donating to the podcast. His copy of my novella Wave of Mutilation will be in the mail very soon, along with a few other copies that I still need to send. I also want to thank everyone who has been regularly donating to the podcast as subscribers. Subscribers to the podcast can also participate in the Diet Soap Philosophy Workshop, although one can subscribe and choose not to join the workshop, and a few do just that. If you'd like to contribute you'll find the donate and subscribe buttons at dietsoap.podomatic.com or at douglaslain.com. Donors and subscribers are entitled to a copy of my latest book Wave of Mutilation or my surrealist memoir Pick Your Battle. Right now there are seven copies left of the novella. As always you can connect with me through my website, send an email to douglain at gmail, find me on Facebook, follow me on twitter, plus me on google, link to me through LinkedIn, or just shout my name from the rooftops. The music in and sound clips in this episode includes Ensign in Red singing Catch the Enterprise, the Vitamin String Quartet's cover of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, and Marcel Duchamp's pointing to the difference between aesthetics and taste. Right now you're listening to the Sleeping Bear String quartet covering Sweet Dreams are Made of This by the Eurythmics. --- Unrelated Essay: Star Trek as The Sign It is tempting to set about deconstructing the series, to take it apart and examine each piece of it using various theoretical critical tools that we might have at our disposal (for instance we might turn to Freud or Marx and apply their thought to any given episode or film in the franchise) the better approach is a more passive or receptive approach. Rather than impose various ideas onto Kirk or Picard, rather than place a grid over the Enterprise or on Vulcan in order to dissect the program, we should instead turn to the program itself and simply observe what we find there without the hope that any true understanding will be immediately revealed, but rather just so that we can see what the phenomena of Star Trek is and what happens on the show. Yesterday I suggested that we could be assured that it was Star Trek and not Doctor Who that was the true television show. I said that Star Trek unfolded through history and ultimately divulged real understanding, but I gave no real basis for this assertion other than a circular argument about how Spock never had to borrow Doctor Who’s TARDIS and could time travel on his own. The truth is, however, is that Star Trek is merely another television show like all the others. It came onto the scene, appearing on our TV sets for the first time on September 8th, 1966. Still, this observation is significant in itself and maybe gets us closer to Understanding. If Star Trek was a television show, that means it was made up of images and sounds that presented themselves to a television audience. It appeared as a television spectacle in a culture wherein these spectacles were common. Star Trek appeared, as the philosopher Rick Roderick once said, inside a culture based on spectacle and images. “And a culture based on spectacle and images has a peculiar non-systematic character. It’s like the Fall TV schedule. All you really know about it, right, is that it is going to appear on a kind of grid. But culture in general, we are not even sure about the grid let alone, you know, which dumb (continued)