About the show

Co-hosts Emmet and John plumb the depths of history, culture, and philosophy to understand why it is that despite calamities and rapid change nothing feels possible anymore. Guests include artists, scholars, and thinkers from all over the world.

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Episodes

  • [teaser] The True and Only Heaven 9: The Spiritual Discipline Against Resentment

    January 16th, 2022  |  9 mins 45 secs
    american history, blm, christianity, civil rights, history, mlk, spirituality, whiteness, woke, wokeness

    Emmet and John take on the ideas of Reinhold Niebuhr and his impact on neocons and MLK. Then they look at Lasch's interpretation of MLK's intellectual life and political career. They compare the Southern and Northern Civil Rights campaigns and contemplate the deadlock, in part created by King himself, left in his wake. They close by discussing resentment and its politics.

  • Episode 73: American Canon: Joan Didion's "Insider Baseball" ft. Luke Thompson

    January 11th, 2022  |  1 hr 15 mins
    american history, american literature, campaign, david foster wallace, didion, history, joan didion, literature, nonfiction, politics, writers

    Luke Thompson returns to talk with Emmet about Joan Didion, who recently passed. They focus on her essay "Insider Baseball," her coverage of the 1988 presidential primary season, and discuss the nature of American presidential campaigns, the campaign press, the nature of Didion's insights, what made 2016 so weird, and more!

  • Episode 72: The Art of Forgetting

    January 5th, 2022  |  59 mins 5 secs
    agrippa, amnesia, aquinas, christianity, forgetting, history, islam, medieval, memory, middle ages, modernity, scholasticism, science

    Emmet and Mike discuss medieval techniques of memory and forgetting. They discuss Cornelius Agrippa's assault on those techniques as an assault on the corrupted scholastic world. In Agrippa's thought we see the germs of modernity. The discuss opens up into a contemplation of ancient science and tech, the propaganda of the Enlightenment, the disciplining of the mind and the gaze, recovering tradition, and more.

  • [teaser] The True and Only Heaven 8: Work and Loyalty

    January 2nd, 2022  |  13 mins 18 secs

    Emmet and John work through questions of the democratization of work and culture in the era of mass production and mass culture. They also trace the relationship between cultural bohemians and elites with the workers' movement, including the forgotten legacy of Mabel Dodge Luhan. The close by talking about national loyalty, the repeat of debates from 100 years ago, another look at property as a political concern, and more!

  • Episode 71: Closing Your Loop ft. Josh Bregman

    December 28th, 2021  |  1 hr 1 min
    black mirror, bruce willis, china, joseph gordon levitt, looper, mark fisher, neoliberalism, sci-fi, social media

    Emmet and returning guest Josh Bregman sit down to talk about the movie Looper. They look back at what makes it such a successful film, but also what it captured about the year it was released, 2012. They talk about Mark Fisher, life before social media, "the slow cancellation of the future," what kind of interregnum we're in, and what Looper had to tell us about our future.

  • Episode 70: Where Are We Now?: Thinking with Agamben

    December 21st, 2021  |  1 hr 6 mins
    agamben, bill gates, carl schmitt, constitution, covid, fear, history, law, medicine, politics, science, scientism, security

    Emmet and Mike talk about Agamben's book, Where Are We Now?: The Epidemic as Politics, and reflect on life since the pandemic. They discuss Carl Schmitt, security theater, anti-social civics, the cultic gnosticism of scientific faith, the need for physical practices and spiritual mentors, bare life, their own intellectual failings during the pandemic, and more.

  • [teaser] The True and Only Heaven 7: The Syndicalist Moment

    December 19th, 2021  |  9 mins 43 secs

    We return to our Lasch series and talk about Georges Sorel and the syndicalist moment in the late 19th and early 20th century. Property, proprietorship, and centralization are the major themes of the chapter. We brought some of these issues into the present by discussing control over one's data, discretion as empowerment, and selective quietude as rebellion.

  • Episode 69: Brain Smart: Common Core and The Downfall of the Humanities ft. Catherine Liu

    December 14th, 2021  |  1 hr 5 mins
    ap classes, bennington college, college, college admissions, common core, humanities, liberal arts, obama, pmc, professional managerial class, university, woke

    Professor of film and media studies and author of Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against the Professional Managerial Class, Catherine Liu joins Emmet to talk about the death of the humanities in higher ed, the meritocratic nightmare of Common Core, why the humanities are important, the HRification of everything, and more!

