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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Episode 76: A Rape in Cyberspace ft. Default Friend
February 1st, 2022 | 1 hr 2 mins
90s, cancel culture, culture, cyberpunk, history, internet, internet culture, metaverse, metoo, rape, second life
Default Friend returns to talk with Emmet about Julian Dibbel's famous essay, A Rape in Cybserpace, which presaged our digital social experience back in 1993. DF and Emmet talk about etiquette, digital governance, the weirdness of online life, the "distributed self," what it would mean to take the internet seriously, and more!
Episode 75: The Shock of the New pt. 1: The Mechanical Paradise
January 25th, 2022 | 51 mins 10 secs
art, art history, cezanne, cubism, duchamp, modern art, modernism, painting, picasso, screens, ww1, wwi
Emmet and John begin their new series on Robert Hughes's documentary series The Shock of the New. This first installment takes on early modernism. The lads contemplate the impact of WWI, think on what really separates the modern experience from previous eras, and what makes our era different from early modernism.
Episode 74: Welcome to the Desert of the Political ft. Anton Jager
January 18th, 2022 | 56 mins 32 secs
blm, covid, fandom, george floyd, political theory, politics, populism, social media, trump
Anton Jager sits down with Emmet to talk about how we moved from the post-political age of technocratic consensus to the noisy stasis of our current hyper-political present. They talk about whether the right and left descriptors handed down from French parliament hold today, politics as fandom, the death of political responsibility, and more!
[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!