  • Episode 68: All That Is Culture Melts Into Porn ft. Mary Harrington

    December 7th, 2021  |  1 hr 25 secs
    cancel culture, covid, culture, fear, feminism, free speech, porn, pornography, privacy, social media

    Contributing editor at Unherd Mary Harrington joins Emmet to talk about why everything feels like porn, the smooth hell of life online, the culture of fear in the time of COVID, how women get forgotten, and more!

  • [teaser] MacIntyre - Human Dignity: A Puzzling and Possibly Dangerous Idea?

    December 5th, 2021  |  11 mins 56 secs

    Emmet and Mike hash out MacIntyre's provocative lecture at Notre Dame's conference on the idea of human dignity in the secular age last month.
    They go through the essentials of MacIntyre's argumentation, reflect on its implications, then consider Abrahamic Law more broadly. Mike brings a Muslim perspective to bear and they both ask how we are to live with fidelity in a world where nothing feels possible.

  • Episode 67: The Imperial Vampire Castle II: Standpoint Bureaucracy and the CIA's New Dialect of Power ft. River Page

    November 30th, 2021  |  1 hr 6 mins
    cia, identity politics, idpol, mental illness, pmc, populism, queer, tucker carlson, woke, wokeism, wokeness, working class

    River Page joins Emmet to talk about the new woke institutions and how they reify previously existing class structures. They go into standpoint theory, identity politics, the CIA's relationship to the New Left, PMC projections of the working class's soul, and much more. They close by contemplating the possibility of a better left populism.

  • Episode 66: Guns, Coal, and Power: Three Takes on Human Development and the Illusion of Progress

    November 23rd, 2021  |  1 hr 12 mins
    america, britain, coal, engels, history, japan, meiji, navy, progress, steven pinker, thermoeconomics, wolfgang streeck, wwii

    Canada Mike and Emmet take a look at three pieces to consider different lenses for human development. The first is an essay on Engels by Wolfgang Streeck, the second is a lecture on thermoeconomics by John Constable, and the third is an overview of arguments for human evolution by Michael E. Mann. Emmet and Mike touch on the Meiji restoration, why we should read old thinkers, British coal, why Steven Pinker sucks, what kind of revolution was the Industrial Revolution, civilizational skillsets, and more!

  • [teaser] The True and Only Heaven 6: "No Answer But An Echo"

    November 21st, 2021  |  13 mins 28 secs

    Emmet and John forge ahead through the longest and most difficult chapter in Lasch's The True And Only Heaven. They question his use of Thomas Carlyle, delve into the Calvinism in both Carlyle and Emerson, what it means for America to have an anti-progressive tradition, Boethius's Wheel of Fortune, appreciating fate, and more!

  • Episode 65: The High Church of Wokeism ft. Joseph Keegin

    November 16th, 2021  |  1 hr 3 mins
    divinity school, gender, ibram kendi, progressivism, protestantism, race, robin d'angelo, unitarian universalism, woke, wokeism

    Emmet sat down with Joseph Keegin to talk about his pice for Tablet, The High Church of Wokeism, which traces certain elements of woke ideology back to Unitarian Universalism. They talk about the unacknowledged power of divinity schools in shaping American progressivism, repairing the "broken middle," identity talk as soul talk, and much more.

  • Episode 64: Solving the Opioid Crisis ft. Percy Menzies

    November 9th, 2021  |  54 mins 34 secs
    addiction, crime, dopesick, drug treatment, drugs, fentanyl, heroin, methadone, opioid, opioid crisis, oxycontin, sackler, war on drugs

    Emmet sits down with Percy Menzies of Assisted Recovery Centers of America to talk about the opioid epidemic in America. Percy walks through the history of opioids, how OxyContin changed everything, and how fentanyl has changed everything again. He and Emmet discuss misunderstandings about addiction, the forces aligned against solving the crisis--including the methadone lobby--and more.

  • [teaser] The True and Only Heaven 5: The Populist Campaign Against "Improvement"

    November 7th, 2021  |  15 mins 14 secs
    american history, lasch, liberal, liberalism, politics, populism, progressive

    Emmet and John dive into Lasch's overview of populism. They start to get glimpses of Lasch's commitments here. Touring classical conceptions of republicanism to people like Paine, Cobbett, and Brownson, Emmet and John track how they frustrate our contemporary interpretations of republicanism and liberalism can't or don't apply to them. Thinking with Lasch on historiography, they close the chapter discussing 19th-century artisans, populism, the New Deal, and the triumph of Taylorism.